Fifty Dollar Guitar

While many successful musicians create and perform with high end instruments, blues legend JJ Cale preferred playing a cheap guitar he gutted and hacked with components.


According to the Harmony Guitar Database, the original model was a Harmony H162.

As described in a post by Jesse Arthur in his early years, short on money, Cale faced a situation when his $50 Harmony acoustic guitar was damaged badly on a plane.

Being a practical man, J.J. took this as an opportunity to change everything he ever wanted to about the guitar. By the time he was done, he’d turned his old acoustic guitar into a cut-away electric with five pick-ups, seven knobs, countless wires, buttons and switches, four outputs, and a big red light. Pretty much everything except a hamster running around inside of a little wheel… He never bothered putting the back of the guitar on again so he’d have easy access for repairs and adjusting the action by means of a couple coins he had wedged into the thing. While it may not have been his intention, J.J. saw to it that if anyone wanted to copy his sound they were gonna have a heck of a time trying!

Hear how Cale describes his relationship to this guitar

The headstock of the original Harmony was featured on the cover of Cale’s Troubadour album.

"Cover - troubadour" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -
“Cover – troubadour” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –


J.J. Cale’s Fifty Dollar Guitar – American Standard Time (link)

J.J. Cale web site (link)

Fifty Dollar Guitar

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