The Fender Stratocaster Is Born, 1954
In 1954, Fender rolled out its futuristic Stratocaster. Armed with three pickups, swooping lines, and a superbly designed trem, the Strat redefined the notion of what an electric guitar was all about—in addition to offering players of the era a seemingly limitless variety of sounds.
Elvis Records with Scotty Moore, 1954
Scotty Moore had met the young Elvis Presley the day before he carried his Gibson ES-295 into Sun Records on July 5, 1954 to cut some tracks. The first few were nothing special, but when they went into an up-tempo version of “That’s All Right (Mama),” the earth moved. The rest is history.
Gibson Patents the Humbucker, 1955
It was Gibson engineer Seth Lover who figured out how to make a great sounding pickup that didn’t hum. By connecting two single-coil pickups in series—with the coils out of phase with each other electrically and magnetically—the signal noise of one coil was effectively cancelled by the signal noise of the other coil. A patent request was filed on June 22, 1955, and the pickup was introduced on steel guitars (1956) and then on standard guitars in 1957. A decal with “Patent Applied For” was added to the pickups in late 1957, thus making “PAF” one of the major acronyms to be learned by every vintage guitar freak.
“Rock Around the Clock” Opens Blackboard Jungle, 1955
Bill Haley and the Comets had released the song a year before, but it was its placement at the beginning of this shocking (for the time) teenage gang movie that shot “Rock Around the Clock” to number one, and galvanized the tune’s position as an early rocker’s anthem. Danny Cedrone’s amazing guitar solo is the cherry on top of this landmark track.
Scotty Moore Buys an EchoSonic, 1955
The first practical tape echo was invented and built into a combo amp by Ray Butts—a radio repairman who was trying to make it possible for players to create the echo effects used by Les Paul on his early recordings. Chet Atkins bought the first EchoSonic in 1954, but Elvis Presley’s guitarist Scotty Moore used the amp extensively to obtain his trademark slap-back echo onstage. Butts’ patented tape-loop technology later found its way into the Echoplex, which has effectively defined the sound of tape echo ever since.
“Maybellene” Released, 1955
On May 21, 1955, Chuck Berry plugged his Gibson ES-350T through a Fender amp, and—in his words—uncorked “a high-performance mixture of frenetic syncopation and pure adrenaline.” Berry’s rollicking guitar riffs—translated from boogie-woogie piano—pretty much invented rock guitar, and influenced everyone from the Beatles to Keith Richards to you.
“Train Kept A’Rollin” Released, 1956
When Rock ’N Roll Trio guitarist Paul Burlison dropped his amp after a gig in Philadelphia and knocked a tube loose, it lead to one of the earliest examples of distorted rock guitar. Burlison replicated the fuzzy roar by intentionally dislodging one of his amp’s tubes when the Trio entered the studio in 1956 to record its debut album. But that’s not all—Burlison’s riffing on Tiny Bradshaw’s jump blues “Train Kept A’Rollin” created an alliance of sound and fury that inspired Beck, Clapton, Page, hordes of rockabilly rebels, and even Aerosmith.
Buddy Holly Gives America a Strat Attack, 1957
Until Buddy Holly was televised on The Ed Sullivan Show in late 1957, many Americans probably still pictured guitars as either acoustics or jazz boxes. Holly’s performance on the popular variety show exposed the country to a sleek, sexy, and modern solidbody rock guitar.
Ricky Nelson Rocks The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, 1957
In the troubled early years of rock and roll, an unlikely crusader named Ricky Nelson brought rock music into the homes of middle America through his closing performances on this wholesome family sitcom starring his father and mother. Even cooler was the fact that Ricky had a young, Tele-wielding James Burton at his side, and countless Telecaster aficionados would tune in to hear Burton peel off his awesome licks on Nelson’s teen hits such as “Hello Mary Lou.”
Mitchell's TB500 Traditional Bass is a Modern Classic
Emma Effects Releases The DiscumBOBulator Auto-Wah Pedal
Emma Effects Releases The Okto-Nøjs Octave-Fuzz Pedal
Native Instruments Buys MetaPop, a Place to Legally Clear & Monetize Your Remixes
This Week in Free Stuff: Music Maker DAW & Field Recordings
Video: Mixvibes RemixLive 3.0 Brings Finger Drumming to Android
Joshua C. Stoddard—Inventor of the Steam Calliope
KORG Announces Kronos LS; a Lighter Addition to the Flagship Series
Eliane Elias Celebrates the Samba on Her New #1 Album Dance of Time
Robbie Robertson Talks About His Bronzed ‘Last Waltz’ 1954 Fender Strat
This Is How Kids React to Hearing Nirvana for the First Time
Watch Pink Floyd Working on Their Epic Track “Echoes” in 1971
Spooky Pinball LLC to Release Alice Cooper's Nightmare Castle Pinball Machine
Butcher Babies Announce New Drummer, Chase Brickenden
Ghost Announce U.S. Headlining Summer Dates
Submit Questions for Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of At The Drive In!
Hear "Money," a Little-Known Piece of Jimmy Page History
How to Livestream a Shred Legend: Michael Angelo Batio 2017 Live Interview
Copyright ©2017 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470