Magnatone Typhoon X-20 Solid Body Electric Guitar (1965)

Magnatone  Typhoon X-20 Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1965)

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Item # 7154
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Magnatone Typhoon X-20 Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1965), made in Torrance, Ca, serial # 200727, black sparkle lacquer finish, Appalachian poplar body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard.

The Magnatone Typhoon is a very interesting 1960's solidbody, among the last to carry the by-then already venerable California brand. This guitar was the top model of a new line launched in summer 1965. Dubbed the "Incomparable Magnatone Starstream Slimline (of) personalized electric guitars" they are sleek little twangers, very Fender inspired but with a lot of original engineering. This X-20 Tornado was the most deluxe of the bunch, atop a series of other models with storm-inspired names. It's fairly certain that well-known California designer Paul Barth was involved in the Starstream design-the instruments share a "family resemblance" to guitars he marketed under the "Bartell" name. Whatever their pedigree, these are well made, light, handy and quite good sounding guitars.

The X-20's slim, contoured body is rather "Stratty" in shape while the bridge, vibrato and electronics are more in the Jazzmaster/Jaguar mold. The body edges are smoothly contoured, with a deeper center blending into a tapered edge. The neck is maple with a rosewood fingerboard; The quality of workmanship is to a higher standard than many 1965-era guitars. "American made, by American craftsmen" was a Magnatone selling point. The single-sided headstock is fitted with strip Kluson Deluxe tuners with safe-T-slot posts. One nifty innovation is a screwed-down metal nutpiece fitted over the strings forcing them down over the zero fret, an interesting and original idea for the period that works quite well. The guitar also features a very well-designed tilt neck adjustment, similar in concept to what Fender, Danelectro and Baldwin used but actually more functional than any of them.

The floating bridge has blade on the bottom that rocks in a "V" shaped piece of metal sunk into the body and individual saddles adjustable for intonation. The trem design is indebted to Fender's Jazzmaster; Magnatone reversed the action of the spring and replaced the locking button with a flange. This "Lever Lock" facility was heavily touted, but functionally nothing Fender hadn't offered. The single coil pickups are similar in size to the Rickenbacker "toaster units, with a metal outer casing and white plastic center. These are quite good sounding and were unique to the Magnatone Starstream, but very similar to Bartell units produced by Paul Barth in California. The electronics rig is wired to a top-mounted laminated white plastic pickguard with the "Magnatone" logo cut through to the contrasting lower level, a nice cosmetic touch. Although the control layout appears straightforward it is oddly complicated. The volume knobs are not for individual pickups, but each controls a separate circuit selected by the upper bout switch. The lower switches are not simple on/off selectors, but include tone-modifying resistors and combine the pickups in sometimes unexpected ways! The 3-pickup Typhoon is unique in mounting a center coil with a different magnet structure and without adjustable poles. This is not selectable individually but creates several in-or-out of phase combinations with the other two. Magnatone described it thusly: "The Typhoon's unique pickup switching system provides the guitarist with eight pre-set rhythm and eight pre-set lead tones which provide 16 combinations of sound and encompass a broad spectrum from twangy 'rock & roll' to deep, muted jazz." The range of tones IS impressive, ranging from some very funky out-of-phase combinations to a remarkably deep resonant purr for such a "surfy" instrument. These final Magnatone designs are some of our 1960's favorites and a great value in a vintage American-made solidbody. This one sports a striking black sparkle finish not unlike many period Silvertones and is definitely a California hot rod!
 
Overall length is 39 7/8 in. (101.3 cm.), 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 7/16 in. (3.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.). The finish on this guitar lot of fine checking (very typical for this model), some small dents and dings and chips but overall is not heavily worn. The pickguard has a repair under the knobs where there are multiple cracks; everything has been cleanly sealed up and reinforced from beneath but is still visible. Otherwise all original and complete, a very nice playing and sounding example! Overall Excellent - Condition.