Up for sale, a 1975 Travis Bean TB-1000 Standard in perfect working order, 100% original save for a refret with jumbo fretwire. The brainchild of former motocross racer and general tinkerer Clifford Travis Bean, in collaboration with guitar tech Marc McElwee, and Gary Kramer (who would soon depart the company to begin his own eponymous brand), Travis Bean Guitars were produced from 1974-79, featuring Bean’s decidedly unique aluminum neck-to-bridge design. Intended to increase neck stability and sustain, the aluminum neck/centerblock gives these instruments a decidedly powerful and distinct resonance, and the proprietary high-output humbuckers take full advantage of those qualities. This early Bean features a koa body, thick slab rosewood fretboard, 1 1/2“ wide brass nut, and Black nitro lacquer finish.
Metering just under 12k ohms, the (sporting what Bean describes as “massive base magnet structures”) proprietary pickups are big and bold-sounding. They're harmonically dense with loads of treble attack and detail, offering a distinct clarity and percussiveness even under the heaviest gain and with drop tunings. As such, Travis Beans have been played by artists as diverse as Jerry Garcia and Melvins’ Buzz Osborne. Weighing 10lbs 4oz and balancing well on a strap, this Bean has been professionally setup here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar with 10-46 strings, low action, and spot-on intonation.
The neck was precision-rolled from a solid piece of Reynold 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum, machined with narrow chambers running the length of the neck/centerblock to help reduce weight. The neck has a medium C-shaped profile with well-rounded shoulders, measuring .825” deep at the 1st fret and .920” at the 12th. The thick slab rosewood fretboard is a notably dark cut with oversized dot inlay, refretted with flawless jumbo fretwire. This Travis Bean plays cleanly up the 24 1/2“ scale, and the neck is unsurprisingly straight as can be, given its construction. The nut measures 1 1/2“ in width, carved from brass for optimal top-end articulation and clarity. The “T”-cutout headstock sports the small serial stamp on the face, and the Schaller tuning machines turn smoothly and function reliably.
All of the electronics function as intended, with the pickups governed by a three-way selector switch and dedicated pairs of Volume and Tone controls. The harness features Sprague Orange Drop tone caps and the original quartet of CTS pots which date to the 19th week of 1964. While generally it would bear some scrutiny to see component date codes from far before an instrument's manufacture, in this instance the pots are indeed original and align with other original examples that also sport CTS pots from '64. The chrome-plated hardware has plenty of shine, including the “Travis Bean”-embossed pickup covers, the pickguard, and bridge with block saddles. Plastics comprise a quartet of black speed knobs.
The gloss Black nitro lacquer finish (“25 handrubbed coats of aircraft specification lacquer,” according to the catalog) exhibits no touch-up or overspray, and honest playwear includes a number of chips and scratches on the body as a whole, most prominent along the lower bout perimeter, where the koa is exposed. Additionally, there is an area of buckle rash down to the bare koa on the back at the bass-side upper bout, extending onto the aluminum centerblock, and some scuffing on the top along the bass side of the strum path. The neck is, naturally, immaculate, with a smooth feel, and this Bean predates the inclusion of any Imron coating on the neck profile.
A vintage (non-original) hardshell case is included.