A customer sent over this Travis Bean to be completed a couple of months ago. One of the last made as far as I can tell and never completed by Travis. Pickups were MIA so he decided to install two Fender HBs instead. It took a little cutting and creative mounting but it all came together yesterday and the customer was elated. Finish by Wilkinson, fret work by Thomas James. Thought I'd share the results with you guys.
Can I ask why you didn't find whatever pickups this guitar should have come with and installed them instead? I had thought these guitars were quite rare, and I am surprised that the axe was modified like this. Those GIANT Fender logos are the oddest looking thing on the whole guitar too. Customer's wished can be odd things for sure eh?
I just researched these a bit. One of his guitars is up on EBAY right now for a B.I.N. of 7k., most others are in the 2k to 4k range. I would imagine that the pickups that Travis made (and stamped his name into the chrome top of) may be really hard to get, though there is a ton of gear for sale of the Travis Bean fan site. Here is the site by the way... http://www.travisbeanguitars.com/
The customer was on a limited budget and had been waiting several years to complete this guitar, so after trying in vain to locate original pickups within his budget he decided on the Fenders. I must say they sounded good and according to him, after owning an original Bean in his teens, it sounded just like his first one. It's never my policy to do things that cannot be reversed when alterations are undertaken, but I did have to remove a little aluminum from the pickup area, an unfortunate but reversible change with a little careful welding and milling. I mounted the pickups using silicone, also easily replaced if the original pickups ever materialize. You are correct that these Travis' are very rare and valuable but sometimes the customer dictates the path you take, for better or worse, but the joy on his face to see it done was worth the sacrifice.
Had he checked into how much original pickups would have been Eric? Thanks for the reply too. I figured that the customer was in charge of this one.Did you find out year of manufacture?
I believe he was looking for at least 3 years. Not easy to find. I guess the dating would be '78 or '79.
This guy may have, or know of a set of the pickups Eric..."Kevin Burkett at Electrical Guitar Company." Thanks for posting all this, it's nice to finally meet ya online here.
Nice to see that beast finished Eric! Great Job! This started with a unfinished body and neck bought separately. The body was finished by Pat Wilkins in LA. A custom color. I did frets and mated the neck to body. I was lucky to know Marc McElwee and Travis Bean (The main partners at TB back in the 70's). They both lived in my neighborhood at the time. Neither had pickups they wanted to part with. Marc was kind enough to supply the handmade bridge that fits into the body recess. It looks like a standard after market bridge, but is actually a very nice piece! The pickup search was a difficult and expensive path. We gave up after finding nothing less than something like $1200-$1500 for a set at that time. Marc was the one who suggested the Fender substitution. I move East and referenced Eric. Very happy to see it finally together. Eric is a top quality guitar guy!!! ... and a good friend.
Tom, Thanks for the referral and the kind words. Great to finally get the clear backstory on this piece. Had a few hurdles with the Fender pickups, as I'm not much of an electric guy, so I was afraid to cut away anymore of the pickup housings than comfort would allow. The one that really threw me for a loop was the forward poles on the neck pickup were grounding out to the aluminum body core, so I rewired twice before catching the problem. Fun for both Rick and I to finally see it finished.
btw ... I was a proponent for a set of Jason Lollar Regals for high quality and less F Logo, but so it goes...
If those are original (70's) Wide Range Humbuckers as opposed to those from current production, they are excellent pick-ups. I was surprised at how good they sound when I worked on some Tele deluxes. The guitars were pretty horrible, but the sound was wonderful (I'm too old to use onomatopoeia to describe sound).
They are now fashionable enough that both Lollar and Curtis Novak are making proper replacements (neither say Fender on them). Novak will rebuild contemporary WRHBs to original specs (quite a difference).