7 Guitars in Need of a Reissue

Unlike certain movie remakes, reissues of beloved guitar models of the past are often met with rave reviews when they re–enter the market.

Whether a model became an instant classic when released or was too ahead of its time to catch on, reissues allow players to get their hands on quality reproductions of rare and sometimes cost–prohibitive original models.

They also expose a new generation of players to the ways of the past and allow for modern corrections to period–specific problems.

While, naturally, your ‘50s and ‘60s bread–and–butter Strats, Teles, and Les Pauls have all been reissued many times over, there are plenty of eye–catching and ear–popping designs floating around the guitar universe waiting for a second shot.

Today, we're looking at seven stellar guitars that we think deserve the reissue treatment.

Ibanez Roadstar II

In retrospect, few Strat–style guitars from the ‘80s stand out like an Ibanez Roadstar II. Most famously seen as Marty McFly’s ‘80s guitar in the first Back to the Future, the Roadstar IIs from ‘83–’86 came in a wide range of unforgettable colors and options.

As a series, these guitars are jam–packed with mojo, yet are routinely overlooked. The Roadstar owed as much to the futuristic designs of the ‘80s and the Super Strat movement as it did to the classic Strats it borrowed from, making for an intriguing middle ground in the realm of '80s guitars.

Roadstars could be found employing a variety of pickup combinations coupled with every contemporary type of bridge/tuning system you could imagine, from locking to hardtails. Over the course of their original run, the RS series truly had something for everyone.

The Roadster is a very comfortable guitar, with necks that borrowed a lot from the early Fender contours and shapes. It’s interesting to note that they were manufactured at the Fujigen factory alongside the MIJ Fenders of the time including the much-celebrated MIJ vintage reissues. So if you’ve played a MIJ Fender Strat, a Roadstar will feel very similar.

While the originals are still relatively affordable, Ibanez should definitely reissue the Roadstar series, especially in Comet Green with a matching headstock.


Silvertone 1446

Over the past decade, more and more department store guitars — specifically from Harmony and Silvertone — have been getting rebooted thanks to companies like Eastwood.

But one guitar that has miraculously escaped the reissue treatment is the Silvertone 1446, often referred to as the Chris Isaak model. This model was one of the highest–end Silvertones made in the '60s and remains relatively rare on the vintage market.

A semi–hollowbody at heart, the 1446 reigns supreme over other Silvertones for a number of reasons. For one, it feels much more like a functional and full instrument than a budget–minded 1448 and other Silvertone offerings. The necks on these things are fast and fun to dig into, especially when paired with the standard issue Bigsby.

Not to mention, of course, the 1446's drop dead gorgeous white–on–black tuxedo flair.

This Silvertone is also unlike the others in that it packs two Gibson–made mini humbuckers. The sound of the 1446 goes from woody, natural cleans to screaming overdriven blues depending on how you use it.

The bummer of these guitars, ultimately, is that many original models have not aged well as players. Few '60s budget semi–hollows, however, offer as distinct a look and sound, making the Silvertone 1446 an ideal reissue candidate.


Gibson Marauder

Arguably, the least popular guitar on this list would be the Gibson Marauder. The original Marauder (and its counterpart, the Gibson S–1) is one of the least collectable Gibsons out there and remains one of the cheapest vintage Gibsons on the current market.

To put it gently, popular opinion of these guitars is that they weren’t one of Gibson’s finest offerings. The build quality is typically poor, and the design lacks many of the things that players associate with Gibson.

It can be argued, though, that where the model differs from the normal Gibson template is why it's such an intriguing instrument in its own right.

The electronics (including the pickups) were all designed by Gibson in collaboration with the late Bill Lawrence, so it has more in common in terms of sound with the Telecaster than it does with a Les Paul. The bridge pickup is extra bright and biting, for example.

The special thing about Marauders made after 1976 is that they don’t have your standard 3–way, Gibson–style pickup switch. Instead, they were outfitted with a rotary pot that allows you to adjust the blend between the neck and bridge pickups on top of a single volume and tone knob.

Not everyone loves the necks on these guitars, but that's the sort of detail that can be evened out and standardized with a proper reissue. There isn’t a guitar like it currently on the market or in Gibson’s lineup and there hasn’t been in years, so why not now?


1960s Gibson Melody Maker SG

Out of all of the guitars on this list, the lack of a proper reissue on these models is the most surprising. The '60s–style Melody Maker SG with the Vibrola is a legendary short–scale guitar from Gibson. Released in 1966 and discontinued by the end of 1970, the ‘60s MM SGs are arguably one of the most stylish and easy–to–play lower–tier guitars Gibson has ever put out.

The model came in a series of dynamic finishes, including Cardinal Red, Inverness Green, and the beloved Pelham Blue. The finishes stand out like the world’s greatest sore thumb and haven’t been used much by Gibson since the ‘60s (outside of the Custom Shop.)

These SGs are also distinctive in that they came with either one, two, or three single–coil pickups and featured a Vibrola instead of a Tune–o–matic bridge. Unfortunately, the shape in which you can find an original varies, and more than a few have suffered some tragic headstock breaks.

Though we’ve seen some more modern takes on the Melody Maker SG introduced earlier in this decade, Gibson has never released a true reissue model complete with a Vibrola.

Gibson SG–X, The Summer Beach Series

In the spirit of the SG Jr., Gibson introduced the budget–minded SG–X in 1998 out of the All–American Series. Full disclosure: this was the first serious guitar I’ve ever owned, and I put many hours into it before ultimately destroying it with an attempted scallop job.

At their core, these were one–pickup, bridge 500T humbucker–powered guitars with the only switch being a coil split. Regardless of whether you’re a Johnny Thunders–style rocker or just starting out, that’s all — or more — than you really need.

These models came in standard and limited edition colors known as the Summer Beach Series. At first glance, it’s hard not to be reminded of the colors being used on the newly announced Epiphone Les Paul SL, and rightfully so. As wow–inducing as those guitars’ colors are, they owe a lot to the Summer Beach series.

Whether it’s Caribbean Blue or Corona Yellow, the colors are refreshingly light and fun to see in person and radiate this ‘60s Batman vibe. It would be more than fitting to see this guitar come back as a budget option either by Gibson or Epiphone. With the aforementioned Les Paul Sl already earning rave reviews, maybe we'll see an SG treatment sooner rather than later.


Fender Strat/Tele Plus

After reestablishing themselves as a USA–based company with the opening of the Corona factory in 1987, Fender introduced the American–made Stratocaster and Telecaster Plus.

The Pluses were birthed the same year as the American Standard series and were the next level up in terms of features and quality at the time. Featuring a Wilkinson–made roller nut, two–point tremolo, locking tuners, and Lace Sensor pickups, these guitars were the deluxe workhorses for the time. Even today, they still hold up in terms of sound and playability.

There’s a cult worship among certain groups of players for the Plus series. Most famously, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead was known to be a Tele Plus devotee throughout much of Radiohead’s ‘90s peak and to the present.

Not only were the models well–made with features that went on to inspire other Fender classics (such as the Jeff Beck signature), they were undeniably striking and came in a wealth of rare finishes.

With Fender’s current flair for colors (and Radiohead), it’s strange that they haven’t brought not only these models but some of their rarer finishes — like Bahama Green, Dusty Rose, and Blue Burst — back into the fold.

Given that they were Fender’s first high–end model to come out of the Corona factory, reissuing the Plus series would be a nice tribute to those first chaotic years of renewed USA production.


Fender Musicmaster Bass

We'll round things out today with not another guitar, but a vintage bass: the Fender Musicmaster. In the spirit of the Gibson Marauder, the Musicmaster bass is one of the least revered and collectible Fenders ever made, and because of this, vintage examples remain relatively affordable. Recently, players (not collectors) are seeming to fall in love with these instruments, and you'll find the Musicmaster cropping on festival stages throughout the world.

Sure, these instruments are not going to give you the full experience if a 1962 Jazz Bass. But for a short–scale, it’s a capable entry point into the world of vintage Fender. They offer a plucky yet even tone, are easy and comfortable to play, and frankly, they just look rad.

Older Musicmaster basses are often found today with tuning and neck issues — issues that Fender has largely corrected in the years since the model’s initial run. So perhaps now is the right time to reissue the Musicmaster bass as the entry–level, US–made or MIM offering?

The closest Fender has ever gotten to a reissue is with the Squier Bronco and short–lived Vista series model, but there has never been a Fender–branded Musicmaster. It fits in well with everything else that Fender is doing at the moment in terms of promoting offsets, and it would more than likely satisfy at least a few players.

Is there a guitar or bass we didn't include that you'd love to see make a comeback? Let us know in the comments.


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