First Class – 1961 Airline 62 A 7218 MOD (Valco) Guitar

The Airline brand was the exclusive name used by Montgomery Wards department stores. The name was used on amps made by Danelectro and Valco, and guitars made by Kay, Harmony, and Valco.  This particular model is Valco made guitar, and represents a transition of sorts for the Valco guitar line-up.

These models were tucked away in the 1961 Montgomery Wards department store catalog, in a tiny corner of the black and white pages.  With some serious Gibson Les Paul stylings, these Valco-made Airline guitars were billed as new “Slender Dual Solid Body Cutaways” and “Exclusively Styled” for Montgomery Wards.  Indeed, these models did carry some unique design queues such as the slim “Dual” pickguards and the line of knobs mostly resting above the pickups.

The bodies on these guitars are mode of solid wood, and man are these ever SOLID!  It’s a heavy piece of lumber here, and these Airlines don’t have the no mar finish of the Dual and Triple Tones, don’t have fiberglass bodies, and don’t have a plastic cover with relief holes underneath.  The whole design here makes for a darker sounding instrument, but still beautiful sounding nonetheless.  The finish on these is called sunburst mahogany, although I’m not too sure the wood used is mahogany?

The necks on these are wonderfully chunky, and the neck attachment is the typical one screw connection, with the other screw acting as a neck angle set screw.  There’s no truss rod in these necks, but there is a large metal core that runs through these clubs, and with good care these necks hold up pretty well.  Frets were nickel silver (but tiny), and the pickups are the wonderful Valco single coils that just kick butt.

Check out the gold sparkle Kluson tuning buttons!!  The original logo on these was an oval-ish sticker that almost always gone.  That logo was only used for a year or two (I added this replacement).  This particular triple pickup version cost $134 in its day, and a “Deluxe” version cost $199 and came with a Bigsby, white finish, and relief holes drilled in the back, covered with a plastic cover.  There was also a double pickup version ($99) and a single pickup version ($69).

This model sort of continued through 64, but the body became thinner in 62 and the overall feel wasn’t the same.  Not worse, not better, just not the same.  By 1965 the famous Airline “Jetson” shaped guitars were introduced but they were still made of wood.  Although for $249 you could’ve bought the very first fiberglass guitar offered by Montgomery Wards!!  White, with three pickups and a Bigsby! High class man!

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