All Amped Up (Vintage 1967 Standel Custom Model 202 Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1967 Standel Custom Model 202 Electric Guitar (Red)

Back in the late 1960s, amplifiers were big. No, I don’t mean as in “popular.” I mean as in big! I had a giant 350-watt solid-state Mosrite that ran a whole band. It was so big, I had to buy a VW Bus to schlep it around. Back then, probably no big amp brand was bigger—as in more popular—than Standel out of California. Those were the amps to have (I suspect my Mosrite was really made by them). Standel got so big, the company introduced its own guitar lines. And, just as Mosrite probably didn’t make any amps, Standel didn’t make any of its guitars.

Nectar of the Gods (Vintage 1967 Apollo Deluxe 2235 Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1967 Apollo Deluxe Electric Guitar

One cool thing about liking oddball old guitars is they always contain hope…and a challenge. By which I mean, no matter how obscure or exotic, you always live with hope that you’ll someday figure out what the heck they are and thrive on the challenge of trying to do so. At least that’s been my repeated experience over the last quarter century or so of playing guitar detective. That being said, this 1967 Apollo Deluxe was kind of the exception that proved the rule, in that it followed a reverse pattern, sort of backing into discovery.

Within the TeleStar Orbit (Vintage 1967 TeleStar Professional Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1967 TeleStar Professional 5002 Electric Guitar - Black

I think there’s an illusion among many vintage guitar enthusiasts that the 1960s were some sort of candy store filled with glittering guitars at every turn. Certainly the remarkable variety of brands and designs that were produced and have survived help foster this illusion of abundance. But the reality on the ground back then was quite different for most of us. Few of us ever encountered a guitar like this 1967 TeleStar until well after the fact!

Off With Her Head (Vintage 1985 Austin Hatchet Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1985 Austin Hatchet Electric Guitar

As a rule, I’ve never been too enamored of “pop” music, if you define pop as largely vocal-oriented music with catchy melodies and easy-to-remember lyrics, almost always love-themed. So, ordinarily, a pop band like The Police would be off my radar. Still, Andy Summers was able to weave some pretty interesting guitar textures—without traditional flash solos—behind Sting’s singing, so I paid attention. Besides, it was Andy Summers who almost single-handedly created a market for minimalist guitars like this c. 1985 Austin Hatchet.

Hot For Rare Birds (Vintage 1986 Epiphone Firebird 500 Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1986 Epiphone Firebird 500 Electric Guitar

It has always amused me that one of the great tempests in the teapot of guitardom has been the legendary “lawsuit” of the 1970s. You know, when Norlin (aka Gibson) sued Elger (aka Hoshino, aka Ibanez) in 1977 over trademark infringement based upon “copying” Gibson’s headstock design. There are tons of ironies in this story, but one of the most amusing aspects is that companies such as Gibson have been one of the most egregious copyists of its own guitars over the years. Witness the Korean-made Epiphone Firebird 500 seen here.

Getting the Guitar…But Not The Girl! (Vintage 1985 Aria Pro II Knight Warrior Electric Guitar)


Sex always sells…or so they say. And certainly when you’re marketing an electric solidbody guitar to testosterone-heavy adolescent and young adult males, showing a bit of female flesh is sure to get attention, whether or not it will move product. Few guitar ad campaigns have pursued this strategy with more verve than the one for […]

Robin Wedge, Exclamation Point on a Storied Brand (Vintage 1985 Robin Wedge Electric Guitar)


One of the privileges of writing about guitars for as long as I have is that guitar people will talk with you. I’ve had many memorable conversations with people who’ve helped shape—often literally—the guitars we all know and love. Perhaps no conversation was more memorable than a long, detailed talk I had with Dave Wintz, […]

A (Mostly) Happy Accident (Vintage 1994 Alvarez Dana Scoop Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1994 Alvarez Dana Scoop AE650TRW Electric Guitar (White)

I don’t recall how I got his number, but when I called Dana Sutcliffe to talk about what is probably his most famous—at least known famous—guitar, he said we should do lunch. Dana lives just down the road from me in Delaware, so it was an easy meeting. I asked if he’d ever had Vietnamese pho (beef noodle soup, one of the world’s most perfect foods), and since he hadn’t and since he loves to eat, we met one day in one of South Philadelphia’s numerous pho parlors to discuss the genesis of the Alvarez Dana Scoop. It was, as it turns out, all the result of an accident.

Beware of Substitutions (Vintage 1983 Kramer Focus K4000 Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1983 Kramer Focus K4000 Electric Guitar

I love ironies, those unexpected little twists and turns that make you smile. And, if there’s a guitar story that’s full of more irony than that of Kramers guitars, I don’t know about it. That’s why I love guitars like this 1983 Kramer Focus K4000. It’s a knock-off of a Kramer guitar, but a copy […]

Coincidences & Satellites (Vintage 1967 TeleStar Professional Sparkle 5002 Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1967 TeleStar Professional Sparkle 5002 Electric Guitar

Over many years of writing about and photographing guitars, I’ve had numerous occasion to take pictures of guitars “on location.” That means packing up rather bulky photographic gear—cameras, tripods, lights, backdrops—and voyaging near and far. Sometimes this took place at a vintage guitar shop, sometimes at a collector’s place. When it came to the subject of TeleStar guitars, I got to combine both.