Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 128

VG

GEAR

FLYING HIGH
AGAIN

The Eastwood Airline '59 3P

L

ong before the brazen, pointy electrics of
the 1980s, Airline created a model with
all kinds of modern angles and attitude. The
original Airline electric guitars were made
by Valco from 1958 to '68 and sold through
the now-defunct Montgomery Ward catalog
and department stores. They were among the
quintessential "cheapo" guitars of the era,
and those made of composite Res-O-Glas
have since become highly sought-after and
seen in the hands of indie rockers like Jack
White, PJ Harvey, and others.
Doing what they do best, the retro-minded
Eastwood company has taken the design
and resurrected it as a reliable and playable
instrument - unlike some of the hard-totune vintage models out there with iffy truss
rods and junky hardware.
The Airline '59 3P - with three pickups
and seven knobs - is offered in white,
metallic blue, seafoam green, and a snazzy
gold-flake finish. Unlike the Res-O-Glas
originals, however, Eastwood makes the
body from mahogany. It's a hefty axe, weighing just north of eight pounds, but the tonal
advantages of tonewood over fiberglass are
obvious. An interesting tweak is the rubber
binding, almost like a car bumper!
The Airline '59 has a bound maple bolt-on
neck with a rosewood fingerboard sporting
20 frets. Its scale length is a Fender-sized
25.5" with a nut width of 1.688" (111/16").
The fingerboard is inlaid with big-block
pearloid markers with a sparkle to match
the gold-flake finish, and its black, whitetrimmed pickguard adds to the spectacle.
The metallic-faced headstock is dressed
with vintage Kluson-style nickel tuners,
and a Bigsby vibrato sits on the other end.
Eastwood fits the Airline '59 3P with
three VVSC single-coils that are, interestingly, housed under humbucker-sized
covers. Each has its own Volume and Tone
control to make up that long bank of six
knobs traversing the bass bout. Bringing
order to this mass of knobs and pickups is
a five-way selector (with sweet vintage-style

Price: $1,199
Info: www.eastwoodguitars.com

switchplate), and a master Volume
knob next to the input jack. It's not
a terribly convenient location, but
it is historically accurate to original
'60s Airlines.
Fired through an Orange head and
Fender cab, as well as a Musicvox
tube combo, the Airline was a strong
performer. The VVSC pickups are
more tonally akin to Gibson P-90
models than Strat or Tele tones,
which proves refreshing. The East-

VINTAGE GUITAR

128

June 2018

wood sounds great clean or
with moderate amounts of gain
to bring out that garage-rock
charm. It takes a minute or two to get
used to having three sets of dedicated
volumes and tones, but they can be
preset for performances, which would
save some time in the heat of battle.
The neck has that wide, flatter D shape
typical of many imports, but the setup
on the tester was good - ready to help
a player with their fastest licks. You
can grab up to the 18th fret with ease,
which may seem a shorter reach than
most guitars but is well in line with
authentic '60s cheapos.
The Airline '59 3P is a durable
instrument with vintage Valco looks.
If you play out live, audiences will dig
its shape and gold-flakes glimmer,
while the pickups will cover anything
from the Tielman Brothers (look 'em
up!) to the B-52s and Black Keys. If
you don't need that middle pickup,
Eastwood also makes one- and twopickup models, as well as reissues of
other Airline designs. - Pete Prown


http://www.eastwoodguitars.com http://www.vintageguitar.Com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - IFC
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