Travis Bean TB-1000S Standard Solid Body Electric Guitar (1978)

Travis Bean  TB-1000S Standard Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1978)
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Item # 11060
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Travis Bean TB-1000S Standard Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1978), made in Sun Valley, CA, serial # 1689, natural lacquer body, Emron black enamel neck finish, aluminum neck and centerpiece, Magnolia body, rosewood fingerboard, black hard shell case.

This striking mid-1970's classic is a Travis Bean TB1000S "Standard", the bedrock model in the company's innovative if short-lived guitar line. It mates their patented aluminum neck/centerpiece with a solid Magnolia wood body and rosewood fingerboard with dot inlay. The company also offered the "Artist" TB1000A model, similar in design but with a sculpted body and more deluxe appointments, the budget TB-500 and the very eccentrically shaped "Wedge" models. Of all of these the TB-1000 is the "classic" Bean, the most widely recognized and fondly remembered.

Former motocross racer and lifelong tinkerer Clifford Travis Bean had two partners initially; guitar tech Marc McElwee and one Gary Kramer, who would soon split off to found his own guitar operation. The ads claimed their designs were "the first new development in the electric guitar since the 1930s". The catalog continued "The...lightweight neck and receiver system forms a rigid link between the tuning machines and the bridge. When the strings are attached, a complete vibration connection is achieved. It is this patented chassis that makes the Travis Bean guitar what it is: an instrument that has become the most dramatic breakthrough in electric guitar technology in 50 years."

Bean's patented through-neck/central body core was milled from T6061 aircraft aluminum, extending from headstock to the through-body strung six-saddle bridge. Narrow chambers running its length improved resonance and reduced weight, if only slightly. This metal centerpiece is mounted into a lovely natural-finished Magnolia wood body. The Standard, Artist, and Wedge models featured the company's own Alnico magnet humbucking pickups with "Travis Bean" engraved on their covers - the only branding on the instrument besides the subtle "T" cut out of the headstock! These in-house pickups have a stellar reputation on their own, but were never used on any other instruments.

In later 1977, the company shut down and laid off employees in an attempt to reorganize. When they re-opened in summer of 1978, several production changes were implemented to cut costs and assuage common critiques of the guitars. The body horns were widened for increased playability. In perhaps the most well-received change, the bodies were made almost half an inch thinner to reduce the weight. Bean began using magnolia wood for painted guitars instead of beautifully figured (and expensive) Hawaiian koa. While most natural standards were continued to use koa, customers could also select magnolia for a natural finish body as seen in this example.

A coating of Imron paint on the neck was introduced as an option in response to the frequent complaint that bare aluminum felt cold; the heavy sprayed paint coating was designed to feel "warmer" more like a finished wood neck. The fingerboards (which were previously typically a slab over a hollow neck with a support rib down the middle) switched to a two-piece fingerboard supported by a thin piece of aluminum underneath and featured a very slight radius.

This guitar carrying serial #1689 stamped into the headstock features these post-reorganization changes; the original customer went out of their way to select the fairly rare combination of a natural magnolia body with the Imron coated neck. The original pots are coded to early 1977. The Magnolia body is thinner and sleeker thicker than earlier examples, resulting in a somewhat lighter guitar. The rosewood fingerboard has plain dot inlay and a brass nut. Schaller tuners, a fully adjustable bridge and small aluminum pickguard complete the hardware.

In the later '70s the Standard model retailed for $995; while not the most expensive solidbody guitar on the market it was still a fairly high-end instrument. While Travis Beans did not become a huge retail success they were featured by some major artists. At various times in the 1970s Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Bill Wyman played them with the Rolling Stones. Wyman even having custom short-scale basses made for him. Jerry Garcia was an official endorser and played both a TB 1000 and a TB 500 for a time, making them revered by many deadheads to this day. The guitars garnered a reputation for very high quality, but many players felt the aluminum neck had a cold and clinical feel, hence the later addition of the black Imron sheath.

More recently, Travis Beans have been gainfully employed by a number of noise-rock players along with many denizens of myriad heavy sub-genres like doom and stoner metal. The Bean sound is powerful and articulate at lover volumes, but winds up magnificently to a shuddering crunch when pushed in these heavy contexts. Travis Bean knew he had something great in the mid-1970s; while his vision did not lead to major commercial success at the time he would no doubt be well satisfied by the lasting appeal to players and highly collectible status his creations have earned 45+ years on.
Overall length is 39 3/8 in. (100 cm.), 14 1/8 in. (35.9 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 1/2 in. (622 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/2 in. (38 mm.)., 9.02 lbs.

This fairly rare Travis Bean variant remains in excellent playing condition, original except for possible wiring work showing some play wear but no heavy damage or abuse. The lacquer finish overall has dings, scratches and dents, with some noticeable scratching on the back hear the string holes, one deep ding to the face on the lower body horn and another back near the volume knobs. There is a small hole in the tip of the lower body horn indicating the guitar was likely once played left handed.

Internally all components appear original, some of the soldering looks sloppier than we would expect from Bean but no components appear altered. All four pots and cape are a good match and correct for the era; the original neck pot has a slightly wobbly shaft but works fine. One of the knobs is a slight mis-match but blends in quite well; all other hardware appears original.

The Imron neck coating on the back of the neck has a few small dinks through to the metal and one deeper scratch around the 7th fret area. The plating has some scuffing primarily on the pickguard and minor corrosion mostly to the bridge adjustment screws. The original jumbo frets show surprisingly little wear, rosewood fingerboard has some light divoting in the lower positions. This metal-neck marvel plays excellent and sounds fantastic, as "Beanies" consistently do. At a hair over 9Lbs lbs. this guitar is fairly light for a Bean; it offers a substantial feel with massive sustain and still feels timelessly modern. A period HSC is included, not the usual Bean supplied model but well fitted, of the time and fully intact and functional. Overall Excellent Condition.