No sir, it’s not an arched, ceramic tiled roof with solar panels somewhere in Barcelona, even if it does read that way. Just what is the Electric Spanish, and why on earth should a name like that be chosen? What are all the numbers and letters about? L? ES? EH? EM? CES? EH150? ES350T? ES345TDSV??

Let’s decode the mystery, while we enjoy a look into the rise of the rapidly changing guitar.

Long before the 1950s ushered in the age of solid body electric guitars, wielded by players like Les Paul, Ike Turner, Link Wray, Dick Dale, Muddy Waters, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix, lies a hundred-year rise and development of the guitar. The Spanish Torres style “Classical” guitar, Polynesian ukulele, Hawaiian steel/slide, Plectrum banjo, and Archtop mandolin are all part of the fabric that the Gibson mandolin and guitar company will weave into an American masterpiece, and the most played instrument of the last 90 odd years. If you are only just now old enough to play a full-sized guitar, or if you are well into your 70s, you grew up with the modern electric guitar and that loud, awful racket we love, called Rock ‘n Roll. If you are lucky enough to be about 170 years old, you have seen the birth, development, and rise of the modern guitar. The modern electric guitar is an American invention, but it didn’t pop out of thin air. The American guitar concept and design, has direct ancestry in Spain, Africa, and Hawaii. The entire family tree spans the globe. Documented below, are Gibson’s musical instrument advancements, and popular trends in American music that lead to the birth of the electric guitar as we know it today.

Origins: Spanish, Hawaiian Guitars, and Ukuleles

This story starts in middle 1800s in Spain. The father of classical guitar is commonly thought to be Antonio de Torres. His first venture or ‘Epoch’ of guitar building is in the town of Sevilla (next door to Figaro’s barber shop). It will serve as template for nearly all classical gut/nylon string guitars to follow. Versions of Spanish guitar and 4-string Portuguese “Machete De Braga” (a 4-string guitar-like instrument) are carried by European sailors along trade routes that included the Hawaiian Islands. The guitars are an instant hit with native Hawaiians, and transplanted sugar plantation, and livestock handlers from around the world.

A mixture of the 4 string Machete, and a Hawaiian instrument made with 3 slack strings of cocoa fiber gave birth to the Ukulele. The instrument was so loved by Hawaiian King ‘Kalakaua’ he bestowed it with the name “Gift to us” or Ukulele.  The Uke was made in all shapes and sizes, and interwoven into everyday Hawaiian culture. The Uke made a great mate to the Spanish Torres style guitar, especially when strung with steel wrapped Violin style strings. The next steps details may be lost to history, but the commonly held belief, is a local musician named Joseph Kekuku applied a discarded railroad bolt to the steel covered guitar strings of his Spanish guitar, effectively inventing the slide guitar. Kekuku loved the sound so much that he modified his Spanish guitar with extra tall nut, and custom designed metal slide, creating the first Hawaiian slide guitar.

The Spanish guitar has given birth to the Hawaiian slide guitar and the Machete De Braga helped pave the way for the Uke, on the small South Pacific islands. The sound will soon travel from its tiny origin, to the delight the world.

The Gibson Archtop Mandolin and Guitar Company

Orville Gibson was a Mad Scientist. There is no getting around it, unfortunately. What he lacked in inner piece, he made up for in abundance with his original thinking. Gibson is often noted for his ‘carved from one block of wood’ top, back, and side constructed instruments, his most valuable gift to the world is his radical arched top designs.

Even before most Americans enjoyed the South Pacific sounds of Hawaiian Ukes and slide style guitar the Mandolin was among Americas favorite strummed instruments. Gibson was in the process of reinventing the Mandolin with his arched top A and F style instruments. Designed more like the Violin, then the centuries old ‘bowl back’ Mandolin family. The Gibson Mandolin was a vast improvement in tone, and projection. Gibson applied the same logic, when he created the small body, arched-top, round sound hole model Style-0, Style-1, L-1 JR, L-2, L-3, and L-4 Trapeze bridge guitars. They are the first archtop guitars the world will know.

Orville Gibson believed so deeply in the archtop designs superiority, that he didn’t bother to build a flat-top acoustic in his lifetime. To Gibson, the archtop guitar was the new ‘Spanish Guitar’. Gibson’s round sound-hole, archtop guitar is a still a work in progress at the time of Orville’s untimely Death. The Gibson design was popular, rich and loud, but not yet perfect. The 1920’s marks the end of the great war, the growth of the Radio in the American home, the rise of Jazz, and Country music, and Blues. The 20s also mark the Lloyd Loar era at Gibson. Loar is the most important addition to Gibson since Orville himself. Loar will make more improvements in tone, balance and projection to Gibson’s A and F style mandolin. His distinctive F-hole designed ‘Master Model Gibson F-5’ mandolin, and way ahead of its time. The 1922 Gibson Master Model L-5 archtop guitar and Gibson Master Model TB-5 Banjo are his crowning achievements, setting the standard by which all other Mandolins and Archtop guitars are measured to this day.

The Gibson Banjo

The Tenor and Plectrum Banjo is in essence, the original North American guitar. The ‘Plectrum’, ‘Regular’ and long neck ‘Tenor’ Banjo are strummed with a pick or plectrum. It’s popular, easy to learn on, and easy to carry. The strummed Banjo has a snappy, percussive tone, and is loud enough to play with piano, or voice. The 4-string Banjo is a popular accompaniment instrument in the new and growing Dixieland ‘Jazz’ music. Gibson is a leader in Banjo quality, and innovation, from its first TB (Tenor Banjo) open back models. Gibson’s improved ‘trap door’ back models of the early 20’s, like the (Plectrum Banjo) PB-1, and the resonator back, flagship ‘Master-Model’ (Tenor Banjo) TB-5 soon after.

Examples of the jazz style, rhythmically strummed Banjo sound are easily found on the recordings of the Hot 5, and Hot 7. Both bands are led by New Orleans Jazz pioneer and world-famous Trumpet master, Luis “Satchmo” Armstrong. Many small Banjo makers scattered shops across the USA, but Gibson and Vega, dominated the market. Epiphone’s “House of Stathopoulo” joined in making banjos by the late 1920s. Gibson and Epiphone saw change that Vega company didn’t see coming: The strummed banjo is about to meet the same fate as the bowl back mandolin, at the hands of Gibson.

The Hawaiian Guitar in the New World

The Hawaiian band format featured a steel string lap played slide guitar, a Spanish guitar for rhythm, and a Ukulele. First heard in the states at Chicago world’s fair in 1893, the Hawaiian style music became was instantly loved. Recordings of Hawaiian style music first became available as early as 1901. By 1906, RCA Victor (you know, the wacky old school victrola with Nipper the dog hearing ‘His master’s voice’?) recorded over 50 Hawaiian band style favorites.

The next world’s fair (1909 Seattle) had not just one Hawaiian band, but days of non-stop Hawaiian music. The sound of the Hawaiian band had reached an entire nation on the strength of World’s fairs, touring acts, Broadway shows, and the massive 1915 San Francisco Panama Canal celebration attended by 17 million Americans, greeted by the sound of the steel guitar. In 65 years, the Modern Classical was developed, branched off to the uke and an industry of purpose-built Hawaiian steel/slide guitars by companies like Kona, Weissenborn and more to follow.

The Gibson Flat Top Acoustic Guitar

By the 1930’S Gibson offers a completely redesigned flat top acoustic Guitar line. L-0, L-00, L-1, Nick Lucas, L-C (Century of progress) It’s Hawaiian set up twin, the L-H. Roy Smeck 12 fret Jumbo flat top Hawaiian and Roy Smeck Deluxe Hawaiian. The ‘L’ Style flat top (historians argue the ‘L’ prefix most likely means ‘little’, or parlor sized) is short lived, in favor of the larger, ‘Jumbo’ 14-fret Gibson flattops introduced in the 30’s: The Jumbo 35/Trojan, Advanced Jumbo, Jumbo shape J-55, and the king of the flat tops (Super Jumbo) ‘SJ’-200 and  SJ-100. The J is short for ‘Jumbo’ (a sloped shoulder body, about the same size as a Martin Dreadnaught). The SJ, the Super-sized Mae West style figure 8 shaped swirling cannon to tone and projection. The Number following the size (J/SJ) represents the original list price. Today, it generally represents the features and adornment.

Gibson Grows with the Times

The first commercially electrified guitar is commonly said to be the 1932 Rickenbacker A-22 Electro slide. It is not only the first electric solid body guitar, but the first electric 6-string style guitar, period. Gibson is always a leader, or neck-and-neck with a worthy giant, on all fronts. In the 1930’s, Gibson has its Ukulele line, Resonator Banjo line, has entered the flat top, acoustic steel string guitar world. running neck and neck with stalwarts C.F. Martin. Gibson is the dominating maker of the acoustic archtop. Many great, small shops of archtop builders exist, like D’Angelico and Stromberg, but only Epi’s “House of Stathopoulos” Master-built archtops are mass produced competition.

Gibson is loading up for the long hall. The future has arrived, and Gibson is standing in the thick. By the middle 30’s, Gibson is manufacturing acoustic flat top guitars, Hawaiian flat top acoustic guitars, RB (Regular), TB (Tenor Band PB (Plectrum) Banjo’s, the archtop acoustic guitar, and of course the Mandolin that first put them on the worlds stage. Gibson is a veritable octopus of popular stringed instruments. With the advent Rickenbacker electric lap steel, Gibson’s many arms are well prepared to break new ground with electric instruments, such the world has never seen.

Gibson Enters the Age of Electricity

Direct quote from Gibson’s 1932 Catalog: ‘Wherever there are civilized nations, you will find Gibson owners, telling of pride in their instruments’. Gibson history is full of firsts, forward thinking improvements, and risky choices that paid off in 120 years of popularity, and status. 1935, marks another of Gibson’s explosive new eras.More than 15 years before the Solid body guitar will see mass production, and nearly 30 Years before the Beatles land in America, Gibson dives headlong into Electric instruments production.

Gibson Electric Instruments History, Models, Styles, and Names Decoded

Gibson’s first electric Guitar of any kind, is the simple ‘blade’ pickup model metallic body 1935 E-150 Lap Steel. It became instantly obvious that Gibson’s expanding line will need a more detailed system to identify the many types of electrics Gibson manufactures (as it has done with its Acoustic models)

1936 brings a staggering new line up of electrified favorites. The EM-150, ‘Charlie Christian pickup’ Electric Mandolin, the remodeled wooden, with guitar like binding EH-150 Electric Hawaiian Lap Steel, less fancy budget minded ‘EH-100’ Electric Hawaiian, and Roy Smeck signature Electric Hawaiian (an EH-150, with a white finish). If that’s not enough, Gibson’s also adds one very special instrument to its new electric division. Gibson’s very first Electric Guitar: The ES-150 ‘Electric Spanish’ electric guitar.

Prefix models at Gibson, are now the EM (Electric mandolin) EH (Electric Hawaiian), and the now world-famous ES (Electric Spanish) archtop electric guitar.

The shift in gears at Gibson is staggering. A glance at the revolution and growth of 1930 Gibson is best understood broken down into groups:

Gibson Acoustic Archtops that Survived the 30’s and Early 40’s

The L-4, L-5, L-7, L-12, L-50, Super 400. The one thing they all have in common, is the F-hole body style, replacing the round hole archtop L series. The Number that follows the L, represents the order in which they are introduced. L-4 (1912) L-5 (1922), (L-7) 1933, and so on. The Super 400 designation represents the whopping $400 price tag in 1934! The Super 400 will become the Super 400P (Premier or cutaway equipped) in 1939, re-designated as Super 400C (Premier dropped for the more descriptive ‘cutaway’ term). The Super 400C becomes electrified with a pair of P-90 pickups in 1951, at the same time as the Gibson L-5C: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Super 400, and L-5 ‘CES’ (yup, Cutaway Electric Spanish). Two of the world’s favorite, and gold standard of performance/presentation electric Archtops.

Gibson Kalamazoo Era Electric Instruments

The ES Series Archtop Electrics – The 1930s Through the 1960s

Gibson ES (Electric Spanish), are the electric guitar models that the electric guitar age was built on.

It’s easy to see why the term ‘Electric Spanish’ or ‘ES’ was chosen, knowing that the first steel string guitar of great popularity where of Hawaiian lap steels, and even electric Mandolins. Although the American adaptation of the ‘Spanish guitar’ is quite different, it shares the same tuning, fretted fingerboard, and basic neck and body shape. Like the Super 400, J and SJ series, the number that follows the ‘ES’ model identifying model name is the guitars original list price, and level of features and adornment. Most ES models feature multi-ply laminated tops, helping reduce unwanted feed-back at moderate volume levels. There are exceptions (always), but it can be said that most ES models do not employ solid carved tops, like Gibson’s non-electric Master Model Acoustic Archtops.

The Deep Body ‘ES’: Timeline and Advancements

1936

Gibson ES-150: One Charlie Christian neck pickup, dot-neck, floating bridge, Vol/Tone, binding on body, $150.00 original price tag.

1938

Gibson ES-100: Smaller body than the ES-150, one blade pickup in the bridge position. Bound body, basic model. $100.00 original price tag.

Gibson ES-250: A rare, short lived model. Basically, a fancy ES-150 with upgraded black inlay, larger multi binding 17-inch body, flame maple back and sides, with spruce top.

1939

L-5P AND Super 400P: (Premier = Cutaway) Models introduced. Many will later be fitted with neck mounted, ‘floating’ DeArmond floating pickup, transforming then to electric guitars.

1940

Gibson ES-300: The ES-300 starts life in 1940 looking pretty odd. It’s got a full 17 inch ‘bout, fancy spit parallelogram inlay, triple bound top and back. Its radicle new pickup design is 6.5 inches long, and slanted from the neck on the bass strings, to the bridge on the treble side, like a pickup robbed from Andre the Giants Tele. The Pickup is universally unloved, and redesigned with a slat style pickup, and then sent back to the drawing board until 1946.

1941

The ES-125 replaces the ES-100. There are probably more ES-125’s made, than all other ‘ES’ models combined, until its run ends in 1970.

1941

The War effort put most non-essential American manufacturing on hold during the WWII years. Material shortages, and re-purposed factories caused Gibson’s war time output to turn down to a trickle (just for the record – It’s hard for me to type ‘Gibson’, and ‘non-essential’, on the same page).

1946

Gibson returns with a bang. The ES-125, ES-150, ES-300, are all reintroduced with Gibson’s now legendary P-90 pickup. The P-90 is a major breakthrough in power and tone. It is still very widely used today by Gibson and virtually every major manufacturer to follow.

1947

The fancy, Gold hardware ‘Venetian’ rounded cutaway ES-350, is basically an upgraded ES-300 (note higher model number) It has a single P-90 in the bridge position. A trick probably learned making Electric Hawaiian (EH) lap steels, allowing a crisper, brighter tone.  It is the first Gibson ES model, with two pickups, when a 2nd P-90 is added the following year (1948).

1948

Designed as a factory installed option on the Gibson L-7, the ‘Finger rest’, or McCarty pickup system is introduced. There are several options available. Designed for one, or two P-90 type pick-ups, mounted directly to a detachable replacement pickguard. Available configured for archtops with or without a cutaway, making it possible to electrify your ‘L’ Series, or Super 400, or super 400P (cutaway).

1949

In a mostly 1 pickup electric guitar world, Gibson unleashed the amazing 3 P-90 equipped ES-5. It is essentially a 3 P-90 L-5C, with a figured maple ply top in place of solid carved spruce, to help control unwanted feedback. Hence the name, ES-5 (totally cool geeked-out guitar fun facts, right?).

Also new for 1949, is the absolutely venerable ES-175. ‘The Journeyman’s Jazz box’, is introduced with a single P-90, sharp Florentine cutaway, and maple ply construction. The ES-175 is played and loved by all styles of guitarists, from Jazz, Blues, and even Prog Rock. The ES-175 has never been out of production. It would seem as long as there are guitar players, there will be a home for the ES-175.

1950

The 1950 ¾ size ES-140 (an ES-175, looking like it’s been left in the dryer too long) rounds out a complete catalog of ES Guitars. Gibson now offers a premier level single pickup Archtop (ES-175), a two pickup (ES-350), and three pickup model (ES-5), several lower priced options, and now the adolescent size ES-140. Many Gibson ES collectors enjoy displaying the ES-140 next to “Senor.”

1951

The incomparable, top of the line Gibson archtop acoustics, are ready for the ultimate makeover. The L-5C, and Super 400C, graduate to full electric archtops. Initially made in very small batches, the solid carved spruce top ‘Master Models’ become Electric Spanish models: The L-5CES, and Super 400CES.

Gibson ES Models at the Dawn of the ‘Solid Body’ Age

1952

1952 marks the ES-295. A dual soap bar (white covered P-90) all gold finish, show stopper, before a single note is played. Basically, a dual pickup, ES-175, dressed up for a night of debauchery.

1953

With the Gibson Solid body 2 pickup Les Paul, and two pickup Fender Telecaster, and plans for a three pickup Strat, Gibson gets even more serious about the growing electric guitar market. The ES-175, is now offered also offered as the dual pickup ES-175D, (Double Pickup).

The Gibson ES “Thinline” Era Begins

1954

The Electric guitar is changing the way people play, use, arrange, and think about the guitar. It is now a much louder instrument, has a richer, less percussive tone. It is an ideal accompaniment instrument, and soloist instrument. The guitar is no longer just a ‘better Banjo’. The rising popularity of the solid body electric has not yet begun to take the guitar where it will go in the decades to come. For this reason, Gibbons next design was inevitable, with or without the solid body influence. There is simply no great acoustic advantage to a deep body ‘Electric Spanish’. It is still relevant, but ready for the next major design change. The ES-130/135 of 1954, will mark the last deep body ‘ES’ instrument, for 7 years.

1955

Gibson has 7 deep body ES models in 1950. At the end of the 50’s, only 3 remain. Gibson has a handier, feedback-busting, dedicated electric ‘ES’ guitar to unleash. While still a full hollow body design, the new Thinline or “T” are easier to manage at higher volumes. The ES thinline absolutely transforms the hollow body electric guitar.

The thinline is still the most common type of Gibson hollowbody or semi-hollow body electric guitar Gibson makes, to present day. 1955 marked the introduction of the transformed Electric Spanish Thinline models: The ES-225TC/ES-225TDC (Thinline Cutaway and Thinline Dual-pickup Cutaway), The Luxurious Byrdland (a short scale, Thinline L-5CES), and the ES-350T (often seen slug over the shoulder of the first “Guitar Hero” Chuck Berry).

1956

Older ‘ES’ favorites get the Thinline treatment, and added versatility.

The ES-125, is Gibson’s most affordable Electric guitar. Now offered in three new trim levels: The ES-125T (Thinline), ES-125TD (Thinline, double pickup), and ES-125TDC (Thinline, Double Pickup, Cutaway).

1957

The arrival of the most game changing electronic advancement to the guitar, since the first ‘Electric Spanish’. Gibson’s ‘Patent Applied For’ or PAF humbucking dual coil pickup is presented to the world. Gibson will use the new design, on all higher end models from 1957, onward. The Humbucker will not only reduce unwanted ’60 cycle hum’, but also add harmonic richness, and quite a bit of output power. The new Humbucker is standard in the L-5CES, Super-400CES, ES-5, Byrdland, ES-175, ES-350T, ES-295, and of course, the 5-year-old Gold Top Les Paul, and 3-year-old Les Paul Custom solid body guitars.

1958

Gibson reinvents the ES model, creating the world’s first true semi hollow body guitar. The ES-335(TD) has the traditional look of the Classic Archtop, F-hole, ES models, but is more than meets the eye. A solid block of maple runs along the inside the guitar, allowing a stop tail string anchor and fixed bridge to be mounted, just like the solid body Les Paul. The ES-335’S hybrid construction is monumental. It is effectively a hollowbody, that behaves like a solid body: Bridging the gap, of old and new school electric guitar players. The ES-335 comes standard with a double cutaway body, dual humbuckers, and thinline body (making the TD part of its title, commonly dropped, due to its redundancy). Despite the breakthrough design, the ES-335 is a fairly plainly appointed guitar, for a high-end Gibson. The first models had no neck binding, dot inlays, laminated 3 ply pickguard, and a simple flower pot inlay on the headstock. From 1958 to this day, the ground breaking ES-335, retains its relevancy, and immense popularity, is still growing.  It will serve as the model for all semi hollow body guitars that follow.

Gibson now has three types of ES model: Full depth hollow body, thinline, and thinline semi-hollow.

1959

Gibson Delivers new thinline ES models (and some new code to crack). Starting with the ES-345, and ES-355. Both models are dressy versions of the ES-335. The Full and proper name for the 345 is ES-345TDSV (Thinline, Dual pickup, Stereo wired, and new Varitone dial). The Stereo wiring was not quite the jackpot Gibson banked on. Playing the neck pickup out of one amp, and the treble pickup out of another, still remains a bit too Jetsons for most players. Just ask ‘Ric-o-sound’ users (there must be one out there). Other visually upgraded features include split parallelogram inlay, triple bound body, and Gold hardware. The ES-355TDSVB is a step even higher, sporting a Gold hardware, Pearl block inlayed Ebony board, split diamond inlayed, multi-bound headstock, multi bound top, and pickguard. The 355 was introduced with a Bigsby vibrato. Later years feature a Gibson Lyre style vibrato. Factory stop tail ES-355’S are very uncommon.

Not enough for 1959? Gibson also adds the now classic model ES-330. The one pickup ES-330T, two pickup ES-330TD comes standard in sunburst, but also available in Cherry ES-330TDCHE, and Natural ES-330TDNAT. The 330 shares the shape of the new 335 style ‘ES’, but it is intended as a replacement to the ES-225T. The 330 is a fully hollow thinline, with Gibson’s older design P-90 pickup. Most notably, the neck joins the body at the 15th fret, unlike the fully accessible 19 fret clearance of the ES-335 family.

The now Gibson/CMI owned Epiphone Casino is the sister model to the Gibson ES-330. The Casino rose from relative obscurity, to worldwide fame, in the hands of John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney, who each relied on the model in the mid-1960s.

The Electric Guitar Revolution

In 1960, there were only budding examples of anything that resembled the ‘Rock band’ format that would soon sweep the world. Gibson was well prepared for what was to come, with its far ahead of the times designs. The Gibson ES models helped propel all types of electric and acoustic Guitars, to become the most popular instrument of the 20th century. The Gibson ES, has continued to evolve, and is just as relevant today, as they were 75 years ago. In 2019, Gibson offered more “ES” models, than at any other point in the company’s 120-year history. Paraphrasing  the 1932 Gibson catalog, for today’s guitarist: Whenever and wherever there are electric guitars played, there will be an ES model, close at hand.

Footnotes:
Banjo and Mandolin Legacy

The American Banjo family includes the long neck Tenor Banjo (TB), short neck Plectrum Banjo (PB), and “Regular” 5-string Banjo. The Advent of the Gibson Archtop acoustic’s, like the L-5, marked the decline of the strummed style Banjo. The Acoustic Archtop guitar rapidly started replacing the strummed Banjo, in Jazz ensembles, as the style begins to soar in popularity. The electrified archtop is the, effectively the demise of the Tenor and Plectrum Banjo. Every wonder what the 4-string tenor guitar is all about? During this period, 4 stringed tenor guitars are manufactured in fairly large numbers to help Banjo strummers, transition to guitar. The 5-string finger style Banjo popular today, arose from Bill Monroe’s ‘Bluegrass style’ band, first heard broadcast in the 1940s from the Grand ole Opry. A Combination of the Steel string flat top, F-style Mandolin, and the Earl Scruggs style 5-string RB Banjo picking, serves alongside the Mandolin, Flat top Acoustic, in Country music, Blues, Folk, Rock, and beyond. 

The Hawaiian Guitar Legacy

Hawaiian music grew throughout the teens and well into the 1920s. The stick Hawaiian style music eventually lost its extreme popularity, but interest in the Hawaiian guitar continued to grow. Hawaiian style slide players began to use the instrument in Blues, Country, and Western swing.  Efforts to make the instrument louder led to the resonator guitar, developed by first National and Dobro, the dedicated Hawaiian style steel string Gibson Roy Smeck and models Stage Deluxe and Radio Grande models.

Rickenbacker developed the A-22 Lap steel ‘Electric Frying Pan’ (Sorry, it was non-Teflon, but it was the first solid body electric guitar ever offered). Growing off on its own branch than the forward projecting Spanish style guitar, the ‘Hawaiian guitar’ gave birth to the Steel string acoustic Lap steel, Resonator Lap steel, Electric Lap steel, Console Steel, and Pedal Steel guitars we all know and love today.

Gibson Produced the E-150 Electric lap steel in 1935, just one year before the one of the world’s first archtop guitars, the Gibson ES-150. The Lap steel developed into the pedal steel, with one, two, or three neck consoles, and 6,8,10 stringed configurations. The Hawaiian slide, may have been born in the South Pacific, but its offspring grew up in South Nashville. Featured on country records heard on the family Radio, or Juke box. Stars like Jimmy Rogers, Bob Wills and the Texas playboys (courtesy of two of the best slide players of the era- Mr. Noel Boggs and Leon McAuliffe), Hank Williams, Hank Snow and eventually everyone in country, western, and blues music. The Steel, pedal steel, and bottle neck style, is alive and well in music diverse as Robert Johnson to Duane Allman, George Jones to George Harrison, Elmore James to Ry Cooder. The Steel guitars is heard on Television as early as Warner Brother’s classic Loony Tunes through today’s Breaking Bad theme. Wherever, you will find a guitarist, either a lap steel, pedal steel, or glass slide, is not far away.

 

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Mike Rock
A fixture in the Rock and Roll guitar community since 1978, Mike Rock is the “Go-To” source for Sam Ash's most intricate questions involving Guitars and related gear. A collector whose true passion is playing, Mike has performed over 2,500 gigs around the world. Mike began his musical journey studying the trumpet. While buying sheet music for a recital, Mike first heard an electric guitar through a fuzz box. Forty years later, he still maintains that the fuzz WAS germanium based (he is a bit crazy). This encounter drove Mike to his first guitar and a tube amp. Soon his guitar was heavily modified and the amp was on its 3rd replacement speaker. Mike was hunting for tone and blowing guitar speakers before there was a “boutique” or “vintage” market. It wasn’t long before Mike was buying, and validating vintage guitars and gear for some of the biggest companies in the world, finally finding a home assisting mentor and friend Sammy Ash, at the place where he heard that first Fuzz Guitar, so many years ago. Mike still performs regularly and recognizes the history and beauty of vintage and modern gear. Mike is aware not everyone is a collector and most players need a set up that works for the sound they chase, regardless of its pedigree, or vintage or status.