- bass guitars
- electric guitars
Travis Bean patented the idea of using a neck though to bridge aluminum guitar #3,915,049. He thought it would be more stable (better tuning) and more resonant than wooden guitars. The Travis Bean company was founded in 1974 and closing in 1979 after making around 3,650 guitars and basses.
The first production run was from 1974 to 1977. Investors closed the factory in 1977 for reorganisation (although limited un-official production continued), it was opened in June 1978 for a final production run which lasted until August 1979, when the plug was pulled by the investors who had "reorganized" the company.
The following passage from their 1978 catalog gives the ethos and ideas behind Travis Bean guitars :
Just what is it that makes Travis Bean guitars so special?
What is it about Travis Bean guitars and basses that makes Jerry Garcia say they are "the best damn production guitars and basses in the world," and why have many other significant players realized this also and embraced our instruments with such enthusiasm?
Let's concern ourselves first of all with the result . . . how you sound as a musician, playing a Travis Bean guitar or bass.
Our guitars are unbelievably versatile. Most solid body guitars are commonly used for a particular type of music, based on the characteristic sound that they produce; Big, fat and meaty, or thin, etc.
Travis Bean guitars and basses are able, with conventional electronics, to provide the broad sound spectrum that it would normally take several instruments to achieve. Also, an increasing number of hollow—body electric guitar players are finding in the Travis Bean guitar for the first time a solid-body guitar able to equal and surpass the sounds they get from their current instruments.
Our patented, one piece aluminum neck, providing a single, cohesive resonance system from peg head to bridge is the unique, single most innovative feature of Travis Bean guitars and basses. It is the reason for the superior and versatile sound . . . an instrument that will produce a silken tone at any volume, play it the way you play, bend notes without having them die out, hold on to the string past the point you would normally release, sustain notes all the way to feedback (with tone that remains the same, and with output that never falters throughout the volume range). Play the softest jazz or the hardest rock music, and discover pickups that deliver clear, low distortion tone at both extremes in volume, or the same pickups can be driven to desired distortion levels by the controls on the instrument.
We started out with a neck that wouldn’t warp and wound up with the most significant development in the electric guitar since the 1930's.
The basic principle of the Travis Bean guitar, covered by U.S. Patent #3,915,049, is one of those "gee whiz, why didn't I think of that" ideas, but nobody did think of it until Travis Bean came along; the more rigid the surface over which a guitar string is stretched, the longer it will vibrate (sustain), and the less it is affected by feedback. Wood, by comparison to a harder, more dense material, acts like a sponge, soaking up vibration. And wood's lack of consistency from piece to piece, has led many a musician on a never- ending search for a guitar that is free from dead spots or overtones, not to mention distortion and coloration of the signal, neck warpage, twisting, and even breakage, and the nuisance of continuous tuning.
The "gee whiz simple" idea that Travis Bean has refined, is to build a resonance system around a lightweight, precision machined, aluminum neck, onto which are firmly attached the tuning machines, nut, pickups, bridge and pole pieces. No vibration stealing wood is involved; no inconsistencies from instrument to instrument; just a clean, simple, straightforward, innovative system that works . . . better than anything else in the world.
There are other guitars with aluminum necks . . . and their aluminum necks are bolted onto a wooden body, just like conventional wooden neck electric guitars.
No other electric guitar in the world . . . repeat, no other electric guitar in the world is built the way a Travis Bean electric guitar or bass is built, and that is why no other electric guitar or bass in the world can match the unbelievable sound and the incredibly versatile array of sounds that can come from a Travis Bean guitar or bass.
Jerry Garcia Endorses Travis Bean Guitars and Basses.
Many endorsements of musical instruments by artists are kind of a "ho-hum" affair. The artist may not be all that well known, or he (or she) may go around endorsing so many products that the mention of "another endorsement" is just that . . .” another endorsement." When someone of the stature of Jerry Garcia endorses a product, however, it is a bit more meaningful and a bit more newsworthy. Jerry Garcia, one of the most respected and accomplished guitarists in the world, doesn’t run around endorsing a lot of products . . . as a matter of fact, he has very rarely done it. Jerry is not a promoter. He is an honest, straight-forward person who says what he believes and does what he feels is right. His endorsement, therefore, has much more substance that those that might be given by others.
Jerry has made a very simple statement about Travis Bean instruments:
"The best damn production guitars and basses in the world are made by Travis Bean.”
That's Jerry's firm belief and conviction.
Anatomy of a Travis Bean Guitar
Words alone cannot communicate all of the design innovation and distinctive features that are part of every Travis Bean guitar and bass. We have prepared a detailed out-away drawing with extensive explanatory notes, telling the "what" and "how" of Travis Bean guitars and basses.
If you will open this brochure [1978 catalog] all the way, you will find the drawing. It should answer virtually all of your questions. If there is anything that is not clearly or completely explained, we would be delighted to hear from you so that we can answer your questions more fully.