Thanks to a period DeArmond gold-foil, this resonator runs the voodoo down.
As a resonator guitar player and designer, I get giddy when an oddball resonator comes through the door. I've loved these old hub-cap guitars ever since I was a kid, which I mentioned in the history of resonators I wrote for Premier Guitar's June 2018 issue ("Resonator Guitars 101"). I've worked for Dobro, Sho-Bud, and Washburn (where I have signature models) over the years and had my own Owens brand at one time. So, of course I got excited about this 1964 Supro/Valco Res-O-Glass Folkstar with a period DeArmond gold-foil pickup. It has a hint of Airline, too, but more on that later.
Back in '64, when it was priced at $137.50 new, Supro advertised this 6-string as "the most powerful non-electric guitar of them all! The original self-amplified guitar." Of course, that's hyperbole, because that was without the crucial addition of the DeArmond, which may have been added by the guitar's original owner. More on that later, too.
This example was assembled at the Valco factory as a hybrid of Airline and Supro body parts. During a slight neck repair at Nashville Used and New Music, its original red neck was refinished black to match the body.
Meanwhile, you want some background on Valco? Well, that history of resonators story I mentioned has plenty. But what's important for understanding the roots of this month's guitar is that Louis Dopyera, one of the founding brothers of Dobro, was a co-founder of Valco. And the Dopyeras were innovators who saw the trend toward round-neck electric guitars pretty much when the first electric lap steels hit the market in the early 1930s. That same eye for the new put fiberglass on their radar in the 1950s, when it came into its own with Corvettes, surfboards, and other iconic pop-culture designs. One more essential piece of information: Valco specialized in making guitars and amps for other brands—most notably Harmony, Kay, Supro, and Airline—until it closed in 1968.
Vintage DeArmond gold-foil pickups like this were a popular modification for these guitars in the '60s. Plastic-screened soundholes were just another of Valco's cost-saving measures.
Now let's get back to our Valco-made Supro Folkstar. It has a thinline body with a single resonator cone under a distinctive cover plate—are those the tips of tridents or sideways Es?—and two small round soundholes with cream-colored plastic screen covers in the upper body. (On a Dobro, those screens would be metal.) That body, with its beveled, molded top providing a slightly arched look, is made of two pieces of the fiberglass material called Res-O-Glass, with a rubber binding seam in the center to attach both halves and inhibit internal rattling. The Kord King neck is described in the catalog as magnesium-reinforced wood. It has the classic "Gumby"-shaped headstock that's a Supro signature, and Kluson tuners with oversized butterfly-style buttons. Another advantage that the always-budget-aware Valco saw in Res-O-Glass—besides its light weight—was the ability to use colored resin, reducing the amount of finishing necessary. This Folkstar model came in two colors: red for the Supro model and black for the Airline model. The latter sold through Montgomery Ward stores and catalogs. As cool as Folkstars look, they don't sound good at all—at least as the acoustic instruments they were intended to be. Their tone is muted, with almost no sustain. That's why so many of these vintage axes have pickups installed.
The rubber binding seam in the middle of this model was used to attach both halves of the body and decrease internal rattling.
Here's something weird: While this guitar's body has the black finish of an Airline model, that's clearly a Supro logo on the headstock. Seems crazy, right? But one of my gigs at Dobro was working as the company's archivist, where I learned that it was not uncommon for them to use parts from one line on another, or for them to make a custom one-off. Gibson also did this back in the '40s, '50s, and '60s—or used leftover parts from one production era on a new generation of instruments. When this Supro/Airline hybrid arrived at our shop, the neck was actually red and had some slight damage. When it was repaired, we refinished it black—but given that it already had the pickup installed as a mod, that refinishing shouldn't influence its value, which we estimate at about $1,199.
While this instrument's black finish says Airline, the headstock's "Gumby" shape and logo scream Supro.
The DeArmond gold-foil is where the magic really happens with this guitar. And the truth about these old pickups is that no two seem to ever sound the same. But this one brings the instrument to life in a way that would please fans of North Mississippi hill country blues or Ry Cooder soundtracks. I hope whatever bluesman or blueswoman—or maybe even voodoo priestess—gave this guitar that pickup also got all the mojo he or she wanted out of it. And I think there's still plenty left for the next owner.
- Wizard of Odd: 1964 Supro Dual Tone - Premier Guitar ›
- Echoes from the Garage - Premier Guitar ›
- 24 Windy City Gems - Premier Guitar ›
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.