The Raw Thrills of the Gibson Melody Maker
Gibson electrics are, to some laymen, known for lavish tops and exquisite carving. But Gibson also excels at a straight-out-the-box rocker, a prime example being the Melody Maker.
First launched in 1959, the Melody Maker had a thin slab-style mahogany body and a one-piece mahogany neck. All the electronics, from the small single-coil pickups to the cable jack, were assembled on the pickguard and installed in a rout in the front of the body. A thing of simple, rockin’ beauty.
And in fact, the Melody Maker was one of Gibson’s best-selling electrics in years past. It looked like a genuine Gibson, it sounded like a genuine Gibson, it was (and still is!) a genuine Gibson. But the Melody Maker’s no-frills approach means it was — and still is — available at an unbelievably low price.
Past Masters of the Melody Maker
Billy F Gibbons’ first ever electric guitar was a Gibson Melody Maker. He’s recalled his Christmas morning at the Gibbons household in 1962, when he was just 13-years-old. “Sitting under the tree was a little Gibson Melody Maker... and away we went.” And boy, did Billy go far. Gibbons still plays Melody Makers (albeit now with his custom pinstripe finishes), but the Rev Willie G sure still loves that raw an’ rude tone.
Pat Travers was another blues-rocker who wound-up-the-roar on a Melody Maker. He bought his in England in the 1970s and used it for many years: listen to Travers’ incendiary Live in London for some raw Melody Maker thrills. Sadly, Travers’ MM got stolen… but five years later, Travers says, “I got a phone call from a detective in New Orleans who said, ‘I think I know where your guitar is.’ And Travers got his favorite Melody Maker back. It’s now “retired.”
Joan Jett is THE queen of the Gibson Melody Maker. "I got my Melody Maker in 1977,” she tells Gibson. “It was light and it sounded great. It was the guitar I had in The Runaways and then played on all my hits, like “I Love Rock N’ Roll” and “Bad Reputation” and “Do You Wanna Touch Me.” It’s my baby.”
Joan Jet been honoured with her signature model which is a beauty. Then came the Gibson Joan Jett Blackheart model. And how cool is this video? Jett live with her Melody Maker guesting with Foo Fighters, with Dave Grohl on his signature Gibson and Chris Shiflett on a Les Paul. A 3-way Gibson roarfest! Warning: Mr David Grohl has a “potty mouth” in his introduction. We guess he just got over-excited.
Other famous players of the Melody Maker include The Libertines’ Carl Barat, The Clash’s Mick Jones and Slash used his on Velvet Revolver’s Libertad album.
The Gibson Melody Maker in 2014
The Melody Maker is back for 2014 and just as good. No, in fact, it’s way better. It no longer has the slim headstock of yesteryear, but a full Gibson treatment. And gone is the pickguard with electronics underneath: the 2014 has back-mounted electronics like a Les Paul Standard.
Indeed, the 2014 Les Paul Melody Maker is pretty much everything you love about a trad Les Paul, but at a truly bargain price. It’s even got a maple top with that mahogany body, Gibson’s modern PLEK System nut slots and — as a tip of the hat to its heritage — a rounded ‘50s neck profile.
Colors? Yellow, Wine Red, Manhattan Midnight and Charcoal — all super-smooth satin matte finishes. Add updated P-90 pickups and you have the latest/bestest Melody Maker, straight out the box, ready to rock.
Which all sounds awesome and roarsome. And just $620? Yes. That makes the 2014 Melody Maker just about the greatest-value Gibson electric guitar ever. Make your own mind up, but as one buyer recently commented on Gibson.com: “Gibson hit it out of the park with this one.” Go catch it if you can.
Details on the 2014 Gibson Melody Maker.