Video: Kevin Burkett of Electrical Guitar Company Talks with Marc McElwee of Travis Bean

George Beauchamp’s “frying pan” lap steel of the early 1930s - the Rickenbacker Electro A-22 - might claim the title as the first mass production stringed instrument with an aluminum neck, but no company is more associated with aluminum neck innovation than Travis Bean Guitars.

When Travis Bean began working with Marc McElwee and Gary Kramer in 1972 in a shed behind Marc’s house, they developed a design principle that would serve as the backbone, figuratively and literally, for all the guitars they would build: use a single piece of milled aluminum for the neck and core of the body that would singlehandedly anchor the strings and pickups.

When Gary Kramer left the trio in 1975 to start Kramer Guitars (which also use a variation of aluminum neck design), Marc and Travis continued producing models under the Travis Bean Guitars badge in small batches (around 3,600 original Bean guitars and basses were built in the 1970s).

Bill Wyman with his Travis Bean Bas

Bill Wyman with his Travis Bean Bass

The progressive design caught the attention of some high profile players, including Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman (and even Keith Richards and Ron Wood for a time), who was pictured with his custom short scale TB2000 on the cover of Guitar Player magazine.

Players like Jerry Garcia, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Albini, Stanley Jordan and Stephen Malkmus, among many others, would eventually bring Travis Bean guitars on stage and into the limelight. Even players associated with more traditional models, such as Slash, Ace Frehley and Rick Nielsen, are known to have Travis Bean models in their arsenal.

Now, with Marc’s blessing and tutelage, Kevin Burkett is continuing the aluminum instrument lineage with his Electrical Guitar Company models. While EGC's manufacturing under the Travis Bean Designs moniker carries the torch of the brand's original guitars from the 1970s, EGC's flagship output aren’t sentimental Travis Bean reissues. For his own Electrical Guitar Company designs, Kevin has worked with many modern players across several genres - Duane Denison, Scott Kelly, Ken Andrews and King Buzzo - to develop designs that continue to push the aluminum build concept forward.

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