Friday, 31 December 2010

HsinMi "unknown", possibly Japanese, electric guitar
I'll let the eBay seller tell you about this guitar:
HsinMi vintage electric guitar with original case and strap.

I know you hear this a lot concerning vintage guitars: Very, very rare electric guitar. Try researching this one.

Not even the Guru of Bizarre Guitars, Lord Bizarre, knows its country of origin:

I have researched this guitar a fair amount and can only surmise that this was a mail-order only guitar shipped exclusively to Netherlands. The closest resemblance is the TEISCO Spectrum 5 although I would venture to say that this is much more rare. This guitar has 3 pickups and tremolo and comes with original case and original(?) strap.

Guitar is missing neck binding although based on another HsinMi that I have seen the neck binding is black. I have just purchased black binding for the guitar which is included in this auction (replacement of neck binding will be new owner's responsibility). I have done my best to clean and detail the guitar and it is playable with straight neck and light fret wear. The neck is kind of chunky and reminds me of a Silvertone Silhouette or Harmony Bobkat in feel. There is no adjustable truss rod despite the ornamental truss rod cover. Some of the metal parts have rust and some of the screws holding the pickguard and tremolo base unit have proven too difficult for me to remove (2 of the screws holding the pickguard appear to have been filed as there are some light scratch marks by them). As a result, I have been unable to inspect the pickup and control cavities and the tremolo base unit. All 3 pickups work although middle pickup seems to have lower output than the other two. All parts and paint appear original. Pickup selector switches and control knobs work albeit mysteriously (not intuitively as outlined).
It's a weird one, for sure. If this was the only example I would have sworn that the horns had been re-worked by hand, but the evidence provided by the photo of a similar guitar in Lord Bizarre's collection shows that it isn't a one-off. So, does anyone out there know anything about these beasties? The name sounds like it might be Japanese, but that's only a stab in the dark.

G L Wilson

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

Thursday, 30 December 2010

1974 Gibson Les Paul Signature Sunburst
Here's another Les Paul, and one of my own personal favourites - but you know me - it most probably appeals because within the sphere of Les Pauls its a bit of an oddity. Looking for all the world like a hybrid  a Gibson 335/Les Paul, the Gibson Les Paul Signature - produced between 1973 and 1978 - is a semi-hollowbody guitar. Now, some would say a semi-hollowbody Les Paul was an oxymoron because a Les Paul by definition should be a solidbody guitar. I think it's this breaking the rules attitude that appeals to me. However, it could have been even more bizarre. I seem to remember seeing pictured in a guitar book many years ago, a Gibson Les Paul Jumbo acoustic guitar with cutaway and pickup (single, I think). Now surely that couldn't be further away from the Les Paul ethos? (And I need to find a picture of one of these!)

The Signature differs also in that its controls consist of volume, treble tone, midrange tone, and in/out phase switch, and it has two output jack sockets - high-impedance on the guitar's top, and low-impedance for recording on the rim.

Most Gibson Les Paul Signatures were finished as gold tops - this is one of the rarer sunburst models, of which there were only 84 produced, and this example is currently being offered for sale on eBay with a Buy It Now price of £2,995.

G L Wilson

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

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

1955 Gibson Les Paul Custom

This  Gibson Les Paul Custom (aka the Black Beauty, aka the Tuxedo since Mister Les Paul himself allegedly requested a black guitar that could be played wearing a tuxedo - that were other times) is some serious vintage stuff since it's a 1955 model - just 3 years after the Les Paul was first released...

And as you can see it has lived a long and active life and grew old honestly and harmoniously, not like these stupid sandpaper relicked fakes that some soulless ignoramuses think are cool.

It's a pre-humbucker model - the Gibson PAF humbucker is from 1955 also - with a bridge P90 and a neck Alnico V. Like the Custom models of the time, it's a full mahogany body, without the usual maple archtop - it makes it lighter with a darker tone.

I always enjoyed showing some ultraclassic guitars here sometimes, hard to do better than this one, isn't it?


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

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Eko M33 Short Gun + bonus

I've been willing to show an Eko Short Gun guitar for a while, this is a good opportunity. 

The Eko Short Gun (aka Fuciletto - I like Italian nicknames for guitars - did you know that in Italy the SG is called Diavoletto - little devil?) is a very interesting small guitar, designed to look like the stock of a handgun, compensating the cold minimalism of the Steinberger L models with a sensual curved wooden body...

This M33 is the one pickup model - the M35 having two pickups. The Eko Short Gun is supposed to have had much visibility when used by The Knack on their hit My Sharona, that is of little interest but if you enjoy as much as I do how Frank Zappa inserted a few bars of My Sharona in his 1988 version of Ravel's Bolero, as you can hear here: 

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

Kids make electric guitars - If they can, you can
This is - in the words of Ninja from Die Antwoord - unexpected. The ending soundtrack of the video is so bloody cool, it all but brought tears to my eyes. But then I am a big old softy. I'm not going to say too much - just check out what's going on here. I hope you enjoy it and it inspires you.

David in Barcelona - Happy new year. Off for a break. Back in 2011.

[Thanks, David, for all your great posts this year. Although we've blogged about these Brooklyn kids making their own electric guitars before, it's fantastic stuff and does bear looking at again! - G L Wilson]

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

Monday, 27 December 2010

Dobro Model 66 from the 1930s
This highly decorated 1930-era Dobro Model 66 seems to be a very appropriate guitar to show during this festive season. It's a wooden-bodied resonator guitar with a square neck for lap steel playing. The decorative design has been applied through the process of sandblasting. The body would have been made from mahogany plywood with a neck of mahogany and an ebonized (i.e. artificially blackened) rosewood fingerboard. In its day this would have been Dobro's top of the line instrument, and was also available as a roundneck guitar for what we nowadays consider to be the more conventional "Spanish" style of playing.

G L Wilson

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

Sunday, 26 December 2010

1994 Ibanez Talman TV650

The Ibanez Talman is a typical example of a series of great guitars that didn't find their players - between 1994 and 1998 several varations of the Talman were released, with different designs, woods (including a composite wood known as Resoncast), and pickups (humbuckers, minibuckers, lipsticks, P90s and different combinations), then the model disappeared, I feel, before anybody even had the time to notice that Ibanez could do something else than JEMs.

This beautiful Ibanez Talman TV650 seems to be a poly-hybrid - the body and the pickguard merge Telecaster and Firebird designs, with a typically Japanese long lower horn, the pickups are two mini humbuckers and a lipstick in central position, a rare but quite logic combination, the knobs and the switch come directly from a stratocaster but the control/jack plate that belongs to the Talman but fuse Tele and Strat gear in a genius strike.

I'm usually not a fan of golden gear but there it fits perfectly the the cream finish of the Resoncast body and the perloid binding. It's a superb instrument and it's a pity that it's been discontinued so quickly, it had the potential of a classic - we need news classics, the old ones are tired and boring. 

Look at another Talman here.


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

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Marma hollow body guitar, from GDR with love

Due to popular demand, here is another East-German beauty, a Marma hollow-body guitar about which - like usually with Marma - I have no information... But look at it, Marma had the sweetest electric guitars designs in the Eastern-European communist countries, combining elegance, simplicity and creativity.

This one doesn't have the massive aspect that jazz guitars had in West-Germany at the time - though their often extraordinary design, they were so huge! - but a sexy thin waist line, and combines classic F-holes with white binding - beautiful with the subtle sunburst finish - with an art-deco pickguard. You can also recognize the typical stop-tail shared buy all the hollow-body guitars in GDR!


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

Friday, 24 December 2010

A Christmas mystery

I thought I'd end the year on a Chrissy-massy note so I did a search on eBay for "Christmas guitar" to see what I could come up with...

Well, I came up with a Spanish Christmas Mystery™... Almost at the top of the search was this... Six postcards (just four shown here for space as the others just contained more violins, which we all know are boring).

Mystery number one: Why are they described as Christmas cards when they are obviously EASTER CARDS (Pascuas is Easter in Spanish)? Maybe to trap some ignorant Guiri? (in Spanish - a foreigner - Like "Gringo" in Mexican - Just found this... a laughable foreigner that stands out like a sore thumb in Spain... That's me) I just emailed the seller and he answered in perfect Spanish so I'm certain he knows exactly what it says on the cards.

Mystery number two - and this is much more interesting: What on earth is the instrument this angel is playing? It seems to be a four string ukelele or mandolin with a single sided, Fender style headstock! It's certainly fretted. It has a violin size and shape and in pic 3, she's holding it just like a guitar! I've asked to see a better resolution image but the chances are this is as much as we're gonna get. The pictures LOOK pretty old and I'd love to know what the hell this is!

David in Festive Barcelona - Happy Christmas everyone, especially Gavin, for letting me mess around with his very cool blog and Bertram for his singular perspective on music and/or art and all our readers for all their support and contributions - Matt, Dre, Greg, Mike, Albert, Wendell, John - still checking your blog - Arne and all the other regulars. To all a very GASSY new year. PS The Mel-O-bar is now out of customs and when (if) I get back from my winter sojourn in dear old snowed-in Blighty, it should be waiting for me in my office. The only thing then is to find a way to get it into the house with the minimum of fuss so the Missus doesn't notice the collection has grown again - two 1940s lap steel guitars, one very cool Aria acrylic "Jazzmaster" Legend and a Fender FR48 resonator after I said "no more". Did I mention the Peavey Vypyr 30 and Sanpera II controller - also still in the office? What a F***ING beast! A future classic without a doubt. I got it as a practice amp - I had read somewhere that someone said they hadn't got it past one. Past one? I haven't got it past 0.1! It is so, so, so, so loud! And, if that wasn't enough, the range of sounds you can get out of it... OMFG! PLUS... ... ... TOP class effects and sims - I wonder what Santa has for me this year... After this lot, it had better be something really bloody good!

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

ESP Custom Shop XJ-12
I started the month with a series of Electric 12-string guitars, and today would like to show you yet another example from more recent years. It's an ESP XJ-12 built in ESP's Japanese custom shop circa 2003 for the Japanese market. According to the listing on eBay, these guitars were sold in Japan at 200,000 Yen in 2003 (about $2,400).

The style is obviously Jazzmaster/Jaguar influenced; in fact it reminds me of Hohner's professional Hollywood series of several years ago. The headstock with its 4+8 tuner arrangement is an unusual but attractive feature.

This seller has several of these in different finishes; I found the gold sparkle edition, pictured above, particularly eye-catching. In the photo of the translucent green XJ-12 below we can see another interesting little detail in the Strat-type output socket inset into the edge of the guitar - especially useful if you like to have your guitar lead angled upwards and tucked behind your guitar strap.

G L Wilson

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

Thursday, 23 December 2010

1970s Renaissance plexiglass guitar
Wow! A rare Renaissance plexiglass guitar listed on eBay with a starting price of $249. Is that too good to be true?

Errrrmmm... yes, it seems it is.

The problem with plexiglass-bodied guitars is that they tend to be somewhat on the heavy side, and it seems that the owner of this USA-built 1978 Renaissance guitar decided to do something about the weight and has carved away material from the back of the body and absolutely peppered it with holes.

Argh! What a crying shame!

For those who are interested, here's the info copied from the listing on eBay:
This is a rare Renaissance guitar made in Pennsylvania in 1978, The founder of the company was John Marshall who trained locally under Eric Schulte, along with Augie LoPrinzi of New Jersey. The company lasted from 1977 to 1980. They are very well made guitars. This one has had some "customizing" done. Due to weight, someone cut out the back and drilled holes into the body. Very cool looking, but rather unfortunate to alter a rare vintage instrument. The weight of the guitar is now a little less than 8.5 lbs. Dimarzio pickups. Active electronics, CTS pots are dated 1377833 which dates the guitar to 1978. Brass hardware. Flame maple two piece neck which is straight. Ebony fingerboard with 24 jumbo frets. Some minor fretwear. Action is excellent. The guitar plays and sounds great. They only made 250 - 300 guitars. Mostly basses. Less than a 100 guitars were produced. This is definitely a rocker and would make a great stage guitar.
Long-term Guitarz readers might remember that we previously featured a Renaissance guitar in smoked plexiglass - this shows what it should look like without the holes.

G L Wilson

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

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Gordon Smith electric mandolin
Here's another take on the electric mandolin, which couldn't be more different than the Gibson Futura mandolin prototype we looked at recently. This is a Gordon Smith electric mandolin, made in Britain, and is - I believe - a one-off build. It is an original design - unusual given Gordon Smith's usual Gibson influences, and features a very compact body (unlike the long stretched-out body of the Gibson) with a lengthy upper horn which no doubt would let it hang on a strap much more nicely than the Gibson. It also has the traditional eight strings arranged in four paired courses that we expect to see on a mandolin and so would appeal more to purists.

G L Wilson

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

1964 Diamond Ranger

Didn't show an Italian guitar here for ages. Unfortunately I have very little info about this beautifully shaped Diamond Ranger, somehow a little bit contradictory. It seems to be a Bartolini sub-brand targeted at US market, and Diamond was mostly an accordion brand, until they released the Ranger...

Besides the body design, I love the bridge and original trem, the big switches, the golden sparkle finish, the dynamic headstock - all the things we seek in Italian 1960s guitars...


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

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Alvino Rey (and not to mention Stringy the talking steel guitar!)
Here's an email from Alan:
Hello from Washington DC USA.

Two slick videos I wanted to tell you about featuring Alvino Rey - a steel guitarist popular from the '40s thru the '60s. One (see above) features "Stringy", a singing puppet fronting for a vocalist going through a Sonovox. Bands of the 1940s routinely did these early "music videos" that ran in movie theaters.

The fun starts around the 0:42 sec mark.

The second shows Alvino on the "King Family" TV show of the 1960s - a very safe, family-friendly music variety show of that era. What makes it cool is seeing Alvino slinging a state of the art Fender solid-body instead of a nice, dignified archtop jazzbox; almost a blasphemy on a "family" TV show such as this.
In black and white it's hard to tell what the actual color of this guitar is. Since TV of that era couldn't handle *pure* white (it would blow the picture out), I want to pretend it's a Lake Placid Blue, an Ivory, or some kinda yellow.

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

Inter-Mark Cipher

This Cipher doesn't have the extremely cool design of the one we showed here a couple of months ago, neither its impressive line of big white plastic switches, but it has the same excellent headstock and a weirder metal control plate... And the close-up picture of a pick-up  with its unusual but interesting grid cover is a reason enough to show it here... Curious, isn't it?

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

Monday, 20 December 2010

Project parts, museum piece or pile of poo?

This really is, from the sublime to the ubiquitous. After Bertram's post about Franck Cheval's works of Lutherial art, here is the the most commonplace of guitars - a Telecaster copy. Not only is it a Tele copy but it's not even a very good one. I'm posting this Lero Telecaster copy, not because I think it's cool (although I do) nor because it's rare or unusual (it's not), but really because it raises a few questions about buying (especially cheapo) old guitars.

What do you do with a guitar that's seen better days, was never that great shakes in the first place and has been carefully hand painted in Hammerite by a previous owner. You call it "Exceedingly rare" and put it on eBay with a laughable starting price. As something is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it, this is definitely one of those items that will define its own value.

I actually do quite like the look of it and as a twenty quid bootsale jobbie, it would be great for chucking around the stage in a fug-out-psyco-jam or maybe for a two chord garage-punky-reggae-party-bop, whichever is your wont. It's already pretty singed around the edges so you wouldn't fret too much if it acquired an extra ding or two. It even has the curvy bridge plate like some of the older Fender Teles, which is nice.

It has a basswood body, which is (as I understand) cheap and cheerful AND very resonant. That means, of course, there are two divided basswood camps. One lot think it's cheap and therefore it's junk (I read in forum that someone had bought a guitar but didn't like the basswood [or as he called it - firewood] body so intended to chuck it and buy a Warmoth body). The other lot like its resonance and think that's what makes it a good material for guitars. I don't know enough to get into the debate.

I did some Googling over this and found one or two people who liked them but mostly were talking about changing various parts.

Me, I'm going to buy a Squier Affinity Tele - after Christmas when everyone is desperate to offload their stock/unwanted Chrissie pressies - and a tin of Hammerite and swap out whatever pickups come with it for some Hagstrom Futurama pickups that I've had in a box for the last 15 years. I think then I too will have an exceedingly rare guitar. This is not entirely untrue so don't think me a cynical old Hector.

Over the years, questions, comments and observations have popped up concerning various - often cult - copies, and even Fender's own copies of their own guitars i.e. MIJ, MIM, HCIJ/C/K (handcrafted in Japan/China/Korea), Made in Indonesia, and Made in the USA. Plus, there's a slew of quality copies that way out-spec fender. Then there's these... 60s, 70s, 80s copies that employ the cheapest materials, components and production standards to make something that's superficially (from a distance, with the lights down) like the real thing.

Their primary value seems to be nostalgia, which is scary - in a Harley Davidson way or a harking back to simpler times (which is... er... nostalgia).

We read so often about vintage guitars, effects, valve amps vs other technologies (spit) computers (bah!), about tone monsters and holy grails, about rewinding old (sorry vintage) bobbins with Leo Fender's virgin Grannie's pubic hair and dipping them in Appalachian earwax. What do people think? Are we kidding ourselves? Without even referencing this particular example, are we preserving a past that only existed in our (rock star) dreams? Were those crude, cheap, knock off guitars really better than what's available today? Have we become obsessed with the past at the expense of now? Do we know it's Christmas?

David in Barcelona

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

Heavy Metal Mandolin?

This is a Gibson solidbody mandolin based on the Futura body design (an early variation of the more familiar Explorer). Made from Korina as were early Vs and Explorers, it's a prototype pre-production instrument built in the 1990s by Roger Giffin.

Note that it is a 4-string as were Fender's solidbody mandolins.

This mandolin is currently being offered for sale on eBay with a Buy It Now price just shy of £5,000. Note that the eBay seller is musicgroundinc. I believe I have seen this very instrument when I was buying my Yamaha SG-3 in the Music Ground shop in London's Denmark Street earlier this year and I wished I'd taken a photograph at the time. (I know the listing says "Item location: Doncaster", but surely it couldn't be that much of a coincidence?)

More photos here.

Thanks to Karl for bringing this mandolin to my attention.

G L Wilson

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

Marcel Dadi's Princess

After posting about the Ibanez Marcel Dadi, I figured that most people probably don't know who Marcel Dadi is - I can understand that, he was supposedly a genius picking player (the picking is a finger technic used mostly for country music and acoustic ballads) so I thought that I should propose a video of Dadi playing his Princess. I've never been interested in him or his music, but when I started guitar is the early 80s, his name was everywhere in France, he had his signature strings that were extremely popular, as were his teaching method books. Anyway, he was also associated with Chet Atkins (and several other country musicians whose name trigger nothing in me), so American readers probably know him better than people from the rest of the world...

Dadi plays here this one-off guitar made by French Luthier Franck Cheval: the Princess. I'm not a fan of heavy abalone inlays but the rolled upper horn à la Gibson Mandolin is quite impressive. Some people call it the best guitar in the world... Ah, ces Français !


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

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Motorized remote-controlled guitar

Here's an email from Gyphée:
Hi there,

A friend of mine make me discover your web-site, it's really great!

You maybe be interested in my project. I'm a french musician and I start a new project during the summer, called Gryphée. It's a motorized and remote controled guitar, tunned in 450Hz, with 5 stings in B and one in Fb.

It's done big drones, with stranges overtone.

You can watch a video here: (see above)

I have a Myspace even if it's became a very bad place:

I have a mini-album here:

Right now, a friend do the mastering of the second called "The Rotations Project" with 10 other european musicians who used the same sample of motorized guitare to do something new. And I will record another one in January.

I hopes you will like it.

Regards from France.

Thanks for that. As well as weird, wonderful, beautiful, strange and outrageous guitars, we always enjoy seeing guitars used in art installations and in experimental music.

G L Wilson.

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

1979 Ibanez Marcel Dadi signature limited edition

This Ibanez Marcel Dadi is not a guitar you will see everyday - not only because its design makes it special with its strangely angular cutaways, its wide neck adapted to picking and its classical guitar headstock, or of its quite unique electronics with a mini-humbucker in neck and an humbucker in bridge, plus the rotary switch, but mostly because only 24 were ever released in 1979 (plus 2 prototypes), and if I see the way this one is put on sale on eBay, the people who bought them then have now no idea of what they have!

This guitar could be the ultimate collector, isn't it?


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

Saturday, 18 December 2010

1978 Fender Bronco

In the comments about the Musicmaster, Greg praises the Fender Bronco and I have to admit that I've never heard of this guitar until then (my indifference toward Fender guitars is slowly fading away though...) 

Luckily I just found this one currently offered for sale on, and it does have this cool tremolo that looks much more convincing than the stratocaster one (I say 'look', I didn't put my hands on it, and if I did, I'd probably not really know what to do with it - the best use of a trem bar I ever did was to create extreme detuning effect with a Floyd Rose...)

But let's go back to the Bronco: a short-scale student guitar baring a single pickup in bridge position, it belonged to the Mustang series, and like the other 60s Fender cheapos, it turned into a semi-cult guitar, because, you know, Leo couldn't be wrong, ever.

It's lucky that Fender stopped then naming their guitars after horses: after Mustang and Bronco, if they would have followed the American horses theme, the next one would probably have been Appaloosa, but if the topic was feral horses, they should have used Przewalski


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

Captain Beefheart RIP
This is sad news indeed...

Don Van Vliet, aka 'Captain Beefheart', has died aged 69 from complications from multiple sclerosis.

(I know it's not necessarily directly guitar-related, but look out for the Melobar in the above clip.)

G L Wilson

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

Friday, 17 December 2010

Vox Teardrop bass for southpaws

Here's another treat for our left-handed friends: what appears to be a 1960s Vox Teardrop bass. However, it is a bit of an oddity. It's not a true vintage instrument, as it has been assembled from New Old Stock (NOS) Vox and Eko-made parts.

It certainly looks the business but - I'm trying to think - was there ever a solidbody teardrop-shaped bass issued by Vox back in the day? I'm aware of the Bill Wyman model but that was a semi-hollowbody. Given that this looks to be a short-scale bass, maybe the lefty body used was originally intended for the Vox Mark VI 6-string guitar.

G L Wilson

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

Vintage 1960s Klira German hollowbody bass guitar

A similar shape to the 60s Kent violin bass shown back in 2009. One of the oddities of this Klira bass guitar is its "I'm a violin shape - no I'm not" lower cutaway. Can you call it a cutaway if it's more than the rest of the guitar? More of an add-on really. More than that, it's as if someone took a violin shape and regular guitar shape, cut them in half down the centre and glued two of the halves together (I wonder what happened to the other two halves). The other weird thing is the three plates screwed to front of the body. At least one has "custom" on it so justifying its existence. What the other two plates are for is up for debate. I think we'd all agree - nice sofa!

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

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Manne Soulmover bass - Glenn Hughes signature model
We've looked at plenty of vintage Italian guitars and basses on this blog, so it's good for a change to take a look at some contemporary Italian luthiery. This is a Manne Soulmover bass built by Andrea Ballarin in Italy, and is the signature model of Glenn Hughes, sometime bassist with Deep Purple and others. This is a boutique instrument; the seller on eBay tells us that "Andrea's built-in-Italy creations start at $2000 and can easily go for $10,000 or more." This model has a list price of $3,703 but this particular model having seen action at a few trade shows is being offered for sale on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $1,699.

The body is made from Korina and has a bolt-on assymmetrical neck of maple laminates and ash sides. The fingerboard is of Manne's own 'F Resin', "giving a more even response and eliminating dead spots." Pickups are the tried and trusted pairing of P and J units, and the bass also features a Drop D de-tuner.

I particularly like the inverted teardrop fingerboard inlays which echo the shape of the red tortoiseshell pickguard. I can't say I am overly keen on the dolphin-nose shaped headstock. Somehow, I just think the head should look more Rickenbacker-y. Well, the bass does look like a Rickenbacker from the future, you cannot deny that!

Thanks to Bill for bringing this bass to my attention.

G L Wilson

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

A story from Jim Hevesy

Jim Hevesy writes:
I was at the petrol station yesterday after my son’s basketball game and this guy starts talking to me. Here is the conversation:
Guy: Hey man….are you a musician?
Me: (I’ve got music stickers on my truck) Yes I am
Guy: Awww Cool! What do you play?
Me: I play Bass, Guitar and a little Banjo
Guy: Aww man are you into bluegrass?
Me: I’ve played some bluegrass, I played in a symphony, I’ve played everything but rap
Guy: Aww that is cool. Hey I betcha don’t see one of these every day...
He then proceeds to open the back of his work truck and get out an old small guitar case. He opens it and here’s what he pulls out:
That’s right! A 1960s Hofner 459 6-string with wammy bar. He said he only paid $500 (375 euro) for it! It was strung up with round wounds and sounded great playing even with no amp and the -2C weather. I finished pumping my gas and we both got in our trucks and left. After I got in my car is when I realized I should have taken a picture with my phone because it was a beauty. My son said “Dad, did that guy used to be a hippy?” I said “no son, he still is a hippy!”
Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Self-playing doubleneck Telecaster - The Doppelcaster

Bertram is, I guess, one of those people that balks at blowing his trumpet so I guess it's up to me. There is a whole bunch of interesting musical things going on over at Dhellemmes Towers. Not only has he finished making his Dopplecaster but he has now featured it as an artwork/installation at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. Beautiful it looks and beautiful it sounds, as you can see below.

David in Barcelona

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

1966 Martin GT-75

See this Martin GT-75 from 1966 in superb condition for a 45 year old guitar... I'm younger and don't look so fresh (mostly in the morning)!

It has a strange yet sober double cutaway thinline body that looks more Czechoslovakian than American, sinuous S-holes (they don't look like F) and deliciously vintage looking DeArmond Dynasonic pickups with asymmetric covers, a Bigsby trem specially designed for Martin...

The Martin F-65 previously shown on the blog was an earlier model and shares the design and the pickups of the GT-75, that mostly improves the neck and the bridge...


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

Retrofit 80s Japanese Stratoïd

If the 1960s have been the time of wild creativity for Japanese guitars and the 1970s radically the contrary - the law-suit era when Japanese companies released copies of the US guitars better than the originals, the 1980s seem to have been the time of solid no-nonsense guitars that would allow Japan to establish a strong base for the coming (and profitable) metal era.

It's the case for this guitar of unknown brand - unknown because it's been strongly retrofitted.  The removal of the lack finish reveals the neck-through construction of the strat-like ash body - everything else is replacement: the GFS power rail humbuckers, the SG-style pickguard, the kind of tele knob plate next to the strat jack input...

For some reason I like this modest guitar - nothing like the extravagances I usually favor, maybe because it reminds me somehow of my good old Kawai Aquarius... 


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

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

1915 Dyer Harp Guitar

On Friday we looked at a modern replica of a W.J. Dyer & Bro Harp Guitar, and here we see the real thing!

This Dyer "Symphonic Guitar" dates from 1915 and is therefore too late to have been made by Chris Knutsen. Possibly it's one of the Larson Brothers' Dyers.

For info, here's the text of the listing on eBay where it is being offered for sale with a Buy It Now price of $29,000:
Here's something you don't see everyday. An original American made Dyer #8 harp guitar made in (approximately) 1915. This was the top-of-the-line Dyer harp guitar and is considered the "holy grail" of harp guitars. In fact there are only 12 known to exist! This particular guitar has a custom side carving veneer (seemingly original by the look of the finish) that has never been seen before, making it truly unique. It is completely playable and is entirely original, except for some small pieces of the elaborate "tree of life" inlay expertly replaced by the genius of pearl inlay, Larry Robinson, some replaced bridge pins and a replaced fretwire saddle. In addition there is some minimal finish touchup around the original bridge by master luthier Chris Berkov, as well as a thorough cleaning and setup by Dexter Johnson of Carmel music. Sounds incredible with excellent playability. This is a true find and will be an amazing addition to any world-class guitar collection. Comes with a brand new custom Cedar Creek hard shell case.

More details are available on page 274 of George Gruhn's Acoustic Guitars, and at:
G L Wilson
Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Tei! Tei! Tei!

This video is specially for Mister GL Wilson, for I know (and share) his taste for old school electronic music, Yamaha guitars and Devo

The spirit of Devo is truly alive in their Japanese heirs POLYSICS. I know them for a few hours and I'm already a fan - but I had no chance, I have a soft spot for Japanese female bass players playing a seafoam green Yamaha SBV in Guantanamo orange jumpsuit!

Warning: If you start to watch on YouTube all the videos they have of this 2006 concert, you're stuck for the coming hour!


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

Monday, 13 December 2010

Pink Shocking Hohner ST Lead

Can we show a guitar just because of its colour? Well I guess we can - to be honest I wouldn't have looked at this Hohner ST Lead if not for its pink shocking so 1980s (the guitar is actually from the late 80s, early 90s). 

When you google this guitar, you mostly find questions of people who want to know more about it - and sometimes that it's a good professional instrument with a graphite neck, and how difficult it is to find replacement parts for it, since Hohner almost completely backed off from the guitar field...

This one is a lefty, and we never show enough!


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

Danelectro Mod 7

This Danelectro Mod 7 is a guitar to my heart! It has everything, the design - look at that blobish mother-of-toilet-seat pickguard! - the personality - did you ever hear of a 7-string with lipstick humbuckers? - plenty of cool technical details like the six-way rotary switch for pickups combinations plus an extra switch to go to lead mode with the 3 pickups in series, and the concentric tone/volume knob. 

It has the typical Danelectro masonite chambered body with a classical yet original one cutaway design, lipstick pickups with a double one in bridge position, a slightly gold sparkle black finish... A perfect combination of vintage feel and innovation, it's been strangely short lived in the late 90s, I guess that it's again one of these too brilliant guitars that didn't find its market because people just want cheap Les Paul clones... Well let me tell you, yesterday I was gigging with my Dan'o Longhorn Baritone plugged on a Sovtek Big Muff Pi and a Marshall bass combo a and I had the most terrific sound one can expect from a guitar!


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

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Gretsch G5810 Bo Diddley
Here a guitar that should be instantly recognizable, namely the Gretsch G5810 Bo Diddley. The mystery is, how can such a very basic shape be so very cool?

The design of Bo Diddley's original rectangular guitar (a.k.a. The Twang Machine) is said to be the result of him wanting a smaller more convenient body shape to allow him to jump around on stage following an incident when he been leaping around with a Gibson L5 and ended up hurting his groin.

G L Wilson

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

1966 Fender Musicmaster II

We already showed a Musicmaster here but this one is in a particularly good state that allows to consider it like a playable guitar and not a relicked museum piece... And it's an attractive little guitar with its Mustang body (actually the Musicmaster came first and the Mustang design is a slight variation, but this one is a Musicmaster II that re-uses the updated Mustang body - is it clear? It also has the regular Fender scale and not the 3/4 one of the previous version - the Musicmaster was a student budget guitar with one single coil pickup [with two pickups it's a Duo-sonic]), its minimal hardware and its big sexy CBS headstock.


[Please see also this previous post where we examined the differences between the various Musicmaster, DuoSonic and Mustang models - G L Wilson]

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

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Epiphone Newport Bass
I can't help it. I just find myself becoming a tad snobbish when it comes to Epiphone guitars. Well, that is to say, modern Epiphone guitars. I think I resent that they've become to Gibson what Squier is to Fender. They used to have plenty of their own classic designs but now they are playing second fiddle to Gibson. Somehow that irritates me.

But I do love some of Epiphone's older designs from the days when they didn't slavishly copy Gibson. I've aleady mentioned the Scroll guitar and Double Scroll bass. Epiphone Newport basses have been around since 1961 with a few cosmetic changes over the years and here we see a Japanese-made left-handed Epiphone Newport bass from the late 1970s/early 1980s in superb condition. The finish shows off what looks to be a mahogany body perfectly - but apparently it's maple. And if you look at the back you'll see that it's of through-neck construction (maple and rosewood), but is nicely understated unlike all those 1980s basses with contrasting timbers.

I'm not 100% sure about this, but I'd say this was a medium-scale length bass. It doesn't look to be a full long-scale and the bridge is set at the very end of the body unlike on most short-scales. If anyone can confirm this, please leave us a comment.

G L Wilson

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

Hagstrom III lefty
Here's one of Sweden's finest from the mid-1960s. It's a Hagstrom III in hard-to-find left-handed edition, and it looks to be complete with all parts present and correct. It's currently being offered for sale on eBay - the auction ends in a day and a half as I type this and has already been attracting a number of bids. It's nice to see that not all buyers on eBay wait until the closing seconds of an auction to put in a bid these days. (Speaking from personal experience, some don't bother to bid at all, they just wait for the auction to finish and then send the seller an email with an offer to "take it off your hands" for an insultingly low price.)

But I digress... It's a nice rare vintage piece, and as regular readers will know I'm always keen to find interesting guitars for our southpaw friends!

G L Wilson

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

Taranaki P-style

I'm always attracted by guitars trying to escape usual designs, even if the result is not completely satisfactory - as it is the case with this Taranaki P-style. I understand that the big horns are meant to regain the material lost with the very deep curves, or even increase some very localized vibrations (I couldn't find any technical description for this body but I've found some luthiers documentation describing extensively how the vibrations travel in the body and how horns can have a strong influence).

Actualy there is almost nothing about the Taranaki guitars, there is no proper website but a distribution company one where Taranaki is actually not mentioned - it seems that the guitar being unsuccessful provoked the fall of the company, because they were released in 2008 and announced to be widely distributed and in 2010 there are no traces of them... Anyway, I gathered that the Taranakis were conceived in Germany and made in Korea, that there are two models - this P-style with three P-90 pickups, and another one with humbuckers, that they use high end gear, and I saw different finishes - a couple transparent colours on flamed maple tops and plain white...

So yes aesthetically it's a kind of failure, but this demo reveals a pretty nice sound...

If anybody has more information about this guitar, it's welcome, I'm quite curious about it... 

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

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Gibson harp guitar
This circa 1920 Gibson harp guitar is of a completely different design to the Knutsen Dyer replica we saw in the previous blog post. Instead of having a hollow body extension to support the sub-bass strings, it has a solid support which is almost equivalent to a second neck. You'll notice that this example, currently being offered for sale on eBay, does not have the full complement of sub-bass strings. The neck is also currently strung left-handed, which must have severely limited its playability given the body shape (open chords and some barre chords at the lower reaches of the neck would have been about its limit).

For more fascinating variations on a theme - and there are many - take a look at the excellent

G L Wilson

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

Knutsen Dyer-style harp guitar
Here we have a very nice example of a Knutsen Dyer-style harp guitar built by Alejandro Vasquez Rubio. The design of this "one-arm harp guitar" was patented in 1897 by Chris Knutsen, who was contracted to build guitars for W.J. Dyer & Bro in 1899. However Dyer switched to the services of the Larson Brothers in 1902, allegedly because their guitars were more consistent whereas Knutsens were all one-offs and could vary considerably from one example to the next.

G L Wilson

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

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Saturn Violin Guitar by Kawai, Teisco or maybe Guyatone - you choose

After Gavin's post of the Guyatone Saturn, this is my Kawai Saturn Violin shaped guitar which I picked up on eBay about four years ago for the princely sum of £149, which may have also been made by Guyatone. It seems it was made for just one year during 1968 then discontinued. I'm sure it's the same story for many "odd" guitars from this period. I've mentioned this before and it's hard to believe but the guitar industry was in decline at the end of the 60s and there were a lot of novelty instruments produced to try and catch the imagination of buyers. I guess, if they didn't sell, they were discontinued pretty sharply.

The logo is raised but is under the varnish - some kind of raised print, I guess - the one in the CrazyDave video (see below) has no logo so I supposed they were pretty slap-dash with some of the details and may have also made them under a different name for other distributers. Mine is in great condition and has hardly a mark on it. It's all original except I changed the pickups for some NOS ones from eBay. The originals were quite corroded and although they sounded fine, the NOS ones just look that bit better. Like many cheap pick ups from this time, they are quite microphonic but not distractingly so.

They only thing that's suffered over the years is the tremolo arm. The thread has stripped completely and now I use a slightly bigger nut to fill the old hole. Despite being a real cheapie, this guitar has a neck as straight as a die, a great action and even after some pretty strenuous wanging, it stays in tune.

The Presidents of The United States of America (the band not the wikileaks fearing politicians) used (ABUSED or TRASHED to be more accurate) one in their official video for their one and only hit "Lump" . After what they did to it, I guess there's one less Saturn in the world today. [Errrrmmm... David, you may want to read the comments - Chris Ballew of the Presidents said he loved that guitar and never abused it. - G L Wilson]

For a slightly more respectful video go and see CrazyDave play his. Not me, the other crazy Dave. Yeah Dave. Crazy man! Yeah!

There are scans of a 1968 catalogue from the Canadian company Eatons (as Gavin mentioned the other day) at but you have to pay to see them. I did manage to get access to them a while ago (I guess there site was having problems) and was disappointed to find it didn't include my guitar. Actually I checked them this morning and they didn't include Gavin's find either. I put pics of the covers in the comments so you can get an idea of their overall cheesiness.

By the way, the second picture is the wall in my studio. I am rather fond of violin (or viola to be pedantic) shaped guitars. The Epiphone is new. Compared to the boxy-ness of the Univox it's a little dull but, with tape wound strings and using the neck pickup, it has a satisfying thump and a beefy ooomph that almost gets you into sub bass land. Which is why I wanted it. The Univox was a dog when I got it. I had to ditch the neck as it was seriously warped and the truss rod was broken and I've since replaced it with a NOS Hofner bass neck and extra light wound strings. A VERY different "twangier" sound than the Epiphone.

David in Barcelona

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

1980s Riverhead bass
Riverhead was a brandname that appeared in the 1980s. As far as I know they were Japanese-made instruments and included a number of diminutive-bodied headless basses following the trend set by Steinberger. Models included the headless Riverhead Unicorn with a body design obviously insprired by the Burns Flyte.

As far as I can remember, the above-pictured Riverhead bass, currently being offered for sale on eBay, is the first I've seen with a headstock. If you know any more about these guitars and basses, then please drop us a line or leave a comment! Thanks.

G L Wilson

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

Michael Spalt Hybrid Matrix Bass prototype
If you want innovative guitar and bass design, then look no further than this Michael Spalt Hybrid Matrix Bass prototype currently being offered for sale on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $4,300 (not one to be bought on a whim).

The construction is an abstract marriage of quality timbers and aluminium parts. To quote from the Spalt Instruments website:
"Hybrids employ an aluminum skeletal structure with wooden wings and wood necks. These instruments embody my sculptural approach to guitar/bass building - they are stripped-down to the essentials. The wood neck dials in the tonal color and is comfortable to play. The aluminum imparts a warm tone and clarity to the sound. All metal and wood work is done by hand."
Whilst I applaud this daring approach to luthiery, I can't honestly say that I like the appearance of this bass. Of course, appearances might be what initially attracts us to an instrument, but it's the sound and the playability that matters.

G L Wilson

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

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Univox Lectra Violin Bass
The seller of this 1960s Univox Lectra Violin Bass currently listed on eBay tells us that it is a:
Looking at this solidbody violin bass, I'd say it was more likely a copy of the Gibson violin bass, and a more accurate copy than Hofner's version. I'm not normally a fan of violin basses and guitars but think this one is quite cool.

G L Wilson

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

1968 Guyatone Saturn

With its exaggerated offset body horns, four pickups, and an almost bewildering array of control knobs and switches - including a volume for each pickup and a single tone - this Guyatone-made Saturn guitar is certainly an eye-catching example of 1960s Japanese guitar-making.

The Saturn brand was, according to the eBay listing, sold through the Canadian catalogue Eaton's.

This is a nice example of this guitar from 1968. There is some cracking in the pickguard around the 3rd pickup and apparently the tremolo is not original (although you'd never know it).

G L Wilson

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

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Hayman 2020 with f-holes
This is a Hayman 2020 guitar, a rare model with f-holes. I'm guessing from its bolt-on neck design it's more of a "thinline" rather than a semi-acoustic, although it's hard to say from the photographs alone.

The guitar was designed by Jim Burns and would have been produced in the UK in the early 1970s before the distribution deal with Dallas Arbiter finished and the Shergold brandname replaced Hayman.

Note the glass(?) "H" logo inset into the headstock. This is what was missing from the hole in the headstock of the left-handed Hayman 4040 bass we looked at in October.

G L Wilson

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

Ovation Deacon XII
Further to our Electric 12-string Fiesta last Wednesday, here is my own particular favourite and one that I would dearly love to own (I still regret being outbid on one of these by a measly couple of quid in the closing seconds of an eBay auction a couple of years ago).

It's an Ovation Deacon XII, this one dating from between 1973-75. The Deacon was a sister guitar to the Breadwinner and was essentially a more upmarket version of that guitar featuring a natural finish (which looks positively red on this particular example), bound neck, fancier "diamond" fretboard inlays, and pearloid buttons on the machine heads. Otherwise, pickups, electrics, etc, are all the same as on the Breadwinner.

Alas, for anyone interested in this example, the auction has already finished. Sorry about that, but I thought it was still worthy of a blog post being such a nice example of this guitar.

G L Wilson

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


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