Magnatone Guitars!

New for Fall 2013, a complete guide to Magnatone guitars and the stories behind them!

1938-1960 Steel Guitars

1956-1963 Bigsby/Barth Era

1964-1966 Starstream Era


Tony Jerome

Tony Jerome was a professional guitar player who Estey hired as a consultant and as Estey's national director of music. Jerome's previous professional experience included session, television, and touring performances with with Tex Beneke, Lionel Hampton, and the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra.


After Estey bought Magnatone, amplifier sales in the accordion market had been good, but they were unable to continue the popularity among guitarist that they once held in the fifties. In 1963, Estey set about re-establishing their name for the guitar market.

In this effort, they designed and launched a new amplifier line, the Custom Series, and started to make arrangements to design a new guitar line. To help better reach the guitar market, Estey hired Tony Jerome, as National Director of Music.

Jerome toured the country a good bit in 1963 and 1964, promoting Magnatone guitars and amps at personal appearances, clinics, and performances.

At one point, in effort to better understand the growing youth market, Jerome and Estey chief engineer Tony Price spent several evenings walking around Greenwich Village talking with young musicians about the sounds they wanted out of guitar amps. Jerome also came up with the name Starstream and Starlite for the 1964 guitar and amp line releases.

Following his relationship with Estey, Jerome did similar promotional work for Hagstrom guitars.

Jerry Roberts, a Nashville musician, shared the following story of a chance meeting he had with Jerome:

A chance encounter with an outstanding steel string player

"In 1964 give or take a year I ran into Tony Jerome at the "DJ Show in Nashville" Tony was operating a hospitality suite and was demonstrating guitars and amps. I was about 16 and thought I was something special since I could play "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" at a reasonably brisk tempo. When Tony saw me come in with a classical guitar case, he asked me to play. When I started playing Recuerdos, within just a few measures he joined right in doubling the melody with a single string flat-picking tremolo, matching my tempo perfectly. As we played along he continued the single string tremolo but would harmonize a third or a sixth away from the melody I was playing. I was most impressed.

"When we finished the tune I made some stupid comment that it was too bad it is not possible to do the entire classical guitar solo with a flatpick, since it involves not only the repeated upper note but also three lower notes played as an arpeggio with the thumb. I guess he took that as a challenge. He looked down and saw the printed music sitting in my open guitar case, and asked if he could see it. He sat it up on the cocktail table and proceed to read it perfectly. He still played with only the flatpick but hit all the notes a classical player would use thumb and three fingers to hit. I just turned the pages in amazement. I was now more than just impressed. I left thinking that there is a wider world of great guitarists out there for me to hear. I never saw Tony again and often wondered what happened to him. I have often wondered if he was familiar with Recuerdos and was having some fun with me. Still very impressive to play it with a pick whether he knew it from before or not.





Except where otherwise noted, text/written content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Creative Commons License

web mechanics: text-to-html with Markdown, css handled with Blueprint, glued together with PHP