In 1974, machinist and all-around-tinkerer
Travis Bean partnered with Marc McElwee
and Gary Kramer (who left in ’75 to start his
own company) to begin Travis Bean Guitars.
The trio’s mission was to focus on high-end
electric guitars and basses made with
machined-aluminum necks rather than wood.
Considering the company was active
between 1974 and ’79 and only constructed
around 3600 guitars and basses, Travis Bean
guitars were used by some pretty prolific
hands—particularly the TB1000 models.
Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards each used
TB1000s (a TB1000A and a custom 5-string
TB1000A, respectively) during their 1979
New Barbarians tour, Brian Robertson played
his TB1000A during Thin Lizzy’s glory days,
and Jerry Garcia was often seen onstage with
his custom TB1000A and TB500 models.
The guitar showcased here is a 1977
TB1000A. Its double-cutaway koa body
has a natural finish and is connected to the
Reynolds T6061 aluminum neck with four
wood screws. The patented aluminum neck-to-bridge design gives Bean’s guitars their
incomparable tone and impressive sustain.
In 1977, the company reworked its body-chambering
technique to remove some aluminum
from the top instead of the side. The
aluminum inside this guitar’s wood body was
machined to create a U-shaped channel that
provided a more rigid structure and also lightened
the guitar a bit. However, this aluminum-
wood hybrid still tops the scale at almost
10 pounds. Other features include a rosewood
fretboard with large, pearl-dot inlays, original
custom humbuckers with engraved chrome
covers, and original hardware, tuners, pots,
A special thanks to Jeff Sadler of Rock N Roll
Vintage Guitars (rocknrollvintage.com) in
Chicago for the opportunity to feature this fine
instrument and its story.