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October 24, 2016

Six Defining Pieces of Sixties Gear

Arguably the most culturally defining and tumultuous era of our nations history, the 1960s was such a cluster of events it's near impossible to summarize in one article.  Even CNN’s 10-part miniseries “The Sixties” got flack for glossing over a few things. We won't even pretend to try.

But while the planet was busy tilting on its polar axis, the music world reveled in its new found freedom. Blame it on sex, point a finger at drugs, but the real catalyst of the proverbial trinity is, of course, largely due to a daring music industry and artists at the peak of their game.

So as you sit back and peruse our finely curated collection of "vintage gear porn,” pour a sip on the concrete and take a moment to appreciate the contributions of our forefathers. 

print add circa 1969

The (Fender) Rhodes Electric Piano

While originally intended for educational use, the CBS-era Fender Rhodes took to rock music immediately. Known for its smooth tone, tactile response, and ease of expressibility, the Rhodes continues to permeate nearly every genre of music to this day.  Still widely available on, this 100-pound ship anchor is generally reserved for local pickup only.  


print add circa 1965

Fuzz and the birth of guitar effects

The electric guitar blossomed from its constrained cocoon of traditional ’50s tone, emerging as a psychedelic modulating butterfly. Effects makers unleashed a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers…and fuzz like we’d never heard before! From Roland’s bowel-shifting Bee Baa to Fender’s soul-destroying Fender Blender, the guitar was armed for militant take over.  While most of these originals are as common as tan M&M's, their legacy lives on in our boutique pedal collection



print add circa 1961

Moog Music Inc.

As if gifted with advanced technology from a long-dead race of extra terrestrials, Moog graciously and wisely brought a sea change that forever changed the face of music. The accessible and intuitive Mini Moog, released in 1970, drove the stake in further still.  With this power comes great responsibility.  There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of a synthesizer binge.



print add circa 1958

Fairchild 670 and Compression

Though invented in the decades prior, convincing engineers to invest in a $600 piece of gear in 1958 (over $5000 today) was a difficult sell. Go ahead and yawn, but nearly every album recorded after 1960 would not have been possible without The Fairchild 670 and the compressors that followed . Grace Slick’s whispery prophesies, John Lennon’s growling angst, you have the Fairchild to thank.  


print add circa 1969

Big-Ass Guitar Amps

While the crowds grew and egos swelled, the amplifiers followed suite. If your 1960s parents were unhappy with your Fender Champ disturbing their canasta game, the Marshall Super Lead was about to open a rift into Satan's powder room.  


print add circa 1971

Even Bigger Bass Amps

While guitarists were basking in their wall of sound, Ampeg Amplifiers responded with a huge display of force, with effects could be felt for generations to come.  

 The Ampeg SVT 300-watt Bass Amp and its towering 8x10 counterpart terrified the natives much like the black monolith in 2001 Space Odyssey. Thanks to improved speaker technology and the amp wattage arms-race Bass players were suddenly noticed, told to turn their amps down, and once again quickly ignored.

I'm sure we left a few things out. Let us know your favorite ’60s gear!


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October Staff Picks

Chicago Music Exchange staff members always have the scoop on the latest new, used, and vintage gear, and we love to tell you about it all. Check out our second edition of October's Staff Picks:

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Four Great Alternative Uses for Guitar Pedals


Effects Pedals.

Just the word can send most guitar players into a tweaked-out frenzy.  Cold sweats, wild-eyed hysterics flowing vesuvius from their cracked, dry mouths.

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Billy Gibbons Visits Chicago Music Exchange

Taking a break from his full-time job of being coolest man ever to walk the planet, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons recently took a stroll through our hallowed halls to shoot the breeze and score some killer gear while he was at it!

Billy sampled our collection of Whitfill Guitars, checked out a few amps, and even took a moment to congratulate a customer on his recent acquisition: a 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. As Mr. Gibbons said, "It's one hell of a guitar."

We agree Billy. Oh, do we agree.

Billy went home with a mean little '58 Fender Champ, and a handful of essential pedals and accessories. Come and see us again sir—everyone at Chicago Music Exchange loves a sharp-dressed man!


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October 2016 Staff Picks

Chicago Music Exchange staff members always have the scoop on the latest new, used, and vintage gear, and we love to tell you about it all. Check out October's Staff Picks:

View full article »

5 Guitar and Amp Pairings from Chicago Music Exchange

How often do you order up the perfect burger, only to have the waiter report they're out of your favorite beer?  How about the time you laboriously prepared a pot of Guy Fieri's Dragon Breath Chili and discovered your only beverage option to be a half gallon of full-fat chocolate milk? View full article »
September 16, 2016

CME counts down to Riot Fest

Ahhhhh, fall is in the air! The flocks of Canadian Geese are migrating south, the sometimes-Canadian gutter punks are migrating south of Diversey. Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, people are gearing up for RIOT FEST!

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September 07, 2016

Staff Picks »

September 2016 Staff Picks

Chicago Music Exchange staff members always have the scoop on the latest new, used, and vintage gear, and we love to tell you about it all. Check out September's Staff Picks:

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September 05, 2016

Chicago Music Exchange visits Paul Reed Smith (PRS)


In case you weren't aware, Chicago Music Exchange takes guitars very seriously.  So serious in fact, we continually send our crew jet-setting across the globe to learn more about the guitars we love.

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August 26, 2016

00-17 » Colter Wall » Martin »

Colter Wall visits Chicago Music Exchange

In today’s over-populated, jungle of a music scene, it’s rare a new artist makes an immediate, visceral impression on you with just one performance. Colter Wall, with his stripped down interpretation of Americana/Outlaw Country, is causing second glances with every show he plays. His smokey, rusted-out baritone vocals form a unique pairing with the twangy grit of his open-chord acoustic picking.

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