Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - 52

COLUMN The (Way) Back Beat
(CLOCKWISE) Fender's
Jaguar and its four-wheeled
counterpart in 1962. In
1959, Buddy Merrill became
the first artist to endorse
the new Jazzmaster.
Jazzmaster ladies in Fender's
"engravings" campaign, 1961.

ists pictured with any connection to
rock and roll were Bill Haley (already
years into career decline) and the
Everly Brothers. Occasional mentions
of players like Scotty Moore notwithstanding, the company seemed
content to serve the conservative end
of music scene, even when its newer
instruments were cutting-edge.
In the late '50s, Gibson made an
attempt to seem more modern with
the radically-shaped Flying V and
Explorer guitars, but they proved a
dismal failure, at least in terms of
sales. Interestingly, those guitars were
hardly mentioned in promo materials;
the Flying V appeared in only one
catalog and (with the Explorer) were
discussed in small features in Gibson's
dealer newsletter The Gibson Gazette.
Neither was promoted in ads, almost
as if the company was unsure of their
potential from the start. A few years
on, Gibson would put more marketing
effort into the Explorer's streamlined
descendent, the Firebird, but even into
the mid '60s, the company seemed
generally ambivalent about embracing
the rock-and-roll market. Still, some
print materials remained beautifully conceived; the '63 catalog cover,
featuring a Cherry Red ES-355 and a

	

VINTAGE GUITAR	

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February 2017

rose-bearing lady in matching
dress is a masterpiece of visual
statement.
Much of Gretsch's promotion in the '50s and '60s was
oddly tame for a company that
often went stylishly over the
top in the design of its instruments. They mostly relied on
straight testimonials (leaning
particularly for years on Chet
Atkins) or technical prose,
though they did sometimes
perversely tout the price of
the White Falcon as a selling
point. A 1955 Gretsch ad
relating a guitar to a desirable
car - the Jaguar - was perhaps
ahead of its time. The Streamliner model shown
was not in itself a particularly groundbreaking
guitar, and Jaguar Tan was only a finish (oddly
enough inspired by an English sports car, not a
product of Detroit). Still the visual linking of
a guitar to another lifestyle icon was a marker
for the way instruments would increasingly be
perceived in the '60s.
In 1962, Fender made a more-direct link to the
iconic four-wheeled Jaguar when it gave the same
name to its flagship guitar; the first ad shows a
middle-aged, conservatively suited gent leaning
on an E-Type - a look the company was already
moving away from.
Still, Fender was indisputably the most
forward-looking guitar advertiser of the early
'60s, mostly thanks to the images created for
them by designer/photographer Bob Perine, of
the Perine/Jacoby agency. His work for Fender
had a bright, youthful, energetic, and sunny
graphic style that epitomized California life.
It could be argued Gibson, in its own way, did
something similar, but the Gibson lifestyle was
dedicated more to adult elegance than teenage
fun. If Gibson's classy-but-conservative ads are
compared to the likes of Coca-Cola, Fender was
in the mold of Pepsi, which at the time channeled
the youthful spirit of America and sold it as a
concept more than the actual product. Starting
in '61, Pepsi adopted the slogan "for those who
think young," and in September of '64 debuted,
"Come alive, you're the Pepsi generation."



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - 1
Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - 2
Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - 3
Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - 4
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Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - Contents
Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - 9
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