|Murph 12 string Squire Guitar and Amplifier|
One such small guitar manufacturer was Pat Murphy who created and manufactured Murph Guitars of San Fernando California starting in 1965.
|Pat Murphy Pulsebeat Guitars|
By the early 1960’s Pat and his wife had five children and all the kids were quite talented.
The kids acted in television shows, commercials, and plays in the Los Angeles area. The eldest sons learned to play guitar. The boys teacher knew of Pat’s skill as a craftsman and suggested that he try his hand at building electric guitars.
|Murphy Family Band|
Around this time his sons had put together a band with their two sisters and a collection of friends. Now this was the era when The Osmonds, The Cowsills and The Jackson Five were very popular. Well known guitar companies were providing instruments for gratis to these acts just so their guitars and amplifiers would get exposure.
The leased building was modified to include an office, a woodworking shop, a sanding area and paint booth and an assembly and shipping room.
An engineer named Rick Geiger was hired to run the facility.
Pat and Rick set off to purchase equipment. Much of the machinery was acquired at auctions, while some of the other necessary machinery, such as a pickup coil winder was purchased outright.
All the wood materials for the bodies came from a nearby lumber company, while the more specialized lumber and parts such as bridges, fret boards, tailpieces and vibratos came from a German distributor. The guitar cases were manufactured by the Victoria Luggage Company, which was located nearby in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately before production began there was a rift that developed between Pat Murphy and Rick Geiger causing Geiger to resign.
By the end of 1965 the company had begun making not just guitars, but had contracted with another company to build amplifiers under the Murph logo.
In the spring of 1966 the company went to the Chicago NAMM convention to seek out distributors and music stores to sell their products.
By then Murph guitars had come up with an acoustic guitar, a semi-hollow-body guitar, a heart-shaped guitar and a build-your-own- guitar kit. They even had a portable 6 volt guitar amplifier.
|Murph built Silvertone|
|Can you tell the difference?|
Finally, the Murph guitar headstock featured three-on-a-side Kluson tuners. Unfortunately when it comes to lawsuits, the company with the deepest pockets usually wins. Pat Murphy was in no financial shape to contest this notice.
Ironically in 1982, long after the demise of Murph Guitars, the Fender Corporation began offering "Squier" guitars as an Asian-built alternative to the much higher priced USA made products.
|Murph Squire MK-2|
The solid body Murph Squire guitars were available as six or 12 string and bass models.
|Murph 12 String Squire|
The Murph Squire guitar came with either one or two single coil pickups. The pickup switch was a slider model. It was available as a hard tail model or with a vibrato tailpiece.
Aside from the standard Squire model, Murph Guitars made some other very unique guitars, which included a semi-solid Squire model that came with two F-holes.
This was the Murph Gemini, a double cutaway semi-hollow body guitar, that more or less resembled a Gibson ES-335, however the cutaway horns were shapped slightly different. The Gemini was available as a six string, a 12 string or a bass.
The Murph Westerner resembled the Squire and was unique since its body was upholstered in Naugahyde. What happened was when a Murph Squires paint job was found to have flaws or defects, instead of trashing the body, it was covered with a glittery Naugahyde fabric and then dubbed a "Westerner". Pat Murphy grew up during the Depression era when nothing was wasted.
The Murph Satellite guitar is said to be created a result of the legal notice from Fender. Pat Murphy's wife is credited with the design of this heart-shaped semi-hollow body guitar. The Satellite was sold as a six or 12 string model as well as a bass guitar.
|Murph Baby Satellite|
Capitol Records asked Murphy Musical Instruments to build 10,000 of these guitars, however Pat Murphy could not put together enough capital to fulfill this order or even continue to build this guitar. Interestingly that same year Vox introduced a similar instrument called The Vox Mando Guitar that sold for over twice as much.
|Murph Tempo I & II|
|Murph Califone 12 string|
When they discovered this to be a viable plan Rheem purchased a company which manufactured record players and audio-visual equipment for use in schools including small public address systems. This company was called Califone. Rheem noted that these public address equipment could potentially useful, if modified to be used as guitar amplifiers. After production of guitar amplifiers began the company struck a deal with the Japanese firm to build combo organs under the Rheem brand name.
All this is leading up to a deal that Rheem struck with Murphy Musical Instruments to build guitars using the Califone brand name. This line was to include six string, twelve string and bass guitars. All of them used the Squire body design, but the headstocks were slightly different and the pickups were usually slanted. Unfortunately after about 25 prototypes were made, Rheem/Califone called the deal off.
|Murph Silvertone 12 string|
Sears negotiated with Murph to build guitars. However after 25 or so guitars were produced Sears called this deal off.
|Murph bass amplifier|
As stated Murph Guitars also produced a line of amplifiers. The amps were all combo units that were manufactured by an electronics company in Phoenix, Arizona. The chasis had the Murph name embossed on it’s front. Murph offered 10 different versions of their amplifiers. The first models were tube amplifiers, but they were shortly updated to solid-state amplifiers. This was in the early days of transistors and unfortunately the company building the amps used inexpensive transistors that were prone to fail.
|Murph Guitars 1965-1967|
For further reading on Murphy Musical Industries check out Dan from Sydney Austrailia's wonderful tribute webpage - www.murphguitars.com