Marketing in the music world has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Where today you’ll find gear pedalled through a hierarchy of digital outlets and near-unfathomable systems of communication and subsequent hype, the world of gear ads was fairly simple in the 1960s.
Celebrity endorsements, clever word play and psychedelic graphics – gear ads in the 60s were absolute gold. Here are some classics.
Newspaper and magazine ads made up the bulk of product promotion back then, driven by catchy copywriting and eye-catching visuals. Reflecting on these vintage instrument ads is actually hugely entertaining, especially in retrospect. When you consider that, these days, there are so many resources telling you what to buy and what not buy, the actual act of buying a piece of gear can be excruciatingly disorienting, shopping for gear in the 60s seems like a dream. So here’s to a simpler time and some amazing vintage instrument ads.
Fender’s “You Won’t Part With Yours Either” Campaign
This has to take the cake as the all-time best instrument ad campaign. Bob Perine spearheaded the marketing for Fender between 1957 and 1969 and helped build the company from a regional guitar maker to a global phenomenon. His “You Won’t Part With Yours Either” campaign was a work of art.
The Maestro Fuzz Tone
The Maestro Fuzz Tone was introduced in 1962 and is widely considered the godfather of all fuzz boxes. Described in an ad from 1962 as “guttural, mellow, raucous, tender raw” it was a revolutionary piece of gear, though the dude in the ad is a far cry from the maestro who put it to good use in 1965.
Gibson’s 1967 Epiphone Riviera Promo
This ad for the Epiphone Riviera was released in 1967, the same year that The Doors released The Doors, Jimi Hendrix put out Are You Experienced? and the Beatles birthed Sgt. Pepper’s, so the psychedelic influence is entirely understandable, even if the copy is not.
Marshall SupaFuzz and SupaWah
Puns and word play were the bread and butter of advertising copywriters in the 1960s, and the marketing team at Marshall were all over it.
Vox’s Original Wah Pedal Ad
Could this ad be any more 60s ultra-hip: plaid stovepipes, suede chelsea boots, a Vox Phantom and to top it off an “amazing new wah-wah pedal”.
Vox’s “Longhairs” campaign
Vox absolutely nailed it with celebrity endorsements in the 1960s including The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, the Dave Clark Five and the Searchers. It’s safe to say this ad would have sold a shit-tonne of AC30s.
Silvertone’s 1448 Amp In a Case Ad
Vox may have had The Beatles, but Silvertone had Nancy Sinatra for their gear ads. The ‘amp in a case’ idea was one of the brands more obscure ventures, one that never really took off in a massive way. But that’s not to say the marketing wasn’t bang-on.
Just a Dude Sitting on a Jag Playing a Jag
Fender at it again.
Zildjan’s Mickey Hart Gong Ad
Gongs were all the rage in the 60s with bands like Pink Floyd and The Grateful Dead putting them to good use on apocalyptically epic records like A Saucerful of Secrets and Anthem of the Sun. Mickey Hart of The Grateful Dead actually featured on a Zildjian ad for their gong range.
Gibson’s EB-1 “Long Lean Mama” Ad for Guitar Player Magazine
This ad for Gibson’s classic EB-1 appeared in Guitar Player magazine in 1969 and it’s pretty…weird: “Your long lean, Mama is comin’ back to you. She’s supposed to be retired but the cats won’t let her quit, this long, lean Mama of ours.”