1964 Gibson Melody Maker

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Very cool looks and uniquely attractive body shape, light weight, simple appointments, still relatively affordable, OHSC

Thumbs down: The sole single coil pickup may deter some looking for more powerful output and greater control over tone

Decree: A very pretty little mid‑1960s Gibson ‘student’ guitar that deserves revisiting and re‑evaluating in the 21st Century

Model Description:

The humble ‘student’ Gibson Melody Maker was introduced in 1959 as a single cutaway solid body with a Les Paul‑like outline. After about 18 months, Gibson changed the body shape to a double cutaway, which was around the same time that the single cutaway Les Paul Standard was discontinued and replaced with a double cutaway model that would come to be known as the SG. The 1961‑1965 ‘type 2’ Melody Maker didn’t use the SG template at the time; rather the new body shape was a unique and rather attractive outline that Gibson has rarely used since. The neck with its characteristic narrow headstock and the scratchplate‑mounted electrics remained the same as the outgoing model, as did the dark brown to yellow sunburst finish. By 1965, the smart ‘type 2’ body outline was replaced with a rather clumsy, crude looking pointy double cutaway finished in translucent cherry red. The SG‑shaped Melody was introduced in 1966 and lasted until the model was finally discontinued in 1971. Over the years, many Melody Makers have been modified to ‘improve’ on its low‑cost origins, usually by replacing the pickups and hardware. Unfortunately, most of these modifications were irreversible and reduce the value of the guitars significantly. Although the Melody Maker was produced in large numbers during the 1960s, clean all‑original examples are becoming harder to find as the collectors begin to see profit in the old beginners’ guitars from the ‘golden era’ (just like the equivalent ‘student’ Fender offset guitars). The result is that vintage market values have increased rapidly, especially for the early single cutaway variant. Gibson has ‘re‑issued’ updated versions of the Melody Maker in name only several times over the years, however they are nowhere near the same as the originals.

Guitar Description:

Now… isn’t this a really pretty pure and simple guitar design? It is a very cool and cute full‑sized all‑original 1964 Gibson Melody Maker with a single pickup in tobacco sunburst nitrocellulose finish. I have always adored this elegantly simple (and woefully underrated) ‘type 2’ symmetrical double cutaway outline, which was unique to this version of the Melody Maker. I also really like the stripped back‑to‑basics approach for what was Gibson’s modest budget ‘student’ guitar. The unpretentious Melody Maker epitomises music making at its purest, with nothing to get in the way of pure vintage tone. Plug it straight into a cool vintage valve amp and feel it come alive in your hands. As the slim one‑piece slab mahogany body and the neck carries no excess wood, the Melody Maker is also a very lightweight and resonant guitar, which is a bonus, especially if your spine can’t take a heavy instrument. The original finish is in gorgeous, unfaded, vibrant sunburst with only a few superficial marks to suggest its vintage, and apart from some very nice crazing to the old nitrocellulose lacquer. The substantial wide and flat neck with its lovely rosewood fingerboard is a delight to play, and the sole single coil pickup sounds great, bright and sparkly. The pickup is unique to the Melody Maker and is sadly underrated, being overshadowed by Gibson’s meatier single coil P90s and humbuckers. The straightforward signal path demands the player to adapt their style in order to get the most from it. People are only just waking up to what a hidden gem the original Melody Makers are, all of them are worth a try out. Hear the alarm call or risk getting late to the party.


  • Made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A. in 1964
  • Tobacco sunburst nitrocellulose finish
  • Mahogany double cutaway body
  • Mahogany set neck
  • Unbound rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets and dot markers
  • Scale length 24¾” (629mm)
  • Original Kluson Deluxe closed tuners
  • Original single‑ply black plastic scratchplate
  • Original covered single-coil Melody Maker pickup
  • Original gold reflector knobs for volume and tone, and jack socket
  • Original ‘lightning bolt’ compensated wraparound integrated bridge/tailpiece
  • Original black plastic strap buttons
  • Weight: 4lbs 8oz (2.04kg)
  • Original brown Gibson ‘alligator’ softshell case


While Gibson has made little use of the ‘type 2’ double cutaway body shape since it was introduced, a very similar style has been a successful staple used by Gordon Smith Guitars from the mid‑1970s right up to the current day, thereby tapping into the tremendous potential of the original Gibson design.

The pretty ‘type 2’ symmetrical double cutaway Melody Maker body shape was re‑used by Gibson in 1984/1985 with the short‑lived Gibson Les Paul DC‑400 XPL. This Les Paul, however, was a very different guitar, with a carved top and dual humbucking pickups. The ‘XPL’ refers to its Explorer‑style headstock.

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