Sunday, July 24, 2016

Black Diamond Strings

Ed Sullivan and the Beatles 1964

In 1964 the Beatles made their first United States appearance on the Ed Sullivan television show. At that time I was 13 years old and like kids of that era I had to have a guitar.



Harmony Patrician

My Dad relented and bought me a late 1940’s era Harmony Patrician archtop acoustic guitar from a local pawn shop for $20.00. The salesman that sold it to Dad said, “Well you need a couple of things to go along with that guitar. You need a pitch pipe to tune it and you need an extra set of string, ‘cause that kid is going to break ‘em.” For an extra two bucks I got a pitch pipe and a new set of Black Diamond guitar strings.



Larry Cordel "Black Diamond Strings"

I had not thought much about those strings until last week when I turned on a local radio station that plays a variety of diverse music. That day they were playing Country music by some unfamiliar artists.





Black Diamond Strings Set
One song caught my ear since it was called Black Diamond Strings. It was all about how much joy they brought to guitar players back in the day.

Which is odd, because I recall how difficult it was to play guitar with those thick heavy guage old Black Diamond strings.

The strings on the neck on that old Harmony were probably a good half and inch above the neck at the 12th fret.

And when I put them on my first electric guitar, a late 1950’s Fender Stratocaster, the bridge saddle and block raised off the neck, which was great because the vibrato pulled up and down. But bending notes was another thing with those heavy strings. And talk about sore fingers and calluses!

Black Diamond Set
However Black Diamond Strings were available everywhere. You could get them at a drug store or a five and dime store. If you broke a number one E string you could get another for 20 cents. A pack of six new Black Diamond strings cost around three bucks.


1960's Gibson Guitar Strings

I was not aware that both Gibson and Fender sold their own brand of strings until a few years later. And it would be another ten years or so before Ernie Ball started putting string sets together with light and ultra light guage strings.


As were kids and had no idea that the professional players were discarding the sixth string and replacing the first string with a .009 banjo string  and then using the remaining five strings.

Bell Brand Strings
I was very curious about Black Diamond Strings and learned that they got their start in 1897 when a merger occurred between three different companies; the Rice Musical String Company of New York, which was owned by Thomas Nelson Jr which made Bell Brand strings and the Standard Musical String Company of Connecticut.

Interestingly enough the Standard Musical String company owned by Alexander Paul, who was already making Black Diamond strings. The last partner was a Mr. George Dow Emerson, who owned yet another a string factory in New Jersey. These men got together to form the National Musical String Company

National Musical String Co. 1898
The first step was the purchase of a factory building in Brunswick, New Jersey on Georges Road and the cities boundary. This structure was designed by a Mr. Ben C. DeKamp in 1897 specifically for this company. In fact it still stands in that same place to this day. The following year, 1898, the business started up.

NMSCO office

Interestingly enough advertisements for employment went out looking for mostly women employees. By 1899 the partners purchased another manufacturer called the American String Company.

Black Diamond stamping plates
It was in 1917 the last remaining partner, George Dow Emerson sold his shares to a Mr. William R. McClelland. Fifteen years later McClelland died unexpectedly of a heart attack.

This was in 1932 and the National Musical String Company was then bought by C. Bruno and Son Incorporated and James and Frank Gibson, who owned the Gibson String Company (which was not associated with Gibson Guitars).

From C. Bruno catalog - U of I library
Let me pause here because the history of C. Bruno or Charles Bruno is very interesting. Way back in 1837 Bruno was a bookseller. The following year he entered into a partnership with Christian Martin (yes THAT Christian Martin). Martin would manufacture guitars and Bruno would sell them.

Christian Martin



The partnership only lasted a year and both men went their separate ways, with Martin building guitars and Bruno selling musical instrument as a wholesaler.






C.Bruno and Son catalog
In 1851 Charles Bruno established another partnership with a man named Cargill that lasted for two years after which Burno brought his son, Charles Junior into the business. The company sold not just guitars and banjos, but all sorts of band and orchestral instruments, accordions, drums, harmonicas, music boxes and children's toy musical instruments. They became one of the largest music wholesalers and importers in the United States.

Bruno and Son was eventually purchased in 1970 by the Kaman Music Corporation (Ovation Guitars) and renamed the Kaman Musical String Company. The business was moved from New Jersey to Kaman’s headquarters and factory in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

National Musical String Co - today
However in 1982 the original National Musical String Company building in Brunswick, New Jersey was declared a historic landmark, as it was one of the oldest standing buildings in the state and it was placed on the list of national landmarks. Since then it was renovated for commercial space on the first floor. The upper floors house 38 residential apartments.

Black Diamond Strings - circa 1965

As I recall Black Diamond strings were sold in a black cardboard container with six individual reddish packs, each containing a string. The gauge of the string was not listed on the box or the pack, but instead it said B or 2nd Steel or E or 1st Steel. All I can say is they were heavy strings.


Individual strings
The container and each pack bore a quadrangular logo in the upper left corner with the company’s trademark stating NMSCO (National Musical String Company).  Some of the guitar strings would say silver plated steel while others would say silver plated copper wire. By far the most popular Black Diamond Strings were the silver plated stainless steel versions.

The National Musical String company made strings for guitars, Hawaiian guitars, banjos, mandolins and other instruments. I have also come across Black Diamond electric guitar strings that were made in later years.

Display Case for individual strings.

Back in the mid 1960’s most players that I knew did not purchase a new complete set of strings. More often than not if a string broke or sounded dead, we went to the music store and bought an individual string and those stores all stocked individual Black Diamond strings.


I was not certain if Black Diamond strings were still available and being curious I learned that in 1930 Ed Wackerle of Chicago, started a company to manufacture strings for bowed instruments. He was upset with the quality of strings being offered at the time. To achieve quality he put together an endorser panel; a group of players that would test the strings and suggest improvements. He came up with stainless steel strings and marketed them under the Red Label brand.

Then in 1967 John and Vincent Cavanaugh purchased the company and continued to manufacture Red Label strings. They moved the business to Sarasota, Florida

By 1972 a research and development department was set up to further enhance the strings quality. Out of this came the Old Fiddler Line of strings for Country, Western and Bluegrass players.

Improvements were made on cello and bass strings with the Supreme Line. The business was renamed the Super-Sensitive Musical String Company. In 1997 the grandson of the company’s founder took over the reigns and introduced computerized manufacturing.

John and Jim Cavanaugh
And in 2001 the Cavanaugh family purchased the name and trademark of the National Musical String Company/Black Diamond Strings. Once again, Black Diamond Strings are available, although under a new manufacturer with a high quality than ever before.

Current version Black Diamond strings
Black Diamond currently offers three different sets of electric guitar strings, including flat-wound strings and four sets of acoustic guitar strings, which include the original silver plated steel strings (.013 to .056) as well as 12 string guitar sets. These are available directly from the manufacturer www.blackdiamondstrings.com.

A special thanks to Chris of the Mudcat Cafe for some very interesting information on the history of the National Musical String Company.



This was written by the late Guy Clark in honor of Rodney Crowell's father


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Princes Last Guitar - GUS Guitars

Prince in one of his last concerts with Gus Guitars Purple Special

Simon Farmer - Gus Guitars creator
Simon Farmer stumbled into guitar building by way of being a student and studying design in art school. He eventually received a masters degree in product design at Walter Hampton University.

He had already built his first electric guitars and basses during in his early teen years and went to art school with the intent of designing guitars.

Furniture maker bending metal frame
Farmer states he took his inspiration from a variety of artisans; jewelry makers, furniture makers and other artists. In fact the tubular design of his guitars was influenced from furniture makers that saw using bent chromed steel and aluminum to construct chairs.

While in University he made a series of instruments that he called Git-tubes which were tubes shaped into frames for the guitar/bass bodies. The artist Seal, a bass player and singer, used one of his basses in a video.

Steve Klein Gutiar

While in school Farmer took a break and for a holiday he traveled to California to visit such luthiers as Steve Klein, John Page of Fender and others to get their insights on the guitar building process.


These interactions lead him away from the Git-tube design as he realized these instruments were more sculptural pieces than stringed electric instruments. He faced the reality that the git-tubes did not have the sound he was looking for in a guitar or bass.

He then that he turned his attention to carbon fiber as a basis of a body. To do this Simon Farmer made use of a spectrum analyzer which allowed him to view the frequencies of differing materials.

Farmer building the frame
Farmer realized that carbon fiber was a great choice. After experimenting with this material he concluded that a combination of wood with a carbon fiber veneer produced a superior sound. To this he added his original tubular steel frame to come up with a most unique and abstract series of guitars.

Gus Guitar mold
The core of Simon’s guitars is made of Western red cedar wood or Brazilian cedula wood. The wood is shaped and placed in a mold and acts as a core for the carbon fiber veneer to be poured over.

Gus Guitars G1
His most popular mode, the G1, uses tubular shaped pickups that he creates in his shop using alnico magnets and piezo transducers in the bridge/saddle..

In fact all the parts on his Gus guitars are hand made on his lathe, including the knobs, bridge and vibrato. He does not like “switches” so he utilizes a rotary selector instead of the usual Switchcraft style toggle or lever.

Simon Farmer at Sussex workshop

Simon Farmer also hand polishes all of his instruments. His small workshop is located in East Sussex, U.K.



Gus Guitars G1
The G1 is far from being a basic guitar, but it is the basis for all his guitars. The G1 is fitted with a GUS hard-tail bridge that Mr. Farmer makes in his shop. Possibly the only thing that is not made onsite are the Gotoh 510 tuners and the Schaller strap locks.. The knobs are even milled in-house.

The twin GUS humbucking alnico pickups are wound at the shop and fitted with tubular pickup covers which are built there as well.

Gus Guitars G1 Gold Special
One unique feature on this guitar is the switching system that can turn these twin humbuckers into three single coil pickups. We've discussed the body already. The neck is topped with a Cocobolo fretboard which has 22 frets. The position markers are of Farmer's own unique design and made of white resin. The fretboard includes LED's embedded in the position markers..


The guitar has a unique switching system that uses a rotary switch instead of the usual toggle. And this guitar sounds excellent. The connection input is found on the guitars backside and is molded into the body.

Gus Guitars G1V
The G1 V (vibrato) has the same unique body design, but comes with three GUS single coil pickups encased in metal tubes. The vibrato unit is made by Farmer in his shop and is his own design.


Gus Guitars G1 7

The G7 is similar to the G1, but it is a 7 string guitar.




Gus Guitars G1 Baritone

The G1 Baritone guitar combines the features found on the G1 with a 28.5" scale neck.



Gus Guitars G1 MIDI
The G1 MIDI ( musical instrument digital interface) guitar combines all the features of the G1 along with RMC piezo pickups that connect to the 13-pin MIDI connector on the guitar's backside next to the input jack. This enables the player to run through a Roland GR-33 or other guitar synthesizer module.


Gus Guitars G1 Piezo
The G1 piezo combines the features found on the G1-V with piezo elements in the guitars bridge that run on a built-in preamp. This guitar enables the player to use a Y-cable to send the piezo feed to one amplifier and the magnetic feed to another.

Gus Guitars Purple Special with matching hardshell case
Perhaps the pinnacle Simon Farmers work is The Purple Special guitar. This is a one-off guitar that Simon Farmer designed especially for Prince. All of the hardware is gold-plated.

Close-up of Purple Special


The guitars body is purple and the fretboard is constructed of purple composite fiber.




Purple Special holographic fret inlays
The inlaid position markers are made of holographic gold carbon fiber. This guitar has one single coil pickup in the neck position and one humbucking pickup in the bridge position. There is a piezo pickup in the bridge, but no preamp.

The controls feature a single volume and tone control and a three-way toggle switch. The tuners are gold-plated Gotoh non-locking machines. Prince only got to use this guitar once in concert. He had planned on having a second guitar built. It is a gorgeous instrument.

The Purple Special guitar comes with a GUS guitar designed custom made molded purple case with a gold-plated aluminum handle and a plush interior.

Simon Farmer with a Gus G3 Five Bass
The GUS bass guitar series is made in a similar fashion, but with a different body shape. The aluminum tubular structures the make up the horns do not encircle the body, but jut out from the upper portion of the instrument.

Gus G3 Four Bass

The G3 Four is the GUS 4 string bass guitar. This instrument includes two passive single coil pickups that are linked to a four way rotary switch.

This system allows the pickups to function has humbuckers (in tandem) or in as single coil pickups. The guitar has an in-shop designed hard tail bridge/saddle that has piezo elements to give an even fuller sound.. It comes with single volume and tone controls. The fretboard is made of cocobola with white resin position markers that contain LED's. The machine heads are Gotoh model 510's.

Gus G3 Five Bass
The G3 Five not only adds another string, but comes with twin GUS humbucking pickups. This model can be purchased with the standard 34" scale neck or special ordered with a 35" scale.

Five aircraft grade aluminum bridge pieces clamp to a 1/4" bridge plate to anchor the strings and increase this basses sustain. The bridge saddles also contain piezo elements for a bigger sound.

Both the G3 Four and Five can be ordered with an active three-band EQ system to achieve even more bass sounds. Instead of just a tone control these bass guitars come with stacked switches to enable the user can get active treble, mid-range and bass sounds along with the volume and four-way rotary control.

Gus G3 Baritone

Simon Farmer also offers a baritone version of the GUS G3 bass. This is a six string instrument that is tuned A to A.


It comes with all the accouterments of the standard G3, including two single coil alnico tube pickups. piezo bridge pickups and the four-way rotary control.

Gus G3 MIDI
The G3 MIDI bass combines all the aspects of the G3 bass with the added feature of piezo pickups that are connected to a 13-pin MIDI output. This enables the bass to  be hooked up to a MIDI synth unit to achieve a myriad of bass sounds, or any other sort of sound that the synth unit can produce .

Gus Guitars
GUS guitars are extraordinary functioning works of art. I've looked for prices and believe they start in the £3500 to £5000 range.

Click on the links under the pictures or in the text for sources







Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Scotty Moore - Hall of Fame Guitarist Dead at 84 - His Guitars and Amplifiers

Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley’s guitarist, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and one of the most admired guitarists in the world passed away on June 28th, 2016 at the age of 84. Those close to him confirmed he had recently been in poor health. He was beloved in the world of music,especially by those in Nashville, Tennessee, where he resided and recorded. Countless guitar players learned to play Rock and Roll guitar by copying his licks.

The Starlite Wranglers
Scotty Moore began playing guitar at the age of eight. In 1954 he formed a group with bass player Bill Black called the Starlite Wranglers. They recorded at Nashville’s Sun Records after meeting Sam Phillips, the studios owner.

Around that time Phillips got word that a kid in Nashville was looking to record a single and Phillips asked Moore to listen to him sing. Scotty Moore was blown away and suggested that Phillips book a session, which was meant to be an audition for Elvis.

Scotty, Elvis and Bill Black
So in 1954, Scotty Moore playing guitar and Bill Black playing bass backed up Elvis on the Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup blues song, That’s Alright Mama.” There were no drums on the track.

Because Elvis sounded Black, and these were the days before civil rights, Bill Black commented,"Damn. Get that on the radio and they'll run us out of town."

Original Record
Phillips gave copies of the record to local disc jockeys. Interest in this record was so intense that it was repeatedly requested to be played on the air. And that was what started it all for Elvis, Scotty and Bill Black.

Elvis and the group followed up with a rockin’ version of the Bill Monroe song, Blue Moon of Kentucky. For a brief time Scotty Moore was Elvis’ manager.

Elvis and the original band
For shows they needed a drummer and D.J. Fontana was recruited. Elvis, Scotty, Black and Fontana made history by touring the country and performing on television, most notably the Ed Sullivan Show.




Elvis is drafted


In 1958 Elvis was drafted into the U.S. Army. During Elvis’ Army years Scotty Moore kept busy at another studio called Fernwood Records. In 1960 Moore backed up Elvis in sessions at RCA studios in Nashville and Moore also served as production manager for Sam Phillips Recording Service.




Elvis, Bill, Scotty, Sam Phillips
Moore played on Elvis’ recordings of Good Rockin’ Tonight, Milk Cow Blues, Baby, Heartbreak Hotel, Mystery Train, Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, Hard Headed Woman, Surrender, Rock-a-Hula Baby, Kiss Me Quick, Good Luck Charm and many others.

The Guitar That Changed The World
In 1964, Moore released a solo album on Epic Records called The Guitar That Changed the World, played using his Gibson Super 400. Moore, D.J. Fontana and Presley reunited in 1968 for a television special called The ‘68 Comeback Special. Moore played guitar, like Chet Atkins with a thumb pick, but played in a Rockabilly style with all the necessary fills.

Scotty with Gibson ES-295


Though Scotty Moore is best known for using his 1952 Gibson ES-295, he has owned and made use of at least seventeen guitar throughout his career.




Scotty Moore Signature Model
This would include his own signature ES-295 that the Gibson Guitar company offered as special orders in 1999. Only fifteen instruments were made by the Gibson custom shop. Twelve of these guitars were sold through Scotty’s friend Jacque Vroom. These twelve instruments were autographed by Scotty Moore before Gibson applied the clear coat finish.

Scotty Moore's 1952 Esquire

Moore’s first professional electric guitar was a 1952 Fender Esquire. He purchased this guitar and a Fender Deluxe amp upon leaving the Navy in 1952. At some point a Stratocaster pickup was added to it. Moore stated that he did not like the small body and traded it for his first Gibson ES-295.




Scotty with ES-295

In 1953 he purchased the ES-295 through the OK Houck Piano Company of Memphis Tennessee and played it during his first years in Presley’s band.



Scotty Moore's 1954 L-5

In 1955 Moore went back to this same music store and traded the ES-295 for a Gibson L-5 CESN. The L-5 was a very expensive guitar even in those days. The music store charged Scotty $629.28 for the L-5 and $52.56 for the case but gave him a credit of $225.00 for his Telecaster. Scotty Moore used this guitar through 1957 on many Elvis recordings, including Mystery Train. He also used it on stage for Presley concerts.


Moore's Super 400
In 1957 the Gibson Guitar Company/Chicago Musical Instruments saw the value of Scotty Moore’s use of their instruments and sent him a blonde 1956 Super 400 CESN on consignment. Moore used this guitar through the remainder of his career with Elvis; up through 1968.

He wound up giving it to recording engineer and record producer Chips Moman. In April of 2000 Moman put it up for auction at Christie’s and it fetched £58,000.

1963 Super 400

By 1963 Moore ordered another Gibson Super 400 CES directly from Gibson/Chicago Musical Instruments. This time the guitar cost $472.00, with the case included. He traded in a Gibson EB-6 bass and was given $235.50 for the bass with its original case. This version had a Florentine cut-a-way instead of the Venetian (rounded) cutaway that was on his 1955 model.




Elvis with Scotty's Super 400
The ‘63 version was done up with a sunburst finish. It also included a George Van Eps string damper. This contraption fit right behind the guitars nut and included an felt pad mounted on an arm that could be lowered onto the strings between the nut and first fret. It served as a way to eliminate feedback from vibrating strings. Moore used this guitar on the ‘68 Elvis Comeback Special.

Here is a famous picture of Elvis playing Moore’s Super 400.

1938 Epiphone Masterbuilt Spartan
The oldest guitar that Scotty owned was a 1938 Masterbuilt Epiphone Spartan. This was a beautiful guitar with a handcarved solid spruce top and solid walnut back and sides. The body featured single binding. The bound neck was made of mahogany topped with a Brazilian rosewood fretboard.

The fret markers were notched mother-of-pearl blocks. The headstock was also bound and had a Doric column inlay below the inlaid Epiphone logo. A vintage DeArmond pickup was added. The guitar had a single volume control was mounted on the pickguard. Moore purchased this at a guitar show.

Scotty with 1976 L-5 CES
Scotty also acquired another Gibson L-5 CES. This time it was a 1976 model. He had visited the Guitar Network music store in Frederick Maryland with a friend. The store's owner, Buck Sulcer, noticed that Scotty kept picking up and playing this guitar. Later that year Buck was displaying guitars for sale at a Nashville guitar show when Scotty showed up. Buck handed it to him and said, “Here, it’s on the house.” Moore said he couldn’t do that, but Sulcer insisted.

The next day Moore came back with an old Gibson and Magnatone amp as payment for the guitar. It seems Scotty’s favorite Gibson guitar is the L-5 and he frequently played this one at his home.

1981 '59 ES-335 reissue


During the 1990’s Scotty made another visit to Guitar Network and while there purchased a blonde 1981 Gibson ES-335. He gifted this guitar to a friend in 1994.







1983 Super 400 CESN

In 1987 Scotty purchased another Super 400 CESN from Cartee Music.. This one was a 1983 model that cost him $1500. Scotty used this guitar on a 1992 recording with Carl Perkins and on tours. Moore had this guitar modified by having a Nashville luthier install a sound post. This guitar resides in the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville.




Gibson Country Gentleman
In 1989 Chet Atkins was visiting Scotty Moore at his home and spotted an old RCA 77DX microphone that Moore had been using as a paper weight. Scotty gave it to Chet, who had it rebuilt and used it in his studio. In return Chet gave Scotty a prototype of his new Gibson Chet Atkins Country Gentleman model guitar. This guitar was custom made by Gibson for Chet. It did not have a Bigsby vibrato, but instead had a “finger-style” trapeze bridge. It also had a ABR tune-o-matic bridge.

The body was finished in “Country Gentleman Brown”. The pickups were specially designed and built by Ray Butts. When Moore went back to touring and playing in 1993 he used this guitar.

Scotty with 2nd Country Gentleman

After an airlines nearly lost Scotty’s Chet Atkin’s Country Gentleman prototype, Moore purchased another one. This one had the same modifications done to it as the original.




Yamaha AEX 1500
Scotty met guitarist Martin Taylor while Taylor was in Nashville. One of Scotty’s other friends was Mike Eldred, who worked for Yamaha Musical Instruments at the time. Eldred gave Scotty a 1994 Yamaha AEX 1500 guitar. This guitar was designed in collaboration with Martin Taylor. It was a jazz style guitar that featured a bound body with a solid sycamore top, and solid maple back and sides. The bound neck was also made of maple and topped with an ebony fretboard with dot inlays. It featured a gold-plated Johnny Smith floating humbucker pickup and a piezo pickup in the ebony bridge.

The saddle and nut were made of bone. The strings were attached to a trapeze tailpiece. Moore had put a mute behind the bridge.

Custom Shop '52 Esquire

Mike Elred went on to become the manager of the Fender Custom Shop. In 1997 Elred presented Scotty Moore with a custom made Fender Esquire guitar. Scotty did not like the feel of the neck since it was too wide. Eldred had it redone and sent it back to him with the neck plate engraved with the phrase, “Custom buit for Scotino.”




Scotty with Tal Farlow
In February of 2002 Gibson Guitars presented Scotty Moore with the Orville H. Gibson Award that recognizes guitarists for the artistic accomplishments. The winner is chosen by members of the music industry during the Grammy nomination season. Winners are presented with a special instrument and Scotty received a Tal Farlow model Gibson with a special tag that can be seen from inside the f-hole. This guitar had been modifled with reverse J-200 inlaid fret markers and Ray Butts pickups. It is a beautiful guitar.

'02 L-5 CES


During the winter of 2002 and 2003 Scotty was ill. As a get well gift Gibson president Henry Juszkiewicz sent Moore a 2002 Gibson L-5 CES. In 2004 Moore donated this instrument to the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.






Gibson L-5 CT
In 2003 Moore was once again presented with the gift from Gibson president Henry Juszkiewicz of a specially designed guitar to celebrate 50 years of Moore playing Gibson guitars. This was a Gibson L-5 CT. In 1958 Gibson had designed a special acoustic version of the L-5 for comedian George Gobel. He wanted a thinner version with a cutaway. This explains the designation CT. The guitar that Moore received was beautiful. The body and neck were triple bound.

The fret position markers were made of spectacular abalone as was the truss rod cover. The inlaid flower pot emblem was specially made with a g-clef coming out of it. The trapeze tailpiece was custom etched.

 Fender Deluxe 5B3
I’ve already mentioned Scotty Moore’s first amp which was a 1952 Fender Deluxe that he purchased from the O.K. Houck Piano Company in Memphis. (Elvis bought his Martin D-18 at this same shop.) This was a Fender 5B3 wide panel Fender Deluxe amp, which was the most modern at the time. Moore paid $65 for this amplifier.

He used the Fender Deluxe until 1955 when he purchased an EchoSonic custom built amp, built by Ray Butts.

Scotty with EchoSonic amp


The EchoSonic was purchased and financed through the same music store. This was the same amplifier that Chet Atkins was using. This amplifier put out 25 watts of power. The unique thing about the EchoSonic amp is the tape delay unit that was housed in the bottom of the amplifier.



Much like the Echoplex delay, the Echo-sonic utilized a tape recorder that featured an adjustable sound-on-sound feature that recorded the players track and immediately replayed it milliseconds later. The length of delay was adjustable by moving one of the tape heads. Ray Butts played accordion in a band in Illinois, but tinkered with electronics. He had only built two amplifiers before Scotty ordered his. Ray Butts amplifiers are extremely rare finds since they were custom made. Scotty used this amp through 1968.

Gibson GA-77RVT Vanguard Amp
In 1965 Scotty purchased a Gibson GA-77RVT Vanguard amplifier on consignment through the Chicago Musical Instrument Company which owned Gibson Guitars. The Gibson GA-77RVT was a 50 watt amplifier that featured  a Hammond long tank reverb unit, and tube based tremolo. The speaker was a 15” model.

Gibson Super 400 Amplifier
Scotty also purchased a Gibson Super 400 amplifier. This was an unusual amp. Not only did it have a pre-amp section and a power amp section, it also had a built in compressor. This amplifier had twin 12” speakers and an output of 60 watts and was heavy enough to have built in coasters.

Magnatone Victory Amplifier
In 1972 Moore purchased a Magnatone Victory amplifier. This amp featured twin Oxford 12” speakers, it put out 35 watts of power and had the Magnatone True-Vibrato sound. Moore used this through 1995 when he traded this amp for a Gibson L-5. He then purchased a Fender Dual Professional amplifier.

Fender Dual Professional Amp
The Fender Dual Professional amplifier was designed by Bruce Zinky, who worked at Fender at the time. It featured twin Celestion 12” speakers and had an output of 100 watts into it’s two channels. The reverb on this amp was similar to the self-contained Fender reverb units.

The reverb control included dwell, mix and tone controls. The amp also featured a vintage style tremolo section. The Dual Professional weighed 70 pounds. Moore used this amplifier through 2001 when he purchased a much lighter Peavey Classic 30.

Peavey Classic 30
The Peavey Classic 30 contained a single 12” speaker. Scotty placed a Boss DD-3 digital delay unit and a Boss CH-1 Super Chorus pedal on top of this amp to replicate the EchoSonic sound. He used this amp through the remainder of his career up to his final performance in 2007.


Yamaha T-100
If more power was needed, Scotty used the Peavey 30 in conjunction with a Yamaha T-100 C amplifier. This amp was designed by Mike Soldano for Yamaha and is a tube based amp that provided 100 watts of power.

Though he did not take it on the road, Scotty owned a Gibson Super Goldtone GA-30RV amplifier. It had an output of 30 watts through a 10” and 12” Celestion speaker.

Magnatone 213 Troubadour
In 1995 Scotty bought another Magnatone amplifier called a Magnatone Troubadour. This was a smaller version of his previous amp. This was an 18 watt version that utilized twin 6V6 power tubes.

In early photos of Elvis performances one thing that stood out for this observer was an old tweed Fender Bassman amplifier, which I thought was Scotty Moore's amp. It was purchased by the group for use as a P.A. System. Elvis had one microphone and the other was placed in front of Bill Blacks Kay string bass.

Links to the sources for all the pictures can be found by clicking on the caption or clicking on the links in the text.