Saturday, 31 January 2009

I don't normally do these things...

Hmmmm... Looks like I have been tagged by Ovidiu from Guitar Flame to take part in one of these meme things that originated on The rules are as follows:
  • Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.
So, semi-useless facts (whatever they are - sounds rather vague to me):
  1. Despite being a guitar nut, I am a big fan of electronic music with Kraftwerk being one of my all-time favourite bands. My own demos have often featured more synth sounds than guitars, and I think that my perfect band situation would be in some kind of experimental electronic band, although I'd still like to use my guitars. Kraftwerk with guitars would be my ideal (perhaps something like Neu!).

  2. My favourite band in my early teenage years was Status Quo. This was when I lived in Wales and all the kids thought the Quo were cool. Then when we moved to Greater London all the kids laughed at me when I said I liked Status Quo because these city kids were all into punk and new wave acts and whatever else was considered to be the in-thing to listen to. I must admit, I followed the herd, but I never regretted it as I discovered some great music around that time. Now that I'm 45 years old I think that I can play my Status Quo records again and it doesn't matter if people don't think its cool, as I'm allowed to be uncool at my age!

  3. The last time I went to what we in the UK call a Fancy Dress Party (that is, a Costume Party in the US), I went as Marilyn Monroe. No, I don't have any photos.

  4. I love the ukulele and will try to sneak it into the posts on Guitarz every now and again. Up until now I have only played the baritone ukulele (the one tuned DGBE, just like the top 4 strings of the guitar) but I've just got myself a soprano - the titchy little one - and am playing about on that. First impressions are that my hands are too big to form some of the chords on that tiny fingerboard, but I reckon I'll still be able to use it for some songs.

  5. I enjoy visiting standing stones, stone circles, ancient monuments, castles, and other places of interest that have that special "vibe" to them. I have recently started another blog to document my visits:

  6. I put food out in the garden for several hedgehogs that visit almost every night (when they are not hibernating, that is). I'm looking into installing infra-red cameras so that I can video the little beasties, and might even start a Hog Blog or else a YouTube channel devoted to them.

  7. They say you should never meet your heroes, but over the years I've met quite a few of mine including Captain Sensible of The Damned (plus other members of that band), Wreckless Eric, Julian Cope, and even Francis Rossi of the aforementioned Status Quo. I once helped Captain Sensible write a song which eventually turned up on their current album, but time had passed and the lyrics had been changed from those I had written (so, no song-writing credit there).

OK, who shall I tag?

Janet from Lord Celery
Tamsin from Girl.Meets.Chile
Benjamin from Bass Guitar Blog
Anne from My Guitar Buddies
The GuitarBass Man
Steve from Guitar 24/7
Gorehound from Gorehound's Roots Guitar Tips

Hallmark Swept Wing Guitar

This Hallmark Swept Wing in orange sparkle is a recent reissue rather than an original from the 1960s but it would still appear to be a very nice guitar indeed with something of a surf vibe to it.

The design looks like some kind of inter-breeding between a Vox Phantom and Mosrite guitars. The latter influence is hardly surprising seeing as ex-Mosrite staff were employed by Hallmark back in the day.


Eureka, I mean, Ulrika!Comments are back again.

Thank you for your patience.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Normal service will be resumed... soon as possible.

One of the problems with this blog being The World's Longest Running Guitar Blog (oh yes!) is that its template was seriously out of date, seeing as our host, Blogger, has evolved so much since this blog was set up.

So, I'm having a bit of a a fiddle, updating the template, and re-entering titles to each post so that the blog is more RSS friendly. Titles weren't showing up in RSS readers, which is something that has been bugging me for ages. Unfortunately upgrading the template is an enormous job, because lots of the older posts aren't going to display properly until tweaked, and there are quite a few years worth of archives to work through.

Comments have been temporarily suspended. I had previously been using HaloScan comments and would dearly love to switch over to Blogger comments but fear all the old HaloScan comments will be lost. Does anyone know if there's a way of importing all the old comments into Blogger? Email me at

Thursday, 29 January 2009

John Martyn dies, aged 60

John MartynI feel absolutely depressed as I report here on this blog that one of my all-time favourite guitarists, John Martyn, has passed away this morning. I only came to his music in recent years, which is quite late on I have to admit, but once I'd had a taste I just wanted more and more.

I always liked the way you couldn't pigeonhole him. He mixed up folk, jazz, rock, blues, reggae... everything was an influence. His guitar playing was stupendous - he pioneered the use of playing with echo effects - something that players these days can do with digital looping pedals, but back in the day Martyn had to make do with cumbersome tape-echo machines such as the EchoPlex. His voice too was as distinctive as his guitar playing. His slurred vocals had an almost baritone saxophone quality to them and in a way his voice was like another instrument in the mix.

I was lucky enough to see him perform last November in Oxford on his "Grace and Danger" tour. It was a very entertaining concert and one that I will always remember, but it seemed to us watching that he wasn't a very well man - he seemed tired and even gave up playing his guitar towards the end of the gig.

The only consolation I feel right now is that we'll always have his music.

Tiki Strat

Fender Tiki Strat
This is supposedly a very rare Fender Tiki Stratocaster featuring a bamboo graphic on the body and head, and with Tiki masks inlaid in the fingerboard around the 11th and 12th frets. I'm not sure who this is supposed to appeal to, but I certainly won't be bidding. (Not only does the design not appeal to my tastes but they are asking for $1,500 for it!)

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Sigur Ros upholstered SG

Sigur Ros upholstered SGHere's a 1991 Gibson SG formerly owned by Jón þor (jónsi) Birgisson of the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, and which rather bizarrely has been upholstered in velvet fabric.

The funny thing is that the colour looks right on this Gibson which judging from the back of the neck looks like it was originally a cherry finish.

(Thanks again to Gary for bringing this wonderfully strange guitar to my attention).

On a related note, here's another fabric-covered guitar.

Seen A Better Price?

A frankly ridiculous price
Blimey! Look how much Andertons Music Co. are asking for this little Yamaha practice amp! It's especially curious when the description on their website states that "Yamaha's GA15 amp is a superb sounding amplifier when you consider it's frankly ridiculous price!" (sic).

Ridiculous is the word!

(Thanks to Gary).

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Quick Quiz Answer: The Mystery Case

The Mystery Case

What lives in a case like this?

I think that most of you who commented were on the right lines when you answered "harp guitar", although I'm not sure if this Espana classical is technically a harp guitar as it doesn't have any extra strings.
Espana winged acoustic

I can only assume that the elongated body "wing" is there to give increased bass response.

However, it's not as wild as this example which we looked at on this blog last June. Can you imagine what the case would have looked like for that guitar?

In the news...

Monday, 26 January 2009

Vox Mando Guitar

Vox Mando GuitarNow these hardly ever go up for sale on eBay!

Originally produced between 1964-1966, the Vox Mando Guitar is a half-scale 12-string guitar. It's tuned like a 12-string, only an octave higher, and thus allows the guitarist to get a mandolin sound from a familiarly-tuned instrument.

I used to have an 80s-era Eko mando guitar (still do have it, in fact, but it's in bits - but that's another story). It was quite nice for adding little overdubs to recordings, just to get a different sound in places. However, the Eko had a DiMarzio humbucker much more suited to heavy metal. The single coils of the Vox seem to be a much more sensible choice of pickup.

Quick Quiz: The Mystery Case

What kind of guitar lives in a case like this?
What kind of guitar lives in a case like this?

Friday, 23 January 2009

A window into the inside of an SG

Gibson SG with a window to its inner workings
Here's what must likely be a rare Gibson SG. It features an extended pickguard recessed into the front of the body and which is made of perspex through which you can view the guitar's inner workings in all their glory! I'm guessing that the guitar must be a promotional model for sales shows, etc. Prospective buyers may like to know that the guitar comes with a second pickguard with a white marbled finish (and not at all transparent).

UPDATE: I'm told that it's a former Gibson "Guitar of the Month" limited edition on which someone has switched the pearloid scratchplate for one of clear acrylic.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Fender Foto Flame Tele

Fender Foto Flame TeleWhatever happened to Fender's Foto Flame guitars from a few years back? There was a big noise about these briefly in the mid 90s, and then nothing was heard about them ever again.

For those not in the know, the exquisitely flamed bookmatched fronts and backs of these guitars were faked! It wasn't wood grain you were seeing but photographs beneath the laquer.

This '62 Telecaster is the first FotoFlame I've seen on eBay in a long while (although I admit I've not been actively looking). This example has been "upgraded" with GraphTech saddles on the bridge, Seymour Duncan pickups, and a new pickguard featuring a design "based on a personal creation".

If I was buying this guitar the first thing I'd ask for would be to have the original pickguard back. I wouldn't care that it might not have the right shaped cutout for the mini humbucker pickup - that would be easy enough to take care of.

It's not just that I don't care for the design on the pickguard (which I don't), but that it clashes horribly with the Foto Flame top. If this is the seller's idea of what looks good, then I seriously hope he or she is never let loose on any interior design projects.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

The Golden Child

A toddler wrestling with a balloon while a goose attacks from behindHurrah! Just when I was starting to think that eBay was getting boring and that there were no more ghastly guitars to be found that we hadn't already seen, then along comes this hideous abomination.

I think it's supposed to be a cherub playing a lyre or something, but to me it looks more like a toddler wrestling with a balloon while a goose attacks from behind.

It's probably styled on some of ESP's rather over-the-top designs, but as this is a cheapy there's no way you're going to get ESP quality. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if it was hardly playable.

Note that, according to the listing, it has a "very unique shape" (not just unique, but very unique) and our old friend the "Floyd Ross" bridge.

Ahhhh... it's great to have some more six-stringed crap to make fun of.

Friday, 16 January 2009

1950s Plastic Maccaferri Guitar

Let's leave the NAMM coverage to all the other blogs. I'm going to continue featuring the weird and wonderful here!
Maccaferri plastic guitar
This Maccaferri plastic guitar is an early example of a guitar manufactured from alternative materials. I like how the dot markers on the fingerboard seem to go right through the neck and can be seen on the reverse.

According to the listing:
"Mario Maccaferri, a former concert guitarist and French reed maker, immigrated to the United States in 1939. While he continued his reed making in the United States, difficulty obtaining the reed itself led him to devise reeds made from plastic, a material that caught his attention at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. He filed a patent application for the novel reeds in 1941, and it was awarded the following year. Maccaferri soon began producing other plastic consumer products, including clothespins, hangers, plastic tiles, acoustic tiles, and later 8-track and cassette housings. Before the war, Maccaferri had designed a guitar for Selmer, Paris, which became famous as the guitar of choice for jazz artist Django Reinhardt. In 1949, Maccaferri combined his interests in musical instrument design with his expertise in plastic to produce the Islander Ukulele, the first plastic stringed instrument. Priced at an affordable $5.95, the instruments were highly commercially successful. In 1953, Maccaferri introduced his plastic guitars, which were not meant to be a cheap substitute for a wood guitar, but rather a highly functional instrument that happened to be constructed from plastic. In 1964, the name of the company was changed from French American Reeds Manufacturing Company to Mastro Plastics Corporation. By 1969, criticism and slow sales caused Maccaferri to cease production of his plastic instruments, the rights to which were sold to Carnival Industries, which never elected to manufacture the instruments. Following his retirement in 1981, Maccaferri continued pursuing his interest in plastic instruments with the development of a plastic violin, which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1990. Maccaferri died three years later at the age of 92."

...and there's a Plastic Uke too!

Maccaferri Islander plastic baritone uke
I particularly love the coloured plastic swirl on the reverse of this plastic Maccaferri Islander Baritone Ukulele.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Charvel "Arcade Hell" Guitar

Charvel Arcade Hell GuitarHere's a Charvel guitar featuring unique artwork by Florida-based Beyond Custom Guitars.

This particular design is called "Arcade Hell", and if you ever hung out in amusment arcades back in the 1980s or are a fan of retro games you can probably see why.

I don't normally like guitars with over-the-top very "busy" finishes, but for some reason this appeals to me.

And I don't even like computer games.

A Few Links to Share

  • gUitarRENgUitarREN is a new blog from a would-be guitar designer. This guy has a whole bunch of new and refreshing ideas as to what an electric guitar could look like. I especially like his concept of a "neckless" guitar! (Actually, the neck would be integrated as part of the body). The blog features his sketches, cardboard-mock ups, and hopefully as time goes by we'll see some completed instruments too! Recommended.

  • Play Away Guitars: UK-based store specialising in travel guitars (Traveler, MiniStar, Aria Sinsonido, Pignose, etc).

  • Guitar Age: Netherlands-based site with crazy and sometimes cheesy guitars for sale (Eko, Crucianelli, Wandre, etc). Great pics!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Mickey Strat

Mickey Strat
Considering that this Fender Japan Strat is a limited Mickey Mouse edition it's actually quite restrained. I've seen other Disney-themed guitars that are truly horrendous to look at.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Lindert Locomotive T Bass VI

Lindert Locomotive T Bass VIHere's an "old school" style 6-string bass (i.e. tuned as a guitar but an octave down - guitar string spacing, etc), this one being from the now defunct Lindert compnay from Washington, DC.

I quite like the Tele styling although I'm not overly sure about the fake speaker effect with the tweed cloth inlaid. Nevertheless, it's hard to find what I consider proper 6-string basses these days (and most "baritone guitars" don't go down low enough) and have you seen the prices that a Fender Bass VI now commands?

Nevertheless, I feel an itchy bidding finger, although I really shouldn't as I don't have room for any more guitars.

Must... restrain... myself...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Doublenecked DulciCaster

Doublenecked DulciCasterHere's an oddity for you. It's half electric guitar, half electric mountain dulcimer. It also has the guts of a Line 6 Variax guitar.

For more details check out and check out the videos of DulciCasters in action.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

BC Rich Acoustic/Electric Mockingbird

BC Rich Acoustic/Electric MockingbirdJust imagine! This BC Rich Acoustic/Electric Mockingbird could be just the guitar you need for that Glam Rock/Folk Duo that you've been meaning to start!

(Is it just me or do acoustic guitars built to electric guitar designs look just wrong?)

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Ron Asheton, RIP

Ron AshetonVery sad news. Ron Asheton, the legendary guitarist of The Stooges has been found dead at his home.

Full story here.

Monday, 5 January 2009

1993 Rolf Spuler Paradis serial no.2

1993 Rolf Spuler Paradis serial no.2
Before discussing the guitar pictured here, let me first apologise for the extended hiatus of this blog over the holiday period. I didn't feel I could ask a guest blogger to stand in for me whilst I was away considering the season and that other people might want to celebrate the holidays too.

I didn't actually intend to leave the blog for quite so long. I wanted to post something a few days ago, but after searching for the weird and wonderful on eBay all I could find was the same old stuff that people have been trying to flog for ages. Perhaps it's just a bad time of year for guitars on eBay?

Anyway, now I'm back and hopefully normal service is resumed and I'll try not to let my new non-guitar blog stop me from posting here as frequently as you're used to.

So... The rather beautiful guitar we see pictured here is a Rolf Spuler Paradis nylon-strung "acoustic" electric guitar dating from 1993. These guitars are pretty rare beasties and this particular one is actually serial No.2 which might account for the high asking price of $26,000.00. I noticed this guitar for sale on eBay before I went away for the holidays and I see it's still unsold and has been re-listed; it's a beautiful guitar but it's hardly surprising no-one is buying right now given the price, be it fair or not.

Note that the guitar is headless but has an low E-string extension allowing you to drop it to a low D whilst keeping all the fretting across the neck the same. This was a trick that Kubicki Factor basses also employed. The recessed machineheads in the rear of the guitar offers a simple but elegant tuning solution on a headless guitar.

If you want to hear what a guitar like this sounds like, then once again I'd point you in the direction of the "Nine Lives" album by Steve Winwood which features Jose Pires De Almeida Neto playing one of these very guitars.


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