#171285  by ej9901
 
These last few days I've been watching and listening to some Dead and JGB shows from '76 and '77 where Jerry was playing his Travis Bean guitars, both a TB500 and a TB1000. I'm just curious about these guitars and am looking to learn more about them. Really all I know about the Travis Bean guitars is that they had aluminum necks but not much else, so any info would appreciated.
 #171287  by lbpesq
 
I played in a band many years ago with a guy who played a Travis. It was extremely heavy and he complained that the neck was cold on outdoor gigs. I saw Jerry play his many times live. It sounded great, but every guitar Jerry played sounded great to me.

Bill, tgo
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 #171288  by NeilG1
 
It's more than an aluminum neck - the entire neck to the bridge is one piece of metal. So neck, pickups, bridge are all on one long strip of aluminum together. They were/are certainly heavy, but at 11 lbs or so (I may not be 100% right here - so correct me if I'm wrong!), they aren't really any heavier than any Irwin replica build that I've felt. But definitely a hollow body PRS it is not!

Lots of great resources for Beans:
https://www.travisbeandesigns.com
http://www.travisbeanguitars.com

Travis Bean Designs will even make you a replica of Jerry's TB500 if you have 10K to spend
https://reverb.com/news/travis-bean-des ... rce=canada
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 #171292  by FromWichita
 
The story goes Jerry laughed when he saw a TB in a guitar store window but fell in love with the sustain. Playing a Travis Bean reminded me of playing "a tuning fork" if you get my metaphor. I mean the notes rang like a bell. You can hear it in Jerry's playing. I would go for Spring 77 as my favorite tour and his tone then may be may favorite too.
I actually owned a few TB1000 models and one of the rarer TB500. I sold them all years ago, though.
Jerry started with TB1000 model, which has humbuckers. Earliest confirmed show using one is 9/28/75.
In late 76 he switched to the TB500, which was the single-coil version. Not sure of last Dead show he played it, but Wolf was back by mid-Autumn 77, this time suped up with two coil-tapped humbuckers in middle and bridge, along with Unity Gain Buffer circuit (see below).
Both models came with just two pickups, but Jerry wanted a middle position single coil put into his TB500 and it was the first guitar which featured the Unity Gain Buffer circuit which Jerry helped conceive of.
The UGB sends a consistent outgoing signal, pre-volume, out to the effects loop which returns for volume and tone controls. This meant Jerry knew exactly the response of dynamic output effects (whose output would otherwise be variable depending on the guitar volume!) There was also a switch to bypass the effects loop.
I believe the $12,500 Travis Bean replica has all those modifications.
Chronologically, from the TB500 onward, Jerry's guitars would have that double-cable which enabled the signal to go out and come back for volume & tone.

The two stickers I've seen in pictures that he had on the behind-the-bridge area of the TB500 were "The Enemy Is Listening", which amused me in the sense that, if the enemy is listening, they're hearing the Dead or JGB!
The other, apparently later sticker read "Gas, grass or ass - no one rides for free!" which I personally thought was rather vulgar for the coolest person in history to be sporting, but that's just me and I don't know the story behind it.

By the way I've seen a picture from the JGB where both Jerry and ubiquitous bassist John Kahn were playing Travis Beans! They did make basses. A famous user of the TB Bass was Bill Wyman of the Stones. Ace Frehley had a black TB1000 you can see him play in "Rock and Roll all Night" in the Kissology DVD (Vol. 1?) but he didn't get as nice a sound from it than his Les Pauls. I heard Keith Richards had one.

One of Jerry's complaints about it was that the neck was pretty sensitive to temperature, which caused tuning issues. I was very accustomed to the strings going sharp as the neck warmed up from my hand. I heard somewhere that someone (I don't believe it was Jerry) would use a hair-dryer to heat up the neck before hitting the stage. Of course, I imagine one could overheat the neck and tuning problems would arise as it cooled.

“For me, I think the only danger is being too much in love with guitar playing. The music is the most important thing, and the guitar is only the instrument” – Jerry Garcia
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 #171293  by tdcrjeff
 
FromWichita wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:35 pm In late 76 he switched to the TB500, which was the single-coil version. Not sure of last Dead show he played it, but Wolf was back by mid-Autumn 77, this time suped up with two coil-tapped humbuckers in middle and bridge, along with Unity Gain Buffer circuit.
9/3/77 Englishtown was the last TB500 show, with Wolf back for the next show 9/28/77
 #171295  by FromWichita
 
tdcrjeff wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 4:02 pm
FromWichita wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:35 pm In late 76 he switched to the TB500, which was the single-coil version. Not sure of last Dead show he played it, but Wolf was back by mid-Autumn 77, this time suped up with two coil-tapped humbuckers in middle and bridge, along with Unity Gain Buffer circuit.
9/3/77 Englishtown was the last TB500 show, with Wolf back for the next show 9/28/77
Ah, yes! Dick's Picks 15. A contender for my favorite "Eyes of the World". I think the Dead opened for Marshall Tucker Band; I get a kick out of imagining the Dead blowing MTB fans' minds all around the racetrack!

"Benedictus qui venit in nomine veritas."
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Truth."
 #171296  by tdcrjeff
 
FromWichita wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 4:15 pm
tdcrjeff wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 4:02 pm
FromWichita wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:35 pm In late 76 he switched to the TB500, which was the single-coil version. Not sure of last Dead show he played it, but Wolf was back by mid-Autumn 77, this time suped up with two coil-tapped humbuckers in middle and bridge, along with Unity Gain Buffer circuit.
9/3/77 Englishtown was the last TB500 show, with Wolf back for the next show 9/28/77
Ah, yes! Dick's Picks 15. A contender for my favorite "Eyes of the World". I think the Dead opened for Marshall Tucker Band; I get a kick out of imagining the Dead blowing MTB fans' minds all around the racetrack!

"Benedictus qui venit in nomine veritas."
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Truth."
Dead were most definitely the headliner.
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 #171301  by lbpesq
 
While I’ve seen many bands open for the Dead, the only time I saw them as the opening act was when they played a two-day stand at Oakland Coliseum opening for The Who on October 9-10, 1976. As I recall, The Who had opened for the Dead in England previously, so the Dead were returning the favor. And Jerry played a Travis Bean that day.

Bill, tgo
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 #171302  by FromWichita
 
That makes sense; no one can follow the Dead!
Everyone's so helpful here.... Which reminds me of one of if not the funniest Dead stage banter I heard; I guarantee people have hear it - I think it's 2.18.71 and Pigpen intoxicatedly tears into an audience member or maybe "people in the management" of the venue, and then Jerry says something like "Ah, Pigpen - always ready with a kind word."
 #171303  by FromWichita
 
I read Jerry developed a permanent curvature of the spine from playing heavy guitars.

"Evadere ad auras; hoc opus, hic labor est." - Virgil
To escape into the upper air; this is the task, this is the labor.
 #171312  by PurpleTrails
 
lbpesq wrote:While I’ve seen many bands open for the Dead, the only time I saw them as the opening act was when they played a two-day stand at Oakland Coliseum opening for The Who on October 9-10, 1976. As I recall, The Who had opened for the Dead in England previously, so the Dead were returning the favor. And Jerry played a Travis Bean that day.

Bill, tgo
Lol, breakfast in bed with the Grateful Dead at the Us Festival in '82. They came on at 9:00 am to open one of the days. Unsurprisingly, it was a pretty sleepy set.
 #171317  by Searing75
 
When Jerry switched back to Wolf in mid to late ‘77, it had three single coils in it. Not the two humbuckers with one single coil.
 #171343  by jackietreehorn
 
Ok, I'll take a stab. I'm going off the top of my head so be gentle if I have my facts wrong....

As someone mentioned the biggest thing that sets these guitars apart is the aluminum neck - an the neck is different than a kramer or one of the modern remakes, because the pickups and bridge are mounted to it. The necks are supposed to be a pain to keep in tune. I've never played one, but I've heard as they warm up from body heat you have to retune them. You can get a pretty good look at one here (and make a bid on one of Jerry's backups if you have some deep pockets - https://www.gottahaverockandroll.com/Je ... Kr6GEMbWw_.

The pickups are also fairly unique from what I understand. I don't know my ass from an apple when it comes from pickups, but people who do know what they're talking about have said the closest pickup to a Bean in construction style was an old Fender Wide Range Humbucker (not the modern reissues). They're not P90s. There is a dude out there who makes a pretty good replica now - I mean a really good replica, it's scary how spot on it is.

I don't know how many Beans Jerry owned, but he played two "styles" the TB1000A (2 pickup) from the Fall of 75 to Summer of 76 and then the TB500 from Summer of 76 to Fall of 77. The TB500 was his third most played guitar, behind Wolf and Tiger, and played the iconic Spring '77 shows like Cornell. It was also the first guitar with an OBEL.

Bean sounds great and is a unique instrument. I like hearing people's stories who have played them. Some people I've talked to love them, other people hate them.
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