Joe Memphis – A little gem!

I was skeptical when Guitar Man Joe brought me this old Memphis short-scale guitar. It didn’t look like much—a vintage “el-cheapo” ‘70s electric. But once I got the Memphis cleaned up, wired up, and strung up, I was won over by its soulful tone and playability. 

Groovy tortie pick guard!

One Man’s Junk…

The Memphis was born a cheap guitar. The Internet claims these were mostly “beginner” guitars sold from the 1970s until well into the ‘90s. A look inside the body cavity revealed a plywood body. The tailpiece and bridge looked like thin aluminum. The bushings on the tuning pegs were plastic. Low budge!

…Another Man’s Treasure

The Memphis surprised me with its just-right action and chunky-but-smooth neck. The short, 24” scale made getting around the fretboard a breeze, and bending notes a pleasure. I don’t know if this is a genuine Bill Lawrence pick-up or a great replica, but it sounds amazing and soulful. 

Aged Gracefully

I was most impressed with the Memphis’s beautiful patina. The cream finish has aged to a smoky yellow, and the well-worn frets show this guitar was frequently played. This Memphis may have been inexpensive, but it was beloved, and brought hours of enjoyment to somebody! After recording over two hours of music with this instrument, I must say, it still has a lot to give! 

Check out Joe Memphis 4 Track”. This song is four clean tracks of Memphis: 1. A chunky rhythm. 2. A low bass line.  3. Chord progression. 4. Slide Guitar. No other instruments needed when you write with this little gem!


One Reply to “Joe Memphis – A little gem!”

  1. I recently picked up a vintage Memphis electric guitar at a garage sale in Biloxi Mississippi. It’s in beautiful original condition, believe to be late 70’s early 80’s model. I know nothing about it and your blog on Memphis Joe was the closest I’ve found to the one I own. Only this one is a double cutaway away with tobacco sunburst and the headstock is more strat like. I’d like to share pics with you if you would be interested?

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