Monday, 1 August 2011

Vintage 1960s Bruno Conqueror Semi-Acoustic Bass Japan

I quite liked the look of this, Japanese made, 1960s semi-acoustic Bruno Conqueror bass (recently sold on eBay for £219) and as I'm in the market for something like this, it caught my eye. It's in great condition, looks complete and has some nice details, like the slanted end of the neck. When I looked closely at the pictures, something else caught my eye.

Firstly, this is what the seller had to say:

This is one super-cool looking and great sounding vintage 1960s Bass. Made in Japan around 50yrs ago! This has got great tone and is in exceptionally good condition for it's age, modern basses just can't capture this vintage tone.
What he didn't mention was what the material the neck is made of...

If you look closely at the picture of the back of the headstock, you'll see the very regular pattern of the grain. I've seen something like this in the flooring of a fashion store which I recall was made of laminated bamboo. Sure enough, Google informs me that bamboo has been used, successfully, for guitar materials in the past. It's fast growing and renewable, very hard but very light, strong and relatively easy to work. It also has a decent tone.

This is, of course, just conjecture on my part but, it's clearly some kind of laminated wood and considering this instrument hails from the far east, it can't be all that surprising to see local materials being used.
Now, once I started Googling I couldn't stop (like popping Pringles) at just a bit of history so I stopped off at the TDPRI Forum (well worth joining - a lot of not strictly Tele stuff going on there amongst the regular Tele stuff. Anyway, I came across a post about a bamboo telecaster which describes the building of the instrument plus a video demo and few sidelines about other bamboo based beauties, including a Yamaha acoustic and Fender's limited edition Bamboo Tele.

That guitar was built by Brad Ferguson, a maker of all sorts of cool musical things. His blog shows the guitar making process and some nice videos. Well worth checking out.

Anyone hankering to build their own will be glad to know the raw materials are quite widely available these days so I'm sure a little Googling should find a supplier. Anyone who'd hoped to build a guitar from the now discontinued Ikea butchers block will surely find this video quite interesting too.

David in Barcelona

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