Clifford Travis Bean (21 August 1947 - 10 July 2011, aged 63) was an American luthier and machinist from California.
In 1974, he partnered with Marc McElwee and Gary Kramer to start Travis Bean Guitars, which made high-end electric guitars and basses featuring machined aluminum necks. This was an unusual design, departing from more traditional wood necked instruments. The aluminum center section ran through the instrument body, with the pickups directly mounted to the aluminum. The majority of these instruments featured solid koa wood bodies and humbucker pickups. Though praised for their sound, the use of aluminum necks also made Travis Bean guitars heavier than other electric guitars. Models included the Artist, Standard, Wedge (rare), and TB500 (rare) with single coil pickups.
Kramer and Bean parted ways in 1975, with the former starting Kramer Guitars. The first series of Kramer guitars were redesigned aluminum-necked instruments but utilizing wooden inserts along the back of the neck to cut down on weight and provide a more traditional feel; these modifications also avoided patent infringement of Travis Bean's original neck design.
Around 3,600 guitars and basses were produced between 1974 and 1979.
In the late 1990s, Bean teamed with master machinist/designer B. Kelly Condon and produced a run of 24 high end, custom instruments. These guitars and basses were aluminum-neck instruments, each machined from a 125-pound billet of 7075 aluminum.
The pans weighed just over 4 pounds when finished and all were serial numbered and identified inside the pan.
A documentary called "Sustain" about Travis Bean guitars and the individuals that built these historic instruments and the players that play them (past and present) was reportedly in development in 2009.
- TB500 (Budget Model) - 351 produced
- TB1000S (Standard) - 1422 produced
- TB1000A (Artist) - 755 produced
- TB2000 (Standard Bass) - 1020 produced
- TB3000 (Wedge) - 45 produced
- TB4000 (Wedge Bass) - 36 produced
- Steve Albini of Shellac - plays TB500 and Wedge
- Sean Bean of Boston-based Bad History Month plays a TB1000S.
- Matthew Bolger of The Redneck Manifesto - plays TB1000S & TB1000A
- Duane Denison of The Jesus Lizard - played TB1000S (Sea Foam Green)
- Roger Fisher of Heart - played TB1000A
- Ace Frehley - Played a black TB1000S in the '75 KISS ALIVE era.
- Vincent Gallo plays a TB1000A, TB500, and TB3000 Wedge model
- Jerry Garcia - played TB1000A and TB500
- John Haughm of Agalloch - plays TB1000S (natural koa) and TB1000A (black)
- Rubberduck Jones, a Finnish punk rock guitarist, who is most well known as the guitarist of several Pelle Miljoona related bands, like Pelle Miljoona & 1980 and the Suspenders.
- Stanley Jordan - plays TB1000S
- Alex Kane of AntiProduct, on the recommendation of bandmate Nino Del Pesco, was asked by Travis to test an early guitar prototype during a gig at the Garage. It was the first, and possibly only, time a guitar from the new run was played during a live performance.
- Greg Lake
- Keith Levene of Public Image Ltd - played Wedge and TB1000S
- John MacLean of Six Finger Satellite
- Stephen Malkmus of Pavement owns a TB1000A
- Efrim Menuck
- Ceylon Mooney of Pezz
- Colin Newman of Wire played a TB1000A during the mid-1980s.
- Rick Nielsen - Played a red and black TB1000S. Both pictured in his book Guitars of The Stars.
- Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))) plays TB1000S
- Buzz Osborne of Melvins
- Joe Perry - played Wedge and TB1000S (black and silver)
- Yannis Philippakis of Foals uses a TB1000S (natural and black) and black TB500
- Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth - played TB1000A (several were stolen in July 1999) Also played TB1000S "bullseye" (which was destroyed) and TB1000S
- Keith Richards - played a TB1000 on the Rolling Stones 1975 tour and a custom made 5-string TB1000A during the 1979 New Barbarians tour. Used a black TB500 during the Rolling Stones 1978 Saturday Night Live performance.
- Brian Robertson played a TB1000A during his time with Thin Lizzy
- Billy Rowe Jetboy (band)
- Kelly Ryall played a TB1000 during early High Pass Filter shows.
- Ty Segall plays a black TB500
- Kevin DeFranco of Super Unison Plays a TB1000A
- Garry Shider of Parliament Funkadelic
- Slash played a TB1000S live when he was still with Guns N' Roses. Only known use was on the song "Bad Obsession"
- Ron Wood - played a TB2000 on the Rolling Stones 1975 tour, a TB1000A and a white TB500 during the 1979 New Barbarians tour.
- Mili? Vuka?inovi? of Vatreni Poljubac during whole career.
- Rich Zoran of Bacchus Lotus played TB1000A in the early 1980s.
- David Lebon of Seru Giran(argentinian rock band) played a TB1000S, natural finish
- ^ Douglas Martin, Travis Bean Aluminum Guitar Maker Dies at 63, New York Times. Retrieved on 2011-9-26.
- ^ Moseley, Willie (January 1999), "Travis Bean Interview-Metal Machine Music - The Next Phase Archived 14 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine", Vintage Guitar Magazine
- ^ Wheeler, Tom. American Guitars: An Illustrated History. New York: Harper & Row, 1982, pp. 351-352
- ^ Travis Bean Patent. Pat.No. 3,915,049 Issued: 10/28/75.
- ^ Travis Bean Documentary - Sustain. Retrieved on 2009-12-24.
- ^ Electrical Audio Steve Albini's Studio showing two TB3000 Wedges and one of his TB500 guitars
- ^ We Still Got It video on YouTube music video showing the guitar
- ^ The Jesus Lizard Photo from 7/19/98.
- ^ Modern Guitars TB1000A reaches $312,000.
- ^ Guitar Site Jerry Garcia TB1000A mention.
- ^ Maverick Music Jerry Garcia TB500 mention.
- ^ Stanley Jordan's Magic Touch Album Cover with his TB1000S.
- ^ SPIN magazine At home with Stephen Malkmus.
- ^ Woody Tone Photo of Joe Perry with Black TB1000S
- ^ Foals Yannis playing Black TB500.
- ^ The Sonic Youth Gear Guide. Retrieved on 2008-09-25.
- ^ Sonic Youth Lee Ranaldo's Red Bullseye TB1000S.
- ^ Tim Midgett with TB4000 Wedge
- ^ Tim Midgett with TB1000S modified to Baritone
- ^ Tim Midgett with TB2000 Bass
- ^ Smoke Stack Lightnin Bill Wyman bio mentioning Travis Bean bass
- ^ Hard Rock Memorabilia Photo of Bill Wyman TB2000