Airline Guitars were sold in Montgomery Ward back in the late 50s / early 60s in the US. They were made in Chicago by a few different manufacturers – Valco, Kay, and Harmony. The Airline amplifiers were made by Valco and Danelectro. The original Airline guitars were cheap plastic, or Res-o-Glass, shells around just a center block of wood the size of a 2×4 piece of wood. The rest of the plastic shell was hollow and put together as two pieces, front and back. The electronics where just glued to the wood block and glued to the inside of the plastic shell. They were very cheaply made. But they were super cool looking and had a unique sound (though you might have to fight it to play it).
Airline Guitars ended up in the pawn shops across America and seemed destined for disappearance. Then, suddenly it seemed, Airline Guitars were rediscovered by artsy and indy rockers such as David Bowie and Jack White. Now these old guitars are collectors items. They can sell for a lot of money, even though they usually aren’t very playable, especially for a gigging musician.
So, along comes Mike from Eastwood Guitars who is a collector of old Airlines and other old off-beat guitars. Eastwood is able to purchase the Airline Brand and keep the dream alive for Airline. These new airlines are well-designed, well-made, professionally manufactured guitars. Eastwood stays as close as they can to the originals that they reboot if not in specifications, then in spirit.
The Airline Map Guitar is an homage to the National Map guitars made by Valco in the early 60s. This particular model is a tribute to the NATIONAL Newport Guitar from 1962.
For example, when they designed the Map guitar, they used a chambered mahogany wood body as a way to create the feeling and tonal qualities one got from the old Res-o-glass guitars but with the reliability, quality, and richness of mahogany wood.
Each Airline Model has a story to tell. Shop Airline Guitars.
Here’s Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys playing a Black Map Guitar at Austin City Limits:
Features of the Airline Map Guitar
- Body: Tone Chambered Mahogany
- Colours: Seafoam Green, Red, Black, White, Sunburst
- Pickups: 2 Alnico Hot-10 Humbuckers
- Switching: 3-Way
- Controls: 2 Volume, 1 Tone
- Bridge: BIGSBY tremolo, Roller Bridge
- Neck: Bound Maple, Bolt-on
- Finger Board: Pau Ferro, Block Markers
- Scale Length: 24 3/4″ (628mm)
- Width at the Nut: 1 11/16″
- Hardware: Grover Style Nickel/Chrome
- Strings: D’Addario #10
- Unique Features: NATIONAL-Style Striped Pickguard