Merle Travis

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Merle Travis

Postby Vidar Lund » Mon Nov 01, 2010 3:03 pm

Here´s Merle Travis playing one of his Bigsby guitars. It´s from the video Merle Travis - rare Performances 1946-1981.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvkppduB5d0
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Re: Merle Travis

Postby rhirvine » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:01 pm

Thanks. I very much enjoyed that number. A music video in 1951 imagine that.
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Re: Merle Travis

Postby Vidar Lund » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:54 am

Inspired by the discussion we´ve had on Bigsby guitars recently I have played several of my old video tapes, including the two Merle Travis Rare Performances tapes. He plays his Bigsby guitars and his Martin with the Bigsby neck and headstock on a number of tracks. On the three Shanachie tapes 601, 602 and 603 with Ernest Tubb, Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves, Webb Pierce and Chet both Bigsby electric and pedal steel guitars are being played. It´s interesting to see and hear those rare instruments "in the flesh." They really have a sound of their own.
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Re: Merle Travis

Postby thenorm » Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:58 am

one of his Bigsby guitars..."

That was actually buit for someone else and Merle borrowed it for that clip.
Interesting looking guitar illustrating Bigsby's make-to-order versatility
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Re: Merle Travis

Postby Vidar Lund » Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:16 pm

This is one of the comments from YouTube: "Merle's Bigsby was a hollow body built for him in 1951. It was later acquired by Jack Parsons, a bandmate of P A Bigsby. (Yes, Bigsby had a band.) Bigsby then inlaid Parsons' name in it and added a vibrato. I've often wondered what Travis' 1948 solid body sounded like." The solidbody is included in the first Rare Performanses video.
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Re: Merle Travis

Postby thenorm » Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:54 pm

I'm at work so I can't check my Bigsby book. Seems like I read a slightly different history on that guitar. Oh well, things like that are always based on someone's memory and I'm sure if the stories differ each teller will say their version is the more accurate one.

We're just speculators.

Too bad someone hadn't done an in-depth biography on Travis and tried to nail down all of those details. May not be possible now what with Merle being gone. His life had a lot of ups and downs and the downs were not very pleasant I'm sure but it still seems like someone should do an in-depth biography on such a pivotal musician.
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Re: Merle Travis

Postby Vidar Lund » Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:52 pm

Norm, I checked the Bigsby book, page 102-03. I quote: "This Bigsby guitar was completed on October 29, 1951 and is stamped "102951". It´s the only full hollow body instrument P. A. Bigsby ever built. The guitar has a flat top with no sound holes, an arched back and was originally fitted with a "fiddle" tailpiece." It was originally built for Merle who used it in 1951 to film a few "soundies". Paul Bigsby´s friend and band mate Jack Parsons eventually managed to buy it. "Managed" suggests that he had tried for a while to get it before he succeeded. Mr. Bigsby later inlaid Parson´s name on it and installed a Bigsby vibrato. And I agree, the ultimate Merle Travis book is long overdue, he sure lived an interesting life and left quite a legacy. That´s why we still discuss him and his music and guitars all the time.
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Re: Merle Travis

Postby thenorm » Tue Nov 02, 2010 6:54 pm

Well, I stand corrected then. I would have fessed up to it when I delved into it later today...

I probably heard the 'borrowed' tale back some years ago. It wasnt' until that book came out that the mystery on that guitar was definitively nailed down.

I wonder if it's still being played anywhere by anyone.
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Re: Merle Travis

Postby Vidar Lund » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:55 am

Jack Parson may have borrowed that guitar on one or more occasions from Merle and liked it so much that he wanted to buy it rather than ordering a new one from Mr. Bigsby. Thence the confusion regarding who borrowed it and when?
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