Travis Bean TB-1000S Standard Solid Body Electric Guitar (1976)

Travis Bean  TB-1000S Standard Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1976)
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Item # 11292
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Travis Bean TB-1000S Standard Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1976), made in Sun Valley, CA, serial # 204, white lacquer finish, aluminum neck and centerpiece, hardwood body, rosewood fingerboard, original black tolex hard shell case.

This striking mid-1970's classic is an early example of the 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 finished in a rarer solid white lacquer 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 Gary Kramer, who would soon split off to found his own guitar operation. 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 Magnolia wood body, painted in solid white lacquer. All Bean 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.

This is an early example of the Standard carrying serial number #204 stamped into the headstock which would suggest manufacture in late 1975 or 1976. The body is deeper (and heavier) than later examples but subtly slimmer in the horns. The white finish was a catalog option but most had koa wood bodies finished in natural, making this a fairly rare variant. The rosewood fingerboard has plain dot inlay and a brass nut. Schaller tuners, a fully adjustable bridge and small aluminum pickguard complete the hardware. One oddity of this instrument is a complete set of pots in the original wiring rig dated to early/mid 1964; Bean likely got a good deal on a job lot of older parts from someone early on!

The Standard model originally listed in 1975 for $595, up to $995 by the end of the run. While not the most expensive solidbody guitar on the market in 1976, this was a fairly high-end instrument. Beans were not a huge retail success but were featured by some major artists when new. At various times Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Bill Wyman all played them with the Rolling Stones in the mid-late '70s. Jerry Garcia was an official endorser and played both a TB 1000 and a TB 500 for a time, making these models revered by many Deadheads to this day. The guitars garnered a reputation for very high quality, but many players at the time felt the bare aluminum neck had a cold and clinical feel.

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 not a major commercial success at the time he would no doubt be satisfied by the lasting appeal to players and highly collectible status his creations have earned nearly 50 years on.
Overall length is 39 1/2 in. (100.3 cm.), 14 1/8 in. (35.9 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.)., 10.36 lbs.

This guitar remains nicely original, showing some general wear to the finish but no abuse or alterations. The white lacquer on this guitar has not worn as well as some Beans; there are decent sized spots flaked off on the lower body horn and around the back/side rim, with smaller chips on the upper edge. Beyond a couple of impact marks we are not sure what caused this; none of the remaining finish appears to have any further inclination to flake or peel, it is all quite solid. The lacquer has also "curdled" and yellowed somewhat, more deeply in a few spots around the upper edge and horn.

Beyiond this there are some general dings, scuffs and dents, the face does not show too much wear beyond the one flaked spot on the lower horn. The metal neck unit is generally quite clean, with some general scuffing overall and minor scratching most notably to the back center section. There is a small ossified piece of ancient clear tape there by the string holes that resists removal.

The hardware has some minor wear, with light scuffing overall and a bit of corrosion most notable on the saddle adjustment screws but everything remains original. The original jumbo frets and rosewood fingerboard show not much wear, and this metal-neck marvel plays excellent and sounds fantastic. At well over 10 lbs. this Bean has a substantial feel, offering a powerful sound with massive sustain, while the metal neck still feels timelessly modern. The original HSC is included, fully intact and functional with only fairly minor wear. The original guarantee card is still in the case pocket. Excellent - Condition.