5/09/2018

1961 Valco-made Supro Dual Tone Electric Guitar




This version of the ultra-hip Dual Tone features a Les Paul-sized composite-wood body (with terrible, crack/bubble-tastic paintjob) rather than the fiberglass bodies of the later builds. While this is a '61 it's unchanged from the earlier mid-to-late '50s versions of the guitar and has the same raunchy-as-heck Valco single-coil pickups that sound like they're going to burn your barn down and then run off with your lover. Link Wray played one of these, ya know? Ruuuuuuuummmmmmmmble!

I worked on this for a customer and all it needed was a fret level/dress, electronics cleaning, new ground wire to the tailpiece (the original had disconnected and was a little too short), and a good setup. The neck is straight up to about the 14th fret and then has a very light backbow down towards the body after that which means that, for all intents and purposes, this thing plays perfectly, and the Gibson-esque scale length feels right at home to me.

Specs are: 24 3/4" scale, 1 5/8" nut width, 1 3/8" string spacing at the nut, 2 1/16" spacing at the bridge, 13 1/4" lower bout width, 9 3/4" upper bout, and 1 3/4" side depth. The neck is placed almost above the body and so it feels like a compact archtop guitar in the lap with the strings raised so high off the deck. It's nice that Valco included a mini raised pickguard for pinky-planting! The neck is a medium C-shape and the board has a roughly 10" radius to it.

Woods are: mystery composite wood for the body, poplar for the neck (with steel reinforcement), an ebonized-maple fretboard (which had hairline cracks that needed a little attention), and rosewood for the original, "lightning-bolt" archtop-style bridge. That bridge is compensated for modern 3-wound, 3-plain stringing which is lucky-lucky for this-era guitarists. The hardware was all gold-plated when this was new, but much of that has rubbed back down to the brass and looks awesome.



Oh yeah -- that flat headstock angle meant I needed to add a couple retro-ized string trees. Still -- how about the looks of that headstock? Yes! Bone nut, too.



The coolest thing about these pickups is that the polepieces for the high and low E strings actually serve as the mounts and adjustable  posts for the pickups as well as polepieces. Isn't that wild? So -- set your outer strings where you want and then just adjust the inner poles to suit the output string-to-string. It works well but seems so crazy from a modern perspective.

These pickups are put together like many Kay and Gretsch single-coil pickups --with magnets to the side of the coils.








The top hole is for the one bolt that holds the neck on. It seats into a threaded, metal insert in the neck reinforcement truss-rod/non-adjustable bar in the neck. The lower bolt is a micro-tilt feature. Both holes are missing their trim covers.



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