1961 Valco-made Airline Town & Country Solidbody Electric Guitar

This is the second National/Valco-made electric a buddy of mine has had that he's not bonded-with. Oh well, too bad and so sad for him! These little bottle-rocket guitars are absolutely killer when driven and played aggressively. Note that in the video clip that it sounds like radial-airplane-engine deliciousness once I've kicked-in a bit of gain to slur it a bit. It's very "Jack White"-ey. That's its home territory.

These are not guitars that're at their best played clean --but they do have a respectable, somewhat relaxed, late-'50s clean sort of tone to them and you can actually pull-off a bit of retro jazz tone when you've got the amp clean, loud, and the treble rolled-off a hair.

Anyhow, this came to me for resale in almost-ready-to-go condition (and all-original except for frets), though I did level/dress the frets and give it a quick setup. Someone had refretted it (with slots through the binding edges) in the past, but the job wasn't perfectly level. It's now purring beautifully and plays like butter.

The pickup selector is 3-way (individual pickup selection) and there's tone and volume for each pickup as well as a master volume knob. It, of course, sounds best wide-open.

At the back of the heel are two chrome covers that hide two bolts. The upper bolt keeps the neck tight to the body and fixes into a threaded insert in the neck itself. The lower bolt actually sets neck angle and so adjusts overall action height. The bridge allows fine-tuning of action height after adjusting that.

Setup notes: action is 1/16" overall at the 12th fret. The neck is straight and it' strung with 46w-10 gauges. The bridge is compensated for unwound-G so most modern electric sets will work great on it.

Scale length: 24 5/8"
Nut width: 1 5/8" (feels like 1 11/16")
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at bridge: 2"
Body length: 17 3/4"
Lower bout width: 13 1/8"
Waist width: 7 1/2"
Upper bout width: 9"
Side depth at endpin: 1 1/2"
Body wood: poplar?
Neck wood: poplar?
Fretboard: rosewood, bone replacement nut
Bridge: adjustable archtop-style with comp'd rosewood top
Neck feel: medium C-shape, bigger shoulders, ~12" board radius

Condition notes: the guitar is all-original and in good shape (save minor playwear throughout), though the frets and nut are replaced. The back-angle on the nut at the headstock is pretty low so a heavy-handed player might find adding string trees for the D&G strings a good idea if they get any washy overtones or ringing coming from them when strumming hard. I didn't have any problem with this, though, and I pick pretty aggressively.