Monday, 8 August 2011

Burns Flyte in Gold - ex Age Of Chance and Sonic Youth
When we talk about Burns Guitars here on Guitarz, I confess we are often being lazy and lumping the various differnt Burns companies together into one gestalt entity. In fact there were a succession of companies within which Jim Burns was associated, beginning with Burns London in 1960 which was bought out by Baldwin in 1965. Baldwin-branded Burns guitars appeared until 1970. Jim Burns was involved with Hayman from 1969-1973, that company being the forerunner of Shergold. From 1973 to 1977, Burns UK Ltd produced guitars including the above pictured Flyte model. Then in 1979, "Burns" guitars were produced by Jim Burns Actualizers Ltd producing such models as the Steer and the Scorpion, and this company lasted until 1983.

The present-day Burns London Ltd company was started in 1992 by Barry Gibson, with Jim Burns on board as a consultant. This company re-issued many of the older designs from previous incarnations, as well as producing completely new instruments. In 1999 they began outsourcing production of instruments to Korea, so sadly these days not all Burns guitars are UK made (although it's the same story everywhere of guitar companies having to resort to Far Eastern production in order to compete in the marketplace).

All that may sound complicated, but I was in fact simplifying the story. For a fuller picture please see the Burns Guitar Museum website which has pages dedicated to the "different Burns companies and their guitars and basses".

From the "Burns UK" period (1973-1977), the Burns Flyte in gold finish pictured above has just been listed on eBay UK with a very low starting price. I was going to comment that I'd never seen a Flyte with this finish before until reading in the listing that the seller had played this guitar in the band Age Of Chance. Then I realised I had seen it before when that band appeared on BBC2's Whistle Test in 1987 performing their version of Prince's "Kiss". What's more, Flyte fans, the bassist is also playing a Flyte.

Or if you prefer, here in much better quality is the promo video of the same song. You get to see the guitars much more clearly, although obviously here the band are miming.

Apparently this gold Flyte was also loaned to Lee Ronaldo of Sonic Youth back when it wasn't for sale. Anyway, I shall be watching this auction with interest, and wishing I was able to bid myself.

G L Wilson

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