Friday, 31 July 2009

Fender Swinger / Musiclander

fender swinger

Faithful followers of this blog remember the Fender Bass V, the first 5-string bass with its bizarre elongated body and short neck that offer thus the same range than a longer neck 4-string bass (you can find a good review on Vintage Guitar's website). You know then that this bass was a flop - too radical for the average Fender customer probably...
So CBS-era Fender decided to recycle Bass V left over bodies and created the also short lived 3/4 scale student guitar Fender Swinger - combining these reshaped bodies with bits of Musicmasters, then Duo-sonics (then it was called the Musiclander). About 300 - more or less as many as the Bass V - were produced in 1969 ; its pointy headstock earned it also the Arrow nickname.

You can guess at first sight that this guitar was doomed - 3/4 guitars are anyway never taken serious and are mere student guitars - and if the "Italian-style" body shape could have been a new standard, it feels that the designer stopped his job before it's finished - and didn't even start to work on the headstock... The only pickup claims anyway the cheapness of the whole thing.
So this Swinger is quite anecdotic and Fender should probably have kept its Bass V bodies until it becomes a collector for a reissue - well they couldn't know at the time, but can you imagine Gibson giving up for good Explorer and Flying V designs in 1958?

More info about Fender short scale guitars here.

bertram

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

1960s Italian Sano/Goya solidbody

Here's a beauty from the beat boom era of Italian guitar building. It's a rare Sano/Goya guitar, this particular model bearing the serial number 1000. The seller sings its praises endlessly, even saying that it's a better guitar than a Fender Jaguar or Jazzmaster. It's a great looking guitar, and if it sounds and plays as good as the seller says, then this may be one to getting bidding on now!

Kraushaar KRS

Kraushaar KRS

This Kraushaar KRS guitar has a classical simplicity that makes it very elegant, including a beautiful headstock.
You have to admit that some guitars can be extremely vulgar, and if the vintage trend made it better for a while - at the price of creativity -, it's getting worse than ever now with the road worn finish, flashy paintings and sculpted bodies than turns guitars into Spice Girls style platform sneakers of the mid 90s...

Anyway, I found out about this German guitar company Kraushaar on eBay.de and when I checked its website, I discovered some interesting guitar, acoustic guitar and bass designs (I particularly like the 'Commic' model). There are a few complete disasters but that is the risk you take when you try to invent something new. Just wish their website was in English and with better pictures.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Flying V Bass

This Flying V bass is an oddity. The headstock bears the Gibson name but it has a bolt-on neck. You'd suspect that someone had applied a Gibson decal to a bass made by another manufacturer, but actually the logo tells no lies. It IS a Gibson. Sort of. But it wasn't always a Flying V.

The bass started life as a Gibson Grabber and was customised by KGB Musical Instruments for Noz Easterbrook of 60s psychedelic band The Klubs, using as many of the original Grabber parts as possible.

Whether the body was re-styled and re-used, I do not know, but I'd like to think so, otherwise it's just a Gibson neck and hardware on a new body.

The other thing that strikes me is that it's not as HUGE as genuine Gibson Flying V basses. Apparently it was styled on a Flying V guitar body which is, I believe, smaller than that of its bass counterpart.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Fender Jaguar building diagram

jaguarbuildingdiagram

Look at this, isn't it beautiful? It looks like a futurist Mona Lisa - could be a painting of Francis Picabia...

Friday, 24 July 2009

Teisco Leftie, circa 1964

I'm not sure what model Teisco this is. It's not covered in the ID Parade section of the Teisco Twangers website, which I realise is not an exhaustive list. But all the Teisco trademarks are there - the 4+2 headstock, the striped metal pickguards, the "rocker"-style pickup selector switches, the gold foil pickups... Nice to see that the trem is all present and correct too. The fact that it is left-handed must make it quite a rarity. how often do you see left-handed Teiscos?

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Who likes pinstripes?

This "Parts-o-Caster" Strat has been finished with the dreaded pinstripes.

C'mon, it's time to stand up and be counted. Who actually likes pinstripes?

I've heard many opinions about pinstripes over the years, all of them negative. I've never heard a good word said about them, so why does the design persist? Someone must like it.

Personally, I think it looks bloody atrocious. You may as well let a toddler loose on your guitar with a selections of Sharpies.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Nick Page's new model Baron

baron sherwood green

I didn't check Nick Page Guitars website for a while so I just found out about the release of the Baron and I looooove it! I saw its prototype in their workshop months ago and I was impatient to see it achieved - and I'm not disappointed at all.

I was told then that they started from the idea of merging a Fender Mustang and a Rickenbacker 4000 and if the references are clear and honest, the result is just excellent, sexy, classy and original without being eccentric. Even the "Sherwood Green" finish - though this kind of color is ordinarily not my cup of tea - contribute to its aristocratic line... I should go soon to listen how it sounds!

I first noticed Nick Page's guitars for their aluminum front tele-style Lucid model, that is also something to check...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Zed Guitars's Zeppelin

zed zeppelin

There's not only looking for the odd and old rarity and the cool vintage, nowadays guitars can still bring good surprises, such as the Zeppelin by quebecois luthier Zed Guitars. It has a strange but enjoyable mix of roughness and sophistication and the headstock is particularly good.
I prefer the black model with metal pickguard, but I couldn't find a good picture of it on the Web - well this is a small company with little visibility but I like their spirit.

Monday, 20 July 2009

March Guitars J-Walker

Originally designed as a travel guitar, the J-Walker from March Guitars of Montréal is a high-class compact guitar that can hold its own against the best guitars on the market in terms of sound and sustain. With a 24 3/4 inch scale, it has a headless design set-neck on a compact mahogany body with a choice of lacewood, curly or birds eye maple top. The guitar is equipped with two Seymour Duncan humbuckers with volume and tone controls, each with push/pull function to select single-coil mode and coil tap, making for a versatile instrument in a small package.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Meazzi Meteor Bass

Meazzi Guitars were produced in Milan, Italy, in the 1960s by the Meazzi brothers. The Meteor Bass was produced between 1964 and 1969 and came in one and two-pickup versions, the Meteor Bass I and the Meteor Bass Extra respectively.

The bass appears to be very thin-bodied, and has some pretty heft hardware on it - check out that bridge cover - but controls-wise the bass is quite conventional, unlike some of Meazzi's other guitars with sliders for treble and bass and a quick silver kill switch activated when the instrument is put into a horizontal position.

However, is it just me, or does the action look a little too high on this bass? (And why was that model's head cropped off in the above pic?)

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Renaissance plexiglass guitar from 1979

Apparently only a very limited number of these USA-made Renaissance guitars were built. Which might explain why I've never heard of them before (not that I'm a walking encyclopaedia of guitar builders and luthiers).

The body is made of a smoked effect transparent acrylic and has a neck of flamed maple with an ebody fingerboard. The pickups are a pair of DiMarzio humbuckers with a volume and tone control for each plus pickup selector. It would appear to have a pair of coil-tap switches also, allowing for a versatile range of sound options.

Note how the control cavity has a metal plate at the front and back of the guitar. It should be nicely screened, at least.

It's a classy-looking guitar, and with those DiMarzios in a perspex body, it should be able to scream and sustain along with the best of them.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Riverhead Unicorn Bass


First produced in 1980, the Riverhead Unicorn Bass was one of the first designs to jump on the small-bodied headless bass bandwagon following the introduction of the seminal Steinberger L-series bass.

Note also the body design, clearly borrowed from the Burns Flyte.

Notable players include Dave Pegg of Jethro Tull.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Some more scary "harp guitars" on eBay

Harp guitar banjo - wouldn't the 5th string tuner on the banjo neck get in the way when playing the guitar neck?

The 18-string Thing - with 10-string nylon-strung neck, and inexplicably 8 additional steel treble strings on the body. The cutaway hardly looks very useful either.

The 15-string Electric Upright Harp Bass - I reckon they are making these things up as they go along. I don't think those treble strings would be very reachable when playing the bass in an upright position. I'm a little suspicious also of inlays in fretless fingerboards, which need to be as smooth as possible with no potential ridges or edges that the strings might catch on.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

26-string Harp Guitar

There are some particularly wacko guitars on eBay right now, which is good news for this blog. This 26-string harp guitar is an acoustic with two six-string necks - one steel-strung, the other nylon, a set of six sub-bass strings and a set of eight treble strings. I understand the concept of sub-bass strings, but I'm not sure what you're supposed to do with the eight treble strings on the lower part of the body. Tune them to a chord perhaps?

The guitar is being sold by the ebay seller tropicalmoonmusic who have in the past sold some crazily-designed guitars from the Tennessee brand which have turned out to be very shoddily built and virtually unplayable. This harp guitar is very likely from the same source, even if it doesn't carry the Tennessee brand name. If you click through on the link and look at some of the other photos, it does look rather cheaply built. Look at the back of the two six string necks. They are virtually square.

It looks like fun, but I'd approach this guitar with caution.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

60s National Studio 66

national bigsby

This is a National Studio 66 from the early 60s - with a fiberglass ("res-o-glas") body. What this guitar is seems so clear just from looking at it that I don't feel like telling much more...

Enjoy!

Fender Custom Shop "La Florita" Strat with matching amp

This one off "La Florita" Stratocaster was masterbuilt by Chris Fleming in the Fender Custom Shop and purchased by its original owner at the NAMM Show in January 2005. It is part of a combo with a Fender amp, both of which feature artwork by Kid Ramos.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Standel Custom Deluxe Model 101 (1966)

Standel Custom Deluxe


Don't you think that this 1966 Standel Custom Deluxe Model 101 is absolutely stunning? It has everything I love on a guitar - the psychedelic long pointy horns, the metal front plate (on which if I understood well the bridge and the trem are fixated) and the plastic one which design visually modify completely the strat shape, the switches, the simple though extremely original headstock... Does anybody have an idea of who ever played this guitar?

I didn't know Standel until now, it's worth having a look here to know more about this aborted rival of Mosrite. I just noticed already before some other crazy headstock design on semi-hollow vintage guitars, somewhere on the Web...

Bertram

A little help...

Hey everyone, it GLW back here again. I'd like to thank Bertram for keeping this blog going for the past month whilst I've been otherwise engaged on a writing project. He's done a sterling job (even if he does have a worrying penchant for 8-string guitars) and I see that the number of Blog Watchers keeps going up and up.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to string a few words together for an introduction to this book I've been writing and need to springboard a few ideas off you guys.

What makes a guitar a guitar?

What makes it so universally appealing?

Describe the guitar in one brief sentence. (Not one particular guitar, just "guitar" in general).

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Agile Intrepid 8-string

Agile Intrepid

Well I have to say that I have this thing with 8-string guitars - maybe that will stop when I actually played one - and I have it now for the Agile Intrepid here... I like it better in 'bloodburst' (that's macho talk for good old 'transparent cherry') but I didn't want to use a catalogue picture...

Tried to find a demo of it on YouTube but each time it was someone playing Meshuggah (I have nothing against Meshuggah, they're quite good but I find them girlie - probably because that's the kind of music that my girlfriend likes...). But I say it again: you don't have to play metal when you have more than 6 strings! 

Bertram D

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Tyler Studio Elite 'Burning Water'

Tyler

I usually don't like stratoscasters and even less fancy custom paint but I have to admit that I find this Tyler Studio Elite with its 'Burning Water' finish pretty cool. So everything is possible, eh?

Friday, 10 July 2009

Nylon string acoustic double-neck


Another noticeable double-neck guitar is this nylon string acoustic one by luthier Fred Carlson. Here the body is hardly bigger than a single neck one - and this is good. Though it has six nylon strings, the longer neck could be considered as a bass one since its scale is 34' - but the baritone label doesn't require a strict scale and baritone guitars can have various scales, starting from 27'... The strings make the difference, for example the famous Fender Bass VI (30' scale) can be a quite different instrument with bass strings or baritone strings.

The other instrument on the picture from the same luthier is a sympathetic guitar - called Sympitar - with 12 sympathetic resonating strings inside the neck.
18 strings, not bad, eh? (this is my 'the more strings the better' of the week).

BC Rich Bich double-neck

BC Rich double neck Bich

Another double-neck guitar I do like, with its also divergent necks is the BC Rich Bich. You might be repulsed by its too pointy look but I find it quite elegant, and quite fonctional - that is often related. I was first interested in the Rich Bich 10 - also a good concept with 4 double strings and 2 single low ones - but the double neck works quite well too. If I was to buy a 12/6 one day, it would be probably this one..

Thursday, 9 July 2009

60s Mosrite Joe Maphis double-neck

Mosrite Joe Maphis doubleneck

Many reactions on the previous post about the Gretsch Baritone double-neck, including a comparison with the great Mosrite Joe Maphis that has indeed a much cooler look and more important has non-parallel necks, that is more organic and allows a smaller body... I just regret that it only exists as a 12/6 and not baritone/6. Also it's long time discontinued and therefore unaffordable.

About why do people use double-neck guitars, if it's just to have a rhythmic neck / solo neck for a song, I'm far from convinced - would be more interesting to develop solos with 12-string, and unless you're Jimi Hendrix ou David Gilmour, solos are so often just fillings that they don't require something so sophisticated as a double-neck guitar... Jazz à la McLaughlin feels more relevant. And I know what to do with one too (but I'm not McLaughlin, for sure).

More double-necks later!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Gretsch G5566 Jet Double Neck Baritone

gretsch double neck

this Gretsch Jet double neck Baritone is on my list of must have - at least of must play (not a fan of the sparkle finish)! A Baritone double-neck is something - more interesting to me than a 6/12. I would open-tune the regular neck for slide so I could play it from upward and shift super quick from one neck to the other.
Two Bigsbys are a lot but I'd probably enjoy them if I was better at using them!
It's hard to comment more on a Gretsch guitar since I assume that they are perfect and that you just have to write Gretsch.
Danelectro also produced a baritone double-neck - I don't know other brands that did it.

While researching this guitar, I discovered that Gretsch also releases its own line of ugly ridiculous painted guitars - we are fronting terrible times for guitar lovers...

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Gibson Firebird VII Vibrola reissue

firebird 7 vibrola


You have the classic, the bizarre, and the classic bizarre (or bizarre classic) such as the great Firebird - here a white Gibson Firebird VII with its three pickups and Vibrola trem. This white one seems to be a very rare model...

And you know what? Heaven on earth is seeing PJ Harvey playing a Firebird... And I hate that I missed her concert with John Parish last May in Berlin, it was sold out within hours when they put the tickets on sale in January and it really SUCKS! Sorry, I had to tell it to someone...

Monday, 6 July 2009

60s Framus Billy Lorento BL10

Framus Billy Lorento

This is a late 60s Framus BL10 Billy Lorento (aka Willi Lorenz aka Bela Lorentowsky aka Bill Lawrence).

Herr Lorenz is without any doubt an authority in guitar pickups, but this model looks like a shaped planck - that is always a failure for a guitar. On the other hand the shape itself is quite good, and in my opinion an unexplored yet direction for future guitar design.


Sunday, 5 July 2009

Casio MG-510 / MG-500 MIDI guitars

casio MIDI

Why is it almost impossible to have a good picture of a guitar from the 80s?

Anyway, here are the Casio MIDI guitars MG-510 (the strat clone) and MG-500 (the cool bizarre shaped one).
So no, Casio didn't just issue cheap watches, pocket calculators and toy keyboards for minimalist German electro-punk bands, they also produced some very interesting MIDI guitars - at least they provided the concept and the electronics and had famous guitar manufacturer FujiGen Gakki make the guitar parts.
It seems that these Casios where some of the best MIDI guitars of their time, a. o. since they completely integrated the MIDI system and the controls - no other did... You can get more info here.

And I think that the design of the MG-500 is one of the best of its MIDI 80s kind.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

70s Hayman 30 30

Hayman 30 30

I say, a guitar with a transparent pickguard and a fridge knobplate (not to mention the bridge) is a good guitar... So Hurray! for this Hayman 30 30!
I feel a little bit lazy today so if you want to know more about Haymans, please check here.

Friday, 3 July 2009

60s Framus 5/119-54 Television

framus

It's been a little while since we've showed some nice German vintage guitar here (OK, just one week...) so here's a Framus 5/119-54 Television (not 100% sure because the gear is chrome, not gold). We've actually had the bass version shown here a few months ago but I like this guitar better for its fanned pickups, that with the asymetric F-holes make it quite unique.

There are many good pics of it on the eBay page where I found it - it worth having a look. You can also go directly to the excellent framus-vintage.de website, on which - what an excellent idea! - you can learn anything about the whole Framus production since almost ever. Other companies should really do that (Rickenbaker has something similar but not so complete), and I realised how interesting Framus guitars are - or at least have been - and I will be more aware of them now.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Eastwood Guyatone LG-200T

eastwood guyatone

I've already written here how much I appreciate the work of Eatswood, reissuing guitars from more creative times and places - so plenty of 60s Japanese ones, like this Guyatone. I don't think that there are many other guitars built recently that have this kind of combination of 4 pickups, not to mention its interesting shape.

(Hey Mr Robinson, I say a lot of good about your company, can you please send me an Eastwood Wandre Doris? A Deluxe one, black with a vibrato - thanks).

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Gibson Nighthawk 1996

nighthawk gibson

Three different pickups on a single guitar - or when Gibson is forbidden to be creative by its own customers... This short-lived mid-90s Gibson Nighthawk seems to have been a flop but I don't know why - look at it, these three pickups look so cool and promising of unexplored sonic areas...

So why why do people want the same Les Paul again and again when they have the opportunity to have something different. If the inventors of rock'n'roll would have reacted like this, we would still be listening to calypso, musette, Umpapah, doo-wop and whatever you should be happy to never have heard about...

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