The Alternative Brand Spotlight is a brief overview of some of the worlds' most interesting guitar, bass, amplifier, and effects companies offering a worthy and unique alternative to the major brands dominating the world of musical instruments today.
What the brand Make:
Airline make some of the most unique 50's and 60's inspired guitars and basses available on the market today. Consisting of both original models and recreations of some classic and legendary instruments. Their catalogue is as substantial as it is brilliant.
The original guitar manufacturing company known as Airline had a short 10 year lifespan between 1958-68 manufactured through Valco Guitars in North America, and sold via mail order for that time period.
The essence and spirit of Airline was reignited in 2000 by the company Eastwood, a manufacturer already specialising in off-kilter reissues and reinventions from the 50's and 60's. Originally Eastwood brought back the legendary JB Hutto only, but due to it's huge success, not in any small part due to The White Stripes use of the guitar in defining their entire image, Eastwood extended the Airline range to include nearly the entire original catalogue, as well as a few unique inspired creations.
You'll love these if you're into:
These guitars are aimed at both 50's/60's enthusiasts and those looking for something completely different. The current catalogue features guitars commonly mahogany, glue neck, short scale, and often with twin humbuckers, favouring a Gibson style player looking for something with a less conventional body shape.
However, if you're able to dig up an original then the famous JB Hutto's hollow fibreglass body and oversized single coil pick-ups offers a much harsher and genuinely totally unique tone.
What's in the Range:
The Current range of guitars and basses available from Airline is too substantial to list in it's entirety, but some guitars worth a mention are the legendary JB Hutto, now appearing in the Airline catalogue as the '59 DLX. The 59 appears in many guises, made famous by Jack White in the early white stripes years, the guitar is available as a one, two or three pick-up model, as well as featuring as a DLX model, with extended tone controls, and as a three pick-up Bigsby fitted model.
If that wasn't enough Airline have recently introduced the Jetson Junior model; a one pick-up budget version of the '59 for just over half the price, that even comes in some incredible finishes, such as Ghoulie Green!
Eastwood's reincarnation of Airline has conventionalised the guitar range; the introduction of mahogany bodies, standard humbucking pick-ups, modern trussrods have all contributed towards making the current Airline series safe and palatable to the modern guitar player.
Today's Airlines are unique only in their appearance, a world away from the original models of the 50's and 60's. When Airline first hit the shelves they were made from Res-O-Glass (their name for fibreglass). The material gave the guitars a particularly harsh tone and unusual feel and response. This was compounded by their unusual oversized single coil pick-ups, traditionally 60's 'over-enthusiastic' amount of tone controls, and the lack of a modern trussrod.