In the late 1970s, Gibson geared up to produce its Heritage 80 line of reissue Les Pauls (VG, February ’04).

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Cropper put Fender’s resissue of their 1952 Telecaster through its paces and concluded, “It’s fantastic; it’s a really good guitar… I play real hard, and I’ve had trouble with a lot of Teles because the neck’ll move around on me.

This new one doesn’t bend nearly as much; I can play it hard and it’ll stand up.” Cropper had played on numerous hit records with a ’50s Esquire given to him by fellow Stax session man and Blues Brother Donald “Duck” Dunn.

And Yamaha designed its hybrid of the Gibson SG and Les Paul, dubbed the SG-2000.

Carlos Santana was regularly seen playing his Yamaha in concert and at high-profile gigs such as his 1978 appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” But American manufacturers were slow to respond.

“That’s a great guitar, but the new one sounds as good to me.

That Esquire isn’t retired yet, but it’s been left in its case for awhile since I got this new one.” Delays And Bad Ads Cropper’s ’52 reissue was either a prototype or one of the first off the assembly lines.

But both manufacturers, at the time mere cogs in large corporate wheels, all but ignored them.

Since being purchased by CBS in 1965, Fender had radically modified the Stratocaster and Telecaster models on which its existence was essentially based.

Their first step was to bring in Dan Smith from Yamaha and make him head of Fender’s guitar division.