While the prototype of the heart shaped ‘SATELLITE’ guitar was being worked on in the factory in late 1966, Pat got another idea – a MINI guitar, a fully functioning “toy” for kids. The idea for this came about when he saw the copy his son Tim had constructed with the help of the Brazilian factory workers. Tim had to fill in time after school as both parents were working at the business all day and so built his own mini-murph. ( see below )
The first prototype of this came out of the factory by the end of ’66 or early 1967 & at a time when Murphy Music Industries were facing their fiercest opposition. It was made as a 6 string with a ¾ scale neck and a standard Squire pickup ( rather than the weak ones used on the full size ‘Satellite’ ) and was intended to be supplied with a custom stand with inbuilt battery powered amp & 4” speaker.
At an all-up price of $99.00 ( amp included ) they were perceived as being a winner – and they would have been – as Murphs were aimed primarily at the youth. The idea was that they could be taken to the beach and played without the need for electricity, much in the same way that the self-contained “Amp–in-guitars” made by Teisco and other Japanese makers could.
The Mattel toy corporation showed some interest at the time of possibly marketing the product and a site visitor has provided some further facts – “In the summer of 1966 my business partner and I met Murphy. We were working together to gain sales for the “Mini Murph” and displayed it at the 1966 Teen Fair at the Palladium in Hollywood. We gave one to Davie Jones and the Monkees and they used it during their appearance at this Teen Fair. We also secured an order from Capitol Records for 10,000 of the guitars without the speaker. We needed Murphy to sub out the manufacturing to meet Capitol’s price point but he refused. ( thank you, Alan )
Pat’s line of credit was so stretched, no wonder he balked at the thought of making 10,000 of them!
As a simple expedient for patent protection, they would take a photo, date it, seal it in an envelope & mail it to themselves – this way they had a postmarked record of the idea & its origin if challenged!
Jimmy Bryant (country guitar genius, session player, partner of steel guitar expert Speedy West & Pat’s future son in law ), used one of these Baby Murphs on several occasions and, in his amazingly unique and versatile manner, played it every which way ( forward, backward, upside down, like a fiddle ) to show it’s versatility ( & his ) at several Palladium shows in the Los Angeles area.
However, Fender were less than impressed with this type of product exposure as the well known & respected Bryant was a Fender user, and the market was hotting up with other makers also working on mini guitars – such as Vox who were soon to offer their own 12 string in the form of the Vox ‘Mando-guitar’ ( but at twice the cost )
Despite much promise with both the full size and mini ‘Satellite’ models, the problems created by the legal claim placed on Murphy Music Industries crippled the company which was soon forced to close it’s doors, thus ending any chance of the radical shape’s survival.