String Damper Evolution
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Above: One of the original Van Eps patented string dampers. "Vanco" is engraved in the metal head.

Top right: An album cover of George with the string damper installed on his 7 string guitar.

The patent for the first guitar string damper was applied for in 1950 by George Van Eps. His "Vanco" string damper was designed to control the overtone harmonics for jazz guitars. It has a spring device which snaps on and off the strings with the flick of a thin arm.  See patent


Herb Ellis with Van Eps String Damper

Scotty Moore with Van Eps String Damper

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The Kleen-Axe String Damper was sold in the 1980's. It was designed by Walter "Buddy" Dunkel of Garden Grove CA. He eventually made 2 models. One was for Gibson type headstocks and the other for Fender. They both came in chrome or black.

I bought several of these from him and suggested using piano felt material instead of the foam rubber he was using, as well as to add some metal to the side so you can flip the damper without contacting the felt.


Kleen-axe damper appears on the original cover of the Two Hand Rock lesson book 

Handwritten receipt for second purchase

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Various damper designed by Alan Hamil (formerly with Fender custom shop)

Vario String Damper designed by Gerd  Nowka 

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 Pat Farrand Van Eps style damper - a slicker more polished design

Gerd's original design idea sketch for the Vario damper

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Above:A spring loaded damper arm which clamps onto the side of the headstock. This was a gift from a guitar clinic.

6 Fingered string damper I used on Michael Jackson's History Tour 96/97 for the "Beat It" solo. I kept the g and b strings open as they were the only open string needed for that solo. The others were dampened for more clarity. Bradley R Schmidt patent # 5,467,679 (11-21-1995)

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Damper design by Germany's Michael Keuser

Updated design by Michael Keuser


Batten String Dampers


2 models to choose from



And then there's Elvis (probably using Scotty Moore's guitar)