Sunday, 30 August 2009

Sonic Youth's SIgnature Fender Jazzmasters

sonic youth jazzmasters

This is not in the habits of the Guitar Blog to advertise newly released hyped signature models of big guitar companies and show-biz stars, but that's not forbidden either, and a real pleasure when it's about Sonic Youth, THE band that allows guitar lovers to stay away from show-off who mistake playing scales fast with music.

So let's enjoy the Sonic Youth's signature Fender Jazzmasters, two variations on the old lady based on how it's usually modified to create the specific Sonic Youth sound (Moore and Ranaldo's playing technic seems sometimes based on CIA's torture manual about how to make someone tell everything he has in the guts - I prefer it on guitars).
These jazzmasters are stripped to the essential, with only the pickup selector and the volume knob left - that makes sense when you believe that one guitar = one sound... - who said that versatility is a quality for a guitar?

I personally prefer Lee Ranaldo's model, with its sapphire blue transparent finish (don't think I ever saw something so beautiful on a Fender) and its humbuckers.

Even more convincing about these guitars is the fact that they are really played by Sonic Youth - they claim having used them before their release to record their last album The Eternal, and you can see that Moore is also playing his on this recent video.

EDIT: Our friend dre brought again precious and first hand information in the comments that I add to this post:

"This summer I had the lucky occasion to play some of Thurston's personal guitars, including the custom-built (by the SY guitar tech) predecessor to the signature model, along with the Fender-built prototype he uses onstage and in the studio.

My understanding is that the custom "parts" Jazzmaster was built to be Thurston's utility guitar, limited to what he thought was essential to his sound, as opposed to guitars that are strictly used for specific sounds on specific songs. He apparently worked on the specs for several years with his tech, and it's built of Warmoth or some such licensed parts. When I played it, it was in an odd tuning, as many SY guitars are, but IIRC the tech suggested that it is sometimes in standard tuning.

The Fender prototype was basically identical to the custom guitar. Same color, same parts, same neck, everything, it just said Fender on the headstock instead. I haven't played a production model yet, but Eric, the tech, said that the only difference is that they agreed to paint the headstock black to match the anodized pickguard. Same neck, same components, everything.

So the Fender model should theoretically be identical to not only Thurston's "dream guitar", but also the guitar he favors onstage. When I saw them play, he did in fact use his Fender prototype more than any other guitar, and his custom parts guitar was a close second.

Even though the guitar had only been in use for a few months, the aluminum pickguard on the prototype was already gouged and scratched up from... implements... used in the generation of sound. He wasn't babying that thing.

I personally prefer the Ranaldo model, as I am attracted to the sound of Fender WideRange humbuckers. I think I like the green finish, though.

Lee Ranaldo used his prototype on several songs in the concert I attended. He also made use of a couple of other "Jazzblasters" that appeared to be functionally the same as the prototype. Since it is so close to the Thurston model, aesthetically speaking, I would guess that he left the styling to Thurston. Given his history of WideRanger-equipped Jazzmasters, I think most would agree that the Fender signature model is honestly what Lee plays onstage, and as honest a signature model as one could have."

For your information, the Guitar Collecting blog released an eBook about signature guitars that you can find here (home made eBooks are so cool). They have a. o. a quite complete article about the Ultracure, Robert Smith's Schecter signature guitar, that is in my opinion one of the best signature ones out there, a real collaboration between a musician and a guitar maker, not a useless reproduction of an old guitar, or a slight cosmetic work on a standard.

Am I on a critical mood today?


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Saturday, 29 August 2009

Rare Heartfield EX-2 electric guitar

Hey folks, Its Ben from All About Guitars

Built in 1989 in Japan (Fuji-Gen Gakki), possibly a prototype because it differs from print advertising of the time as well as the catalog photo in terms of switch placement, scaled down strat-style body with 22 fret set-in maple neck with rosewood fingerboard.

Alder body with spectacular two piece bookmatched gray flamed maple top.

Original electronics included three single coil pickups with 3 way strat-like switching and two mini-switches with volume, tone, and midrange boost knobs.
Bridge is a Gotoh licensed Floyd Rose clone.

Tuners were also non-locking Gotohs (guitar has a locking nut).

The neck has large jumbo frets and is a pleasure to play.

Hardshell case with crushed velvet that matches the color of the guitar.

This guitar is for sell on ebay Heartfield EX-2

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Friday, 28 August 2009

Martin D18-E

Built in 1959, the D18-E was Martin's first attempt at producing an electric guitar.

They didn't really think it through as an electric guitar from the ground up, did they? They just took an existing model from their catalogue, added two DeArmond pickups and volume, tone controls and pickup selector switch. I can't imagine all that additional hardware would allow the guitar's spruce top to resonate as it was originally designed to, but nevertheless this is one cool guitar! (A pity this example on eBay isn't strung in the photos).

And of course, Kurt Cobain thought so too when he used one for Nirvana's Unplugged sessions. (I've often wondered about that. It wasn't really "unplugged", was it?)

EDIT: I've just noticed - this post was made on the 7th Anniversary of this blog - the world's longest running guitar blog! Happy birthday to us!

G L Wilson

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Thursday, 27 August 2009

Of reverse headstocks and string tension

Earlier this month, the post on the Ampeg Scroll Bass legacy provoked an interesting discussion about the so-called "reverse headstock" and its influence on string tension, sound and playability. On this post, I imprudently stated - a common misconception - that the reverse headstock provides better tension to the respective gauges of the strings.

One of our readers, who goes under the moniker dre, provided precious and detailed information to reestablish the one and only truth about this essential topic, and so I've slightly edited his comments for this post.

Adje Vandenberg Peavey
"The effective string length (ie nut-to-bridge) determines the tension, in concert with string gauge and tuned pitch. If you have two guitars identical scale length, string gauge, and tuning, but different total string lengths, you will still have identical string tension.

Imagine one of those early Les Pauls with the combo bridge/tailpiece: minimal total string length. Then imagine a Firebird with a Bigsby. Longer headstock, more string behind the bridge, maximal total length. Both guitars have the same scale length.

If both have the same strings and are tuned to standard pitch, the strings will still be at the same tension, despite the differences in total string length, because the effective string length is the same, and those 24.75 inches of string between the nut and bridge have to be at the same tension to be at the same pitch.

The real difference created by different total lengths is in the feel of the guitar. All that extra string below the bridge and above the nut on the Firebird's low E string means that the string can be stretched more. If you reach way up and pull that E string across the fretboard (Why? I don't know, you're the one doing it!), that string will be easier to bend than the E string on the Les Paul, because there's less total string to stretch on the Les. Bending a string utilizes the entire length of the string since it can slide through the nut as it stretches. Playing an open note only utilizes the effective length, unless you really hammer it and it stretches a little.

Length, mass, tension. Those are the three determinants of pitch in a string. A guitar's nut and bridge functionally isolate the string between them from the remaining string above the nut and below the bridge, with regard to vibration. The length of string between the nut and the bridge is what vibrates to produce a pitch, and that length has to be at a particular tension in order to do so, depending on the mass of the string. The entire string must be at that same tension, every inch of it, including what's above the nut and below the bridge.

If (I'm estimating here) the .052 low E string on your Les Paul needs 23 pounds of tension to be tuned correctly, then your Firebird's .052 low E string needs 23 pounds to be tuned correctly. You may have more string at 23 pounds of tension, but that 24.75 inch piece of string between the nut and bridge has to be at 23 pounds, and therefore the entire string must be at 23 pounds.

Extra strings at either end of a guitar can be attractive and even musically useful (I am a certified Sonic Youth fan), but it does not change the string tension required to tune to pitch.

Here's a thought experiment that helps visualize the irrelevance of the nut-to-tuner (or saddle-to-anchor) length of string in terms of string tension at pitch. I have forgotten who came up with the basic premise of this visualization, and it was found on some bass forum, so please don't credit it to me.

Okay: Imagine you've got Adrian Vandenberg's secret pearlescent black prototype Peavey 24.5" scale guitar from 1987. It was made with a three-foot-long reversed headstock, which makes the total length of the E string (from tuner to Floyd Rose) 61", assuming half an inch of string from the saddle to the anchor on the Floyd. Don't ask why. Vandenberg was crazy. The custom-made superlong strings cost $500 a set.

You block the Floyd Rose to immobilize it (just to take it out of the equation), loosen the locking nut, and tune up to E. Now you have 61" total string length at a tension at which the 24.5" of speaking length between the saddle and nut play an E. The whole 61" of string is at the same tension from anchor to tuner, yes?

Okay. Now, crank down that locking nut. We don't want to get out of tune while playing the chorus riff from "In the Heat of the Night". When the nut is locked, the entire string is still at the same tension, right? All we did was fix one point on the string so that it can't move. Check to make sure you still have that string tuned to E. What happens when you take your string snips and cut out the string between the nut and the tuner? The speaking string between the saddle and the nut is still 24.5", still tuned to E, and still at the exact same tension.

At the same time, you've removed three feet of string. Now the total length, including the bit between the anchor and the saddle, is 25", less than half what it was, but the tension is still the same. If the tension was lowered when the string was shortened, the string would no longer be tuned to an E. This is fundamental physics. If string of the same speaking length with the same mass is tuned to the same fundamental frequency (and it is the same in every possible parameter in this example, because it is in fact the very same string), it absolutely must be at the same tension. Whether it was 61" or 25" total length, the string had to be at the same tension when tuned to E. When using string mass, length, and tension to determine fundamental frequency, only the vibrating length is relevant.

Please note that I am referring to actual tension, the pulling force of the string. I am not talking about "perceived tension" or "feel" or "slinkiness" or "springiness" or "bendability", all of which seemed to surface in my interweb research, all of which being mistaken for tension. Since every element of a guitar affects feel and sound, surely extra string length beyond the speaking portion somehow subtly affects the feel and sound of a guitar. I'll wager it's a barely perceptible change."

So thank you dre for this extensive contribution (the picture of Adje Vanderberg's signature Peavey guitar is supposed somehow to make all this even more convincing).


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Tuesday, 25 August 2009

70s Jolana Star X
jolana star x

Another Czechoslovakian guitar (I didn't write "Czechoslovakian" for ever, did you?), this stunning Jolana Star X looks like these guitars that are never supposed to leave the drawing board, a designer's fantasy made true.

The headstock is beautifully simple, even the flashy pickguard works and contributes to balance a otherwise twisted body, though its pure lines...

That's the kind of guitar that has 95% chances to be ugly and it is just brilliant.


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Monday, 24 August 2009

Jolana Diamant Bass

I don't know what it sounds like (the listing claims that it is in playable condition) but the Les Paul styling of this vintage Czech-built Jolana Diamant bass really appeals to me. Gibson themselves have made the occasional attempt over the years of producing a Les Paul bass but they always looked very awkward to my eyes, whereas this retro-looking instrument seems to have got it right, visually at least. It has, I believe, a certain mojo emanating from it. (Undoubtedly the Gibson basses sound better and are of better build quality).

G L Wilson

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Fender Precision Bass

fender precision bass

I'm happy to share today something I just learned yesterday (maybe I'm just dumb and was the only one who didn't know but still it's worth telling) about electric guitar genesis.

Probably even more important that his contribution to solid body guitars, Leo Fender developed the electric bass (invented by Paul Tutmarc in the 30s). But the chronology of it is interesting. The Esquire/Broadcaster/Telecaster guitar came first (1951), then the Precision Bass, for which Leo Fender invented the double-horn design to reduce and balance a bigger body. And this lead to the design of the iconic Stratocaster.

But the P-Bass came first.


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Sunday, 23 August 2009

Jupiter Creek electric baritone ukulele

This solid electric baritone uke is entirely handmade from Australian timbers by Rob Dick of Jupiter Creek Music near Adelaide in Australia. Rob's baritone ukes are each designed as from the ground up as a baritone ukulele and aren't merely re-modelled children's guitars. He also makes a range of other ukuleles, slide guitars and ukes, tenor guitars, dulcimers, stomp boxes, etc. He offers instruments in original designs as well as those derived from the Telecaster, Les Paul - and unusually - the Ovation Breadwinner.

His website says that he is struggling to catch up with backorders and won't be taking any new orders for the time being, so it's nice to know that someone out there is doing well in this time of recession.

G L Wilson

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Saturday, 22 August 2009


...for the sparsity of recent updates. I've been having some major computer problems over the last couple of weeks but hopefully will at last be getting my laptop sorted out this weekend. The problem after that will be to get the wireless router to function properly - that's also been a major headache.

On top of all this I've been looking for work. Note to any publishers or magazine editors out there: Yes, I am available for any writing commissions. I have recently completed work on a book about guitars which will be published in December and am available to do further work like this, be it books, magazine articles, or whatever.

G L Wilson

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Musima Eterna on Soviet Guitars

Another guitar that is just a picture and no sound (until I finally manage to get one and post a track). But I can't imagine that someone would build such a beautiful and sophisticated machine if not to provide a good music instrument!

But this post is not only about the guitar itself, but about the website where I found it - on which you can see a superb series of pictures of it. It was hard not to hack their whole Musima Eterna page and show most of these pictures, so you must go there and check particularly the trem and the bridge.

DDR is often associated with rough and depressive design, but Musima guitars prove how untrue this is!
BTW, the Soviet Guitars website is in Russian so most of readers will have to navigate blind, but that's worth, and you will see some nice Jolana, Ural and this kind of stuff, all beautifully photographed.


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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Oud player Kamilya Jubran

A few months ago I discovered oud player and singer Kamilya Jubran. Though this is not the kind of music I usually listen to (and I listen to a lot of different styles), it just took one song on the radio to instantly order the CD, and it's one of my favorite since.

Oud has a lot of shared DNA with guitar, and I wish I could find a singer / guitar player who would be so interesting, simple, sincere and still ambitious, mixing tradition and modernity (Jubran's lyrics are taken from Arabic and African contemporary poets, she often works with real time computer treatment).

Anyway, I'm sure that the comments will offer some counter-examples! Actually that's on this blog that I first read about Kaki King and she's also some guitarist!


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Monday, 17 August 2009

Les Paul - Guitarist Extraordinaire

I've only just heard about this, but I'm sure you've all heard about Les Paul's passing by now. This kind of sad news has an uncanny knack of happening whenever I go away for a few days leaving the blog untended.

G L Wilson

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Heavily Modified Unknown Guitar


Recently I asked my friend Philo what was his trick to play guitar with a bow, something I know he does frequently. It's been a few years since I met him and saw him on stage, so I forgot his "secret", and I understood when he sent me this picture and a detailed description.

So he rebuilt a guitar to make this hybrid: he carved a bridge inspired by cello's, just wider and shorter, raised the tail piece with a block of wood, changed the inclination of the neck, unfretted the fingerboard, moved the neck pickup and put a piezzo at the bridge. From the pic it seems that this guitar had also a little bit sawed off but I don't know if it was part of this process! He mixes bass and guitar strings and created his own open tuning.

The mod looks a little bit rough, but Philo is a musician and not a fetishist, so once he has the sound (and the sound he has!), how it looks doesn't matter (I hope I was so free minded!). Philo is a French guitar improviser, a hero of the shade haunting the impro noise free jazz French scene for two decades, he's also an excellent photographer dedicated to impro, who shot the greatest musicians and dancers in a very personal way, and - nobody's perfect - a clown. And he's my friend, though it's been years since last time we had a good dueling guitar concert together.

(I didn't put any effort into identifying the guitar, it's not so important, but I'm sure that someone will and tell it in the comments).


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Yamaha SB-50 Bass

OK, so the Kavkaz bass went down like a lead balloon. Don't like Russian, eh?

How about a very nice vintage Japanese bass from 1972? I've not seen a bass like this Yamaha SB-50 before and I must say that I like it.

It has a National/Valco/Supro look to it, and if it weren't for the grain of the wood clearly visible on the top, you could believe that that body with its german carve could be made from fibreglass.

This particular bass looks to be in beautiful condition, which isn't bad for a 37-year old instrument. I'm not sure, but I'd guess it's a short-scale bass - I've always had a bit of a soft-spot for the much maligned short-scale bass. If I were in the market for a bass at the moment I'd certainly consider this.

G L Wilson

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Flight of the Conchords bass guitar

Here's one for all fans of Flight of the Conchords - it's a Russian-built Kavkaz bass as used by Jemaine Clement in the TV series, and is currently for sale on eBay. It even has the green pickguard, just like Jemaine's, although it seems to have an extra pickup in the bridge position - or possibly those two coils are wired together as a humbucker. I'm not sure what happened to tbe volume and tone pots and why the output jack is positioned where you'd expect to find the volume control. Also, it looks like someone's had a go at earthing the tailpiece with a piece of wire.

It might look like a piece of junk, but as a big Conchords fan I was seriously considering buying this, although seeing as I'm out of work at the moment, now probably isn't the best time to be spending money.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Kawai Aquarius, blogs and stuff

Hi, this is Bertram.
As GLW pointed out in the previous post, I've been posting regularly here in the last weeks and it's been a very interesting experience, full of learning, sharing, exchange and - well - discipline; finding something interesting to post everyday is not always easy!
Anyway, I will keep posting once in a while when I find something worthwhile...

But I also have my own blogs, and I take the opportunity to advertise them to the Guitarz many readers.

First (and you will now understand why there is this bizarre picture on the right), I just started a blog about Kawai Aquarius guitars. This is not the greatest or most famous guitar, but I have a soft spot for it and it's very difficult to find information about it on the Web. So I call for contribution and invite players and owners of Kawai Aquarius guitars (and bass) to send me pictures, stories, tracks, videos... to feed this blog.

But my main blog stays gUitarREN (it's a mix of German, French and English for guitar - of course), a blog about guitar design and projects. From my background as a musician and a visual artist, I started one year ago to study thoroughly about guitars, first to master new aspects of guitar playing, then in the idea that I want to make guitars myself, then I got really involved (I mean even more than before) and went into drawing guitars every day as a creative design process and post them on my blog. I also started building my projects, but I have to learn everything while doing it, and have not so much time and will never have enough to actualize all my ideas...

So I'd love to meet a guitar maker who needs a designer and try a collaboration, if you are interested you can contact me via my profile (you know what? I contacted some companies already and Fender answered, they do have an office to receive suggestions from people like me, interesting, isn't it?).

Thank you for your attention.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Old Kraftsman square acoustic guitar

I've made no deliberate secret of the fact that between mid-June and July of this year I was very busily employed writing a book about guitars (yes, it was a very tight deadline, imposed by the publishers), which is why Bertram was looking after this blog almost single-handedly during that period. However, this may have escaped your attention as I haven't been harping on about the book mainly because I was waiting for it to be published in December before making a big noise about it.

Anyway, you know the kind of book it is. Lots of pictures and descriptions of guitars and basses, old and new, classics and modern innovative designs, the weird and wacky, etc. In fact, it's a lot like a book version of this blog.

The first job I had to do was to come up with a list of 500 different guitars. I needed a fair representation of everything. As well as the guitars everyone expects to see, I wanted to include a fair selection of oddities, and hopefully some that aren't in all the other guitar books. I think I suceeded fairly well, but you'll have to decide for yourselves in December when the book is released.

The reason I mention this all now, is that occasionally - as happened last night - I'm trawling eBay looking for an interesting guitar to feature on this blog, and I see something like this Old Kraftsman square acoustic guitar which makes me want to kick myself that I hadn's seen it earlier and included it in the book.

I have to confess, though, that I know nearly nothing about this guitar and had I needed to write about it I would have been scratching my head for a fair while trying to think of something to say, which isn't good when you're on a tight deadline.

What I do know is that Old Kraftsman is a brand name for the Spiegal department store and that the guitars were built by the Kay guitar company.

The design of this square guitar is quite unusual. It has a art deco feel to it, especially with the radiogram-styled soundholes, and the smooth contoured edges give it the appearance of having been built from bakelite. However, the close-up photos on the eBay listing show cracking in what must be a wooden body.

I have no idea what it would sound like, and confess that I can't get the idea out of my head that it must sound "boxy", however corny that comment might sound.

Note also that the body is not a geometrically precise rectangle and that it is tapered. The body shape is reminiscent of, although it pre-dates, the classic Steinberger bass and guitar from the early 80s.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Beano Guitar

Beano GuitarI very much doubt it's worth the fifty quid starting price, but I love stuff like this. This looks to me very like an old Classico brand guitar, just like the one I took lessons on when I was 11 (my sister still has mine at her house).

As to The Beano comic, well it was a British instituion. Absolutely fantastic! Don't accept any Dennis the Menace imposters with yellow hair, the real Dennis the Menace wore a red and black striped jersey, had black spiky hair and a dog called Gnasher.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Jazzgitarren website


I found lately an amazing Japanese website about German vintage guitars, Jazzgitarren, and it's absolutely baffling. A complete unknown part of modern guitar history is suddenly revealed to me.

So far I just believed (more or less) in the widely accepted but limited view of electric guitar history - Gibson invented the archtop mandolin then guitar then added pickups then made the semi-hollow then the Les Paul solid body. And then Fender found out how to make a guitar from a plank, and then the Japaneses started to copy American guitars and the Italians had a burst of creativity (this I still have to understand how and why)...

But all these German guitars were completely out of the picture, and they are so beautiful, so creative that I can't understand how I never heard of them before - though I've been curious about European vintage guitars for a while.

Anyway, I'm happy to share this discovery here. The Jazzgitarren website shows the early production (50s, 60s) of most famous German brands such as Höfner, Framus, Hoyer or Dynacord, and many more, both from BRD and DDR. I extracted a few pictures of of these guitars - left to right and up to down: Musima Record, Neubauer Thinline, Hoyer Bianka, Hopf Explorer Standard, Shadow Violin Guitar, Höfner 175. Your can really spend a few hours on this site, believe me!

There is something similar for Italian vintage guitars, the quite famous


Monday, 3 August 2009

Danelectro Teardrop acoustic

This teardrop-shaped guitar from Danelectro looks like it has something missing. "Where are the pickups and volume and tone controls?", I want to ask. Of course, it's an acoustic guitar - the teardrop shape is reminiscent of a lute, but I'm not used to the idea of Danelectro acoustics - I'm more used to their masonite-on-a-pine-frame-bodied electrics. It looks to be a nicely-made guitar with no masonite to be seen, but I wonder about how full an acoustic tone it has.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Ampeg Scroll Bass and Legacy
Ampeg basses

This post will be a little bit fatter than usually, because I wanted to share a little inquiries I made about the Italia Imola 6 guitar, that lead me to rediscover the fabulous Ampeg AEB-1 aka the Horizontal Bass aka the Scroll Bass aka the F-hole Bass, and a couple of its descendants.

There was already a post about this bass last year on Guitarz, with a picture that gives a good idea of what wearing it must feel, with its huge double bass headstock. You can also find a very complete database about it on Johnson's Extremely Strange Musical Instrument Company 's website. Bruce Johnson builds nowadays quite acurate copies of the Scroll Bass that you can see on the small picture on the right.

scroll bassThe first big pic shows bass amps builder Ampeg's first series of 'horizontal' basses, starting in 1966 - their previous and first instrument was the 1962 Baby Bass, a small body fiber glass/plastic double bass. There are 3 Scroll Bass models, let's keep the Devil Bass (center) for a future post ; the f-hole models are the 1966 AEB-1 (AUB-1 for the fretless version - the very first fretless electric bass), and its 1968 upgraded version the AMB-1/AMUB-1.

Of course their most remarkable features are the 2 f-holes cut through the solid body, and the headstocks directly inspired by violon family instruments. It's quite of our time that a retro inspiration would result in such an inovative design!

The AEB-1/AUB-1 was designed to be appeal to upright bass players and featured a weird hidden pickup which was essentially a steel diaphragm over two magnetic coils set into epoxy. This meant that the bass could use gut strings. Notice also the way that the tailpiece extends beyond the body - this was so as to achieve the correct string angle over the hidden pickup.

The later AMB-1/AMUB-1 is a logic adaptation to modern rock sound, with more classical humbucker single pickup for metal strings, smaller head and Fender style tailpiece. You will find a very complete description of all these instruments on Bruce Johnson's website linked above.
Bruce Johnson's contemporary versions AEB-2/AUB-2 intend to be humble improvements of the original model, with the benefit of 40 years on electric lutherie. The few changes are meant to - as Johnson puts it - "bring the Scroll Bass design up to its full potential". That is definitely an instrument I'd love to play!

EEB eastwood

This is what Eastwood Guitars made based on the second model of the Scroll Bass - the AMB-1.

's EEB-1 is also a quite faithful reproduction, a noticeable change is the slightly shorter lower f-hole and the pickguard curling around it, and of course you can see that the scroll headstock is gone. I can understand that a modern guitar needs to get rid of vintage oddities - and the replacement headstock has a good design - but you probably loose the feeling of playing a horizontal double bass...

Like Ampeg, Eastwood proposes also a fretless version, the EUB-1.

italia imola 4

Now this is the Italia Imola 4 Deluxe in Cherry Sunburst. As you can see, the shape is the same but the two cut-through-body f-holes have been replaced by a more classical one (I actually read contradictory information about this f-hole, here it's called a "faux f-hole", there a "solid body f-hole", also this bass is said to have a "chambered solid body" but without "glued top", so something like vintage Rickenbackers... if someone knows more, it's welcome).

The big contoured pickguard is also there - without the lower f-hole - and the headstock is more classic (and very 60s - it looks like the one of my Musima ES-335 style bass). The pickups are completely different and are closer to a J-bass than to an Ampeg. This bass exists also fretless and/or 5-string.

No matter how much it betrays its Ampeg model, it's a beautiful instrument.

imola 6 italia

And finally this is the Italia Imola 6 Standard with which the all thing started. For this model Italia didn't try to reproduce a vintage model but extrapolated from their own interpretation of the Ampeg Scroll Bass. The result is a rounded Jaguar shape with a characteristic f-hole partially covered by a large pickguard. The 6 tuners in line headstock is inverted, that seems always to me the logical thing to do - the tuners have easier access and the tension suits better the different string gauges (and it's not only true for metal guitars).

Imola 6 doesn't only stand for 6 strings (as in Imola 4 or 5 for the 4- and 5-string basses) but mostly for the quite original 6 pickups - 3 vintage Teisco style split singlecoils. These pickups and the two 5-way levers allow many combinations - 25 -, some of which are probably quite original and must give this guitar a quite unique sound.

You can find a detailled review on and nothing on where the guitar is not even mentioned, though you can find it on their newer (I suppose) JHS website - where the bass models are completely missing... Italia people, please make some maintenance, it's confusing!

is a brand created by Trevor Wilkinson - THE Wilkinson - and intends to combine vintage creativity (isn't it contradictory to look in the past for creativity?) and contemporary technical qualities.

thanks to blogmaster GL Wilson for his expertise about the Scroll Bass.

EDIT. This is a close-up of the scroll headstock of the 1966 Ampeg model - none of the previous pictures give a clear look of it.

EDIT 2. Just found a blog about the original scroll Bass, it's here.


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