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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A 1979 Gibson Les Paul Custom gets caught in the collectability zeitgeist.

In the vast galaxy of used and vintage Gibson Les Paul models, no star is rising quite like that of the Les Paul Custom. The eternally slick variant—which debuted in its original Black Beauty form in 1954—has been in a certain vogue over the past several years, and prices on used and vintage examples have gone up. For context, average Reverb sale prices on used or vintage Gibson Les Paul Customs increased about 10 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 and have risen nearly 30 percent since 2017. This pattern plays out with Epiphones as well, where Les Paul Custom models have gone up by about 24 percent over the past four years. Comparatively, prices on all used and vintage Gibson Les Paul Standards remained more or less flat over this same time span.

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Up close and personal with a mint-condition 1968 Yamaha SG-5.

As most readers likely already know, there are many strange and wonderful Japan-made guitars from the 1960s lurking in the lost corners of the vintage marketplace. PG's Wizard of Odd column covers many of them. Most of these instruments were mass produced as export commodities and showed up all over the world with a dizzying variety of different make and model names. Brands like Teisco, Conrad, Norma, and others were used as stand-ins for many low-end, made-in-Japan (MIJ) instruments of this era—typically denoting a guitar or bass that looks cool, but, more often than not, is lacking in terms of playability and tone.

Per some sources, the Yamaha team consulted with surf guitarist Takeshi Terauchi in the development of the design.

Today's Vintage Vault pick is something a little different. Built and developed primarily for the surf-rock-obsessed Japanese guitar scene of the '60s, the Yamaha SG line came to include a range of guitars and basses that carried all the pizzazz of anything being built in this period, but with a bit better overall quality than your typical vintage MIJ fare. This reputation for playability and tone, combined with a unique, futuristic flair, has placed the top-shelf Yamaha SG models among the most collectible of all vintage guitars built in Japan.

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