Song Birds Guitar Museum. – Chattanooga Tennessee. – Review.

Whilst on a tour of the Deep South Gear Review took a slight detour to Chatanooga to visit the Song Birds Guitar Museum.

Inaugurated in March 2017 at the Historic Site of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Train Terminal Station, The Songbirds Guitar Museum boasts a one of a kind collection, of rare and vintage guitars, basses, mandolins and other stringed instruments.

The Player Jam Experience.

Having spent the night at the adjacent Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel so as we could mellow out from our long drive from Memphis and plentiful lunch at the Loveless Cafe, we arrived bright and early at the museum. We where cheerfully greeted and soon moved into the back room in which they had a temporary exhibit called “Six String Queens” in honour of pioneering female guitar players. This was done with the purpose of raising awareness for young girls to play guitar in a mostly male dominated music scene. Quite in sync to the theme my thirteen year old daughter was with me for the Jam Experience and Museum Tour.

Onto the experience  itself we had chosen 3 guitars each from the “Tier 1” experience  to try out.  These were;

·         1956 Les Paul Goldtop (Originally a Gretsch Duo Jet which was not available.)

·         1959 Fender Jazzmaster,

·         1956 Gibson Les Paul TV Special

·         1966 Gibson Firebird III (Non-Reverse),

·         1973 Fender Telecaster Thinline,

·         1967 Gibson 330TD

In order to have a better focus and not get too lost we had also brought along a notebook with a list of songs we both knew, and we could play together in order to maximise our time with the instruments.

It was very enjoyable, I must say the guitars were setup very well and sounded amazing, I was also lucky enough to be plugged into a Dumble Special Overdrive a rare amp well coveted by many guitar players and used by many big names such as Eric Clapton, Larry Carlton and Robben Ford to name a few.

I especially enjoyed the 56 Les Paul Goldtop with the P90 pickups, my daughter took a liking to the 73 Fender Telecaster Thinline.

The Exhibits.

The exbibits are set out in a timeline showcasing the earliest electric guitar designs and showing their evolution through time. All the guitars displayed are collector grade condition and many of the displays have multiple versions of each instrument show their progress through time.

Our favourite displays in the main exhibit area though were the custom colour collections, especially the Fender Basses, The Telecaster Thinlines of which they must had every colour ever made and also a stunning selection of Gibson Firebirds for which a wide variety of special order colours where shown.

Some of the many Exhibits on Display.

The Vault

The jewels of the collection though are kept in a climate controlled room appropriately. named “The Vault” which is available with the “All Access Tour”

The Vault encloses rare instruments such a 1949 Broadcaster protype, experimental guitars such as the Fender Marauder which never made production, original run Flying Vs and Explorers and other custom order  or rare instruments .

A rare 1949 Broadcaster prototype (Left), is quite an interesting piece, whilst it has a clear resemblance to the later production model, it did not feature a truss rod to help stabilise the neck. This was added later.  
Some of the Rare Guitars in "The Vault"

If you are a guitar/bass player or simply enjoy music a visit to the Song Birds is a must and much recommended.

By Ernest H Slade

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