Friday, 9 November 2012

Peavey T-60 and T-40 - the early days, continued. . . .

Once again, I am very grateful for Chip's considerable input into this.
He is prolific, which for me is great - the whole story unfolds in great detail.
He was editor of American Gunsmith for about 10 years and wrote 
hundreds of articles, so he is no stranger to the keyboard!

This is going to be a lengthy post, as I am going to cover my oldest T-40,
while Chip continues with the story. 
The heads above show the subtle difference between the early (1977) one
and the later 1979

In the images below, you will see the "applied" dot markers that Chip refers
to in his story.
 The top image shows the way they are now and if you look closely at the 
bottom image, you will see that the dot is slightly raised. 

The tuners on the earlier one, are also very slightly different.
The top image shows early above and later below.
The middle image shows the earlier ones from above and the
image at the bottom, shows the later one from above. 

The early one also seems to have a nut at either end of the rod!
There are also markings on the neck and in the pocket - not sure
what they mean but I will check with Chip.

The pots are marked 77 and there are some scribbles and initials,
written in pencil. Brass bottomed pick-ups. 

This, as you can see, is currently stripped for an overhaul - 
not a restoration, as I like it the way it is but the switches 
are a little worn.

Anyway, more input from me next time - back to what Chip 
has to say.
I asked him this question - Did you set out to make the T-40 and T-60
a bit more special/innovative/different because of Peavey ethos/your 
desire to lead in another direction or because it was deemed as a good 
marketing standpoint - or a bit of both?

I was both a commercial artist and mechanical engineer when Peavey hired me 
and we both had the desire to build things using the most accurate and cost 
effective methods available, at the time. 
We both felt that most guitar designs and manufacturing methods were incestuous 
as everybody was copying what had been done for centuries. 
I was a machinist, dragster builder and driver, and knew that metalworking methods 
could make better and more economical instruments, than the antiquated processes 
used by all the manufacturers around in 1975, when I started designing the T-series 
guitars and basses.
Evidently, none of the luthiers had heard of Henry Ford, the father of mass production.

Things like the outline of the peghead and the ease of graphics were a well-kept secret 

for years, and we kept it to ourselves. 
As a commercial artist, I had been using rub-on lettering for years and naturally was 
ready with that in mind when we designed the peghead. 
The rub-on dot markers were successful because of the urethane paint we used
but a band touring the factory surprised the ladies putting on the dots and that 
embarrassed Peavey into changing to the inlayed vinyl dots.
It would take a book to relate the many changes to production that we initiated

but several of the innovations have changed the manufacturing of guitars worldwide. 
There are several holdouts, such as Gibson and Fender, who are trapped by the 
words they published and had to keep up some old, less-than-smart, methods. 
Fender hired me to bring them up into the modern age with Peavey, but CBS 
changed management to ex-Yamaha executives who were thoroughly indoctrinated 
by Japanese methods.

The wood supplier we chose to use was run by an old woodworker in Alabama who 

told me, "Son, in woodworking you work to 1/16 of an inch, not thousandths. 
We took him over to our Meridian, Mississippi facility and showed him that 
metal-working techniques worked with wood, as long as you controlled the
moisture level. 
He was sold on it and gave talks at wood industry meetings. 
With this process, we had to return any machined wood to a humidity-controlled 
room, each night until it got past the painting stage.  
Hartley (Peavey) and I are both aircraft fans and knew that nothing takes more 
abuse in the finish than aircraft sitting out in the sun and rain like airplanes. 
We got Sherwin Williams work up a catalyzed urethane like DuPont's Emron paint, 
which was way too expensive as it was "aircraft" related.

The only thing that we did for marketing reasons, even though we knew that it was 

wrong, was to make individual saddles with height adjustment like Fender. 
Peavey was afraid that Fender would use that against us while we were "the new kids 
on the block". 
There is no valid reason to support individual height adjustment for the strings. 
The  height of the strings should be in an arc that mimics the arch of the frets. 
We chose to use an inexpensive method of tilting the neck for string height 
adjustment, although most musicians refused to read any instructions. 
All other design features were done for functionality and not tradition.


Many thanks, Chip - I have more questions for next time.

Cheers. :)  


CaSandra said...

Great blog, Eric.

Greetings from WV USA!!!

I have a 79 t40 natural, found it on craigslist and drove 4 hrs to get it.. Ive had it for almost 2 months, have been playing bass for 7 months. Currently have DR black beauty strings on it.

Curious if you have done a setup post?? Or if you setup your own bass guitars?? Or if you wish to share your settings/measurements??

I seem to be chasing my tail and always questioning my setup... the life of a newbie.

Rob WV

Flat Eric said...

Rob, Hi. I do all my own set ups, it's what I did for a job, way back in the 70's and what I learned then is still utilised today. Can you imagine the cost of setting up all the stuff I have?? OUCH! Almost all the bass stuff I have, run on 40 - 100 or 45 - 105 strings, various makes and I aim for 2.2 to 2.5 at the 12th. This give a fair action and prevents too much buzzing, when you dig in deep. I have not thought of it before but I could do a small feature on what I do, in terms of a set-up. Keep playing your Forty - a great bass. Cheers. :)

youngalistai said...

ibanez sb70 you have the most original pic of the above in what seems to be the original cheap red brown color wash that was used most people have by now re-finished thier bodies any chance of posting it to to go on thier unoffical sb70 i cant seem to post the pic there as its copywrited

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these interviews!

Chip has a point when he prefers a single saddle arched to match the fretboard's curve instead of individual ones. Ned Steinberger seems to agree, since his Synapse series have just that. According to him, the single saddle has been used for centuries because of its sonic advantages.

Great minds do think alike!

Flat Eric said...

Alexander, Hi. I sort of like to "sit on the fence" on this one - I can see the logic but for me, the option of an individual adjustment, is something I like. Horses for courses. You never know, maybe in time, I will come round to that way of thinking. Keep up the good work.
Al the best. Cheers. :)