Billy’s band played at many high school dances and did the usual covers of Chuck Berry, Lonnie Mack, and The Ventures.
The first time I saw Billy he was playing a 1963 Gibson Melody Maker. This was about the time I was learning my first few chords on my pawnshop Harmony Patrician. The Melody Maker was about the coolest guitar I had ever seen. His instrument was the dark sunburst double cutaway model with two single coil pickups.
I cannot recall what type of amplifier he was using. Back in that day a lot of kids were using Sears/Danelectro Twin Twelve amplifiers. Billy had all of Chuck and Lonnie’s licks down pat. I was impressed and envious. I had to practice more, and I did.
The Gibson Melody Maker debut was in 1959 and Gibson ended the run in 1971. The Melody Maker was an economical, beginner’s instrument which came with a thin slab-style mahogany body and a one-piece mahogany neck.
Gibson assembled all the electronics on the guitars black scratchplate, which they installed over a rout in the top of the body. This included the one or two single coil pickup, depending on the model, the volume and tone controls, the toggle, and the input jack.
From 1959 until 1961, the Melody Maker had a single cutaway, making the body similar to a Les Paul Junior, however, the Melody Maker’s body was much thinner.
The scale of the Melody Maker was 24.75 inches, which was the Gibson standard, although Gibson offered the guitar in a ¾ version with an 18.56-inch short scale. To accomplish this, the neck joined the body at the 12th fret and the bridge was moved farther down the body. Remember the Melody Maker was to be a beginning instrument that a child could play.
|'61 Gibson Melody Maker|
Sometime in the early 1960’s Gibson discontinued the traditional Les Paul. It was replaced by a guitar with twin pointy horns and a narrow body.
Originally, this was marketed under the Les Paul name, however Gibson’s relationship with Paul ended and the guitar was given the model more familiar designation, SG.
In 1986 the single cutaway Melody Maker was available with a single humbucking pickup in the bridge position and the same parts that were featured on the 1977 version.
The guitar came with a P90 pickup in the bridge position. It was very similar to the Les Paul Jr., but for the Melody Maker headstock, white plastic button tuning keys and top mounted jack. The neck was slightly slimmer than the Les Paul Jr. Only 250 of these guitars were manufactured.
|2007 Gibson Melody Maker|
|'07 Gibson Melody Maker 2 pickups|
|Joan Jett Melody Maker|
Joan has extensive modifications done to her personal Melody Maker. Gibson offers this instrument for sale at $920. It comes with one Velvet Hammer humbucking pickup in the bridge position. The fretboard comes with red dot markers and two hearts inlaid on the twelfth fret. The neck is modified to be slimmer than a traditional Melody Maker. The tuners are Grover mini style.
The one pickup guitar comes with a “kill switch” that is designed to turn the pickup off. The bridge features is a Tune-O-Matic saddle and stop tailpiece instead of the original wrap-around style found on traditional Melody Makers. The scratchplate is larger than the one on a traditional Melody Maker. It was available in a white finish, but currently is only available with a black satin finish.
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