Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Aria Pro II Howard Roberts 1977

Aria Howard Roberts

You probably noticed that I love hollow/semi-hollow jazz guitars such as this Aria Pro II Howard Roberts (though I would probably stick a screwdriver through the strings and plug it on a fuzzbox with all its knobs on 11).

This Aria is a clone of the custom guitar Howard Roberts designed for Gibson based on the ES-175, but it is not clear if it's a copy from the 'lawsuit era' or one made in the short time when Howard Roberts was endorsed by Aria... But it doesn't have two pickups like the Gibson - only a neck one like the Epiphone version, but still three knobs like the Gibson!
Anyway, I'm not an expert so if you want to know more you can have a look here.

And let's enjoy the beauty and bizarreness of an acoustic flat-top with a florentine cutaway, a sound hole and a humbucker pickup - never seen one like this before!

Monday, 29 June 2009

80s Washburn A20

washburn A20

I know that Washburn guitars are not always appreciated for their sometimes cheesy looks, but hey, when you take risks, you have the right to fail - it's more difficult than copying again and again 50-year old models - and you can always end up with something challenging if not just really nice...

I like this Washburn A20 and its Explorer look - an Explorer made a little more comfortable it seems... But like for the SG Xtreme in the previous post, I wish I could see this guitar with a nice natural finish - I think that I will proclaim the right for any guitar in the world to look fresh and natural and not like a hooker with glossy lipstick!

Ah, I have to add that the headstock sucks.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Epiphone G-400 Xtreme


Similar process than on the Peavey Mystic, but applied to a SG instead of to a strat, this is a quite rare Epiphone G-400 Xtreme model that I never heard of until 10 minutes ago!

Though I like the idea, I feel that these back horns don't really work here - but it's actually hard to tell because the 'industriel steel scratch plate'™ ;) spoils it completely... I would like to see this guitar with a classic 'worn' finish and see how it feels... Am I too old to appreciate a guitar targeted at teenager gothic wanabees?

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Kramer / American Showster 'the Biker'

kramer Harley Davidson

No this Kramer / American Showster guitar is not meant to look like an ice pop or a chili pepper like I thought first, but it's inspired by a Harley Davidson motorbike tank - I can't identify all the American icons at first sight but I can tell a cow-boy hat from a Bowler...

Anyway, if you don't have to believe that this guitar shape is cool a priori and if you don't mind about ergonomics, it's a good looking one, and I particularly like the headstock.

Looks like a tongue too...

Friday, 26 June 2009

80s Klira

Sorry for the low quality and the small size of this picture, but I had to show you this very special 1980s Klira! A good compromise between minimal and ergonomic - even though Klira guitars have a terrible reputation for their sound...

Couldn't find more info about this one, but I can still remind you some valuable links for those curious about this kind of alternative guitars from another time/space continuum - junkguitars.com, vintageaudioberlin.de, lordbizarre.com and cheesyguitars.com that I already mentioned a couple of times...

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Peavey Mystic

Peavy Mystic

When 90% of contemporary guitars are copies of Stratocaster, Telecaster or Les Paul, would you say that this early 80s Peavey Mystic is too bizarre, too metal, too pointy or something? Because I find it quite nice, ergonomic and simple - nothing too much - and even respectful of the tradition - upper front horn to hold the strap, upper back to rest the right arm, lower back for the knobs, lower front to put on the leg when playing sitting and pay obedience to Mister Fender, and the extra material in the back is removed to make this (quite big) guitar lighter.

The rail humbuckers say big sound, but you can still make a lot of different kinds of music with a big sound... When I want to judge the design a guitar, I wonder if you can play it while wearing a purple fur jacket, and with the Mystic, definitely yes!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

the more strings the better 2

double neck mandolin / 12-string guitar

Aren't you amazed by this brand new cheap Chinese tele-style double neck 12-string guitar / 8-string mandoline? Don't blame the Chinese for building and selling these guitars - if they do so, it's because people buy them... So who is buying this ?

BTW, 20 strings are not bad but the same seller proposes also a triple neck - 12, 7 and 6, that makes 23, and that is too much - who want to carry a 3-neck guitar and what can't you do on a 7-string that you can on a 6-string?

Look at this... The thieving b*st*rds!

Dear Electric Guitar Shack

Please can you explain what you are doing by stealing content and bandwidth from my blog at http://guitarz.blogspot.com/?

I recently had to upgrade my Photobucket account to a Pro account because apparently the bandwidth on the photographs was being exceeded. I couldn't account for this because the blog was not getting more hits than was usual.

But look at this - another blog using MY content, MY pictures and MY BANDWIDTH!

YOU OWE ME MONEY!!! I had to pay to upgrade my Photobucket account because of your activities. Having lost my job earlier this year, that $39.95 was money I could ill afford to pay.

YOU CAN PAY ME BACK VIA PAYPAL. Please pay $39.95 using my email address gl.wilson@ntlworld.com

Yours, very annoyed,

G L Wilson

P.S. More thieving b*st*rds at: http://gadgetmagazines.blogspot.com/search/label/guitar (although I have been screwing them up by renaming and switching photos).

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

the more strings, the better: Brooklyn Gear GB8

Brooklyn Gear BG8

I've never had the opportunity yet to put my fingers on a 8-string guitar, but I hope that one day I can have something like this Brooklyn Gear GB8. It must be like playing with the thunder! I guess that it's not a guitar you should play like a regular one - with just a lower and a higher string. I'd rather use it in open tuning in a modal scale like a zither or something.

This one is nice because it doesn't look like another pointy superstrat like ESP's or Ibanez's, since - and it's a pity - over 6-string you're supposed to play metal. 

Bertram D

Monday, 22 June 2009

Maestro Sideways Vibrola

The question about
Hetfield's SG strange vibrato has been answered - thanks to Andy, Ron and Pappy. It's a Maestro Sideways Vibrola with its cover removed, and it looks pretty cool like this! This kind of vibrato was apparently not unusual on SGs in 1963...

On the other hand, Robb Flynn's baritone Gibson Flying V stays a mystery - but we are pretty sure that it is a baritone from the size of its neck... The question keeps open!

Something else, on Iconic Guitar blog there is an excellent post about the pretty nice Guild S-300 - I couldn't do better, so it's worth having a look there!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Ukulele Playing World Record Set in London

Before anyone complains (and a couple of you commenters are a bit grouchy, aren't you?), I absolutely refuse to make apologies for a post about ukuleles. Ukes are fantastic little instruments, can be played by virtually anyone who puts their mind to it, and generally are totally without any pretensions.

Anyway, to get to the point, yesterday - Saturday 20th June 2009 - in London's Devonshire Square, a gathering of 851 ukulele players set the new world record for the most ukuleles playing the same song at the same time, with a 5-minute rendition of "Sloop John B".

I was there with my baritone ukulele, and have to say that it was a fantastic and very entertaining day out. I met and spoke to lots of people and even swapped uke with a few people. It's unusual in London to be able to converse with strangers as people are usually very unfriendly and will rarely give you the time of day, but you could say that everyone at this event was united by the common bond of the ukulele.

Kudos to the organisers for putting this event together, and to all the attendees who together raised funds for Cancer Research UK.

Some YouTube videos HERE.

(I'll hand you back to Bertram following this post, as I'm supposed to be busy writing a book at the moment...)

Saturday, 20 June 2009

a couple of questions about some guitars...

Isn't it very arrogant to post for a guitar blog and offer to the world some information that mostly I got myself a few hours before? Now I will humbly ask our readers to help me solve some guitars mysteries (mysteries only for myself of course)...

On the cover of some French guitar magazine, there is a picture of James Hetfield (yes, the guy who said that he's proud that Metallica's music has been used to torture people in Guantanamo) holding a Gibson SG with this strange vibrato, could anybody tell me more about it?

SG Gibson Hetfield

Question 2: in the same magazine there is a picture of Robb Flynn (Machine Head) with a Gibson Flying V and it's said somewhere that it's a baritone. Does such a thing exist or is it a mistake (never heard of a baritone Gibson Flying V, but it would be so cool)?

flying V gibson flynn

Thanks for your answers!


Thursday, 18 June 2009

BelAire MotorAve

BelAire MotorAve

There are not only vintage guitars and famous brands in life, everywhere in the world there are more or less small local guitar companies and luthiers making marvellous instruments, such as this beautiful BelAire MotorAve. Unfortunately this is the kind of guitar I will never play, not only that I can never afford it, but I'd be upset playing with such an expensive instrument... But it would look so good in my hands!

Framus Strato Deluxe 1964


I don't know why this 1964 Framus Strato Deluxe is called Strato since it has a Jaguar shape and its pickups look like nothing else... But its blobish pickguard (can you still call that a pickguard?) is so cool! Also it has one of these many vibratos they experimented back in the 60s.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Weird No-Name Red Electric

I really don't know what to make of this un-badged guitar which is for sale on eBay right now. The auction finishes very soon if you're seriously interested in a very weird-looking guitar.

How would you even describe that shape? To my eyes it looks a bit like an Ovation Breadwinner crossed with an Eko Rokes. My guess would be that it dates back to the 1960s, but if the Breadwinner was an inspiration to the designer then that would date it to the mid 1970s, which I guess is possible.

From the seller's description it's very doubtful that this one is a good player, but hey, it would look great in your band's video!

If anyone has any info about this guitar and what it may be, then please do tell! My guess is that it's of Eastern European or Russian origin... possibly Italian, but that's a long-shot.

Can you help identify this guitar?

No, it's not a quiz. It's a genuine query.

Ina writes: "I was wondering if you know which brand that could be. Looking at the knobs, switches and pickups I'd say it's a Teisco. But so far I wasn't able to find a similar pic with 4 pickups. I got this guitar years ago from somebody who was cleaning out his garage. He couldn't tell me where this guitar came from. When I got it was pretty rotten: dirty, only two strings left and the mechanics was completely stuck. I couldn't find any serial numbers or brand names."

I agree that the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the photos was that it looked like a Teisco. However, I can't find pictures of another Teisco quite like it either on Teisco Twangers or elsewhere. I'd say it was almost certainly Japanese and most likely from the 1970s.

Is anyone out there able to better identify this guitar?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Leftie of the Week: Burns Nu-Sonic

Left-handed guitar of the week on eBay is this Burns Nu-Sonic from 1964. It appears to be in very good condition, all parts including trem seem to be all present and correct, and seeing that this guitar was only in production through 1964-1965 and this model is a leftie, well that's not going to be a guitar you'd find every day.

You can't do that with guitars anymore...

Tetuzi Akiyama + Michel Henritzi at Alchemy Store, Osaka, Japan, March 2007.

After all these nice brand new flashy guitars at the London International Music Show, a little bit of ultraviolence will put your brains back at the right place.

Friday, 12 June 2009

London International Music Show 2009

It's June which means it's time for the London International Music Show (LIMS09), which once again is being held at the ExCel Centre in London's East End and is on for four days until Sunday 14 June.

When you enter the hall you can always tell it's a music fair even if you've been blindfolded, because amid the sheer cacophony of sound you can always hear someone thinking he's the next Mark King slapping away on a bass guitar as if the 1980s never went away. It always happens at these events. I think it's a tradition or an old charter or something.

Of course, in recent years it was the London Guitar Show, last year it was the London International Music Show incorporating the London Guitar Show, now they've dropped the Guitar Show moniker altogether. I think some other instruments wanted a look-in too, and that's not really a bad thing, and there's still plenty of guitars to look at, play, and generally lust after. Or even laugh at.

Speaking of which, you'll notice I started this post with a photo of a display of Spongebob gear. Well, that's got the ridiculous out of the way. Let's look at some more serious stuff!

Some of the first guitars to catch my eye were these beautiful examples from Sparrow Guitars, many of which feature custom hand-painted finishes. These are some serious rock'n'roll machines and they have the looks to make sure you look great on stage.

These rather attractive Mayones Guitars (below) were on display at the Blackhawk Music stand.

I particularly liked this finish (below) which I assume was created by sanding through the black finish to the red beneath. It's a lovely textured finish and is definitely quite eye-catching.

The Patrick Eggle stand. Fine guitars made in the UK.

...and you know how I love perspex-bodied guitars. This Patrick Eggle example (below) isn't highly polished like acrylic guitars from most other manufacturers. The edges have been sanded to a rough matt surface that helps define the outline of the instrument. I also love the straight-through-the-body f-hole.

A whole heap of Airline guitars. It must be the...

...Eastwood Guitars stand.

Ah, you know about Eastwood by now, surely? Retro-looking guitars but with modern playability, reliable hardware, good pickups, etc. They certainly look the part.

Pictured below is the one I really wanted to try. Regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of the Ovation Breadwinner, and I wanted to check out Eastwood's re-issue. So, I tried it out and you know what? It gets the thumbs up - it feels exactly like my 1976 Breadwinner - only newer and without the dents! Eastwood president Mike Robinson, who was on hand to talk about the guitars (what a thoroughly decent chap), tells me that the pickups are hotter than the originals, which I can well believe as that's one area where the Ovation originals are lacking.

Fret King guitars are the baby of a guy you may have heard of by the name of Trev Wilkinson. These I do like. The influences are there to see on these vintage styles with a twist. They also have two ranges - the UK hand-built Green Label series, and more budget conscious Blue Label series featuring the same designs produced in Korea.

I'm not normally a fan of guitars with a "relic" or road-worn finish, but I did like this S and T-type pair from Fret King (below). I like the way the pickups and control knobs are deliberately mismatched, especially on the S-type guitar with has a nice mix of Strat and Tele features.

Now here's a sight to behold, these beautiful hand-built aluminium guitars from Goulding Guitars. Anthony Goulding, who builds these fine instruments, also makes all the hardware, the bridges, pickup surrounds and knobs. There are also many finish options: the purple example on the left in the below picture has been anodized, whilst the one on the right has a chrome finish.

Each guitar is custom-built to a customer's requirements, but all share the same basic shape. And what a great shape it is too! Anthony, who, it turns out,is a Guitarz reader (we had a good old chin wag) mentioned that I had once likened it to the shape of the Acoustic-branded Black Widow.

The guitar in the next picture takes design inspiration from the cut-out details on the cone covers of resonator guitars, although obviously this isn't a resonator. The finish is ... (what did you call it again? I should have made better notes...) splash anodized (?).

I had a great time talking to all the guys and girls on the booths. I also met Tom of Inky Hollow who creates custom artwork for guitars and basses, and seemingly any other instruments you care to throw his way such as drums, and also other items, e.g. motorbike helmets and surfboards. Check out the website because my photo here really does not do this particular example justice.

What else was there? Some of the big names were absent: Fender, Gibson, Rickenbacker... Did we miss them? No, not really.

Music Man were present, as ever, on the Ernie Ball stand and this doubleneck caught my eye for a couple of reasons. For one, I was intrigued at the layout of tuners on the 12-string headstock, and also I thought that the body was quite nice and compact for a doubleneck which are often such cumbersome beasts.

Peavey guitars (below):

And then there was, a whole display of Paul McCartney-esque Hofner Violin Basses...

...and a whole rack of Hofner Verithin guitars. You can see where the name comes from. Very elegant looking, these.

Now, I know nothing about these Faith acoustics (they were on the Shadow pickups stand) but I really liked the little 12-fret parlour guitar in the middle. I think this is what I want from an acoustic guitar, just for playing around the house.

These Atlas guitars were quite beautifully made instruments...

... I especially liked their take on the classic Strat design with its bound-edge flamed top. Very tasty!

The only thing that caught my eye on the Yamaha stand was this retro-styled semi. Saying which is doing them a dis-service, as they do produce some quality gear.

There were no Gretsch guitars to be seen (as part of the Fender empire, I guess they were absent for the same reasons as their parent company), but lovers of big-bodied archtop guitars would have been kept happy not only by Sparrow guitars as we have already seen, but also by these immaculate-looking Peerless guitars. These guys have been in the industry since 1970 and have built guitars for the likes of Gretsch, Fender and Gibson, so they ought to be well worth checking out in their own right.

I liked this line of ukuleles from Ashbury, especially the 8-string tenor. It had a sound that was reminiscent of a mandolin.

...and while we're talking of ukes, there was a fantastic selection over at the Sutherland Trading Co Ltd stand, including something I'd never seen before, a bass ukulele (the Kala uBass - pictured below). At first I thought it was a uke fitted with the silicon strings from a Ashbory bass, but I'm told these are actually polyurethane. What's more, it sounded great. It had a double bass quality to it. Very easy and fun to play - it's tuned just like a bass guitar - I really liked it.

Now before I finish, I want to put in writing here a couple of reminders for myself for next year.

  1. Check the dates carefully to avoid turning up a week early. (Yes, I did go last Saturday, to find no music show. Did I feel stupid or what?)
  2. Charge the batteries in your camera the night before.

Things I didn't manage to photograph included:

The XOX Audio Tools "The Handle" guitar on the PROEL (International) Ltd stand. What an absolutely beautiful guitar in terms of looks, sound and playabilty. Being made of hollow-sectioned carbon fibre it's as light as a feather. If only I had two and a half grand to spare...

Vintage Guitars - the brand "Vintage" from John Hornby Skewes, that is. Someone once commented on this blog that I had judged them too harshly and that they were pretty decent instruments, and that I should do my homework. Now, I'm always one to put my hand up when I'm wrong, so I thought I'd try out a couple. I tried a relic Strat-a-like from the Icon series. It was a little unsubstantial feeling for my tastes (for a Strat, that is), but it was certainly a very nice player, certainly better than many Squiers I have tried. I then tried an LP type guitar. I've never been a Les Paul player but I was almost sold. It played beautifully and it sounded great. Dare I say it even sounded authentic?

Dudley Ross, a very talented fretless guitar player was demonstrating the Vigier Excaliber guitar with delta-metal fingerboard, and which I featured in last year's report. He was very kindly letting people try out the guitar for themselves, including Yours Truly. What a beautiful player. I've experimented with fretless guitar in the past, but never imagined it could sound as good as this - even on the unwound strings (which was where my own customised fretless used to fall down).

I also noodled for a while on a Roland-equipped Fender Strat over at the Roland / Boss booth. It was plugged into a device called the Roland GR20 Guitar Synth. Most the sounds were pretty farty and perhaps someone had screwed up the settings as I could only really get it to track on the D and A strings. However, I discovered that I absolutely loved the Hammond organ patch, and spent ages playing Hammond solos (complete with Leslie rotating speaker effect) on two strings! It sounded very Steve Winwood.

And there - for now - I shall leave it. It's been a long day and I've been up all night typing this lot out and need bed! Until next year, then. (And we'll look at lots of curious guitars from eBay in the meantime!)

PLEASE NOTE: The photos in this article are all my own so if you do want to use one on a forum or a blog or whatever, that's fine, but please credit me and link back here. Thanks.


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