RIP Travis Bean

Written on

July 11, 2011

I am sorry to report that on July 10th of 2011, Travis Bean of the self-named vintage guitar brand died in Burbank, California. A more personal account of this has been posted on the unofficial Travis Bean webpage. For those of you that don’t know about the Travis Bean brand, here is some information taken from Wikipedia:

In 1974, he partnered with Marc McElwee and Gary Kramer to start Travis Bean Guitars, which made high-end electric guitars and basses featuring machined aluminum necks. This was an unusual design, departing from more traditional wood necked instruments. The aluminum center section ran through the instrument body, with the pickups directly mounted to the aluminum. The majority of these instruments featured solid koa wood bodies and humbucker pickups. Though praised for their sound, the use of aluminum necks also made Travis Bean guitars heavier than other electric guitars. Models included the Artist, Standard, Wedge (rare), and TB500 (rare) with single coil pickups.

Kramer and Bean parted ways in 1975, with the former starting Kramer Guitars. The first series of Kramer guitars were redesigned aluminum-necked instruments but utilizing wooden inserts along the back of the neck to cut down on weight and provide a more traditional feel; these modifications also avoided patent violations on Travis Bean’s original neck design.

Around 3,600 guitars and basses were produced between 1974 and 1979.

In the late 1990s, Bean teamed with master machinist/designer B. Kelly Condon and produced a run of 24 high end, custom instruments. These guitars and basses were aluminum-neck instruments, each machined from a 125 pound billet of 7075 aluminum. The pans weighed just over 4 pounds when finished and all were serial numbered and identified inside of the pan.

A documentary called “Sustain” about Travis Bean guitars and the individuals that built these historic instruments and the players that play them (past and present) is currently in development.

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