1965 Gibson Melody Maker

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Light weight, simple and delightfully addictive to play, still relatively affordable, OHSC

Thumbs down: Demure looks, some may want more flexibility and that single coil won’t be to everyone’s taste

Decree: A great mid‑1960s Gibson that can be enjoyed without being afraid to use it

Model Description:

Introduced in 1965 and withdrawn just a year later the ‘type 3’ Gibson Melody Maker was one in a line of Melody Makers introduced in 1959 and discontinued in 1971. The variant comprises a mahogany slab bodied double cutaway with one or two single coil pickups mounted on a scratchplate. The mahogany set neck featured the characteristic narrow headstock with simple open‑backed tuners. The integrated compensated wraparound bridge/tailpiece keeps the overall construction neat and simple. There was only one factory finish available, a translucent cherry nitrocellulose finish. Keeping things straightforward was Gibson’s way of producing the Melody Maker in large numbers and keeping prices low for the target student/beginner customer base. The Melody Maker name has been used multiple times over the years, although the distinctive ‘type 3’ has not been widely reissued to‑date. Although this variant is relatively scarce because of its short production run, the somewhat clumsy problem child of the Melody Maker series remains a cost‑effective buy on the vintage guitar market.

Guitar Description:

OK, being up front here, the short‑lived third incarnation of the Gibson Melody Maker and sometimes oddly called the ‘type 2’ is a bit of an ugly duckling. The other Melody Maker body shapes are all aesthetically pleasing, while this one looks, let’s be honest, a bit crude and amateur, like it’s been shaped in a school woodworking class from a bit of old furniture. It is, I’m afraid to say, rather ungainly with its odd shaped cutaways and elongated lower bout. Shipping figures indicate that around 6,000 of the ‘type 3’ Melody Maker were manufactured for around 14 months in 1965 and into early 1966. So why include it here? Well, it is here partly to complete the set of four and partly because of my well‑documented penchant for underdog, budget ‘student’ vintage guitars. This particular example plays very nicely indeed. It does have plenty of finish crazing and the odd nick and bump to give it some well‑lived with mojo. The underrated unique Melody Maker single coil pickup sounds fairly quiet in comparison to Gibson humbuckers, despite having a reasonable 6.7Kohms DC resistance. Purists tend to pour scorn on the simple Melody Maker even though it was built in the same factory by the same workers with the same materials as their more highly appreciated siblings. I disagree strongly with the universal condemnation levelled at Melody Makers by the vintage snob brigade. Despite its awkward looks, it has a certain purity to its approach, it is wonderfully light and very easy to pick up and play for hours, and it has a lovely old‑wood resonance that makes it feel just right. Despite its unpopularity with collectors, vintage prices are certainly creeping inexorably upwards, making original 1960s Melody Makers less affordable for enthusiasts.


  • Made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A. in 1965
  • Cherry nitrocellulose finish
  • Single piece mahogany body
  • Mahogany set neck
  • Unbound rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets and dot markers
  • Scale length 24¾” (629mm)
  • Chrome hardware
  • Original tuners with modern ferrules
  • Original single‑ply black plastic scratchplate
  • Original Gibson Melody Maker single coil pickup
  • Original hardware – knobs, strap buttons and jack socket
  • Replacement wraparound bridge/tailpiece
  • Weight – 4½”Lbs (2.04Kgs)
  • Original Gibson Hard Shell Case


  • Carl Barât (Libertines)
  • Michael Clifford (5 Seconds of Summer)
  • Joan Jett
  • Robby Krieger (The Doors)


While not a mainstream re‑issue, the ‘type 3’ Melody Maker shape has spawned two notable signature models. In 2008, Gibson announced a Joan Jett ‘Blackheart’ Melody Maker and in 2019, a Michael Clifford (5 Seconds of Summer) Melody Maker was introduced.

Detail Gallery:

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