The Eastwood ETB500: Tribute to a One-of-a-Kind Guitar

    By Lincoln Smith
    The Eastwood ETB500 is one of the most ambitious tribute models in the Eastwood Artists Series to date. Following some of the other models familiar to Deadheads, the ETB500 is a masterclass of Eastwood’s ability to walk a line between recreation and innovation. It perfectly demonstrates that changes can be made to make a model price-accessible without sacrificing a professional look, feel, and sound. 

    The Inspiration

    Photo: Travis Bean TB-500 #12

    While some Eastwood tribute models are based on production instruments of the past, the ETB500 is based on a singular guitar: a very specific, modified Travis Bean TB-500 owned by the front man of everyone’s favorite jam band. The guitar was, specifically, TB-500 #12.

    The original model was constructed with an aluminum neck and a rare solid magnolia body. The metal neck and relatively soft body material resulted in a sturdy but resonant model, complimented by three P-90 pickups. 

    Photo: Diagram of the Eastwood Wolf Guitars's OBEL Applied to Rig

    To add to its uniquity, its legendary owner developed a system called an OBEL, or “Onboard Effects Loop,” allowing signal from pedal effects to be run through the guitar before the master volume circuit and be easily toggled on and off from an onboard switch.  

    The OBEL made its onstage debut at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California in 1976, installed in TB-500 #12: the guitar that became Eastwood’s prime inspiration.

    The Eastwood ETB500

    Photo: Eastwood ETB500

    If you’re familiar with Eastwood’s history, you’ll know that the minds behind product development have always been drawn to unique guitars, and TB-500 #12 is no exception. 

    The goal from the outset was to recreate a version of TB-500 #12 in a format that is broadly accessible to the budgets of average guitarists, while sacrificing none of the tone or aesthetic of the original. This led to the creation of the Eastwood ETB500.

    Video: Eastwood ETB500 demo by RJ Ronquillo

    When considering the cost of materials, the answer became clear. The soft, but expensive to source magnolia body could be replaced by similarly dense mahogany, while the sturdy aluminum neck could be substituted for a wildly more affordable, rock-hard solid maple.

    As with any change in material, these edits have their effect on the tone of the instrument, but the minds at Eastwood cleverly compensated with the three obsessively designed custom P-90 single-coil pickups, developed specifically to match the tone of TB-500 #12 when applied in combination with the new materials.

    Photo: Eastwood ETB500's Silver-Painted Maple Headstock

    For the ETB500, Eastwood also included the OBEL system, unique to #12, making it possible to toggle an effects loop on or off with the simple flick of a switch.

    Other specs include a comfortable 24.75” scale length; individual on/off switches for each of the three pickups, allowing for any combination; and a fully adjustable S-style bridge, making adjustments and setups a breeze.

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    Check out the ETB500's listing on the Eastwood site to learn more and place your  order today!