Ignore please


Super Anarchist
Interesting guitar I spotted on Craigslist! (Not even going to comment about the price, it might find a buyer, it might not, the market is a bit nuts these days).

The neck is dated 4/54 and it has a Bigsby B16 vibrato added.

Here's a bit about Bigsby history that not a lot of people know about.

The Bigsby Vibrato was first introduced in 1952. It was installed on a handful of Bigsby electric guitars, and a few were sold as accessories to be mounted on earlier Bigsby electric guitars (the neck angle was wrong, however, so if you see a pre-52 Bigsby guitar with a Bigsby vibrato, you'll see the Bigsby tailpiece embedded about 1/4" into the surface of the guitar). A few of the earliest B-6 vibratos with fixed handles were sold for mounting on archtop guitars in 1952 and 1953. Merle Travis had one of the very first installed on his Gibson Super 400, with a long arm made of a bent metal arm with a loop at the end (now referred to as a "Travis arm," naturally).

Paul Bigsby and Leo Fender were friends. By 1953 Paul Bigsby was happy that Fender was manufacturing solidbody electric guitars, as he could not keep up with demand for his custom-ordered instruments. Bigsby began to focus on making vibratos as his primary product, although he did make a few more electric guitars and a few dozen more steel guitars.

Fender had their Telecaster and Paul Bigsby and Leo Fender struck a deal for Paul to cast a special "B-16" model vibrato that would fit on Fender's Telecaster and Esquire guitars. It was offered as an accessory to anyone who wanted to pay extra for a Bigsby vibrato.

However, this vibrato accessory was very slow to catch on. I've seen a handful of 1953 Telecasters with these B-16 vibratos, maybe four or five, and this one from April 1954 is the latest one I've ever seen.

There were no more Bigsby B-16's put on Telecasters after 1954, do you know why?

Leo Fender and his crew were working furiously on a new instrument, one that would have Fender's newly-designed vibrato, and--a headstock that looked remarkably similar to Bigsby's headstock design. That instrument was called the Stratocaster.

When the Stratocaster came out, Paul Bigsby was furious. Leo had stolen the design for his headstock, and invented a vibrato unit that would compete with Bigsby's. Bigsby took Fender to court, suing over the headstock design. The lawsuit eventually ended in a draw, after Leo Fender pointed out that there were somewhat similar headstock designs found on older European instruments. But Bigsby was furious. There were no more B-16 vibratos offered to put on Telecasters. Today the original ones are incredibly rare; as I've mentioned, I know of less than half a dozen that exist today.

After Paul Bigsby sold the Bigsby company to Ted McCarty in 1965, and after Leo Fender sold the Fender company to CBS around the same time, the two companies were able to work with each other again. A newly-designed Telecaster Bigsby was introduced, Model B-5, with the Fender "F" cast into the frame. Telecasters were once again offered with a Bigsby vibrato as an option. In recent years, the Bigsby company has even re-introduced the B-16 vibrato for its limited original appeal.

So, this instrument may draw oohs and aahs over the asking price, but that isn't what interests me. What interests me is the fact that it's the latest original Bigsby B-16 vibrato installation on a Telecaster--April, 1954. I have never been able to find out what date the Bigsby/Fender lawsuit happened, how much do you want to bet that it was right after this instrument was manufactured?

- Deke Dickerson



Super Anarchist
On this day in 1986 — 37 years ago today — Albert Grossman died of a heart attack while flying on the Concorde from New York to London.

Grossman managed Bob Dylan (between 1962 and 1970), Peter, Paul and Mary, The Band, Janis Joplin, Odetta, Gordan Lightfoot, Richie Havens, The Electric Flag, Ian and Sylvia, Phil Ochs, Jsse Winchester and Todd Rundgren.

Grossman built the Bearsville Recording Studio near Woodstock in 1969 and in 1970 he founded Bearsville Records. The cover of Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home album was photographed at Grossman's home in Woodstock. The woman in the cover photo with Dylan, in the red trouser suit, was Grossman's wife, Sally.

Having returned to Woodstock at the end of his 1966 World Tour, Dylan was on his way home from Grossman's house in West Saugerties when he suffered the motorcycle accident that precipitated his eight-year withdrawal from touring.

In his autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan describes first encountering Grossman at the Gaslight Cafe:

"He looked like Sydney Greenstreet from the film, The Maltese Falcon, had an enormous presence, always dressed in a conventional suit and tie, and he sat at his corner table. Usually when he talked, his voice was loud like the booming of war drums. He didn't talk so much as growl."

The contracts between Dylan and Grossman were officially dissolved on July 17, 1970, prompted by Dylan's realization that Grossman had taken 50 percent of his song publishing rights in a hastily signed contract. Grossman had a reputation for aggressiveness in both his method of acquiring clients and the implementation of their successes. That aggressiveness was based in large measure on Grossman's faith in his own aesthetic judgments.

He charged his clients 25 percent commission (industry standards were 15 percent). He is quoted as saying, "Every time you talk to me you're ten percent smarter than before. So I just add ten percent on to what all the dummies charge for nothing."

In negotiations, one of Grossman's favorite techniques was silence. Musician manager Charlie Rothschild said of Grossman: "He would simply stare at you and say nothing. He wouldn't volunteer any information, and that would drive people crazy. They would keep talking to fill the void, and say anything. He had a remarkable gift for tipping the balance of power in his favor."

Grossman sometimes appeared treacherously devoted to his clients' satisfaction. While wooing Joan Baez into representation, Grossman is quoted as saying, "Look, what do you like? Just tell me what do you like? I can get it for you. I can get anything you want. Who do you want? Just tell me. I'll get you anybody you want."