THE "ORIGINALS" - MAGNATONE MARK V
by Mike Robinson
Magnatone guitars are pretty rare. They were made in very small quantities from the mid 50's and into the late 60's. The Magnatone brand is more commonly known for their highly collectable vintage amplifiers, featuring their unique "true vibrato" system. As for their guitars, the 1950's models are the most collectable. They were the Mark III, Mark IV and the Mark V. The Mark V was the best of the bunch and was designed by Paul Bigsby. It featured his widely used vibrato tail piece. Here is a photo on the right:
The Mark IV and Mark V models were semi-hollowbody with a through neck, making the guitar lighter than you might expect, and also quite resonant. They featured dual Alnico VI pickups and the Mark IV was a trapeze tail instead of the Bigsby. Current vintage price range for the Mark IV to the Mark V ranges from $4,500-$8,000. They are a unique piece of guitar history as they link two early electric guitar brands, Bigsby and Magnatone. If you have one, hold on to it! Given the low production volumes on these 1950's models, their value is sure to rise.
In October 2013, Eastwood Guitars will start shipping their tribute to the Magnatone Mark V, called the Marksman 5. We have replicated it in almost every detail, but as always, made some solid improvements over the original. The guitar has a tone-chambered mahogany body to keep it lightweight and a set mahogany neck for solid sustain. The custom designed EW Alnico SC90's are bright and glassy clean but also respond very well with distortion. We also upgraded to a modern adjustable roller bridge making this one of the best Eastwood replicas ever made!
Check out this demo from RJ Ronquillo on the Eastwood replica Marksman 5.