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GALLERY: Gear Ads of the 1980s

GALLERY: Gear Ads of the 1980s

Take a trip back in time to see the gear, hair, and clothes that made the '80s most excellent—party on, dudes!

We're pretty sure the barely legal vixen in this Vester ad went on to great fame playing the cheerleader who kisses Mikey in the Broadway production of The Goonies. Vester subsequently went on to great, in this roast of '80s ads.

Ibanez 540S Series

Happily, Alex Skolnick was soon moved to the Evolution exhibit, though his hairstyle was left in the Endangered Species wing. (Note that spandex was in the correct wing, but on the wrong side of the glass.)


While there's no arguing with the longevity of the Gibson brand, it's hard to look back at this ad and not see some heavy irony. That's all we're going to say...

Dean Markley SLP Strings

Dean Markley's follow up to the rockin' grandpa ad pushed the needle just a little too close to the disturbing side.

DiMarzio Fred Humbucker

Many people forget that the working title for Surfing With the Alien was Surfing with the Sideburns.

Kawai GB-1 Session Trainer

Seriously, Kawai? Wow.

Celestion Vintage 30s

Exhibit 2 in making the case that not everything from the '80s had a short shelf life.

Martin Stinger

The guitar that solidified Martin's leading role in the über-crowded crackle-finish "super-Strat" market: the Stinger. Judging by its logo,, goes both ways?

Washburn Stephen's Extended Cutaway Electrics

What could've extended the Stephen's Extended Cutaway's lifespan a few years (or at least months)? Maybe a look that was more distinctive than the Martin Stinger's trademark finish we're thinking something like blood spatters or a kamikaze theme.

Carvin FET Series

Gratuitous Mullet Joke #1: With all due respect to Carvin and Bob Bradshaw—for both surely deserve tons—but this mullet may be the single biggest reason why the FET has since played second fiddle to the vacuum tube.

Tom Anderson Guitarworks

Things would be so much different for Tom Anderson Guitarworks today if only they'd been able to coax Val Kilmer into a coordinated media blitz based on his 1984 breakout comedy hit, Top Secret.

Marshall BluesBreaker, DriveMaster, and ShredMaster

Whadya know? The same three words describe how we feel about this ad a couple decades after the fact.

Dean Markley SLP Strings

Luckily, this ad from Dean Markley was more funny than disturbing. (As media folks, we're pretty impressed with the analog photoshopping—although we do take umbrage with the subject-verb disagreement.) However, as luck would have it...

The Whirlwind Leader

The single trend of the '80s that must be resurrected immediately: cable companies giving away Porsches.

Rocktron Hush IIC

Gratuitous Mullet Joke #2: Rocktron wisely hid Bob Bradshaw's FET-killing mullet behind its HUSH units. On the downside, they upped the ante with Steve Lukather's a Hairnet-teased, Sun In-treated 'do. Apparently the HUSH survived due to confusion over whether Luke's killing shoulder-pad jacket was included.

Pefect Pitch

We've witnessed this undead ad campaign shuffle onward, feasting on our collective brains for what seems like an eternity now. And trust us, Mr. Perfect Pitch guy, we've laughed at a LOT more than your secret.

A/DA Amplification Systems

As Michael J. Fox's character found out in the Night Ranger-scored (and tragically Oscar-scorned) The Secret of My Success, 128 patches of preamp-tube distortion are the surest bet when reaching for that golden ring. (What's that? Yeah, yeah, we know Secret is the one '80s movie Fox DIDN'T play guitar in...but it worked here, all right?)

Spandex Clothes

Guitar mags of the '80s offered information on ALL the essential tools for mastering guitar.

Boss RV-2

Exhibit 1 in making the case that not everything from the '80s had a short shelf life.

Ernie Ball Music Man Eddie Van Halen Guitar

Ok, so Eddie designed the guitar. It's cool, we understand the switch. The only thing better would be having your own brand, but that's crazy talk...

Kramer Guitars

Anyone who thinks Eddie switched endorsements a lot clearly hasn't seen this ad. Look how loyal he looks, raising the Kramer president's hand in triumph. He'd NEVER...

Aria Pro II Knight Warrior

Ahhh...the golden years of Neanderthalic sexual objectification. Once you had the guitar, the only thing standing in the way of claiming your swooning prize was securing some badass spandex. Luckily...

[Updated 10/28/21]

Steve Carr’s first amp build was a Fender Champ clone. It didn’t work on the first try. Luckily, that didn’t stop him.

Photo by Charles Odell

The North Carolina amp builder is famous for his circuit-blending soundboxes, like the Rambler, Sportsman, and Telstar. Here, he tells us how he got started and what keeps him pushing forward.

Steve Carr started building amps because he loved playing guitar. He and his friends cobbled together a band in Michigan City, Indiana, in high school in the mid-’70s, and the gear they played with seemed like a black box. In the pre-internet days, getting information on amp voicings and pickup magnets was difficult. Carr was fascinated, and always wanted to know what made things tick.

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Yungblud's first signature features a mahogany body, P-90 Pro pickup, and SlimTaper C profile neck.

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On this season finale episode, the actor and musician leads a Prine-inspired songwriting session about how few tools we have in our collective toolbox.

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John Mayall in the late ’80s, in a promo shot for his Island Records years. During his carreer, he also recorded for the Decca (with the early Bluesbreakers lineups), Polydor, ABC, DJM, Silvertone, Eagle, and Forty Below labels.

He was dubbed “the father of British blues,” but Mayall’s influence was worldwide, and he nurtured some of the finest guitarists in the genre, including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Harvey Mandel, Coco Montoya, and Walter Trout. Mayall died at his California home on Monday, at age 90.

John Mayall’s career spanned nearly 70 years, but it only took his first four albums to cement his legendary status. With his initial releases with his band the Bluesbreakers—1966’s Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton; ’67’s A Hard Road, with Peter Green on guitar; plus the same year’s Crusade, which showcased Mick Taylor—and his solo debut The Blues Alone, also from 1967, Mayall introduced an international audience of young white fans to the decidedly Black and decidedly American genre called blues. In the subsequent decades, he maintained an active touring and recording schedule until March 26, 2022, when he played his last gig at age 87. It was reported that he died peacefully, on Monday, in his California home, at 90.

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