1 Proteus 3 weeks ago Apropos of exactly nothing, I was musing on my notion that particular years - or short clusters of years - saw more evidence of evolution and development in electric guitars than others. My vague sense was that a couple of years would stand out starkly, but the more I looked for corroborating evidence, the less it seemed there were only a few anni mirabulis, and the more gradual the actual process had been.So much for my theory (though one year, as we'll see, continues to stand out starkly.)To clear about my method, such as it is: I'm not digging directly into when guitars may have been in development, or when particular important builds or features emerged separately. I've just tracked the introduction of now-important/influential guitar models (which, of course, will have incorporated those individual developments).And I haven't been too obscure: only Gibson/Epiphone, Fender, Gretsch, and Rickenbacker are included in the census. Can we consider them the Big 4? I should probably include the more idiosyncratic second-tier brands: Danelectro, Valco (at their Airline-inventive best, but maybe not Harmony), and Mosrite made now-famed and long-lived (or often re-introduced) models. Many incorporated developments which advanced the state of one guitar-makin' art or another - or at least represented diverse experiments.Also, I realize I left out most Epiphone models...This is obviously a USA-centric romp through the years, but is it not defensible that the electric guitar (particularly in its early and classic eras) is a distinctly American phenomenon? While builders throughout the world got in on the act, off the toppa my head, I can't think of any (in the period my list covers) who innovated something American companies hadn't, or contributed models which remain "iconic" - with the possible exception of Hofner, for the Beatle bass.The Japanese guitars of the 60s and early 70s, European guitars (particularly Italian and German), and even eastern-bloc guitars (only recently getting western exposure) all reflect an exuberant and entertaining international guitar culture, and I mean them no disrespect by leaving them out. But I was thinking of guitars whose introduction represented important milestones in the industry, so the guitars I tracked tend to be the most famous/iconic/legendary/now-standard (pick your descriptor) models - those guitars which have proven lasting in impact and popularity. In that context, if there are any pre-1970 international which either pointed a new and influential direction, or stood alongside the American models in commercial and cultural acceptance, visibility, and fame...I'm just too ignernt or brain-blocked to think of them. Please set me right.Also, my timeline ends (conveniently for me) in 1969 - so I didn't have to judge the importance or parse the chronolgoy of developments like Alembic and similar boutique guitars in the 70s; Bean/Kramer aluminum construction; the development and popularization of SuperStrats and locking trems in the 80s (or landmark models in that group); the PRS phenomenon; Steinberger (and other) headless; the Parker Fly; the Synthaxe and Roland/Brian Moore; Gittler and Teufel's conceptual art guitars; or the extended-range, multi-scale, and fanned-fret guitars which seem to have been the latest variations on the theme.And off we go with years of famous American electric guitar model introductions. Well, OK, we start with the pre-history of the commercial electric guitar, with the extraordinary efforts of George Beauchamp, who had the unfortunate impediment of an unpronounceable (to Americans) last name - otherwise, several critically important brands in the journey from this thing ain't loud enough to turn that damn thing down should probably have worn it. Of any pivotal historical development, we can always say "well, if [Insert Famous Name] hadn't done it, someone else would have." And that's the case with George. But he was the instigator and co-conspirator of the tri-cone resonator, American technology's first pass at a louder guitar - and the early Rickenbacker electrics. He had experimented with electrifying guitars through the 20s before helping found both National and then Rickenbacker (when it was Ro-Pat-In). If Adolph Rickenbacher (the metal contractor who made National bodies, and became a partner in Ro-Pat-In) hadn't had the instantly recognizable last name of his more famous cousin, by rights we should all have Beecham guitars in our collection.So...the first two "electric guitars" aren't electric guitars. They just wanted to be. 1927: National Tri-Cone Resonator 1929: Dobro single-cone reso, product of John Dopyera leaving National in a feud with brother Rudy 1929-30: Beauchamp and Nat’l employee Paul Barth develop first solid-body electric 1931: Ro-Pat-In A-25 Frying Pan lap steel 1935: Rickenbacker Electro-Spanish Ken Roberts: 25.5 scale w/Kauffman Vib-rola (first patented trem) is first commercial electric guitar 1935: Rick Model B Electric Spanish: first commercial full-scale solidbody 1936: Gibson ES-150 1948: Bigsby solidbodies start 1949: Gibson ES-5, ES-175; Gretsch Electromatic 1950: Fender Broadcaster 1951: Fender Telecaster; Gretsch Electro II 1952: Gibson Les Paul, ES-295 1953: Gretsch Jet, Country Club; Radio-Tel (FC Hall) buys Electro String/Rickenbacker 1954: Fender Stratocaster; Gretsch Falcon; Gibson Les Paul Jr 1955: Gretsch 6120, Gibson Les Paul Special, ES-5 Switchmaster, Byrdland, ES-225 1956: Fender Duo-Sonic, Musicmaster; Gretsch Penguin; Rickenbacker 400 series 1958: Fender Jazzmaster; Gibson ES-335, ES-355, Explorer, Flying V; Gretsch Country Gentleman, Tennessean, Anniversary; Rick 330, 325, 600 Cresting Wavers (and it's worth mentioning, Gibson Humbuckers & Gretsch Filter'Trons...) 1959: Gibson ES-330, Melody Maker 1961: Gibson SG; Epiphone Casino; Gretsch Corvette 1962: Fender Jaguar 1963: Gibson Firebird; Rick 360, 360-12 1964: Fender Mustang 1965: Fender Coronado 1969: Fender Tele Thinline (‘buckers in ’72) The obvious question to me: what the hell was in the water in 1958?