chicago guitars

"This is a 22-inch short-scale guitar with Valco single-coil pickups and a built-in tremolo circuit," says guitar collector Daniel Ivankovich. "The short scale really adds fatness for open-tuned slide playing. The Valco amp-in-case is about 5 watts and has a similar tube configuration as the Fender Champ. No wonder it sounds so good.

Blues monster all the way!"

Photo by Chris McMahon

For much of the 20th century, Chicago was the epicenter of musical instrument manufacturing and distribution. Here, guitarist Daniel Ivankovich shares two-dozen favorites from his personal collection.

Chicago built guitars the way Detroit built cars.

For much of the 20th century, the United States was largely rural and people tended to buy guitars and other musical instruments from catalogs. Chicago's centrality—with access to the Mississippi River, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and later the rails and highways—made the city a major manufacturing, commercial, and distribution center. It's no accident that catalog and retail giants Sears, Roebuck & Co. (for many decades America's largest retailer), Montgomery Ward, Spiegel, and others were founded there, and that these retailers played a critical role in the creation and distribution of guitars, amplifiers, and other musical instruments.

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