You are here

The DIY Musician: What the Heck Is This Freakish “Jeff Craig Line” Amp-in-Guitar?

The DIY Musician: What the Heck Is This Freakish “Jeff Craig Line” Amp-in-Guitar?

Behold the Jeff Craig Line. We might be looking at the world’s first amp-in-guitar combination.

It was most likely built somewhere in the 1950s. Possibly a prototype, this guitar is loaded with speakers, batteries and a solid-state guitar amp—all covered with textured paint.

The body is shaped like a human torso. A brass plaque that’s etched “The Jeff Craig Line” is glued to the face (No luck finding it on Google). The strings are anchored with a trapeze tailpiece similar to old Stella acoustics. The pickup appears to be a Harmony Stratotone “Hershey bar” pickup.

A second brass plaque at the bridge says “Allied Artists of America – Patent Pending.” From what I could research, this is a society that promotes and funds artists in the New York area. Perhaps they gave Jeff Craig funding to create this guitar.

What makes this really unique is the stuff hidden behind the removable back cover. This guitar has a built-in amplifier that was powered by an old dry cell battery!

freak2.jpg

The innards of this axe show a neck-thru-body design (We think they body might be Masonite or fiberglass). There are two speakers wired up to an internal solid-state amp. The original inputs even allow for an additional microphone (!). The owner removed the old, rotting dry cell battery to protect the instrument and had a luthier wire it to play straight to a regular guitar amp.

freak3.jpg

Some additional notes:
· The body is painted in a stone spray finish.
· The headstock has another brass plate with no writing.
· The bridge appears to be fashioned from a Stella acoustic floating bridge (rosewood with fretwire running across the length)
· The neck is all original. It’s a standard guitar neck shape (not lap steel) and runs the length of the body.
· All parts used seem to be from the 1950s or before.

The Jeff Craig Line amp-in-guitar is owned by collector Jerry Duncan and is on display at Guitars on George, 1121 N. George St., York, Pennsylvania. (BTW: This is one of those magical mom-and-pop guitar stores that is packed to the rafters with hundreds of guitars and all kinds of delicious gear. If you plan on visiting, you’ll need to budget a couple of hours.)

Does anyone have an idea what this thing is?

Shane Speal is the "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. Hear the music, see the instruments and read about his Cigar Box Guitar Museum at ShaneSpeal.com. Speal's latest album, Holler! is on C.B. Gitty Records.

The Ladies Rock at the 2015 She Rocks ASCAP Showcase