Gibson Melody Maker

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Original Gibson Melody Maker
Gibson Melody Maker (1960) - Rory Gallagher's collection.jpg
Gibson Melody Maker (1960[1] or 1961[2]
Period1959–71, 1999–present
Body typeSolid
Neck jointSet
(available with 18.56" short scale until 1970)[2][3]
Bridgewraparound tailpiece
Pickup(s)1 or 2 single coils
Colors available
Sunburst, Fire Engine Red, Pelham Blue, Sparkling Burgundy, Walnut[2]

The Gibson Melody Maker is an electric guitar made by Gibson Guitar Corporation. It has had many body shape variations since its conception in 1959.

Model history[edit]

Regular issue (1959–71)[edit]

Variations of Melody Maker: Double Cutaway (×2), 1965 Epiphone Olympic Special (asymmetrical small body, with short vibrola, and Double Cutaway (symmetrical small body with pointed horns, two pickups)

The Gibson Melody Maker was first launched in 1959 and discontinued in 1971.[4] It had a thin slab-style mahogany body and a one-piece mahogany neck.[4] 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. The strings ran from a straight-sided simplification of the traditional Gibson headstock at one end to a wraparound bridge/tailpiece unit at the other.[5]

Body style[edit]

From 1959 until 1961,[2] the Melody Maker had a single cutaway slab body style similar to the early Les Paul Junior model but thinner. In 1961 the body style changed to a symmetrical double cutaway, resembling a Gretsch 6122 or a Danelectro Shorthorn; the single cutaway model was discontinued.[2] The body style was changed in 1966 to a style similar to the SG, with pointed "horns", a large white scratchplate, and white pickup covers instead of black.[3] Note: Melody Maker "D" refers to the double pickup model of any vintage but is often mistakenly used for the double cutaway model.[4]


Options on the Melody Maker included two pickups, the "D" model and a short-scale 3/4 neck.[3] In 1967 a twelve-string version and a three pickup version were introduced, the Melody Maker 12 and III respectively.[2] A short length version of the Vibrola vibrato device was also available as an option.[3]


From 1959 to 1964 the finish was a sunburst, from 1964 to 1965 it was cherry, from 1966 it was fire engine red or pelham blue, in 1967 red was replaced by sparkling burgundy and walnut became an option from 1968.[2] Rare examples were made to order in other custom Gibson colors e.g. Inverness Green.[6]

Melody Maker SG[edit]

Gibson Melody Maker SG 1967 in Pelham Blue

This was the first Gibson Melody Maker that featured the devil-horn body style of the Gibson SG. This model featured a nitro lacquer guitar finish in a variety of solid colors. It housed up to three single coil pickups (depending on the model) similar to the P-90 pickup. Almost all the guitars featured a stock Vibrola unit used to bend strings to alter the pitch of a note. The models were made with cheaper components for newer more inexperienced players. Gibson stopped production of these SG models in 1970 because of financial issues, they continued manufacturing the classic melody maker body style at various points throughout the years.[7]

The Melody Maker was discontinued and replaced by the SG 100, 200 and 250.[2]


The Melody Maker double-cutaway model was revived in 1977 and discontinued again in 1983.[3] Some minor changes were introduced into the design including single coil pickups embossed with the Gibson logo, all metal tuning pegs and a latter-day Gibson stop tail piece and Tune-O-Matic bridge.

In 1986, Gibson issued a Melody Maker with a single-cutaway body. It had one humbucking pickup, Grover tuners, a Tune-O-Matic bridge, and a stop tailpiece. Two humbucking pickup models with two thumb switches were also made but are hard to find.

Melody Maker Flyer/Pro II (1987–92)[edit]

This rare model features an explorer neck, Grover tuners, Kahler tremolo system and dual humbuckers. The body is standard single-cutaway Melody Maker. The finish is black with a pearloid pick guard.

All American II[edit]

The Gibson All American II was built in the mid-1990s as part of the company's "All American" line which also included The Hawk and The Paul II.[8] It was inspired by the original Melody Maker, but differed from it in having chrome tuners, no scratchplate, controls rear-mounted in the traditional Gibson solid-body style, and a bridge/vibrola unit.[9]

The All American II featured two high output single coil pickups creating a tonality similar to a hotrodded telecaster than a typical Gibson instrument.

The All American line was discontinued in 1998.[10]

Les Paul Melody Maker[edit]

Gibson Les Paul Melody Maker was manufactured 2003–06. It featured Jacareuba body, Spanish cedar neck, and 1 P-90 Single-coil pickup. Colors available were satin cherry, ebony and yellow

The Melody Maker was returned to the Gibson line as a sub-model of the Les Paul model.[11] It offered a mixture of traditional Melody Maker features (straight-sided headstock, white button tuners, jack positioned on the top) and traditional Les Paul Junior features (bridge-mounted dogear P-90 pickup, Junior-style control mounting and pattern).

Like both the original Melody Maker and the original Junior, the Les Paul Melody Maker featured dot inlays as fretboard markers and did not have a cap on its top. Unlike either the original Melody Maker or the original Junior, both of which used wraparound bridge/tailpiece units, the Les Paul Melody Maker used a Tune-O-Matic bridge and separate stop tailpiece.

The Les Paul Melody Maker also differed from other Les Paul submodels in the width of the neck and the length of the heel.

2007 Melody Maker[edit]

In 2007, the Melody Maker became a separate model. It now has a smaller single-coil pickup than the P-90, a wraparound bridge/tailpiece unit, a mahogany neck, and a pickguard similar to the original Melody Maker. The CEO of Gibson said in reference to the new Melody Maker that it could "almost be considered a reissue of a 1959 Gibson Melody Maker." The guitar is offered in satin finishes and is one of the most economical Gibson guitars in recent years. It was originally offered in single and dual pickup configurations. The dual pickup configuration was discontinued in 2008 and is now considered a collectors item on eBay[12]

2008 Joan Jett Signature Model[edit]

In 2008 Gibson released the Joan Jett Signature Melody Maker. It differs from the standard model by having a single burstbucker 3 humbucker pickup, an ebony fretboard and a double-cutaway body in white with a black vinyl pickguard. It also features a kill switch in place of a pickup selector. Jett has owned her Melody Maker since 1977 and has played it on all her hits.[13] It retails for $839.[13] There is now also a "Blackheart" version of this guitar introduced in 2010. All specs are the same, but it is finished in black, with red and pearl heart inlays.

2011 Melody Maker[edit]

In 2011 Gibson released the Flying V Melody Maker, Explorer Melody Maker, SG Melody Maker and the Les Paul Melody Maker. All feature a humbucker and 1 volume knob, at a MSRP of $829us. They are limited edition and the colours available are Blue, Satin White and Ebony. A two-pickup model (Melody Maker Special) with P-90s, pots and toggle switch mounted on a large vintage-style pickguard was produced in 2011 in satin TV yellow, Cherry, Blue and Black nitrocellulose finish.

2014 Les Paul Melody Maker[edit]

In 2014, the Melody Maker name was reused for a new Les Paul variant. This single-cut variant uses the thinner body of the Les Paul Custom Lite, with a carved maple top, and a satin nitrocellulose finish. It also incorporates a maple neck with a 50's rounded profile, a full-size Les Paul headstock with a "Melody Maker" truss rod cover, and two P-90S pickups. These pickups, based on the original pickups of the Gibson ES-125, use Fender-style Alnico slug magnets as opposed to the usual bar magnets.

Notable Melody Maker players[edit]

Some Melody Maker players, (left): Joan Jett playing later model (asymmetrical small body with pointed horns) in the 1980s; (right); Damian Kulash (OK GO) playing early model (symmetrical body) in 2010


  1. ^ "Instrument Archive - Rory Gallagher | The Official Website".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Vintage Guitar Info
  3. ^ a b c d e Vintage Gibson Guitar - Gibson Melody Maker
  4. ^ a b c "Blue Book of Electric Guitars Sixth Edition - Gibson Electric Guitars and Basses" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-08-18. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
  5. ^ Bacon, T. "The Ultimate Guitar Book" p. 88 Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1991 ISBN 0-86318-640-8
  6. ^ Les Paul Forum
  7. ^ Guitars, Guitarist2017-06-30T11:10:40 18Z. "Old gold: 1967 Gibson Melody Maker". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  8. ^ Gibson Electric Guitars - Discontinued Models Archived 2006-08-10 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Gibson All American II Archived 2006-04-27 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "All American II". Retrieved 2008-08-12.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Gibson Les Paul Melody Maker Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Gibson Melody Maker". Archived from the original on 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  13. ^ a b "Gibson Joan Jett Signature Melody Maker". Archived from the original on 2008-06-21. Retrieved 2008-06-20.
  14. ^ "Super Colliders: Deerhoof's Ed Rodriguez and John Dieterich". Premier Guitar. 8 September 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  15. ^ "7 Questions with Donita Sparks of L7". 19 December 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Santana, Carlos (November 4, 2014). The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light. Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-24491-6. That's how I began my career as a dishwasher at the Tic Tock Drive In. I worked at the one at 3rd and King
  18. ^ Sweet - The Ballroom Blitz - Top Of The Pops 20.09.1973
  19. ^

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