Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Goran Malmberg's Abba "Star" guitar replica

Happy New Year to all our readers. Those of you who had a copy of our Guitarz 2012 calendar on their wall over the last year will recognise the above guitar as our guitar for April (although in the spirit of keeping the calendar photos exclusive, this is an alternate photograph). To copy from my own blurb in the calendar:
The Swedish pop group ABBA won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Brighton, UK, with the song "Waterloo". For the contest and for subsequent TV appearances and public appearances around the world, Abba member Björn Ulvaeus played a multi-pointed star-shaped guitar created by Goran Malmberg. Unfortunately, the orignal guitar is now missing, but Malmberg has created this replica for the ABBA Museum in Stockholm.
I don't care about ABBA's "pop" credentials, or the (im)practicalities of such a very pointy guitar design, this is one of my favourite iconic guitar designs and along with the John Birch Superyob as played by Slade's Dave Hill it epitomises the whole glam rock era.

Malmberg kindly took some time to tell us about the guitar when I emailed him back in 2008:
I designed the entire guitar shape. The original question from Bjorn was that they liked a guitar in the shape of a star, and I made a few baseline drawings for him to look at. If you look at the shape it is not symmetrical. We have the Gibson guitar "Flying V" and "Explorer" from the time that has "horns" in different directions. A common thing with those guitars along with my star guitar is that it has to serve a practical purpose, therefore the horns are pointing logical directions. The strap has to be fastened in a good balance position. There should be no horn where one has its right arm. There has to be a horn to place tone and volume knobs. So the design issue was to find a design balance that included those features. I have seen copies of the guitar. No criticism, but if the builder does not has a very good picture to make a copy from, he will surely miss the geometric figures behind the design. And the guitar will not show the same harmony as the original.

About the "player" issue, it is just about the same as a Strat with patent number pickups. The body is laminate plywood, for the reason that the edge of the horns should not break. It is all solid as a Strat. Good sustain. However, the guitar main purpose was for image, and even if Bjorn had come "asking" for it as an instrument, there was newer any time for fine tune adjustments.
For more see this post.

Speaking of calendars, unfortunately - as some of you may have realised by now - we weren't able to put together a calendar for 2013. I'm sorry, and despite the offer of assistance from one enthusiastic Guitarz reader, I just haven't had the time over the last few months to get my arse into gear and even get the ball rolling in this department. Thanks also to Bertram and David who have been posting solidly these last few weeks whilst I've been out working anti-social hours.

So what have we lined up for 2013? Well, to be honest, I don't know for sure yet, but you can expect even more of the same, i.e. weird and wonderful guitars! We also enjoy seeing your guitars, so if you have any that are that little bit different from the same old guitars we see everywhere else, please get in touch!

G L Wilson

© 2013, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!


  1. "So what have we lined up for 2013?"

    Getting back to basics. Making effort to expand my understanding of re-fretting techniques, scalloping and wiring. As well as of course a re-focus on actually playing!

    With our economy continuing to deteriorate, my guess is more and more players will elect to do likewise with vanity/specialty brands falling off the radar and out of production.

    The overall guitar market, accessories, gadgets, tube amps and stunningly, collectibles have held up against all economic reason! This may be the year we begin to see prices re-enter orbit and Guitar Center now advertises "An American Made Les Paul for $599!"

    I'm not calling for a 'collapse' of collectible prices by any means as they seem to continue functioning as a "substitute for fiat currency" but a tough year for sellers means a better one for buyers! This could prove a good year for making long anticipated acquisitions.

  2. Didn't Tito Jackson play a very similar guitar on the Jacksons' Victory tour?

    1. Almost certainly it wasn't a Malmberg... not unless he'd found the original Abba guitar which went missing back in the mid 1970s - but you'd think someone would have noticed if that was the case.

      I can't find any photographic evidence of Tito Jackson playing such a crazy-looking guitar - if anyone can help, please get in touch!

  3. I have one, signed by both Björn Ulveus and Göran Malmberg. Anyone interrested? It will not be cheap.



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