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KALAMAZOO | KB BASS

Kalamazoo KB Bass Guitar

Short scale solid-body bass, made by Gibson in Kalamazoo, USA

The Kalamazoo bass guitar, or Kalamazoo KB (sometimes referred to as KB1), arrived in 1966, as a companion model to two Kalamazoo KG guitars that had been launched a year earlier. Like Gibson, and as the name suggests, they were produced in Kalamazoo, Michigan; however in a separate plant to the main 'Gibson' facility. You can read more about Gibson's relationship with Kalamazoo here.

from the 1966 Kalamazoo catalog
Modern styling in solid-body 4-string bass that offers full, true bass tones in a sleek, rugged economically priced instrument. With one pickup of extremely powerful design and full volume and tone control, the Kalamazoo Bass creates the full driving bass sound that sells a combo.

The vintage Kalamazoo-brand bass guitars are perhaps not that well known outside the United States, due to their short production time (just a few years in the mid 1960s) and the lack of endorsement by well known musicians; however being made by Gibson, in the USA, out of genuine Gibson parts meant that they were better instruments than many in the same price range. Good condition examples can change hands for reasonable sums amongst vintage guitar enthusiasts, and players alike.

The original bass had the same styling as the guitars; that is, they were really a copy of the Fender Mustang. Though to be fair, they were fitted entirely with Gibson hardware. The audacity was compounded by offering the line in the same three bold finishes as the Mustang: red, white and blue. So Gibson hardware and $80 cheaper than a Fender...

Kalamazoo bass body styles:
Fender Mustang & Gibson SG

As mentioned above, the first KB basses have a remarkable similarity to the Fender Mustang bass (see a 1966 KB bass). Fender's Mustang guitar launched in 1964, and the bass model only followed in mid 1966. Although the Kalamazoo bass is modelled on the guitars, it may have even preceded the Fender bass! At least they were both contemporaneous, both hitting stores in 1966.

For reasons unknown (although it would not be surprising if it was a threat from Fender), the KB bass and KG guitars were redesigned in 1966 with a new SG body style (have a closer look at a 1967 KB bass). There is no evidence (that we know of) of communication between Fender and Gibson on this matter, but if Fender objected to the Gibson Thunderbird as being too much like a Fender, they would certainly felt the same about the KB.

As the KG guitars were available a year before the basses, the Mustang-style instruments were made in far greater numbers than the SG style ones. For the basses, the reverse is true: the body style changed happened very quickly after the KB bass' launch, so Mustang-style examples are far less common than the SG style.

KB bass construction and hardware

Kalamazoo KB neck

Kalamazoo KB Bass headstocksTwo Kalamazoo bass headstocks: above, the more angular Thunderbird-style, below the smoother Fender-style

The Kalamazoo series had a bolt-on maple neck; (something that Gibson, up until this point typically didn't do), a rosewood fingerboard, and were short scale. There were two subtly different headstock shapes, the first has a characteristic 'beak' shape, and is almost identical to that of the non-reverse Thunderbird (see images below). The second style, appearing on the SG-shaped bases is more like that of a Fender, though a little more rounded. The Kalamazoo logo is engraved on the headstock. The necks were actually pretty well made, and are highly playable.

Hardware and electrical

This bass used some standard Gibson components; a typical EB series humbucker right up at the neck, as used in the EB0, EB2, EB3, Melody Maker bass and Epiphone Newport. This pickup in this position, has more affect on the sound than anything else. This bass does sound quite a lot like an EB0 (check out the Kalamazoo KB soundclips here). Tuning keys are the Japanese-made closed keys that were also used on the Melody Maker bass and a few EB basses. The bar bridge had been in use on all EB bass models, but around 1966/67 this was replaced by the two-point intonatable bridge. From this point, the KB bass was the only one using these bridges - likewise the only one using the old-style (and position) chrome handrest.

The scratchplate was almost identical (except some minor screw hole differences) to the Melody Maker bass, but the fingerrest was not rosewood as on all Gibsons, but actually plastic. The body material is not specified in Kalamazoo literature, but is supposedly a wood-laminate of one or more unspecified species, produced by a composite-wood manufacturer in Wisconsin. There were three colours: Flame Red, Glacier White, and Las Vegas Blue - the same three colours of the Fender Mustang of this period. These were not the expensive nitrocellulose finishes applied to Gibsons, but again catalogue descriptions are not specific, presumably polyurethane.

Kalamazoo KB bass controls
Components like knobs and scratchplates were far less fancy than on Gibson and Epiphone branded basses
Kalamazoo KB bass neckplate
The neck plate is unmarked, though has an unused hole for the strap button. On most basses this was actually situated on the rear of the upper horn
Kalamazoo KB bass pickup and thumbrest
The Gibson EB humbucker and thumbrest were mounted onto the scratchplate
Kalamazoo KB bass tuning keys
The machine heads used were closed-cover Japanese-made tuners, as used on a lot of 1960s basses by numerous manufacturers. Other Gibson and Epiphone basses to use these include the EB0 and EBS Newport

Gibson, Epiphone and Kalamazoo

Dianne Bowens of the Soul-Choppers.jpg Dianne Bowens, of Tony Bowens and the Soul-Choppers with a Kalamazoo KB bass. Have a listen to Dianne getting down with her KB bass on the track Boilin' Water from the album The World's Rarest Funk 45s on Jazzman records. The deep mellow bass tone is perfect for this kind of early seventies funk - doesn't it sound great?

Gibson had produced cheaper instruments with Kalamazoo brand on the headstock during the depression of the 1930s and post war 1940s, but it had not previously been used on a solid-body guitar. Sales were initially good, and during 1966-67 this was by far the best selling bass made in Kalamazoo. See the compiled Kalamazoo bass shipping figures here. Unlike the Epiphone instruments, the Kalamazoo basses were not produced side-by-side with Gibsons; they were produced at Gibsons second Kalamazoo factory (plant II, 416E Ransom street) which had been opened in 1962 to produce pickups and electronics.

The Kalamazoo brand was an attempt to emulate Fender's approach to guitar building: good quality components, assembled on a production line. It was a useful way to use up obsolete Gibson parts, and provide an affordable, American-made instrument, with many characteristic Gibson features. However, with the sale of Gibson from CMI to Norlin in late 1969 the business was once again restructured. The Kalamazoo brand was discontinued, and the new Japanese-made Epiphone range became Gibson's entry-level brand.

A common misconception about Epiphone is that its 1960s guitars and basses were cheaper versions of the Gibson lines. From the late 1950s until 1969 Gibson and Epiphone instruments were made side by side to Gibsons, using the same woods, techniques and (often) components. The purpose of the Epiphone range was to expand the Kalamazoo plants reach, specifically in terms of high-end instruments; those that had been Gibson's competition; but also to circumvent certain supply agreements (Gibsons protective territorial policy). There was a waiting list to become a Gibson dealer, but distributing Epiphone, Gibson was able to offer its (closely related) Epiphone models to a wide range of dealers without upsetting existing ones.

Two Kalamazoo KB Bass Guitars, a 1966 Mustang-style and a 1967 SG-style

The two Kalamazoo bass body styles are shown here, with the Mustang shape top and the SG shape below.

Kalamazoo bass shipping totals

As Gibson bass production figures go, the Kalamazoo KB bass sold well, but still only a quarter as many as the Kalamazoo KG guitars (see the KG guitar shipping totals). Unusually for the 1960s, the available shipping figures for the Kalamazoo bass are split by color. The shipping totals are also listed for 3 Gibson/Epiphone comparable models: EB0, Newport (EBS) and Melody Maker bass. As can be seen, the Kalamazoo bass greatly outsold the other models in 1966 and '67, though it slips behind in 1968, and production almost stops in '69 - the EB0s peak year. The Melody Maker bass is another cheaper model, rarer than the others, even though the shipping figures for this bass are most likely incomplete.

  1966 1967 1968 1969 Total
Flame Red 739 1312 523 193 2767
Glacier White 1347 501 290   2138
Las Vegas Blue 897 342 143   1382
Total Kalamazoo KB bass 2983 2155 956 193 6287
Gibson EB0 1660 1676 1350 3018 7704
Gibson Melody Maker bass 27       27
Epiphone Newport 664 136 65 72 937

Kalamazoo KB bass pricing

The Kalamazoo bass was cheap; approximately half the price of the EB0 and still a good deal cheaper than Gibson's cheapest bass, the Melody Maker, whilst having the same pickup (and therefore a good deal of the sound) of both models. And beyond that it was still $80 cheaper than the Fender Mustang bass. No wonder it sold well initially.

  1966 1967 1968 1969
Kalamazoo KB bass $119.50 $119.50 $119.50  
Fender Mustang bass $189.50 $189.50 $199.50 $229.50
Gibson EB0 $240 $240 $259.50 $275
Gibson Melody Maker bass   $209.50 $227.50 $240
Epiphone Newport $240 $250 $270  
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Kalamazoo KB-1 Mustang Body Red with MusicMaster Pickup 1960s Gibson

Kalamazoo KB-1 Mustang Body Red with MusicMaster Pickup 1960s Gibson

Los Angeles, California, 900**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$750

Some pickguard damage but otherwise really fantastic player. Stock Gibson Mudbucker and added MusicMaster bass pickup (and two way selector). Really fantastic vintage tones

Short scale, straight neck. Will go out in a gig bag. Rumor has it these bodies were made in a Michigan toilet seat factory


Local pickup Los Angeles or shipping anywhere
... more
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Vintage Kalamazoo Bass 30 Tube Bass Amp Gibson USA 60??s 210

Vintage Kalamazoo Bass 30 Tube Bass Amp Gibson USA 60??s 210

Chicago, Illinois, 606**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$449

1965-68 Kalamazoo (Gibson) Bass 30 30 watt tub bass amp 210 combo. Everything seems to work dandy, though I personally have not had this serviced and have only used it for short time periods. Regardless vintage American tube bass amp for CHEAP! Plus it??s got a pretty cool old school vibe, and as with my National model 70 and fender bassman amps, guitars sound just dandy through this too. First come first served come get it.
... more
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Find more Kalamazoo bass guitars for sale at vintageguitarsforsale.co

There are 5 comments on this article so far. Add your comment

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Scotty Stroud Comment left 7th January 2022 23:11:37 reply
I bought new a Kalamazoo KB-1 and a Gibson Thor amp from Mundt Music in Tyler, Tx in 1968. My KB-1 was white with a black pickguard which I think may be rather rare.
Frank Vozak Comment left 23rd June 2021 04:04:54 reply
The Kalamazoo KB bass was a tremendous bass which delivered great value. I compared my 67 Mustang Bass and EB-O and for half the price the KB delivered great quality. As my bass teacher told me the KB was mahogany pressboard from wood scraps from the Gibson guitar/bass lines. I have also read that Kohler made KB bodies on their toilet seat assembly line on contract for Gibson. Kalamazoo delivered tremendous value, my original amp was a Kalamazoo Bass 50 with 50 watts and 2 ten inch speakers with a control panel that closed into the amp body for travel. If I could have my wish, I'd have a 67 Bass 50, 67 Mustang Bass and 67 KB Bass. This is a combination that delivers grade bass tone, an amplifier with lots of great bass tone in a small package.
Sue Walden Comment left 19th January 2018 08:08:38 reply
My husband has a Gibson Kalamazoo Bass guitar, 1966 (I think) and he is needing the ring piece, tuner Bushings I think its called. Don't need the tuner keys, only those small bushing rings. Where might I find these? Thank you.
Richard brooks Comment left 18th December 2014 17:05:11 reply
Very nice guitars I really enjoyed reading about these guitars history Gibson and epiphone side by side I own a epiphone dot studio (worn cherry) pleased with construction and feel of this guitar and it holds up to alvin Lee licks (going home) 1969 I also own a sunrise bass guitar not sure about it haven't seen any pics on here to bring the bass identification to article fender shape bass percussion I believe walnut/oak materials very good condition label still shows the name (sunrise) I could send photos if you'd like just write me back hope to hear from you soon have a god day and thanks for the articles of Gibson and epiphone the history.
anonymous Comment left 14th August 2012 19:07:28 reply
Did they get to a 2 pickup Kalamazoo KB2 (or would it be KB3 - like EB3?)

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1971 Selmer guitar catalogue

1971 Selmer guitar catalogueScan of 1971 Selmer guitar catalogue showing the range of electric and acoustic guitars distributed by the company: guitars by Gibson, Yamaha, Selmer, Hofner and Suzuki. 1960s Selmer had always placed Hofner at the front end of their catalogues, no doubt these were the better sellers - but into the 1970s Hofner were slipping somewhat and only appear at the tail end of this publication, pride of place going to Gibson, and to a lesser extent Yamaha. In fact this is the last Selmer catalogue to include the many Hofner hollow bodies (Committee, President, Senator etc) that had defined the companies output for so many years - to be replaced in the 1972 catalogue by generic solid body 'copies' of Gibson and Fender models. A number of new Gibson models are included for the first time: the SG-100 and SG-200 six string guitars and the SB-300 and SB-400 basses.

1968 Selmer guitar catalogue

1968 Selmer guitar catalogueScan of 1968/1969 Selmer guitar catalogue (printed July 1968), showing the entire range of electric and acoustic guitars distributed by the company: guitars by Hofner, Gibson, Selmer and Giannini. Selmer were the exclusive United Kingdom distributors of Hofner and Gibson at the time, and this catalogue contains a total of 18 electric guitars, 7 bass guitars, 37 acoustics, and 2 Hawaiian guitars - all produced outside the UK and imported by Selmer, with UK prices included in guineas. This catalogue saw the (re-)introduction of the late sixties Gibson Les Paul Custom and Les Paul Standard (see page 69) and the short-lived Hofner Club 70. Other electric models include: HOFNER ELECTRICS: Committee, Verithin 66, Ambassador, President, Senator, Galaxie, HOFNER BASSES: Violin bass, Verithin bass, Senator bass, Professional bass GIBSON ELECTRICS: Barney Kessel, ES-330TD, ES-335TD, ES-345TD, ES-175D, ES-125CD, SG Standard, SG Junior, SG Special GIBSON BASSES: EB-0, EB-2, EB-3 - plus a LOT of acoustics branded Gibson, Hofner, Selmer and Giannini

1961 Hofner Colorama I

1961 Hofner Colorama IHofner Colorama was the name UK distributor Selmer gave to a series of solid and semi-solid guitars built by Hofner for distribution in the UK. The construction and specifications of the guitars varied over the period of production, but by 1961 it was a totally solid, double cutaway instrument, with a set neck, translucent cherry finish, six-in-a-row headstock, and Hofner Diamond logo pickups. Available as a single or dual pickup guitar, this sngle pickup version would have been sold in mainland Europe as the Hofner 161.

1971 Commodore N25 (Matsumoku)

1971 Commodore N25 (Matsumoku)Commodore was a brand applied to a series of guitars produced in Japan at the well-respected Matsumoku plant from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s - and sold primarily (perhaps exclusively?) in the United Kingdom. The models bearing the Commodore name were all guitars available from different distributors with different branding. Although there may have been some minor changes in appointments (specifically headstock branding) most had the same basic bodies, hardware and construction. Equivalent models to the Commodore N25 (and this is by no means an exhaustive list) include the Aria 5102T, Conrad 5102T(?), Electra 2221, Lyle 5102T, Ventura V-1001, Univox Coily - and most famously the Epiphone 5102T / Epiphone EA-250.

1960 Hofner Colorama II

1960 Hofner Colorama IIThe Hofner Colorama was the name given by Selmer to a series of solid (and semi-solid) body Hofner guitars distributed in the United Kingdom between 1958 and 1965. The Colorama name actually applied to some quite different guitars over the period, but in 1960 it was a very light, semi-solid, set necked guitar with one (Colorama I) or two (Colorama II, as seen here) Toaster pickups. Although an entry-level guitar, it was very well-built, and a fine playing guitar; certainly a step up (at least in terms of craftsmanship) from many of the Colorama guitars that would follow, and a good deal of the guitars available in Britain circa 1960.

1971 Epiphone 1820 bass (ET-280)

1971 Epiphone 1820 (ET-280) bassBy the end of the 1960s, a decision had been made to move Epiphone guitar production from the USA (at the Kalamazoo plant where Gibson guitars were made), to Matsumoto in Japan, creating a line of guitars and basses significantly less expensive than the USA-built models (actually less than half the price). The Matsumoku factory had been producing guitars for export for some time, but the 1820 bass (alongside a number of guitar models and the 5120 electric acoustic bass) were the first Epiphone models to be made there. These new Epiphones were based on existing Matsumoku guitars, sharing body shapes, and hardware, but the Epiphone line was somewhat upgraded, with inlaid logos and a 2x2 peghead configuration. Over the course of the 70s, the Japanese output improved dramatically, and in many ways these early 70s models are a low point for the brand. Having said this, there are a lot worse guitars out there, and as well as being historically important, the 1820 bass can certainly provide the goods when required.

1981 Gibson Marauder

1981 Gibson MarauderProduction of Bill Lawrence's Gibson Marauder began in 1974, with production peaking in 1978. But by 1980 the model was officially discontinued, though very small numbers slipped out as late as spring 1981. Over 7000 examples shipped between 1974 and 1979, and although no totals are available for 1980 and 1981, it is unlikely production reached three figures in either of these years. These final Marauders were all assembled at the Gibson Nashville plant, and had some nice features not available through the later years of production, such as a rosewood fretboard, and in this case, an opaque 'Devil Red' finish. It's a great looking and fine playing guitar!

1971 'Pick Epiphone' Catalog

1971 Pick Epiphone catalogWhen Epiphone production moved from Kalamazoo to the Matsumoku plant in Japan, a whole new range of electric, flattop and classic acoustic guitars was launched. Between late 1970 and 1972 the new models were launched and refined. This 'folder' catalog contains various inserts released over these years detailing four electric six-strings (ET-270, ET-275, ET-278, and thinline EA-250), three bass guitars (ET-280, ET-285, and thinline EA-260), three folk/steel acoustics, four jumbo flattop acoustics, two 12-string jumbos, four classic acoustics, and a banjo.

1981 'Gibson Specials' Pre-Owners Manual

1981 Gibson Specials Pre-Owners Manual'Gibson Specials' was part of the June 1981 pre-owners manual series, but unlike the other folders contained a mish-mash of different guitars: limited editions, test marketing and close outs. "You will find the unusual, the brand-new, and the bargain within this folder". End of line 70s guitars like the Marauder, S-1, and L-6S Custom mixed in with brand new models the The V, The Explorer and the Flying V Bass.
It was the largest folder in the series, with 24 inserts, (19 guitars and 5 basses): Guitars: 335-S Standard, Melody Maker Double, Marauder, L-6S Custom, S-1, RD Artist, Firebird, Firebird II, Flying V, Flying V-II, The V, Explorer, Explorer II, The Explorer, The "SG" Standard, Les Paul Artist, Les Paul Artisan, ES-335 Heritage, ES-175/CC Basses: Grabber, G-3, L-9S, RD Artist Bass, Flying V Bass

1970s Shaftesbury 3263 bass

1970s Shaftesbury 3263 bassRose-Morris were selling Shaftesbury-branded Rickenbacker copy instruments from the late 1960s right through the 1970s. The 3263 bass was one of the first models, (alongside the 3261 six string and 3262 twelve string) available from late 1968 until about 1974. The earliest incarnation was a set neck bass, produced very briefly in Japan. But production quickly moved to Italy. This bolt-on neck example was built by Eko, in Recanati, using the same hardware and pickups as fitted to Eko, and Vox basses built around the same time. It's certainly a fine looking bass, and not a bad player either.

1961 Hohner Zambesi

1961 Hohner ZambesiThis very early, and pretty rare British-built guitar is branded Hohner London. Hohner were, of course, a German company, better known for their harmonicas and accordions, but they were keenly expanding into guitars at the birth of the 1960s. This model, along with the Hohner Amazon and (particularly) the Hohner Holborn, bear some similarity with Vox guitars of the same period; furniture manufacturer Stuart Darkins constructed bodies and necks for both brands, with Fenton Weill assembling them using their hardware and pickups. These guitars do have some hardware peculiarities, and they are not the most adjustable of instruments, but they actually play very nicely, being solidly built out of some very nice woods. Check out the video on this page.

1963 Vox Super Ace

1963 Vox Super AceThe Vox Super Ace was a mid-priced British solid body electric guitar, produced by JMI at their factory in Dartford, Kent. It was broadly modelled on the Fender Stratocaster, and a sibling model to the dual-pickup Vox Ace. Both the Ace, and Super Ace (along with several other models), were redesigned in 1963 with a new body shape, headstock style, and pickup layout - only increasing the resemblance to the aforementioned Fender. The Super Ace had a 1963 price tag of 47 5S. It's a pretty nice playing guitar with some lovely sounds - check out the videos on this page, and in the Vintage Guitar and Bass supporting members area

1966 Vox New Escort

1966 Vox New EscortThe Vox New Escort was Vox's version of the Fender Telecaster, at a time when American guitars were out of reach for most British musicians. It was made by JMI in England, for the British market, and unlike the majority of other models, didn't have an Italian-made equivalent. But the New Escort wasn't a slavish Fender copy, adding Vox's stylish teardrop headstock to the tele-style body, with a stop tailpiece and two Vox V2 single coil pickups. And it's a pretty substantial, and nice playing guitar, with a very comfortable neck. Check out the images, specifications, and watch a video of it in action. There is also extra content in the vintageguitarandbass supporting members area.

1969 Fender catalog, Fender Lovin' Care

1969 Fender catalog, Fender Lovin CareCatalog scan. The 1969 Fender Lovin' Care catalog consisted of 48 pages of electric guitars, basses, amplifiers, steel guitars, acoustic guitars, banjos and keyboards. Like the previous catalog, this featured the company's guitars in a variety of interesting settings around California, from the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, to the Hollywood Bowl. Several instruments were making their first appearance amongst it's pages: the Telecaster bass, Montego and LTD jazz guitars, and the Redondo acoustic. It was the final catalog appearance, however, of the Electric XII, Bass V, Duo-Sonic, Coronado I and Coronado Bass I.

1973 Eko Ranger Folk

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1966 Vox Symphonic bass guitar

1966 Vox Symphonic bass guitarThe Symphonic bass was built in the UK, by Vox parent company JMI. It was the Vox equivalent to the Fender Precision bass, and was one of the most expensive Vox guitars produced. It was actually a great playing bass, rather similar to the Precision in feel and sound, but was probably just too expensive compared to an actual Fender and consequently sold poorly. When Vox hit financial problems in 1968, unsold guitars and basses were passed on to Dallas Arbiter, who briefly sold the excess Symphonic bass stock as model 4537. This bass, although with a neck date of February 1966, was most likely one of the unsold Vox guitars sold on by Dallas Arbiter. Check out the bass, and the two video demos through 1960s Ampeg and WEM amplifiers.

1968 Shaftesbury 'Electric Guitars' catalog

1968 Shaftesbury catalogThe 1968 Shaftesbury 'Electric Guitars' catalog was just four pages long, and contained four guitar models: the six string Barney Kessel-style 3264; and three Rickenbacker-styled semi-acoustic models: the six-string 3261, the twelve string 3262 and the 3263 bass. Shaftesbury was the house-brand of major UK distributor Rose-Morris, and seems to have been launched as a response to the company's loss of it's distribution deal with Rickenbacker. The guitars were mid-priced, and built in (initially) Japan, and later Italy, by Eko

1970 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns Celebrated Classics' catalog

1970 Rose_Morris catalog1970 Rose-Morris catalog, dated April 1970. It featured 6 electric guitars, 32 acoustic guitars, 3 basses and 1 steel guitar. It contains the following instruments, over 20 pages: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3262, 3264, 3265, 3400; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Colorado, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12; Aria 1674, 1675, 1676, 1679, 1680, 1695, 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk; Rose-Morris 15-11, Kansas, Georgian, Florida; Suzuki 1663, 1664, 1665, 3054, 3055, 3060; Tatay 1713, 1714, 1715; Peerless 3052; Steel guitar: Aria 3425

1971 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns' catalog

1971 Rose_Morris catalogThe sixteen-page 1971 Rose-Morris catalog featured electric guitars by Rose-Morris' own brand, Shaftesbury, and budget brand Top Twenty; aswell as acoustics by Eko, Aria, and for the first time Ovation. The catalog contains the following instruments: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3264, 3265, 3400, 3402; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Ovation: Balladeer, 12 String, Glen Campbell, Glen Campbell 12 string; Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12, Colorado, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Studio 'L'; Rose-Morris Florida; Aria 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk

1972 Fender Precision bass

1972 Fender PrecisionA detailed look at an early 1970s Fender Precision bass guitar in custom black finish, with rosewood fretboard. 1972 list price, $307.50. The Fender Precision had been shipping since at least very early 1952 - with just one re-design circa 1957. This example, then, shows a model already two decades old, but barely changed since the '57 revamp. Fender got it right first time around, and although there are numerous minor cosmetic differences, the essence of this bass is effectively the same as it was in '52: a simple, single pickup instrument with a GREAT sound. Check out the demo video through an old Ampeg B15. It's no wonder this is the bass that everybody wants!

1967 Vox Stroller

1967 Vox StrollerThe Vox Stroller was the brand's entry level electric solid body guitar, fitted with just one pickup and a fixed tailpiece. Although aimed at student guitarists, it wasn't a terrible instrument, but did lack somewhat in adjustability, having no accessible truss rod and only a floating rosewood bridge. But this example is actually quite an improvement on earlier versions, with a standard 1/4" jack and a solid mahogany body. 1967 price £18 2s. JMI ceased UK guitar production in late '67, and combined with decreasing demand for the Stroller, this surely must be one of the last examples shipped.

1963 Vox Clubman Bass (left handed)

1963 Vox Clubman Bass left handedA nice example of the Vox Clubman II bass, built by JMI in Dartford, Kent in 1963. This is a lightweight bass, short (30") scale and very easy to play. It is an early example, and as such has a thin black scratchplate and side mounted, coaxial output jack. JMI offered left handed examples of their solid body Vox guitars and basses at 10% premium. Production numbers are unclear, but left-handed examples rarely come up for sale

1977 Gibson ES Artist 'prototype'

1977 Gibson ES Artist prototypeNot to be confused with the Gibson ES Artist launched by Gibson in 1979; this ES Artist was an early model designed by the Gibson research and development team in Kalamazoo in 1977, the instruments themselves constructed by Gibson artist Chuck Burge. It was planned for launch as a high end semi acoustic with 335-style construction (central maple block) and innovative circuitry - but was pulled at the last minute, being deemed too expensive. Apparently, several examples were produced with varying specifications, though exactly how many actually left the Kalamazoo plant is unclear. Certainly two guitars were sold to LaVonne Music by Gibson in around 1980. Read more about the development of this guitar, with details from Chuck Burge and the story of it's sale to LaVonne music

1959 Hofner Committee

1959 Hofner CommitteeThe Hofner Committee was a truly beautiful guitar produced in Germany, primarily for the UK market. It was a large bodied (initially 17 1/2") guitar with a carved spruce top, available as an acoustic or electric guitar. By the early sixties the carved top was replaced with a laminate, and although still a very fine guitar, the earlier carved top examples, with frondose headstock (like the example shown here) are far more highly prized amongst musicians and vintage guitar collectors.

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins TennesseanThe Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean, or model 6119 was Gretsch's best selling hollow body of the 1960s. This wonderfully faded example from 1965 was originally Dark Cherry Red, but has turned a mid-orange brown. The original color, however, can be seen underneath the pickup surrounds. 1965 specs: maple body, two-piece neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard and Hi-Lo 'Tron single coil pickups. Nickel plated Gretsch Bigsby tailpiece.

1965 Gretsch 'For the Spectacular Sound of the Times' guitar and amp catalog

1965 Gretsch catalogThe 1965 Gretsch catalog, or catalog #32, featured 10 hollow body electric guitars, including the newly launched Gretsch Viking; four solid body electrics, including the Astro Jet - making it's only catalog appearance; just one bass, the single pickup PX6070; nine acoustics and 12 tube amplifiers. Pride of place went to the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman that adorned both the front and back covers. 24 pages, six of which are in full color.

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret ends

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret endsLoose frets are especially problematic in certain old guitars, but are generally very easy to fix. You'll be amazed at the difference you can make with just a few tools, a bit of knowledge, and a little time. Fixing loose frets can eliminate fret buzz, remove sharp fret ends, and greatly improve the tone of any guitar. If your luthier bill will be greater than the value of your guitar, definitely time to have a go yourself!

1966 Hagstrom 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog (Merson USA)

1966 Hagstrom guitar catalogHagstrom guitars were distributed in the mid-1960s United States by Merson of USA. This eight page 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog, printed in two-colors contained six solid body electrics, three solid body basses, two electric acoustic guitars, two electric acoustic basses and five acoustics.

1965 Hofner President

1965 Hofner PresidentThe President was produced by Hofner in Bubenreuth, Germany, specifically for Selmer, who distributed the brand in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other commonwealth nations. The President was a hollow body electric acoustic, available as a full body or thinline, and with blonde or brunette finish. It was a great playing guitar that sold fairly well in the second half of the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, and into the very early 1970s. The example shown here is a full-body depth guitar in blonde - and as a 1965 guitar, one of the last to feature the rounded Venetian cutaway. From late 1965 until 1972, the President sported a sharp Florentine cut. Naturally, such an electric acoustic suggests jazz and blues, but many of the original British Hofner President players were part of the rock 'n roll, skiffle and beat scenes of the late 50s and early 60s.

1963 1964 Fender catalog

Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.