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1978 Travis Bean TB500 Vintage Aluminum Neck Guitar


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Up for sale, a 1978 Travis Bean TB500 in excellent condition and in perfect working order, 100% original save for a refret. 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 ensures these instruments have a decidedly powerful and distinct resonance. This particular model, the TB500, was introduced in 1975, and was the only original Bean to sport single coil pickups. TB500s are best associated with Jerry Garcia, who toured with one in the late ‘70s, and Steve Albini, who used the instrument on a number of recordings.

The body is crafted from a slab of magnolia, and this Bean weighs 7lbs 15oz, balancing well on a strap. The single coil pickups meter at 5.75k ohms; they have a P-90-esque midrange-forward presence, with plenty of treble sparkle and overall aggression. The neck pickup is girthy and full, with a percussive cut and exceptional articulation, and the bridge pickup has a bit more focus and spank. This TB500 has been professionally setup here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar with 10-46 strings, low action, and accurate intonation.

The aluminum neck has a slender C-shaped profile carve with modest shoulders and a fast feel, measuring .815” deep at the 1st and 12th frets. The rosewood fretboard has been refretted with pristine medium jumbo fretwire, playing cleanly up the 24 3/4“ scale. The nut measures a hair shy of 1 5/8“ in width, carved from brass for optimal top-end articulation and clarity. The “T”-cutout headstock has the serial number stamped on the face, and the Schaller tuning machines function reliably.

The solder joints are untouched, with the pickups governed by a three-way pickup selector switch and Master Volume and Tone controls. The CTS pots date to the 29th week of 1978. The original knobs are present, and the six-saddle bridge has a consistent dusting of surface patina on the chrome-plated block saddles. Cosmetic wear on the gloss Natural finish includes a number of minor dings on the body as a whole, with buckle rash across the back. The neck is coated with acrylic for optimal comfort (temperature control).

A Superior-brand padded gigbag is included.