Saturday, January 30, 2010

Guitars With Built In Amplifiers

When the transistor radio was invented, a light bulb went off in the minds of electric guitar and amplifier designers.











This result in Fender introducing their first line of transistor amplifiers in 1965. These models had a very short fate and were pulled off of the market.

Of course other manufacturers jumped on the transistor design. It was cheaper and the need for those pesky tubes was eliminated.


For some of these manufacturers another idea occurred. Why not make an electric guitar with a built in battery powered amplifier. Transistors provided a way to house much smaller components in an amplifier chassis.


In 1956 the Eveready Corporation invented the small rectangular nine volt battery, eliminating housing 6 AA or AAA batteries which took up more room and were more expensive.

Some of the first guitars with built in amplifiers came from the Asian nations, specifically Japan and others were manufactured in Europe.

Teisco TGR-1
The Teisco Company of Japan got it’s name from the acronym for the Tokyo Electric Instrument and Sound Company.

Teisco produced their own products under the Del Ray name, which sounded Spanish.


Spain equated with guitars back in the 1940’s and 50’s that were not Hawaiian style guitars.


Teisco produced an odd shaped guitar designated as model TGR-1. The lower section of this guitar housed a low wattage amplifier that could be turned off an on with a slider switch. The amp section ran off of 2 nine volt batteries. The back of the speaker coil was slightly larger than the guitar, so a round metal cover was put on the back of the body. The front of the guitar’s scratchplate was metal and house twin pickups, volume and tone knobs, the slider switch and slats cut out above the speaker section.

There were three European models. Two were manufactured by Davoli. One was under the Wandre name which we have discussed previously with the post about Pioli Wandre.

The first and the oddest is the Davoli Bikini guitar.

During the time of its arrival the bikini was all the rage for beach wear and everyone was talking about the skimpy little outfits that left little to the imagination.

The Davoli Bikini derived its name from the fact that the amplifier section was not contain within the guitar, but was a separately housed round unit that attached to the guitars lower bout by a couple of metal brackets and a section to house the wiring. Hence it was in two pieces.



The amplifier section was housed in a large round plastic enclosure designed with a plastic grill, similar to the guard plate of an electric fan.

The amplifier was a German made Kraandal CT642.

The guitar section was oddly shaped and covered with a celluloid material, which seemed to be the case with many Italian made guitars. It had twin pickups attached to a chrome plate with pushbutton switches and an on/off slider switch.

Pioli Wandre had hooked up with Davoli and used Davoli pickups in most of his models. He created a guitar with a built in speaker that was named the Meazzi Hollywood. This guitar looked more like what one would image a guitar to resemble. However true to Wandre’s artistic design, it was very misshapen.




This instruments neck was made of wood instead of the aluminum used on most of his guitars and the body was made out of plastic. It had one Davoli pickup with a plastic cover, a volume potentiometer and an on/off throw switch. This guitar also purportedly used the same Kraadal CT642 amplifier.




Hofner, from Germany, had created an amp-in-guitar they named the Bat. I believe it was profiled in Vintage Guitar Magazine last year. It had an odd shape, but at least it was symmetrical.

The upper section of the guitar’s lower bout housed the amplifier. The top of the guitar had a fairly complicated design above the speakers grill. The bottom section housed the same control panel found on their Violin bass and other Hofner instruments.





The back access panel was made from part of the wood that had been carefully sawed off of the guitars back. This gave it a much classier look than just slapping a piece of plastic on the guitars back. The amplifier was designed by Hofner.


We have discussed a little bit about Kay guitars. This company started out in 1890 under the name Groeschl Musical Instrument Company. Henry Kuhrmeyer was an employee that rose through the ranks to become the owner of the company. They were the biggest musical instrument company in the world at one point.

They took their name from Mr. Kuhrmayer's middle initial. Kay produced a guitar called the Kay Busker. Although I cannot seem to find much information about this guitar, I do recall it being shaped somewhat like a Les Paul and contained a speaker in the lower bout.

Kay also produced a Busker that had a Telecaster-like appearance.





For the uninitiated Busking is a word that means playing as a street musician.


More recently there are about four models of guitars with built in amplifiers that can be deemed guitars as opposed to toy guitars.

The first is the Fernandez Nomad and Nomad Deluxe.









The Nomad’s body comes in a number of colors including red, white and blue.

The body has sort of a crescent shape with a cutaway design. The speaker is on the top bout. The headstock resembles a large banana and the maple neck is full sized. There is one humbucking pickup near the bridge. The bridge is a Fender adjustable style bridge. The controls are a volume knob and a two way throw switch. The amp produces 5 watts.


The Nomad Deluxe has all the same features and shape of the regular Nomad, plus a DigiTech multi-effects processor with drum machine.







The processor gives you 25 programmable effects (10 at once), 40 factory presets and 40user created presets, including amp, cab, pickup, and mic models.



This guitar comes with an input for an expression pedal input and contains a built chromatic tuner. Besides the built-in speaker this guitar has a headphone output jack.










The Synsonics Terminator features a built-in amp and speaker. I am not certain if this guitar/amp is still available. It wasn’t quite as well constructed as some of the previously mentioned models.






It came with a single coil pickup Asian made pickup and a tremolo bar. Some models had two single coil pickups.

These guitars were manufactured in Korea during 1989 through 1990.

A similar guitar may be sold today under the trade name First Act.

Finally Pignose Industries, the maker of those little battery powered amplifiers, has been offering a guitar with built-in speaker for sale since the late 1990’s.

The model PGG 100 houses a built in amplifier that produces 1 watt and runs on a nine volt battery.

The speaker is housed under the strings in the same place the soundhole would be on an acoustic guitar.




The guitar has a unique double cutaway design with a small body. The neck has a 24 ¼” length and a 3+3 headstock. The bridge is an adjustable Fender style unit.

Pignose recently introduced an upgraded model. The model PGG 100 Deluxe which has the same features, plus gold tone hardware, Binding on the neck body and headstock, plus block inlays on the fretboard. Both guitars have a single Pignose stacked humbucker and a volume potentiometer with the famous pignose knob.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Silvertone Amplifiers - Model 1483 Bass Amp and Model 1485 Guitar Amp

Although this blog is specifically about unique guitars, I figure every now and then I ought to mention amplifiers, since they are so important to the electric guitar sound.

When I was about 13 years old, I met a kid that lived a block away named Doug Abbott.

Doug became my best friend. We grew up learning to play music together.

Doug had just bought a single pickup Silvertone bass. This model was a single cutaway Danelectro model with the penquin headstock.

This was one of the Silvertone/Danos with the coke bottle headstock. A few months later he had saved up enough of his lunch money to buy a Silvertone amplifier. The model he purchased was the 1483 bass amp.

The 1483 was a straightforward bass amplifier with the functions modeled after the 6G6 model Fender bassman (withhead & cabinet 1961-64)and the 1965 blackface model.

The model 1483 took it lead from the model 1473 that had been discontined. The 1483 was similar, but was a combo model. It was listed in the Spring/Summer 1965 catalog simply as "The Bass Amplifier."

The 1483 was easy to carry around with its amp-in-the-back storage. It had a respectable amount of power weighing in at 23 watts, which is similar to a Deluxe Reverb. And it came with a 15" Jensen speaker.


The amplifier was actually introduced in 1963, but may not have been available until 1964.




The original retail price was $119.95. The 1483 was discontinued around 1966-67 and was replaced by a solid state model. The amp was designed by Danelectro and manufactured by Danelectro.


1485 "Twin Twelve"
I had another friend named Rick Sears. I played with him in a band for a few years. Rick owned a Silvertone guitar amplifier. This was the mate to the bass model 1483 and was nicknamed The Twin Twelve. It was model 1484. It supposedly cranked out 60 watts, but I don't recall it being that loud. A Super Reverb is 40 watts and has a similar tube set up.

The catalog listing advertised this amp for guitar or bass usage, and had all the amenities you could want in a medium sized (and priced) package: reverb, tremolo, two channels, two matched 12-inch Jensens, and 25 feet of cable to separate amp from speaker to "end feedback."

I guess they were thinking of playing it was some of those really cheapo Silvertone Asian guitars.

The model 1484 was introduced in 1963 and sold for $149.95. It was discontinued in 1966when the price had gone up $30 to $179.95. It was replaced by the larger, louder model 1485 that came with six 10" Jensen speakers and a quartet of 6L6 tubes.












My buddy Doug had a love/hate relationship with his 1483 due to the propensity to distort. In 1965 we were all looking for a clean sound. Leo Fender's goal was to produce amplifiers that produced a clean tone. Blues players, that usually could not afford an expensive Fender amp, got use to the distorted sound and used it to their advantage.

The Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds had some hit songs that used fuzztones or amps with torn speakers, since they were fans of blues songs and were attempting to emulate that tone.

Doug replaced the 15" Jensen with a Utah speaker. He changed the baffle to one made of solid wood and he stuffed the cabinet with fiberglass insulation. He finally gave up and saved up enough money to purchase a black face Bassman.

The 1483 cranked out 23 watts, so of course it would distort at higher volumes as would a Fender Deluxe. The 15" Jensen was an excellent quality speaker, but the amps baffling was made of the material used to create inexpensive subflooring and pegboards. I was flimsy and cheap. The amplifier components and chassis were well constructed and the wiring was point to point.

The cabinets for the head & speaker were made of inexpensive MDF and covered with a wallpaper type of material instead of tolex.


The tubes were a 5Y3GT rectifier, two 6L6GC power tubes and two 128X7 preamp tubes and either a 6CG7 or a 6FQ7 for a phase inverter.

During these days there was no standard for amplifier power. Most companies advertised by posting peak power. Today we use the more realistic RMS as a standard.

I have never tried this amplifier for guitar, but the 1483 would probably make an excellent jazz guitar amplifier. It just wasn't loud enough to handle the music of the day, since we didn't mike amplifiers back then.

The 1484 was made of similar materials including the speaker baffle. The compliment of tubes were similar to the 1483 with the addition of a 12AX7 for the reverb circuit and a 12AX7 and a 6CG7 or 6FQ7 as a supply to the tremolo circuit.



Both amps cut down on the actual cabinet size for sound displacement because the bottom of the amp had a compartment to carry the amps head. I do not know how much effect this had on the sound, but the carrying compartment was a unique feature.



The reverb on the 1484 was not at all the quality of the Hammond units in Fender models. Hammond reverbs utilized a transducer for the driver that contained a coil to optimize sound. Silvertone reverbs used piezo units, somewhat like those used on acoustic guitars. The Silvertone unit sounded weak and flat compared to a Hammond unit.

My friend Doug's
Silvertone Bass

The use of piezos is probably the reason you could get this sort of space sound by turning off the amps volume controls and turning the reverb all the way up. You could achieve a Dick Dale sort of tone.

The 1484 yeilded a much better clean tone than it's bass counterpart, possibly due to the headroom added by the twin twelve inch speakers. But if you crank it up it produces an excellent distorted sound.

The transformers in both amps were adequate, but not on par with Fender or Gibson amps.


These were excellent giggable amps back in the day for high school kids and are gaining popularity now. On the final Conan O'Brien show, Warren Haynes was playing his Les Paul through a Silvertone 1484. If it's good enough for him...







Hofner Model 500/1 The Beatle Bass

Karl Höfner GmbH & Co. KG* is a German manufacturer of musical instruments, with one division that manufactures guitars and basses, and another that manufactures other string instruments.
(*GmbH denotes what in the U.S. is called Incorporation. The owners/chief operating officers are called members and have limited liability in legal issues. KG is another form of limited corporate liability.
Both acronyms are German legal corporate law terms.)


The company was made famous through its association with The Beatles.

As I have mentioned before, there was a large import tariff on U.S. manufactured products during the 1950's and 60's, so British musicians primarily purchased their instruments from European manufacturers.

Fortunately for Höfner, Paul McCartney purchased a 500/1 model hollow-body electric bass during the era when the Beatles were living and playing in Germany in Hamburg clubs.

Höfner was started when Master violin maker Karl Höfnerfounded his own stringed and fretted instrument manufacturing in Schönbach, Germany in 1887. Herr Höfner developed an excellent reputation for producing quality, finely crafted violin family instruments. Because of this reputation, Höfner soon became the largest manufacturer of stringed and fretted instruments in Germany.

His two sons, Josef and Walter, joined the company in 1919 and 1921 respectively. During WWII, the company had its difficulties, but managed to survive. During the 1920 & 30's acoustic guitars were representing a significant part of Höfner’s instrument production. As was true in the United States, the German guitar market was flooded with student quality instrument. Höfner guitars maintained it's reputation to build guitars of excellent quality that were on par with Gibson and Martin instruments.

In 1955 Walter Höfner, perhaps inspired by U.S production of electric bass guitar, invented the company's first model of the violin-shaped bass guitar. Just like Leo Fender, he got it right on the first try.


The model 500/1 bass was launched at the 1956 Frankfurt Music Fair.

In 1994, Höfner became part of the Boosey & Hawkes Group, and was able to expand and upgrade its facilities with the influx of cash.

After a near-bankruptcy in 2003 Boosey & Hawkes sold its musical instrument division (including the Höfner and Buffet Crampon companies) to The Music Group, a company formed by rescue buyout specialists Rutland Fund Management, for £33.2 million.

1997 saw Höfner moving from Bubenreuth to a new production facility near the village of Hagenau.

It is there the company continues to build fine quality, hand-crafted hollow-body and bass guitars for new generations of players. Their archtop acoustic-electric jazz guitars have developed an excellent reputation and are favored by many famous players.

Höfner remained a part of this conglomerate until January 2005, when The Music Group sold the company to Klaus Schöller, who has been the General Manager of Höfner for many years.

In mid-2005, The Music Group (having lost many of its component manufacturers) stopped distributing Höfner in the USA, and the distribution was picked up by Chicago firm Classic Musical Instruments (CMI)

During his early years with the Beatles, Paul McCartney played two slightly different left handed 500/1 models. His first had a pickup below the neck and one in the center of the body. This was purchased in 1961. In 1964 he purchased a second model 500/1 manufactured in 1962 that had a neck pickup and a bridge pickup.

He purchase the second bass in the U.K. during the days The Beatles were playing at the Cavern Club while his first bass was undergoing repairs. He needed an immediate back up instrument. It is this backup bass that has become the one he still plays today and is most associated with him.

The original Höfner bass was used during the recording and video of Let It Be, on the song Revolution. Shortly afterward this bass was stolen.

Although we cannot be certain, perhaps McCartney gravitated towards the 500/1 since the Beatles first bass player Stuart Sutcliffe favored the model 500/5. This models body looked more like a guitar and less like a violin. It had a cutaway on the bottom upper bout.

In the days of the British Invasion other bass players decided this was a cool looking instrument and picked up this guitar or the model 500/5 as their choice
of bass.

The Höfner bass is much different from any Fender or Gibson bass guitars. First of all, the 500/1 is extremely light. I would venture to guess it weighs in at a mere 3 lbs. The body is hollow. The neck is narrower. The strings are attached to a trapeze tailpiece and go over a wooden, non compensated bridge. Perhaps it is this archtop-like string set up is what gives it a "woody" sound.

The bass has two single coil pickups.

The controls, like many other European electric instruments of the day, did not use rotary controls for the tone circuit. It came with dual rotary potentiometers to control the volume of each pickup and a single tone slider switch to control a treble or bass capacitor, labeled Rhythm/Solo. There are also twin slider switches that control the on/off function assigned to each pickup.





All Höfner instruments are known for their beautiful finishes and the 500/1 is no exception.

In an effort to increase sales and thwart of the existing Asian copies of this bass, Höfner introduced it's Icon model a few years ago.



This 500/1 model bass is manufactured in Asia and has a street price approximately $370.00.







Wii has even produced a 500/1 controller for it's Beatles Rock Band program.

The Höfner 500/1 is definitely a most unique bass guitar.





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Friday, January 22, 2010

The Silvertone Amp in Case Guitar

It came with a 45rpm instruction record
In 1963 a fellow named Joe Fisher was the musical instrument buyer for Sears and Roebuck.








The company was based in Chicago, so Joe had a lot of sources. Chicago was home to CMI/Harmony, makers of guitars and other musical instruments and The Kay Musical Instrument Company. There were a lot of importers of cheap Asian produced instruments too.


Mr. Fisher was wheeling and dealing with Nate Daniel, the founder and owner of The Danelectro Guitar Company to produce a cheap electric guitar, but demanded it come with a matching amplifier. If he couldn't come up with this, the deal was off. The men brainstormed and came up with the idea of using cheap materials so they could sell it and both make a profit.



The plan was to house the amplifier in the case, thus eliminating the need for both a case and a separate amplifer. A hinged case was manufactured out of MDF covered with gray fabric. One side of the case was routed out for the speaker and grill cloth was put in place. The case could then be opened and set on its end to get the sound up to ear level.


The guitars body was made of a plywood frame. The sides of the frame were wrapped with vinyl binding tale which was stapled in place. Pre-cut Masonite to match the guitars shape was glue to the guitars back. A plywood block was strategically glued and screwed onto the back piece of Masonite to anchor the chrome plated adjustable bridge piece. The bridge was merely a piece of rosewood that was glued onto the bridge piece at a slight angle for compensation. The older Danos had the plywood block going from the neck pocket to where the bridge attached.

The top of the guitar was also pre-cut Masonite that had been routed for the pickup or pickups, toggle switch, volume and tone controls. A white pickguard was added to highlight the guitar. Daniel used concentric stacked potentiometers on double pickup models. This way there were only two controls, with the bottom stack controlling the tone and the top controlling volume. The wiring took place and the Masonite top glued to the frame.

Nate Daniel invented the lipstick tube pickup. His factory wound their own single coil pickups. Rather than purchase plastic or metal covers, he discovered that the tubes used as lipstick containers were the right size to house his company's pickups. They were cheap, shiny and most people at the time had no idea they were lipstick tubes.

Ingeniously, on two pickup guitars, he wired the pickups in series instead of parallel, as were found on most electric guitars of the day. By using this method his pickups had a hotter output due to doubling the ohm rating.

The guitar was designed with long, sort of Strat shaped horns and a dip in the bottom of the body.


The poplar neck was painted with a glossy finish and contained an adjustable trussrod. The fingerboard was Brazilian rosewood. The bridge was made of nickel. The tuners did not have a brand, but were very functional. It attached to the body in a pocket in the neck and was held in place by two large wood screws.


Back in the late 1960's I was in high school and paying more attention to playing guitar than academics. My buddy Ralph came over to my house one day with a new acquisition. He had a Silvertone electric guitar with an amplifier that was built right into the case. Compared to my Deluxe Reverb, his amp wasn't too loud. It was essentially a student amp that was comparable to a Fender Champ.

It came with a five inch speaker. The amp had 3 tubes, a rectifier tube, a power tube, a preamp tube and 3 (count them!) guitar inputs.

This was a Class A amplifier, the same as a Fender Champ and sort of like a Vox. The amp had controls for volume, tone, tremolo speed and intensity. Back then it was under appreciated. Even Champ amplifiers were under appreciated.




But what did we know?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Martin Electric Guitars

C.F. Martin at one time made electric guitars. Seriously! And I am not referring to acoustic guitars with a piezo pickup under the bridge saddle, but actual electric guitars. Say it isn’t so!

But it is true. Martin decided to jump into the electric guitar market in 1959 by taking some of their traditional instruments and putting DeArmond pickups on them, complete with tone and volume controls on the lower bouts. Their first type of guitars produced were given the designations the D-18E, the D-28E and the 00-18E.

The D-18E and the D-28E both bore two chrome sided pickups which were typical of the day with large polepieces on one side and smaller ones on the other. These were replete with twin volume and twin tone knobs and a three-way pickup control switch on the top upper bout.

The pickguard needed to be cut to maintain the pickup rings.

The 00-18 had only one similar DeArmond that was mounted at the bottom of the neck. There was a single volume and tone controls for this model.

All of these guitars had the same accoutrements as their acoustic cousins. All had a spruce top. The D-18E and the 00-18E had mahogany back and sides and the D-28E had rosewood back and sides. The D-28E had gold plated Grover Roto tuners.

Besides the pickups the biggest difference between the electric and acoustic models of this series was, due to the pickups mounting, the electrics were made with transverse bracing on the top. This changed the sound when the guitar was played acoustically. Subsequently they sound thinner than a typical X braced Martin.

Although Martin guitars did not become expensive until around 1973, come on! Electric guitar pickups screwed into a Martin acoustic guitar and holes drilled into the top and ladder bracing? That is a sacrilege!

The D-18E was discontinued within a year. The D-28E and the 00-18E were produced through 1964.

In 1961 prototypes of a Martin thinline guitar was being developed. These guitars were available for purchase as of 1962. They were designated models F-50, F-55 and F-65.

The bodies measured slightly less than 2” in thickness. The tops and backs were maple plywood with the tops being bound. All had a sort of dreadnaught shape, though the lower bout was wider. The cutaways on these were different than any guitar of the day as they were wide and stood at almost a right angle from the neck and had a modified Florentine shape. The necks were glued into the instrument and processed a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard which joined the body at the 14th fret. The headstock was a typical Martin shaped with 3 plus 3 style tuners. Another unusual feature on this series was the use of a clear Plexiglas adjustable bridge. Like most archtops, the pickguard was elevated.

The F-50 bore a single humbucking pickup at the bottom of the neck and a single volume and tone control on the lower bout.

The F-55 and F-65 included a neck and bridge DeArmond Humbucking pickups and a toggle switch mounted on the upper treble bout. They also had dual volume and tone controls. The F-50 and F-55 models both had trapeze tail pieces with a large M cut into the base that was mounted above the guitar’s top.

The F-65 had a double cutaway and an addition of a Bigsby made vibrato that had the Martin M in the base.

All of these guitars were produced from 1962 through 1965.

These guitars could be purchased with solid state amplifiers which bore the Martin logo. These were designated Model 110T and 112T, possibly due to the speaker size and the fact they came with a tremolo circuit.

By late 1965 the Martin F series was discontinued due to lack of interest. However Martin stayed the course and created a new series of electrics dubbed the GT series that became available the following year. Two models were available this time, the GT-70 and GT-75. These were thinline guitars with two F-holes and a neck that joined the body at the 15th fret. The 22 fret rosewood fretboard was bound. The guitars inlays had dot position markers and the headstock was redesigned and bound.

The GT-70 had a single cutaway on the lower bout. The upper bout had an inward curve into the neck. As with its predecessor, this model bore two DeArmond humbucking pickups. The neck joined the guitar at the 16th fret. The tailpiece was a Bigsby with a large V in its base. The bridges were now made of chrome and adjustable. The GT-75 was similarly equipped to the G-70; however there were twin cutaways on the upper bout.
Martin also made 12 string versions of the GT-75 sans the Bigsby. These guitars bore the Martin M trapeze tailpiece. All models were available in black or burgundy finishes.

Along with the new guitars, Martin offered a new amplifier designated the SS-140. In keeping up with popular amplifier designs of the era, this amp was the size of a refrigerator and is assumed to have 140 watts of power. As a kid, I recall lugging those big heavy amplifiers around. Thankfully some brilliant unknown engineer discovered that amps could be “miked” and their sound could be run through the public address system eliminating the need to drag around amplifiers that weighed 200pounds and up.


Around 1970 Martin followed the pack and outsourced a less expensive version of its acoustic guitar under the Sigma brand. By 1973 Martin added solidbody and hollow body electric guitars to its lineup under the Sigma and SS logo made by the Japanese company Tokai. They were copies of well known electric guitar shapes with a self-styled headstock. Their sales were dismal and discontinued in the mid 1970’s.


In 1974 Martin went back to producing a domestic series of electric guitars designated the E series. The headstock was sort of a variation of the old Stauffer Martin design with the exception the tuners were 3 per side. There were 3 versions of the guitar; the E-18, the EM-18 and the EB-18. All were double cutaway guitars with the lower treble bout offset from the upper treble bout. The horns were rounded off. The natural lacquered bodies were built to resemble Alembic guitars, using a laminate of maple and rosewood and mahogany giving not only a striped effect, but the appearance of a neck-through-body guitar, although the necks were glued into a pocket in the body. Later models eliminated the mahogany. The Martin brand was stamped into the back of the body. The necks had 22 frets. A CFM script logo was decaled on the head. The tuners were Sperzels.

The E-18 and the EM-18 were similar guitars but for the pickups and electronics. The E-18 came with twin DiMarzio pickups and a toggle switch to put them in or out of phase. The neck pickup was a PAF style and the bridge pickup was a DiMarzio super distortion. Both had brass nuts and Leo Quan bridges.


The EM-18 had twin Mighty Mite pickups and a 3 way switch that could put the pickups in or out of phase and also split the coils.







The EB-18 was a bass guitar with an approximate 34” scale and Grover tuners. The guitar was produced with a variety of pickups.


In 1980 Martin added a model designated the E-28. This was a fancier version of the E-18. The nut was made of Micarta. The fretboard was ebony instead of rosewood. The neck was extended to 24 frets giving it a two octave range. Instead of the natural finish, these had sunburst finishes. The headstock was overlaid with ebony. An active circuit was added.

An EB-28 bass was added to the line-up during this period with similar accoutrements. This had DiMarzio P-bass and J-bass pickups.

All models came with a molded plastic case. The entire line was gone by 1982.

Like the Little Engine that Could, Martin kept chugging along. And in their final attempt in the electric guitar market the turned to Korea. A line of guitars under the Stinger brand was produced. Much like the failed Sigma/SS series these were Asian copies of traditional US guitars. They additionally added a line of small amplifiers as well.


These products were geared to beginning guitar students and all had a low retail price. They were sold under the corporate name Martin Telemarketing.

The Stinger series lasted until 1990 when Martin came to its senses and went back to what they do better than any other company – build high quality acoustic guitars.