If you look to your left, you will see a guitar. If you remember or bother to reference my previous post on this subject, you may realize that this is not the Squier Affinity Stratocaster that I refinished and upgraded recently. If you’re familiar with guitars, then you already knew that without me having to say a blessed thing. No, what we have here is a Peavey Horizon II, circa 1984. I stumbled across this gem in an “antique mall.” In this case, a flea market with delusions of grandeur. The price was on the ridiculously low side, but I resisted. Did I need another guitar? Of course not. I didn’t “need” the Stratocaster I bought and restored recently, never mind this one. So I left the guitar where it was…but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
A little background—Peavey is a local company, or rather it was local to me. I grew up about twenty miles from Meridian, MS, where the Peavey company was and is located. A close friend of mine worked for them right out of High School. They started making guitar amps in the 1960’s and that’s primarily what they’re known for. When Fender and others began offering guitar and amp combos in the 1970’s, Peavey followed suit to remain competitive, creating their own guitar line. They also introduced several innovations: they were the first guitar company to use computer-controlled routers to create their guitar bodies to exacting tolerances. They were the first to cut the neck stock lengthwise and re-glue with the grain running in opposite directions for strength, a trick other guitar companies soon copied. They wired their controls so the player could switch from single-coil to humbucker mode on the same pickup just by adjusting the tone control. They were, quite simply, ahead of their time and to this day remain some of the most versatile guitars ever made.
Enough about that, and most of it I didn’t know then anyway. (I’m a writer. I research, and that’s the only writer-related connection I’m making today) I just knew that the Horizon was a very good quality USA*-made guitar, created and manufactured not twenty miles from my home town. It had a couple of small dings, a few scratches on the pickguard, and one missing screw on the center single-coil. Otherwise, it was in great shape for its age (The Horizon IIs were made from 1983-1986, and SN# on mine suggests 1984). I went back and bought it, not even knowing if the wiring and/or controls were fried. I needn’t have worried—the Horizons, like pretty much all Peavey guitars from that period, were built like tanks, and unless they’ve been abused they tend to age very well. All I’ve done to this antique is to replace that missing screw, then clean the guitar and restring it. All the switches work and it plays great.
So now I have three guitars. In our house, the rule is simple: One is a single, two is a pair, three is a collection. So it’s officially a collection. And I still can’t play worth a darn. But I’m working on that.
And while we’re on this subject, any other beginning/student guitar players out there, do yourself a favor. Because they were built like tanks, and because they are not named Fender or Gibson, you can still find Peavey T-series and Horizons for not a lot of money (Though probably more than I paid. I got lucky). But if you’re still jonesing for a USA-made Fender Stratocaster but can’t swing the $$$ price, do yourself a bigger favor—check out the Peavey Predator.(Edited to add: The Peavey Falcon is another in the same class). It’s a pure strat-style guitar, and you can find ones from the early ‘90s that were US-made and in great shape, play beautifully, and you’ll probably pay less than you would even for a new Squier. And, frankly, have a much better guitar. At least until the secret’s out and the prices start to better reflect their value. The Wolfgang EVH series (co-created with Eddie Van Halen and named after his son) and the HP (Hartley Peavey) signature series already regularly go in the $1000-$2000 range. The clock is ticking.
*I know, I know, but I have to ask your indulgence for this one itsy bit of national chauvinism. The electric guitar was invented here, and the USA made and still does make some of the best electric guitars in the world.