"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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By designing and building small batches of handcrafted, high-quality guitars from solid woods right here in the United States, Heritage is able to pay attention to those crucial details that define a great 6-string.

Heritage Guitar has a history of going its own way. While other guitar manufacturers increasingly build their instruments in Mexico, Korea, China, Indonesia, and other places known for inexpensive labor, and in a market where computer-aided manufacturing is the norm and mass-produced instruments dominate, the team of craftsmen at Heritage do the exact opposite. By designing and building small batches of handcrafted, high-quality guitars from solid woods right here in the United States, Heritage is able to pay attention to those crucial details that define a great 6-string.

“You can instantly hear it if you are a professional, and usually you can feel it,” says Rendell Wall, a second-generation guitar builder at Heritage. Wall has been making guitars in this same factory for 48 years—26 with Heritage and the previous 22 with Gibson, where he worked in research and development. His father worked for Gibson for 37 years.

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