2005 Eastwood Airline 2P DLX, as made famous by Jack White
Seven Nation Army. The song that earned The White Stripes a worthy Number 6 place in Rolling Stone's Top 100 Songs of the 00s - and launched a thousand football (and political) chants. This perfectly space-age, perfectly retro guitar.
Well, to be entirely honest, Jack White played an original 1964 Montgomery Ward Airline J. B. Hutto Res-O-Glass. Valco produced the Airline range of guitars from 1958 - 68. These were the days when your catalogue and bricks-and-mortar store was the place to go to buy your guitar - think Sears, Macy's, JCPenney. In this case, retailer Montgomery Ward, which had sole distribution rights to Airline products.
You can see exactly why Jack White would choose it. The perfect fit with The White Stripes chosen colour palette. A striking and unique shape - nobody else was playing anything else like this at the time. An unusual, if accident-prone, build - a hollowed fibreglass body (with rubber-edge strip to limit damage when dropped). And, its recognition of one of the more obscure Chicago bluesmen - the more obscure the better - J. B. Hutto, who was often seen playing one in the 60s.
This model isn't a perfect match to the original, nor as faithful a recreation as Eastwood's later release, the Airline 59 2P. But the differences are in the detail, not in the overall look, feel and sound. Used throughout The White Stripes years, so as versatile as the range of songs that came out of those years. All you need to do is: dress head-to-toe in red, line up one of the hundreds of Seven Nation Army backing tracks, strap this on, crank up the volume, and play. And you can guarantee everyone will know about it, from the Queen of England to the hounds of hell.
Eastwood Guitars is just a wonderful and inspiring company. Founded in 2001, with a vision to be "curators of musical inspiration, reviving amazing guitars from the edges of rock history that, as cool as they were, couldn't create or sustain commercial success." And then, making them better. And they've got very good indeed at it. Just go to their website and immerse yourself in a world of 60 or more models, at once retro, at once modern. Unique guitars recreated and improved for the 21st century.
Eastwood agreed the rights to make the Airline models in 2004. So, this one, from 2005, is one of the very first off the production line. The later 59 2P may tick more of the boxes when it comes to comparison against the J B Hutto: the rubber body-edge strip, the single-coil pick-ups, the metal toggle-switch plate. But as a first run goes, this is very special, in looks and sound.
Both models share the tone-chambered (partially hollowed) body, in mahogany. Clearly, Eastwood recognised the challenges with the fragility of the fibreglass body. You can't see the hollowing without lifting the scratchplate or pick-ups, but it's definitely there, giving you the option for greater tonal sustain and feedback as you crank it up.
There's plenty of warmth, as always, with the humbuckers, but also plenty of punchy brightness at the bridge position. The Alnico-10s were designed to create a more vintage sound (hence their name today, Vintage Voiced Double Coil (VVDC)). So, there's loads of tonal range to be had out of this guitar.
With its narrow C-profile neck and low set-up, this is a faster guitar to play than you'd expect. And, of course, if recreating that slide sound is your thing, the relatively flat 15" radius gives you lots of scope for across the board slide playing.
A lovely versatile guitar. It may be Jack White that brought the original back to attention in the early 00s, but bless Eastwood for making it available to the rest of us. They're based in Canada, by the way. Which is of no particular relevance except it allows me now to say: "I'm going to Wichita" (which is a long way from Canada, it seems).
See & Hear It In Action
Hear and see it in action with ProGuitarShop.com: A great showcase for the range of tones - and ease of playability - of this guitar. Particularly in clean modes, from the warmth of the neck humbucker to the brightness of the bridge. Lovely stuff.
Seven Nation Army (2003): There's probably guitar shops that include Seven Nation Army in their "No Stairway" list. But this is a website, and this is the original and most famous outing for that riff, so no rules needed. Enjoy!
Sources & Links
Eastwood Guitars: Immerse yourself in the full range of Eastwood's recreations and creations here. If you love those neglected, beautiful and unique guitars, then this is the place for you.
Love For The Airline 2P DLX on Ultimate Guitar: Not just love, but a lot of love. Best of all, the general feeling that this is a far more versatile guitar than any expectations you might have of a 60s reproduction.
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