Friday, 30 April 2010

Semi-fretted, semi-fretless bass
Graham Clark writes:
Here is my bass player Brian Franks. He is a lefty playing a right-handed bass - strings upside down - fat ones at the bottom.

He has modified the neck of his bass, making the 2 skinny strings FRETLESS, and the 2 fat strings FRETTED - if you look carefully at the pic you will see.

It is fantastic.

When he just wants to chug along he plays on the frets - when he wants to solo he can get freaky on the fretless - it's a fantastic concept.

He has been playing this bass for 10 years in my band BRILLEAUX.

Thanks for that, Graham. It's nice to see that the spirit of innovation is alive and well, and that people are actually making good use of such ideas.

It's not a totally new concept. I believe that Wilkes Guitars here in the UK used to offer this 2 strings fretted/2 strings fretless layout as an option on their basses. There was another option to have the bass fretted for all the strings half-way up the neck and then to have the rest of it fretless.

My favourite fretted/fretless concept is from a Russian manufacturer called Mikey Guitars who produce and guitars and basses with rotating frets allowing you to change from fretted to fretless at the flick of a switch.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Helliver guitars made in Germany

Helliver 3
Helliver 1
I completely agree with GL's statement in his recent post about Z.S. Thomas custom guitars, about this lack of exciting contemporary guitars that make us value so much the old models from the 60s.

But it is not enough to indulge ourselves in nostalgia about  guitars built before we were born, when there are some people who keep trying, keep creating, keep believing in this marvelous instrument and the music relaying on it.

Such are the people at the Münster based small guitar company Helliver guitars - who build the guitars you can see on the right (my personal interest made me select these two chambered metal front models but they have more regular ones). Most of their guitars are based on standard designs but their aesthetic experimentations are highly enjoyable.

I particularly like the metal front cut out of an enameled road sign of the blue guitar, and the almost steampunk sound holes and corroded finish of the other one - these are smart alternatives to the current faux-vintage trend. They actually play a lot with opposition between contradictory element like recycled material and chicken head knobs mixed with high-end gear like the wide wraparound bridges and wide chrome P90s.

Cool guitars indeed.


Thursday, 29 April 2010

Wandre Brigitte Bardot model
Continuing from yesterday's discussion about Wandre and Davoli, this Brigitte Bardot model is exactly what we expect to see from Wandre guitars, from the crude-looking metal head mounted onto the metal broomstick neck, to the floating pickguard with integral pickups and the electrics curiously mounted inside their own little metal box.

And no, from my understanding, it's not an early case of a rather bizarre artist endorsement. I know Ms Bardot had a busy career in modelling, acting and animal activism, but her guitar-playing talents are unknown. This guitar was named after her because of its sexy curves.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Davoli Athena bass
The Davoli Athena bass is quite a striking looking instrument with some elegant carving, although not quite a German carve (an Italian carve perhaps?), going on around the sides and top edge that give it a look reminiscent of an antique violin. The faux soundhole containing a rotating plate holding the pickups is also a novel idea and must have - if this is a 1960s bass, and I'm pretty certain that it is - pre-dated Rick Turner's use of the same idea on his Model 1 guitar (as played by Fleetwood Mac's Lyndsey Buckingham).

So, what do we know of Davoli? (I originally typed that as Davoli to rhymes with a popular Italian pasta dish. I must be hungry.) Well, Athos Davoli was a friend and associate of Antonio "Wandre" Pioli, and was responsible for the electrics and pickups found on Wandre guitars. Indeed, the names Wandre and Davoli are inextricably linked. Davoli started his own electronics workshop in 1957, and produced a range of amplifiers and PA systems under the Davoli Krundaal banner in the early 1960s before teaming up with Wandre.

The seller of this bass suggests that it was created by Wandre, although it is very different - almost conservative - compared to the majority of his guitars. Most noticeably, it does not have a metal neck with bolted on headstock. This isn't to say that there was no Wandre connection, but I feel it's interesting that this bass is referred to specifically as a "Davoli".

If anyone knows the full story or has any further info, then please do share!

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Mike Cooley of Drive By Truckers and his weird Tele

You know what I'm like. I see a weird guitar and I just have to identify it. So, last night I was watching Later... with Jools Holland which had Drive By Truckers among the studio guests. Of course, my eye was caught by the guitar being played by the singer/guitarist Mike Cooley. As can be seen in the photo opposite, it's a Tele-style guitar with a droopy-looking lower horn.

It turns out that this guitar was built by Scott Baxendale, who has also built several other guitars for Drive By Truckers. The guy's got quite an impressive CV in the world of guitar restoration and building, having worked for Mossman Guitars, Gruhn Guitars, Hard Rock Cafe among others and having been responsible for the care and maintenance of the Grand Ole Opry Museum collection. His clientele also includes Steve Howe, Henry Rollins, Tito and Tarantula, The Vines, The Blasters, Jason Isbell, Centromatic, Shooter Jennings, Hank III, Charlie Louvin, Jorma Kaukonen, Butch Walker, Rilo Kiley, The Black Crowes, The North Missippi All Stars, Booker T. Jones, Mick Jones, Franz Ferdinand, Justin Townes Earle... the list goes on and on! (Although I thought Booker T. was a Hammond organ player?)

By the way, I'm not sure who to credit for the photo reproduced here. I found it here and apologise in advance for borrowing it but it does illustrate my post quite nicely.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Gibson Les Paul Standard in Latte Creme
Here's a Gibson Les Paul Standard from 2004 in the apparently rare finish known as "latte creme"

Or "Antigua" as Fender prefer to call it.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Brua semi-solid headless guitar
Here's an interesting guitar being sold by a French seller on eBay. Now, my French is not very good but Bertram tells me that the listing says:
Incredible guitar made by Pierrick BRUA, who is a great French luthier. The shape and comfort are amazing and the woods are beautiful. The string block system allows mounting any string gauge - here 12-52 flat wound strings. It is very versatile and is suitable for all styles. Mini switches allow multiple sound combinations. The body is semi-hollow and gives much sustain. The guitar is perfect for guitarists who travel and who always want to have the best sound anywhere. Those who know KLEIN guitars and especially their demented prices will understand the value of this guitar.
This looks to be a one-off guitar from another guy who isn't afraid to push the boundaries and experiment with guitar design.

Perrick Brua seems to mainly concentrate on Jazz guitars, and has some very interesting and attractive examples on dislay at his website. His Millenium jazzer is particularly eye-catching.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Monday, 26 April 2010

A little help ... Anyone have an info on this Hendrick guitar?
Buck sent this picture thinking it had blog potential. He's right, it does... BUT I know nothing about this guitar and can't seem to find anything about it. Apparently the manufacturer is Hendrick, but you try doing a search for "Hendrick guitar" - the search engines think you are searching for "Hendrix".

So, I'm turning this one over to you, the readers. Any information would be appreciated.

In the meanwhile all I can say is that I like the clash of influences on display here. It's a cross between a Telecaster, an Explorer and with a bit of Danelectro thrown into the mix. However the locking nut, locking trem and EMG-esque bridge pickup set at a rakish angle, would suggest that this guitar is probably aimed at those who are born to shred.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Bill Hatcher Bass VI Telecaster

Hatcher Bari-Tele

In reaction to the Baritone Telecaster post, Craig sent us these pics of his E-e tuned Baritele, and the following text:

'I read your post on baritone teles and thought you might like to see what I have.
I don't know much about it, as far as I can tell, it was made by Bill Hatcher who might be based in Atlanta, Georgia. His name is in the control cavity, along with the date oct. 91.
I acquired it in the mid 90's in Austin, Texas.
Itis tuned like a Fender bass six, from E to E, so i guess it might be more accurate to call it a six string bass, although I think of something quite different when i hear "six string bass".
It has 2 EMG jazz bass pickups in it, which I've often thought of switching out with some Danelectro style lipstick pickups, just because it would look cool. I think the bridge is a Schaller and it's got a neck-thru construction. The wood has some nice figuring to it, although the finish is cracking. Not really sure what the woods are or what sort of finish it has on it.
Maybe some of your readers might know more about BillHatcher, I'd love to know more about this thing.

Well thanks to you Craig, I can't help but I hope you'll find answers amongst the Guitarz community.


Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Z.S. Thomas Custom Electric Guitars

I suppose one of the things we are sometimes guilty of on this blog is that to an extent we are living in the past. When looking for the weird, wacky and wonderful - indeed the blog-worthy - we look to the past all too often and not towards new and contemporary instruments.

I suppose this is partly a backlash against the major guitar companies, who issue and re-issue subtle variants of the same old guitar models over and over. I'm sorry but I'm not going to go to the effort of writing a blog post about the latest Stratocaster offering from Fender that appears ostensibly to have no significant difference from the last one they were raving about. Gibson are a bit more amusing with their re-hashed designs with reverse bodies and guitars with holes cut out of them, but I'd rather leave this coverage to the other blogs and look for something more original. (And some of my fellow bloggers will sympathize when I mention the sheer onslaught of Epiphone press releases promoting the same guitars over and over. It doesn't put you into a good disposition towards a manufacturer.)

But, yes, here at Guitarz we are interested in genuine new products and innovation. We especially like the "little guy" who more often than not is behind the truly original and interesting guitar designs of the modern day.

I've been meaning to post about Z.S. Thomas Custom Electric Guitars for several months now but what with one thing and another and being slightly absent-minded these days, I kept managing to forget to do so. Until Seth Thomas himself, the luthier behind Z.S. Thomas guitars, gave me a kick up the arse (or "ass" if you're American - but in the UK that's just another word for donkey) and asked me when I was going to get around to it.

From the front the Z.S. Thomas guitar is a fairly recognisable design, but as you'll appreciate from viewing the graphic showing the guitar in rotation, the body is in fact ergonomically contoured and sculpted to fit snugly against the human form.

Now what the photo at the top of this post doesn't show you is the rear of the guitar. I so wanted to show you a picture of the rear, and so have taken one from the Z.S. Thomas website.

Now, looking at the photos above and the one here on the left, what do you notice?

Anything unusual at all?

Anything missing in fact?

You'll see that there is no pickguard on the front of the guitar, but also no access plates on the rear of the guitar.

So, the $64,000 question is, how does Mr Thomas get all the electrickery inside?

Here's the cunning part. It's an invention call the "pot pod". Other than the pickup routing, the only other routing in the guitar is a circular hole beneath each of the volume and tone controls. The volume and tone pots are each mounted in a little unit - the pot pod - and these are inserted into the holes. Very clever. And which leaves for a guitar with a minium of routing, no extraneous cavities, and which should resonate all the better. It also, of course, has a very neat appearance with no plates on the front or back, because they simply are not needed.

If I did have a criticism, I'd say that I'm personally not too enamoured by the oversize knobs, no doubt chosen because they cover the whole of the top of each pot pod (1.25" diameter), but these are custom-built guitars and I'm sure Mr Thomas would oblige with a different choice of knob if that's what the customer asked for. There must be plenty of knobs of a top-hat style with a wide lower flange that could cover the required area. But as I say, this is just a very minor issue, and a purely personal one.

Read more here:

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!


tele fly

Not really necessary to write anything, it is enough to acknowledge that it exists: some guy sells a telecaster custom body with a giant fly carved on it - unless it is the result of a unexpected transmogrification by some mad scientist who let a fly enter his secret telecaster nano-generator... 


Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Baritone Telecasters

Tussard tele Baritone

Grosh Electratone Baritone
Yesterday I was surfing the Web tracking exciting guitars (I don't only do that to feed this blog but I fished also a couple of good ideas for my metal front guitar projects) and I found the Trussart Steelcaster Baritone above, that made me aware of something I never suspected before: there are baritone telecasters out there! At first it felt like a contradiction, since for me who love big semi-hollow bodies, the telecaster is such a small guitar!

So I checked around a little bit more and found out that though there are none produced in series, Warmoth and some other guitar parts companies sell baritone conversion tele necks, and that many guitar lovers make and play their own bari-teles like some call them (BTW it's so refreshing to be around guitar fans who don't care about schredding!)

The Trussart is without doubts a limited edition like all Trussart products, and the only other model that is not a conversion is the Don Grosh Electratone Baritone (on the right) that is actually just a prototype - I don't know how many were issued since I just found one, but the blending of a telecaster and a Danelectro feels right and I love lipstick pickups...

Anyway I'm thrilled by the idea of a baritone telecaster and that would be a cool project, I'm tempted...


edit: I'm told that the Fender Custom Shop actually issued baritone telecasters under the name Bajo Sexto... A quick Internet search shows no more info (but that there are also some called Subsonics) but I'll do a post about this as soon as I know more.

  Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Daion Savage from 1982
The Daion Savage is another all-but-forgotten Japanese guitar from the late 70s/early 80s.

It's a good looking guitar equppied with with DiMarzio pickups, and featuring a heel-less bolt-on neck. The shape appears to be quite ergonomic having a pronounced upper wing which would support the right forearm nicely.

I can't find out a lot about Daion guitars on the net, other than the name is mentioned in conjunction with the famed Matsumoko factory out of which many other quality Japanese brands also emerged (Westone, Aria, Univox, etc...). There is also mention of the brand having grown out of the earlier Yamaki guitars brand. One thing is certain, that is these were quality instruments and are beloved by those who own them.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Selmer archtop guitar with the weirdest-looking pickup

Here we see a vintage Selmer archtop guitar with a very strange-looking pickup unit attached. At first I thought it might be an aftermarket pickup for electrifying acoustic guitars, but the unit and the guitar itself both bear the Selmer name and as the pickup seems to be firmly bolted into place perhaps the guitar actually came like this new.

It's certainly the ugliest looking thing I've seen clamped to the front of a guitar since Godley & Creme's Gizmo sustaining device (and never mind that came later).

Selmer were a musical instrument manufacturer established in the early 1900s and based in Paris, although by 1928 they had aquired a semi-independent UK branch. From the 1950s and through to the 1970s they imported German-made Höfner guitars. Some of Selmer UK's own-brand guitars were actually produced by Höfner especially for the UK market, and that is most likely what we are seeing in the example pictured here.

Thanks to David Brown for bringing this guitar to my attention.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Roy Rogers (and Trigger) guitar
Collectors of cowboy movie and Roy Rogers memorabilia might be interested in this Roy Rogers guitar in pretty clean condition. However, guitarists might be alarmed at the string alignment, action and the construction of wood, plastic and heavy pressed cardboard!

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Devo's Bob Mothersbaugh and the Blue Potato guitar

As a big fan of Devo I am excited that they are releasing new material for the first time in 20 years, and from what I've heard already it sounds like classic Devo!

I was also pleased to see that guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh is once again using the Ibanez "Blue Potato" guitar that he lost and was later reunited with. You know how we love wacky guitars here on Guitarz, and Bob's one-off Blue Potato is one of my own very favourites.

Watch Devo performing "Fresh" here.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Paul Doyle Millenium Tree 2000
Paul Doyle is a luthier based in Galway, Ireland, where for the last 30-odd years he has been handbuilding guitars, harps, mandolins, mandolas and bouzoukis. In 2000 he built the above-pictured Millenium Tree 2000 guitar to honour and respect the use of wood for musical instruments.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

50s flat-top hollow-body brand-less guitar

brandless flat top semi-hollow

The old floor again, with a matching vintage hollow-body jazz guitar in natural finish.
I can't identify this guitar, it is quite simple compared to the German jazz guitars of the time but the headstock doesn't remind me of any famous American brands... This is much probably a vintage custom - the natural finish looks to me like the original paint finish has been sanded off but the flat top can also mean it's an handmade one-off. Anyway the added P90 pickup says that it's originally an acoustic guitar and then I'm quite out of my field...

Any ideas?

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Steelphon guitar from 1960s Italy (at a guess)
I'm afraid don't know anything about this Steelphon guitar currently being offered for sale on eBay. In fact, the Steelphon brand is one that is unfamiliar to me, although a quick search on the name shows they were better known for amps. has a photo of a Steephon Tiger amp which it says was made in Turin, Italy, and so I think it would be a reasonable guess that the guitar is also Italian-made.

I don't think this one is going to sell for big bucks, although one thing that would put me off as a buyer is the missing bridge saddle for the B-string. It could be near impossible finding a replacement, and might just be easier to replace the whole bridge.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Jolana Star vintage guitar from Czechoslovakia

The eBay seller of this Jolana Star circa 1963-66 is not too sure how it came into the UK bearing the Jolana name on the pickguard and the Star legend on the headstock, seeing as these were usually imported under the Futurama brandname.

This example appears to have all parts present and correct and is in great condition for its age. One interesting feature is the translucent plastic cover for the open-backed tuners on the back of the headstock. I don't think I've ever seen anything similar.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Lace Cybercaster

Lace Cybercaster

You know this wooden floor, it's behind every guitar picture you can find on the Vintage Guitar eBay shop - and I regularly choose the best ones to show them here...

But do you know the Lace cybercaster laying on it? Well actually if you ever saw it once, you couldn't forget its highly recognizable shape and natural rosewood finish. The gear is very syncretist, combining the big bridge plate of the telecaster, the jack input of the strat and the double humbucker configuration of the Les Paul...

I could say more but there is a good review here that I would just paraphrase!

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Hohner Hollywood Bass VI / Baritone guitar
This post is for Biliby who emailed me waxing lyrical about a Jazzmaster/Strat hybrid guitar he'd found called the Hohner JT-60 - see pics of that one here.

The above-pictured guitar, however, is a custom shop version designed to function as a Bass VI. However, the guitar scale makes the strings a little floppy at the regular bass tuning and so it's more realistic to use it tuned to G. Not quite as low as a bass (c'mon, only three notes out), but lower than most baritone guitars. This was actually my own guitar, but I sold it several years ago when I was having my great guitar clear out. It was quite sad; I needed money to pay the bills, and ended up selling virtually my whole guitar collection. However, I soon built up another collection.

The guitar was manufactured in the Far East, but finished and set-up in Wales in the UK. I believe the guitar is a Trevor Wilkinson design (hey, he gets everywhere) and features Wilkinson pickups and Wilkinson tremolo. The tremolo on the bass was fantastic - twang-tastic, even! I used this guitar on a few recordings in both bass and baritone roles. The string spacing also allowed EBow usage which sounded great. It was a very nice guitar, but not one that got played a whole lot.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Pop-art Rickenbacker 330 - just like Paul Weller's
Neal Davies writes:
Hey there,

Just saw your post about Paul Weller's "Whaam!" Rickenbacker 330 and thought you'd like to see my copy of it.

I came across it (literally stumbled across it) a couple of years ago on eBay. The artist who created it is called David Arcadian. He runs a company called Rockstar Interiors who do high-end interior design ( for clients including Evander Holyfield!

Like me, he's a Brit and a fan of The Jam. He's also a collector of Rickenbacker guitars. I asked him why he decided to copy Weller's legendary 330 and he said: "I had to. I couldnt find one to buy for love or money. That one you have I believe was number 3. Completely unique on red. Loved the result. Natural flow, instead of rudely abbreviated when everything ran to black, like on Weller's." (This alludes to the point that the original was Jetglo and the Lichtenstein ended up with a stark black frame. This one was originally red). Its so beautiful even my wife didnt complain when I brought it home!

Thought you'd like to see it.


Thanks Neal. You are correct in thinking we'd want to see your guitar. In fact we NEED to see guitars like these. It's what the blog is all about.

I'd heard that Weller's original was just about unplayable. I hope that yours functions as it should. Anyway, thanks for sharing.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Orfeus pickup detail from Lord Bizarre
Last June we took a look at a Bulgarian-made Orfeus 12-string semi-hollowbodied guitar.

Lord Bizarre
, collector and enthusiast of such weird guitars, has emailed me with further information about the rather strange-looking staggered pickups. He says:
"They're single coils (possibly handwound) and then fitted arround three square magnets and held with some rope bands. Very strange construction and therefore perhaps 4 pu's needed for 12 strings (3 magnets/pu x 4 pu's = 12 "polepieces" I presume...)"
Weird indeed! And thanks for the feedback.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Jolana Vikomt with zebra finish

Jolana tele thinline zebra

This Jolana Vikomt is of course familiar to you, not only because of its tele-based design, but because it's a one-pickup / hardtail version of the Jolana Iris that I showed here in February.
But this one has an interesting custom paint, obviously from another cultural era! No skulls and no flames and no fake tribal patterns like it seems obligatory these days, but minimal red and grey stripes, and a little bit of industrial yellow on the bridge and tail...

I prefer this humble proletarian pride to all the cliché show-off evil-macho sh***.

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Reverend Rocco in Bugeye aluminium finish

reverend bizarro

Reverend is a very interesting small guitar company with an already rich history for its only 15 years of existence, during which they released several models, with many variations in gears, electronics, materials and finishes.

Here is a 2000 Reverend Rocco, from the composite guitars / made in USA era, a rare model since only 50 were issued with this astonishing metallic finish. I like its early Reverend signature shape, the art deco pickguard and the metal armrest (the sides of the guitar are made of plastic, it makes sense)... This guitar has a kind of neo-German feel, like a US answer to Duesenberg, and you know how much I appreciate Duesenberg guitars... Anyway, I (like always) prefer it with chrome covered humbuckers.

The white finish / black pickguard version of the early Reverends is pure beauty as seen on this Commando model (see also previous post!)

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

1985 Rickenbacker 620 limited edition white

Rickenbacker 620 white

My main reason to show here a white Rickenbacker 620 is that I love this guitar ever since I bought one more than 20 years ago - I spent more time with this guitar than without, and it's been my first serious guitar.
The 620 is a brilliant guitar, the 6-string equivalent of the legendary 4001 bass, but the 80s short lived white finish/black hardware emphasize perfectly the supreme elegance of its line, the ultimate expression of the historical modernity that exists in a few human productions of the 20th century... And I don't even talk of the sound.

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Höfner Jazzica Custom

Höfner Jazzica Custom

I've posted about several incredible vintage German jazz guitars here, but the German touch is not lost, and Höfner for example still releases similar guitars, such as this Jazzica Custom.

This beauty is handmade in Germany and combines a great tradition with contemporary technology and ergonomics... But since I'm not paid to make advertisement for Höfner, I let you check their website if you want to know more...

And even my girlfriend who is completely hermetic to guitars unless they make a lot of noise finds it gorgeous, this tells a lot!

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Yamaha SG-3 (like Link Wray's guitar but slightly different)

Did you guess which guitar I bought on my shopping trip yesterday?

Yes, it was the Yamaha SG-3. I confess that sunburst wouldn't have been my first choice of finish, but in real life it really is quite attractive.

I haven't quite worked out what all the controls do just yet. Obviously there's a volume and tone in the usual position, and a 3-way switch sits on the lower horn. The switch on the upper horn appears to turn the Jaguar/Jazzmaster-esque circuitry on and off. I haven't quite worked out what two of the roller controls are doing but the third seems to blend in the additional coil of the third pickup so you can have a single coil or a humbucker sound or a blend between the two. The vibrato again is styled along the lines of those found on Fender Jaguars and Jazzmasters and it is a joy to use. (Unlike that hideous useless thing you find on Fender Stratocasters and which very nearly put me off tremolo arms for life.)

This buy was, of course, inspired by the Link Ray video we were looking at on Thursday. I just saw that guitar he was playing and had to track one down. I was extremely lucky to find one the very next day, as I'm told that it's quite a rare guitar. I guess I went to the right shop! Link Wray's Yamaha was in fact the SG-2, virtually the same guitar but with two pickups instead of the SG-3's three. The two guitars also have slightly different shaped pickguards from one another in the area of the upper horn. I imagine that the SG-3 has additional circuitry for the extra pickup.

The headstock is a distinctive shape, which I quite like. The point at the end echoes the pointiness of the body horns.

At the back of the head here we see the Yamaha name stamped on the own-brand tuners.

The guitar has the odd knock or two, but for a vintage guitar it is in supremely good condition. It looks like it was new a couple of years ago and has had just one careful owner! It even gets Elsa's seal of approval (or perhaps she just wanted to get in the photo, poser that she is).

G L Wilson

Photographs: © G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Mr Wilson goes guitar shopping
I recently decided to put some of my savings into a couple of vintage guitars, as I don't think much of the interest rates on savings schemes that the banks have to offer at the moment, and at least with guitars I can enjoy having them and playing them (got to treat them carefully though). The Eko bass is already on its way, but I wanted another interesting vintage piece without going down the Fender and Gibson paths. So today, I took myself into London, and more specifically, to Denmark Street, which is THE place to go for guitar shopping in the capital.

Musicground in Denmark Street, which is where I took these photos, had an astonishing collection of weird and wonderful guitars. I wish I could have photographed them all individually. That would have have been blog material for a whole year!

Anyway, I'm pleased to report that I ended up buying one of the guitars pictured. See if you can guess which one. (Regular readers should be able to work it out pretty quickly).

While I was in London, I also visited the Barbican Centre because I wanted to see the art installation by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot in which flocks of zebra finches play electric guitar.

It was absolutely delightful, and seemed to bring a smile to the faces of all the visitors. What I hadn't realised from viewing the video (which must have been on ALL the guitar blogs imaginable by now) was that you actually enter the birds' enclosure and get up close and personal. At one point I had three zebra finches happily trying to make a nest in my backpack whilst another was on my shoulder whistling in my ear.

The guitars provided for the birds to "play" are five white Gibson Les Paul Studios and three black Gibson SG basses. They seem to have been tuned to chords so that when the birds land on and take off from the strings, it can actually be surprisingly musical. (I noted some pretty hefty strings on the Les Pauls - some of them were bass strings, for sure). I don't think I've enjoyed an art exhibition so much since the Tate Modern had those scary slides installed in the turbine hall a few years back. Sorry, photography wasn't allowed, but here's a still from the video:

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Steve Puto's 5-neck

Scott from brought this crazy instrument to my attention. It's a five-neck electric bass/guitar/banjo/mandolin/fiddle and with a harmomica attached at the top too just for good measure! The guitar belongs to Steve Puto and is on loan to the Cantos Music Foundation in Calgary

Read about it here.

Photo by Steve Puto.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Link Wray performs Midnight Lover

I've just been watching and enjoying a compilation show of BBC archive material on "Guitar Heroes: Part IV" on BBC4 here in the UK, and my favourite clip they showed was of Link Wray performing "Midnight Lover" (see above).

Now I should know what guitar that is that he is playing, but my mind is just a blank. I want to say that it's a Greco, although I'm not 100% on that. I'm pretty certain that it's Japanese and that I saw one on eBay not too long ago.

EDIT: It's a Yamaha SG-2 (check the comments). Link Wray used to call his "Screamin' Red".

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The VIKster homemade shortscale bass

Doug Thorsvik from Washington writes, telling us about a self-built bass he has just finished:
This homemade VIKster bass is designed to fit in a standard electric guitar gig bag. Your Blog entry on Tuesday October 6, 2009 featuring John Backlund Design guitars (I went to his web site) inspired the design which I altered with violin bass styled cutouts (I have a lefty Rogue Beatle Bass).

It is lighter than an electric guitar, very comfortable to play, and I’m very pleased with the tone. I’m primarily a guitar player, so I play the bass with a pick so the closer string spacing is not a problem since the strings are still spaced wider than a standard acoustic guitar.

I built this bass using the “no rules” techniques I learned from building cigar box guitars ( The scale length, 28.25,” is less than a short scale bass and has standard EADG tuning. I used Fender short scale electric bass strings. Neck is poplar, fretboard is oak, and a 1/2” x 1/8” steel bar runs the length of the neck. Body is from a 2 x 8 fir scrap, the cotter pin topped bridge is from a mahogany scrap (I’m still using the wood left over from each of my two sons’ Eagle Scout projects!). The string guide is Oak from a piece of flooring. Pickguard is 1/8” plywood with batik fabric covering. The tail piece is aluminum. Tuners are one half of a Ping Mandolin set. Bass Humbucker is EMG Select from Stew Mac. I did all the woodburning on the body and neck as well as the macramé for the strap.
Doug, this is fantastic. I like your "no rules" approach to luthiery. It's certainly a unique looking instrument. This is one of the things that fascinate me about self-built guitars and basses. They are created by the individual usually for themselves and so you can see some very interesting ideas. Mass-produced guitars do not cater for the individual, and so the designs tend towards being very "safe" and the tried and tested.

Also great to see a unique left-handed instrument. A while back I was trying to feature at least one interesting left-handed guitar or bass on this blog every week, but I really was having trouble finding them. I hate to think what it must be like to be a left-handed player who is severely limited by what the off-the-peg brands have to offer.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

modified Eko 500 V4 Gold


Just another Italian vintage guitar you will say.
But look closer, this Eko 500 V4 Gold (or Champagne) has been upgraded from its regular 4 pickups to 5, with 5 knobs and 6 switches - enough to pilot a small plane (and you can see that this was done in Germany, since the modifier carefully indicated ein/aus on each switches to be sure that the player would not make a mistake).

I'm so used to read on forums about people putting new high-tech high-end pickups from revered brands (that cost the price of my last guitar) on deluxe guitars that I'm curious about what's behind this vintage upgrading: what did the central single coil pickup bring to this guitar?).

(BTW, for those you want to know, I tried my new old Musima Eterna on a good Marshall amp, it confirms that the clear sound is nice and rich and the distorted sound very blur, and the output level is twice the one of my Jaguar HH - that is probably related so I have to change this, have to figure how).


Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Loïc Le Pape Lsteel Paul Black Grid

Loïc le Pape LP

Yesterday's post about the übercool steel-bodied Teletubby made want to check what's new with Loïc Le Pape's metal guitars that we showed here a few months ago and raised enthusiastic comments.

Well I found out that Loïc has now a new website -  - where you can find all his guitars - each of them being a one-off. The photo on the top is a detail of the Lsteel Paul Black Grid, an archtop thinline with an astounding grid front - another of his guitar that I'd love to play! 


Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Monday, 12 April 2010

A Les Paul that thinks it's a Strat
We've all seen "Double FAT" Strats which are outfitted with a pair of humbuckers in an attempt to emulate the Les Paul sound.

However, I've not previously seen a guitar so obviously styled after the Gibson Les Paul but featuring the Stratocaster triple single coil layout including the angled pickup in the bridge position. This guitar, from 2008, is an ESP Edwards E-CL-96I Luna Sea Sugizo model, that is to say, another Japanese signature guitar designed for a Japanese musician we in the West have never heard of.

In keeping with the Strat part of the equation, the guitar has a bolt-on neck and a tremolo. In this instance the trem is a Floyd Rose, which aren't totally unheard of installed on Les Pauls. Gibson have a Floyd-equipped Les Paul, the Les Paul Axcess Standard, in their current catalogue.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Steel-bodied thinline "Teletubby" guitar
Chris writes:

I really like your blog and I check it very often. I love how you showcase the really different stuff out there. I thought you might want to showcase a guitar I built myself. It's a telecaster style guitar- I call it the "Teletubby" because of the bigger bottom end that I added to the Telecaster design. It's a steel hollowbody with an f-hole. I built it with a aluminum neck block and bridge block that is tied together via a welded aluminum bar. It aslo has a Merle Haggard Thinline style pickguard in aluminum. Its a string through body (the strings pass throught the aluminum bridge block) - Vintage Fender bridge and bridge pickup and a Seymour Duncan Jazz humbucker in the neck. Standard Tele wiring.

-Chris Hamilton
Thanks Chris! I've got to say I'm really envious of anyone that can build impressive stuff like that. I'm so impractical, I could never achieve even a fraction of a build like this. Great photos too - thanks for sharing!

I like the design. To my eyes, it's like a Thinline Tele crossed with a 335-style hollowbody. Would love to know how it sounds!

Keep your unusual and one-off guitars coming in, everyone! We love to feature them here on Guitarz.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Fret King Esprit series
As a post script to Bertam's various recent posts on Firebird and Thunderbird guitars and basses (Gibson and otherwise), I am again posting this photograph (from my report on last year's London International Music Show) which features Fret King Esprit guitars and bass. Designed by Trev Wilkinson, these guitars owe more than a passing nod to the Gibson Firebird and Thunderbird design.

The bass pictured is designated the Fret King Esprit 4, whereas the guitars are an Esprit 3 with three P90s and an Esprit 5 with dual humbuckers. These are all part of Fret King's more budget conscious Blue Label series wich are built in the Far East, whereas the premium Green Label series are built in the UK.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!


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