We've looked at Shergold guitars before here on Guitarz, plus related brands Hayman, Ned Callan and Shaftsbury. Of course there's a Burns connection too, as Shergold was founded in 1967 by Jack Golder and Norman Houlder who were both former Burns London employees; also in the mid 1970s Shergold would go on to produce guitar bodies and necks for the re-launched Burns UK brand with guitars such as the Flyte.
Shergold were always a forward-looking company, keen on innovation. They are famous for their "detachable" doubleneck guitars (as famously used by Mike Rutherford of Genesis), plus guitars with modular electronics which can be swapped and changed dependent on the sound desired. They were also the ONLY manufacturer (that I am aware of) who were producing a 6-string bass back in the 1970s. This was after Fender had given up on the Fender Bass VI and a LONG time before the advent of modern 5- and 6-string basses in the mid 1980s.
The Shergold Marathon 6-string bass pictured here is currently being offered for sale on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $4,500. I can't help but feel that this price is a little steep, but maybe that's because I remember when I was working in Summertown in Oxford, there was a music shop near the office that had a Shergold 6-string bass in white marked at £199 and it was in there for ages; obviously people weren't rushing to buy it. I thought it was cool, but it was still too expensive for me at the time. This would have been in the late 1980s. Only a few years earlier, Peter Hook of New Order had used a similar Shergold 6-string bass on "Blue Monday".
Stylewise, it is somewhere between the old-fashioned Bass VI (tuned as a standard guitar but an octave down) and the modern 6-string bass (which typically have a low B string and a high C). I believe the Shergold opted for the one-octave down from guitar tuning, but the neck and string spacing is wider than you'd find on a vintage Bass VI (Fender, Danelectro) - definitely more bass-like than guitar-like; even the tuners are large-buttoned dedicated "no doubt about it" bass tuners.
Whilst I'm sure the Shergold Marathon 6-string bass has gone up in value since the example I saw for sale in the late 1980s, I find it hard to believe that it's remotely in the area that this eBay seller is asking for. It's a very cool bass, but I think it's another one to file under "Optimistic sellers".
G L Wilson
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