jackietreehorn wrote: ↑Thu Aug 05, 2021 5:58 pm
Ok, I'll take a stab. I'm going off the top of my head so be gentle if I have my facts wrong....
As someone mentioned the biggest thing that sets these guitars apart is the aluminum neck - an the neck is different than a kramer or one of the modern remakes, because the pickups and bridge are mounted to it. The necks are supposed to be a pain to keep in tune. I've never played one, but I've heard as they warm up from body heat you have to retune them. You can get a pretty good look at one here (and make a bid on one of Jerry's backups if you have some deep pockets - https://www.gottahaverockandroll.com/Je ... Kr6GEMbWw_.
The pickups are also fairly unique from what I understand. I don't know my ass from an apple when it comes from pickups, but people who do know what they're talking about have said the closest pickup to a Bean in construction style was an old Fender Wide Range Humbucker (not the modern reissues). They're not P90s. There is a dude out there who makes a pretty good replica now - I mean a really good replica, it's scary how spot on it is.
I don't know how many Beans Jerry owned, but he played two "styles" the TB1000A (2 pickup) from the Fall of 75 to Summer of 76 and then the TB500 from Summer of 76 to Fall of 77. The TB500 was his third most played guitar, behind Wolf and Tiger, and played the iconic Spring '77 shows like Cornell. It was also the first guitar with an OBEL.
Bean sounds great and is a unique instrument. I like hearing people's stories who have played them. Some people I've talked to love them, other people hate them.
I loved them very much.
TB1000A means has an "Artist" body, which has a nicely carved body - the face of the guitar had a "topography" and trapezoid fret markers. The "Standard" was TB1000S; the body was a block, i.e. flat on all surfaces, and had dot fret markers. There was no Artist body TB500 model.
At some point during production, Travis Bean began to coat the neck with Imron, which feels like a combination of rubber/vinyl l to try to give the neck a better feel (than metal) and maybe serve as a temperature buffer. I don't know whether I preferred the Imron. It definitely felt warmer than a cold neck.
I owned, over the course of maybe a decade one TB500 and three TB1000s - two Standards and one Artist.
Sequentially, I first obtained a Koa TB1000S which is a beautiful Hawaiian wood. It had an exposed metal neck. It was heavy, and neck-heavy at that. I actually put chrome knobs on the thing, which added weight but looked nice and may have functioned as a counter-balance to the neck.
Then I got a Koa TB1000A, which had an Imron coated neck. The fretboard seemed wider than the first one. I remember selling it inside a Guitar Center on Commonwealth Ave. in Boston (no longer there) to a guy who met me there to buy it. That was a strange deal.
Third, I got a possibly Walnut TB1000S, which had the metal exposed neck. Someone had pulled off the metal pickguard and left a mess behind. This neck/fretboard also felt different than either of the earlier ones and the body was slimmer than the Koa Standard.
Something else different about each were the fretboards - a veneer of wood over the metal neck. I'm not sure what wood(s) were used, but I'm pretty sure there was noticeably thicker fretboard on the first Koa TB1000S.
So then I located a TB500 - in Australia! Ha ha I woke up the guy (Paul)'s wife one crucial day when I called him. It was morning here.
Anyway, I got it and the body was dang-near pristine! I think it was Serial # 319. I don't know what the wood was, but it had a light color. It had an Imron coated neck. And the neck was a much better size for my hands than any of the TB1000 guitars. It was more like a Strat. I loved the single-coils sound! One thing that occasionally happened was the neck would "creak" - from where the metal neck and wood body met; I can't explain it, but you can find photos of the backs of TB500 guitars where there are actual cracks visible at either side of where neck leaves the body.
I don't think (from what I remember) any fretboard had a radius!
So the greatness of a Travis Bean in my opinion is the quality of tone (due to much denser & heavier aluminum) achievable - I'd mentioned it reminded me of "playing a tuning fork". The notes snap, if that makes sense. I think "crisp" is a good term. Then there's the soaring sustain as the aluminum doesn't "soak" up the vibration like wood. Playing higher on the neck is easier because the body doesn't really interfere until your way up near where neck & body meet.
Drawbacks are the weight and tuning issues b/c of metal neck.
Thanks for the memories!
Factum fieri infectum non potest.
"It is impossible for a deed to be undone."