guitar history

This Teisco MJ-2, also known as an ET-200, comes with a tremolo, grinding surface-mounted pickups, and a deep V-shaped neck.

This guitar is the same model that belonged to Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks. Of course, the one that our columnist owns still has its whole body intact.

As the wind blows, so do my interests, and recently, I found myself taking a deep dive into the music of the Buzzcocks. That group was one of the early, legendary English punk bands. I was going through all the band’s recordings but I was really digging the group’s first EP from 1977, Spiral Scratch. That first record just has an incredibly raw guitar tone that has a familiar feel.

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These 1966 "Speed Bump" pickups appeared on Kay and other private-label instruments.

Our columnist ponders the evolution of private-label guitar manufacturing.

Tribal alliances are a big part of American life. Football fans at tailgate parties paint their faces and dance around the barbecue grill like Vikings revving up for a raid. Dad-buddy elders recount the legends of past glories to their daughters and sons, passing on the oral history of rising from defeat to ultimately lifting the trophy. It's all about the brand. The truth of the matter is that the team the kids will worship is not the team of their ancestors. The players are different, the coaches are new, the team has been sold and moved—maybe twice. We all want to belong, and everyone loves a good story, but what actually makes an authentic brand?

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The body design of this Japan-made, copy-era guitar nods directly to its Mosrite inspirations. Like Semie Moseley's creations, it has a wide tonal palette.

This 1971 Univox model was one of the Nirvana frontman's favorite pawnshop guitars.

Don't even ask me how I found out about this, but on a recent night while stumbling around the internet in a whiskey haze, I discovered an auction for some of Kurt Cobain's hair. Yes, six glorious strands of bleached hair were neatly encased in plastic and accompanied with all sorts of provenance to assure any bidder that this was the real deal. Of course, I immediately set to thinking about the economic ramifications of placing a bid (starting at $2,500), and after a few drinks I was set to put in a last second snipe. Alas, I fell asleep and quickly forgot about it. When I checked back a few days later I saw the final price was … $13,800!

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