A Not Famous Guitar

Not a famous rock guitar today. I will have the famous Rock guitars part 5 next weekend. This post is a little self-indulgent…no a lot.

I thought this guitar had an interesting story. My family made guitars for country stars in the 50s through the 70s. George Jones and Leon Rhodes are two artists that had them. They made quality acoustic guitars that compared to Martins… they also made mandolins but very few electrics. They were all high end instruments. Many were custom made for artists. They go for big prices now. My dad didn’t like making electrics because he said the craftsmanship wasn’t in them like acoustics. He told me son they are like a two-by-four with strings…ok Dad…but I got what he was saying.

What makes this guitar interesting is it was made in the mid-sixties. It then sat on a shelf for over 25 years. In 1991 I got this guitar and I was the first person to ever play the thing. 

A relative gave me this hollow body electric guitar that was made by his dad. Two of the same style guitars were made at the time…the other one was sold. I have it’s sister that languished on the shelf for years.

When I got the guitar it had everything except the pickups and tuning keys…so it had never been played. I have a friend who had two Dimarzio humbucker pickups and he installed them plus Grover tuning keys…it also came with a vintage Bigsby Vibrato Tailpiece. 

Now…getting a little technical… these pickups were very “hot”…I don’t mean stolen but with a very high output…very loud but clear. One guitar tech told me they were the hottest humbucker pickups he ever heard. 

When you have a hollow body guitar and very hot pickups… they can make a guitar feedback at high volumes. It took me a good 2 years to really learn how to play this guitar properly without it getting away from me. It was like placing a jet engine in a car. I have some guitar friends who love it and it’s sometimes called “The Beast.”

The trim and the pickup toggle on the body had tarnished yellow by the time I got it.  My favorite color is green…and good thing because this one is a very unusual sunburst green.

I’m going to alter it bit coming up soon. I’m going to replace one of the humbucker pickups with a P-90 and give it a little variety. We will see how that sounds.

The guitar compares to a Gibson ES-335 or a few Gretsch guitars. The beast has a growl like no other. Out of all of my guitars this is the one I pick for dirtier sounds…

Vintage Bigsby Vibrato Tailpiece


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

33 thoughts on “A Not Famous Guitar”

  1. Man, Max, this guitar sounds like a true gem – what an amazing instrument to own, especially given it was built by your very own family. That’s just priceless!

    When I saw the feature image, the first thing that came to mind was “Lucille!” For all non-guitar nerds, that’s the name B.B. King gave to his guitars, which usually were Gibsons similar to the ES-345-355. Though admittedly, I just noticed King’s guitars weren’t semi-hollows – oops, so much for calling myself a guitar nerd! 🙂

    I guess another famous artist who could have come to mind would be Chuck Berry. He played Gibson 335 semi-hollow guitars. Anyway…

    Max, not that it’s any of my business, I’m actually wondering whether you should leave the guitar as is. Replacing one of the humbucker pickups with a P-90 might tame the beast, but it may impact its unique sound. Well, I suppose, if the change is too dramatic, you could always put back the original pickup! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading…Yea I know what you mean about the P-90…I’ve gone back and forth with it for a long time. I won’t get rid of those pickups no matter what.

      I was telling someone else…the whole thing was ironic because yes my family made them but they really couldn’t play. I knew how to play but I never had one. They are way too expensive for me to buy on ebay. After I got this one I was given more…2 acoustics and one more electric.

      You are right it does remind me of those you mentioned and John Lennon’s Casino also. The green sunburst is weird but it is unique in it’s own way.

      The acoustics play like a dream…that is what they specialized in.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well with 2000 posts, a few were bound to escape my notice. I didn’t realize your family made guitars! This one is lovely and priceless, imo. It certainly ended up in the right hands, the way you’ve equipped it and made it play.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny because my dad was in it also. None of them really knew how to play the things. I ended up knowing how to play but I had no guitars from them. I couldn’t go out and buy them because they are priced from 2500-7000 on ebay. No way I can afford that.
      Since then though I was given this one and other family members since gave me a few more. So now I have 2 acoustics and 2 electrics.

      I wish I would have learned to make them…but that stopped long before I came of age.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh…my buddy who owns the tractor that I think I told you about…he and I have some woodworking equipment…he is good…we did build a body and it looks great…now we just have to finish it! The body is 3 years old…I’m going to hit him up again…I will be the first one since 1974…as far as the name.

        BTW…if I didn’t tell you earlier…thanks for sticking with my blog this long…and my long ramblings! No I do appreciate it.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I got that black light poster at a yard sale from an old hippie guy. It’s the real deal from back in the day. It was torn but I got scotch tape and taped it from behind and framed it.


  3. A very enjoyable read about your family guitar craftsmanship. Something to be proud of! Glad you are still keeping the legacy alive. Wouldn’t it be cool to have your new Gower Guitar done by next Christmas?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it would. Greg…the guy that knows this stuff…is free again so we were talking about finishing it. It would be cool. Just to play it would be cool.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes that would be…also profitable. I’ve seen them sell up to 7000 dollars but that is vintage…for me though…I just want one I built.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s sounds crazy but there is a balance I like. There are some I love the sound of like a Les Paul but they are as heavy as bricks.
      This one is lighter because it is hollow but still has that sound.

      They sold quite a few in their day… Dolly Parton and many country stars had one… but they couldn’t really play them… which doesn’t make sense to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow…sorry I missed the post yesterday. That is so cool to have that connection to the guitar & music in general. More reason for you to be proud of your family. It’s a nice looking instrument too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny thing is Jeff…they could make guitars but could not play them…and I’m the opposite…I am proud of them and that connection with my name. It was mostly my uncle, dad, and aunt that did the most.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That is fucking badass. I don’t understand any of your technical terms but, it sounds cool. LOL!

    I love, love, love the Cheshire cat in the background.

    I wish I had had a musical family. The most I got was, my dad played some guitar, badly, trying to imitate Cash.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That poster is from the seventies…cost me a dollar from a hippie guy at a yard sale.
      I do love the connection with the music part…that guitar will scream.


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