vintage vault

This Barney Kessel Custom ’burst is in exceptional condition, with a body that practically gleams. The only mod is one exchanged tuner and patches of old screw holes on the headstock.

This 1968 Gibson signature-model hollowbody has kept its glow—and nearly all its components—through the decades.

From the sparse, smoky ballads of Julie London to the hard bop of Sonny Rollins, Barney Kessel could back up just about anybody. The bandleader, session great, Wrecking Crew member, and sideman was one of the most accomplished guitarists of his era. His chordal complexity not only got him steady work and accolades, but also a collection of signature guitar models bearing his name.

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This month's star, a 1967 Epiphone Sheraton E212T, slouches against an early Devon—the first Epi-branded amp built by Gibson. The 10" combo has just a volume dial, two 6V6 power tubes, a 5Y3 rectifier tube, and a 12AX7 driving the preamp.

This semi-hollow 1967 Sheraton embodies the "wow" in John Lee Hooker's "how, how, how, how"—and much more.

It might seem unlikely that one semi-hollowbody guitar would appeal to a list of players as wide ranging as John Lee Hooker, Noel Gallagher, and Mick Cripps of L.A. Guns, but the Epiphone Sheraton has done service in all six of those hands—and many, many more—since its introduction in 1958. This month, we're focusing on a classic, cherry-finish 1967 Epiphone Sheraton E212T.

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Although it's not a Kessel or Gold K series instrument, this Airline/Kay Swingmaster P-5 is a gorgeous hollowbody with appointments that revisit those earlier premium models.

The Kay-made Swingmaster P-5 carries the torch for its higher-end predecessors, like the company's Barney Kessel model.

When the guitar boom of the 1960s hit, manufacturing operations all over the world rushed to meet skyrocketing demand. There were factories in Japan and Italy, in Southern California and Czechoslovakia, and, perhaps most prolifically of all, in Chicago, Illinois—that long-established center of American retail distribution. Chicago instrument makers churned out entry-level guitars in enormous volumes, and by the time of Beatlemania, it seemed like they couldn't build them fast enough.

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