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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