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Weird Guitars: Vintage Freak Show

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Galanti Grand Prix
The electric guitar craze of the ’60s led many companies to jump into guitar production. In Japan, for instance, factories that had formerly made caskets, shoes, and barrels were suddenly pumping out guitars. In Italy, several accordion manufacturers jumped into the guitar boom with memorable models, but this Galanti Grand Prix is arguably the best of the bunch.

Galanti had been making high-quality accordions since the turn of the century. The company had an excellent reputation and American import partners. R. Galanti and Bro. set up an office in Ridgefield, New Jersey, and during the summer of 1965 ads featuring three totally new Galanti designs—two guitars and a bass—appeared in Music Trades magazine.

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This three-pickup version was listed as the Grand Prix No. 3003. It’s built very well, though the push-button switches take some getting used to (unless you also happen to be an accordion virtuoso). Grand Prix selling points included its solid wood body, adjustable truss rod, preset tone switches, and patented vibrato unit. The Grand Prix was designed from the ground up, with most parts engineered and produced in house. The pickups are actually mini-humbuckers, and are extremely hot, with an aggressive high end. There are six switching options: O (off), M (all pickups on), each pickup individually, and bridge and neck together. However, only one button can be pushed down at a time.

The year 1965 was the high-water mark for electric guitar demand, and Galanti’s fortunes mirrored the trend. As demand waned in the late ’60s, these guitars all but disappeared from the marketplace. Nonetheless, Italian designers created some of the coolest, most playable guitars outside of the U.S.

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