For most guitarists, the Wurlitzer name stirs up memories of cool electric pianos or the old organ in your grandparents’ sitting room. But for about a year in the mid 1960s, the company produced an interesting line of electric guitars. Back in the ’90s, I found this guitar shown in the same small-town piano store where it originally sold in the ’60s! The whole shop was a time capsule from that bygone era—so much so that I initially thought the guitar was brand new!
It dates to 1966 and is called the Cougar model 2512 (the 2512 denotes the sunburst color). Cougars were also available in “Taffy White” and “Lollipop Red.” There were two other Wurlitzer models (the Wildcat and the Gemini) and the entire lineup was referred to as “The Wild Ones!”
These wild things were made in Neodesha, Kansas, at the Holman-Woodell factory, which made guitars from 1965 until around 1968. This factory produced some cool guitars, including the bizarre LaBaye 2×4 models made (somewhat) famous by Devo’s Bob Mothersbaugh.
The well-made pickups and tremolo were Holman-Woodell exclusives, produced in house. The Sensi-Tones single-coils sound good, but suffer a bit from a complex wiring scheme with many capacitors buried under the pickguard. The tones are definitely 1960s, albeit a little thin-sounding. Cougars were wired for stereo—they are among the first stereo guitars—so there is a fader knob as well as a 3-way pickup selector. The little rocker switches are preset tone controls that seem to aim for rock or jazz settings. Dano had me laughing quite a bit because he was commenting on how complex the electronics were, and how only a true nerd could have come up with the schematic!! These were ambitious guitars, both in design and function, with some nice components and unique designs. Unfortunately, they never sold well and were out of production after about a year.
8 thoughts on “Wurly Bird!! 1966 Wurlitzer Cougar Guitar”
Super nice. Is it heavy?
No, these are on the lighter side…
That makes it even nicer. Recently spent some time restoring a Splendor Les Paul from I guess the early 70’s. Its black with a white pickguard…. its like the Epiphone 100 or the lighter easier version Les Paul. Super fun to play… you know how some guitars seem to bring out creative playing?. Also been working on a Gomson SG Gibson copy that has turned out disappointing…. but another SG no name… super smaller body … more narrow is a really fine guitar…. all of these are plywood… or composite as they say… but so what?
I guess the sad thing is when a guitar turns out to be a parts guitar… but not all vintage guitars are good….
My 1964,63 Guyatone…. I think you have one also…. with the big headstock and sunburst is super good… love those teeny tiny frets.
Even the Gomson has super pick ups… maybe I will keep working on it… some we are better off passing on… but that takes a lot of ‘buying’ experience.
The Wurlitzer Guitar article brings back especially great memories to me, having worked in that factory from beginning to end. Howard Holman, Doyle Reading , Stan White,. I still have a few old original necks with the Wurlitzer logo and maybe an old Bass guitar. Great days back then . Later went with Doyle to the Kustom guitar factory in Chanute. Buddy Ross, a great guy!
Thanks for commenting, I’d LOVE to talk with you about the old days!
I have a Wurlitzer Cougar that my father gave me years ago. I took it recently to someone who said he could “fix it”. He rewired it so it no longer is stereo! He said one of the pickups didn’t work so he had to use a “work around”. He was happy with himself, but I am not. Any chance you may have, or have access to one or two of these pickups? I would love to re-wire it myself, now that I see the schematic online.
Thanks, and ;looking forward to a positive response!
Got a 1966. Cougar in perfect condition with perfect case looks brand new need to know extmated value asap please update
These usually sell for around $1000-$1300