These days Epiphone guitars are almost ubiquitous. If a band plays Gibson-style guitars, they’re most likely to be slinging Epis. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it’s because the quality is pretty good, the sound is decent, the look is there, and, if some scumbag should manage to ease a case out of the back of your van when you’re looking the other way, you’re only out an Epi. In other words, the Gibson stays back at home. This is only the latest twist in a tale full of deliciously ironic symbiosis. Another turn is reflected by this extremely rare 1988 Epiphone Spotlight.
Back in the late 1960s—Jimi notwithstanding—the cat’s pajamas of amplifiers were solid-state. Tube amps were heavy and prone to feedback. Solid-state amps were clean, big, and loud. I ran a whole band off a humongous 350-watt Mosrite amp. The mix sucked, but we were loud! The most desirable amps at that time were made by Standel and, to a lesser extent, Kustom (depended on your kind of music). It was only later that I learned that both companies also made guitars, like this ca. 1966 Standel Model 101 Custom Deluxe Solid Body Guitar. Heavy!
Phil Cook, owner of Liquid Metal Guitars talks about his guitars and company. We build exceptional guitars. We build metal bodied guitars, that are either chrome, machined etched surface treatment or Harley Davidson candy paints for a look that is brilliant and bright and unique and cool. The one you are looking at now is our chromed beauty, the M1 T.V. Jones Premium.
It’s always dangerous to deal in stereotypes. Nevertheless, there’s often a grain of truth lurking behind them. Take guitars (what else?) from the ‘60s. Often it only takes a glance to sus where a guitar came from. Look at a Japanese electric guitar and you won’t mistake it for anything else. Or move to Europe. You’d almost never confuse a German guitar—full of engineering bells and whistles—for an Italian one (loaded with style), or vice versa. Take this c. 1965 Juliett Delux guitar.
In many ways, the spectacular Japanese-made 1982 Daion Savage Power Mark XX shown here was the offspring of something intended to end, or at least seriously damage, Japanese guitar-making itself… In other words, this guitar shouldn’t exist.
Hondo was founded by Freed and Tommy Moore in 1969 with the intention to open up guitar production in Korea, at that time a non-player in the guitar game. Japan had taken over from Europe as the primary supplier of budget-level guitars during the 1960s. However, even by the late ‘60s the success of the Japanese was being eroded by their very success and the strength of the yen. Americans, mostly as an after-effect of World War II, had little respect for Japanese products and weren’t willing to pay much for them, even if they were pretty good. When Nixon cut the dollar loose to float with other currencies on the free market, the yen went up, making Japanese products increasingly expensive, a problem in a prejudiced, price-sensitive market like the US.
Close-up pictures of the Airline H44 guitar – now available in Taxi Cab Yellow!
When Darcy Kuronen, the musical instrument curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, contacted me in early 1999 about their upcoming exhibition of guitars as art, which eventually became the Dangerous Curves exhibition, I was psyched. Guitars as art is my credo, why I collect. Well, at least one of the reasons. After a lot of sifting and winnowing, we agreed on a list that included a bunch of my guitars and a hyper-suspensioned, climate-controlled art moving van showed up to spirit my pretties up to Beantown. My Aria Pro II Urchin Deluxe became the visual emblem of the show, on the catalog cover, billboards, bus signs, banners. Pretty cool! Tucked away at the bottom of the pile was this 1985 Schecter Genesis G6 Illusion guitar!
Check out, for instance, this rare bird. A 1966 Wurlitzer Gemini, made at the Hollman-Woodell guitar factory in Neodesha, Kansas. Part of Wurlitzer’s THE WILD ONES series (which included the more pedestrian-looking, but still pretty rad Cougar and Wildcat models), these were made to compete with the best of the domestic market. High end tuners (Klutsons), a wonderful chunky bound neck (like a Fender V shape, but a bit thicker), and a great look highlight the Gemini.
Now, here’s a piece of guitar history that proves there’s more than meets the eye, a circa 1967 Cameo 1402T! It wasn’t that long ago that violins were considered the superior cousin to its distant relative, the guitar. You know: violins equal classical music equals high class. Guitars equal popular music equals you dancing fool you!
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