Friday, 2 November 2012

Peavey T-60, T-40, Chip Todd - Hartley Peavey - "Take from the top!". . .

As I said in one of my previous posts, I am very lucky to
have a substantial input from Chip, himself and I am grateful
for the time he has put into it and he has indicated there is
more to come.

I you own, or have owned  a Peavey T Series guitar, I'm sure you
will find what Chip has to say, very interesting as the story unfolds.

Thanks Chip. :)

So, back to the beginning, from the man who put the "T" in the 
T series Basses and Guitars, in his own words.

I think that Hartley first thought seriously about making guitars in early 1975, 
as he hired me in mid-1975. 
Both Gibson and Fender were telling dealers that if they didn't buy amps, they 
wouldn't be able to get guitars. 
That's illegal and called "tying in a product". 
Both made amps; Fender's were pretty and Gibson could hardly give their 
amps away.  
Instead of starting illegal proceedings, Peavey decided to make guitars 
knowing that "a best defense is a good offense". 
I had a warranty repair center in Houston doing work for Gibson, Fender, 
Ovation, Harmony, and other companies after getting out of the monorail 
I had contacted Mudge Miller, a friend who was the Gibson Sales manager, 
to find out how I should get into the guitar repair business, as I had met him 
while doing repairs for a music store while in college. 
He advised me to go to Houston and not fight Arnold & Morgan in Dallas. 
I took his advice and moved to Houston. 

Several years later, I was delivering an Ovation acoustic to Brook Mays, 
the largest chain in Texas, a repair that involved  extensive work around the 
outside edges of the sound board. 
I had airbrushed a Walnut sunburst on the front to hide the repairs, went to 
Brook Mays to return it, and Peavey's Texas representative was there and 
saw the sunburst Ovation. 
Since Ovation didn't do any sunburst at that time, the rep. was impressed 
and flew to the factory to tell Hartley about me. 
I had a college degree in both commercial art and mechanical engineering 
and both tied in with starting a factory. 

The rep, Bob Belfield, flew me to  Meridian, Mississippi to meet Hartley, 
(several of the Peavey reps had there own airplanes, as they were making 
around $250,000 while the reps for other music manufacturers were making 
about $45,000).  

Hartley's first question was, "What do you think of the "Zero Fret"? I answered, 
"It's the most sensible way to automatically achieve a perfect action on fretted 
instruments but something that the Japanese guitar makers have screwed up 
by losing their nerve and making the zero fret oversized". 
He grinned his large smile which said that we were going to get along fine. 
He hired me that day and we "made the town that night". 

Bob flew me back to Houston where I gave my repair center to Kevin Perry, 
who was my main help in Houston. 
I started work for Peavey in June or July of 1975. 
Neither Hartley nor I played the serial numbers game, so didn't keep serial 
number/date manufacturing dates recorded, in fact, we started with the serial 
numbers in the 25000000 range and used blocks of numbers that we took 
from the amplifier numbers. 
We didn't even keep track of the starting date of production; the current serial 
number list is just "a wild-ass guess", at best.
The six digit numbers were used as a lame attempt at my trying to get around 
using amplifier numbers, as were the 8M numbers, since the serial number 
program didn't recognize letters.
Hartley and I designed almost everything together. 
About the first or second day at work, Hartley took me to lunch at a small cafe 
that had home-style plate lunches and we were talking neck production. 
We were drawing to each other on napkins and arrived at a novel neck 
construction together. 
I said, "Where's my traditional $1 which is what most companies pay an 
engineer for patents, and he quickly said, "You're eating it". 
We "co-patented" the invention together. 
The hardest thing we designed was the peghead, since he wanted six keys 
on one side like Fender; anything  far away from Fender looked funny to us, 
but we didn't want to copy Fender, 
We finally settled on the T-series design, but I made a 3 per side version for 
the first prototypes for the 1976 NAMM show. 

The first three prototypes were made in my carport, by Charley Gressett 
and Bob Lowe, (later changed to R.T. Lowe), with minimal tools, in two days. 
We hadn't planned on names, yet, so Peavey told me to make them up. 
I used "CT-1", (my initials), for the 6-inline peghead, "CT-2" for the 3/side 
peghead, and "CT-B" for the bass guitar. 
The later naming meetings in late 1976, were hilarious events. 
Some time before that NAMM show, Hartley told me,  
"We're lucky to have a very profitable amplifier program to sponsor us, 
so I don't want to go to market until you say we're ready".

You asked about the pickguard. With the compound curvature of the front, it 
took a whole bunch of screws to keep the pickguard from bowing up in places. 
People have complained about the screws, but fail to notice the number of 
screws on the Stratocasters, which had a flat front. 
We were never allowed the same rules as Fender and Gibson. 
I showed Chip this youtube clip, to see if he agreed with the content.
See from 0:58 to 2:50. 

The guy on U-Tube was mostly correct. He just flubbed a couple of minor facts.

We did use many innovative techniques, that changed guitar manufacturing 
around the world. 
Gibson and Fender were locked into antiquated manufacturing 
ideas by tradition.

He added this at the end
Sorry, this turned out to be "War and Peace", but the whole program was breaking 
new ground.

I think it's a good story, well told.

More to come next time, with some images of my earliest T-40 and the
subtle differences between that and the main production that followed.

My thanks to Chip - I look forward to the next part.

Cheers. :) 

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