Wednesday 30 April 2008

The Lil' Eko, perhaps?

Lil EkoIt's time for some more Guitar Cheese here at Guitarz! The seller seems to think that this little axe might be an Eko. Now, Italy's Eko guitars are known for some pretty funky designs, especially those of a certain vintage, but I've not seen one of these before. However, it does have "Made in Italy" on the back of the headstock (see the pics on the eBay page) so perhaps it was made by Eko. No other Italian guitar manufacturers spring to mind at the moment.

From its diminuitive size, I'd say that it would appear to be a guitar for the junior player, and rather bizarrely the output looks like a 1/8th inch jack - a special lead being included in the auction.

I doubt it's a quality instrument, but it certainly looks to be a nice fun piece for the collector of cheesy guitars.

Edit: It IS an Eko, basically one sold as a child's toy together with a mini amp. See here.

Tuesday 29 April 2008

Tim Sult

The Mystery Guitar Identified... (sort of...)

Hey, you guys are great. Ask a question, and a couple of days later there comes the answer!

Another Guitarz reader, Paul Roub, very cunningly went straight to the source and asked the folks at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, and they told him that the SG with the Flying V headstock belongs to Tim Sult of Clutch.

The picture here shows the Gibson logo quite clearly on the head (note also the Les Paul style pickguard), but I still don't know if it's a one-off custom jobbie or a "frankenstein". Perhaps now we know whose guitar it is, a little more digging might answer some of these other questions.

Thanks, Paul! Nice one.

Monday 28 April 2008

I hope there's a lifeguard standing by!

I hope there's a lifeguard standing by!Blimey! I think some eBay sellers are just plain bonkers!

I mean, here's this guy who reckons this not particulary stunning Strat-a-like guitar is deserving of an $18,000 Buy It Now price, and then he goes casually leaving it knocking about on the edge of a swimming pool.

The words "accident", "waiting", "to" and "happen" all spring to mind.

Testing, Testing, 1... 2... 3...

Is this RSS thing on yet?

Sunday 27 April 2008

Kurt Cobain's Mustang and Mystery Gibson

We Need Your Help: What Is This Mystery Guitar?

Guitarz reader Paul Alvarez has contacted me with a mystery, and it's one dilly of a pickle. It concerns a mystery guitar that he'd like identified. The photo to the left shows an exhibit at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Please note, that the mystery guitar is NOT Kurt Cobain's Fender Mustang in the centre of the picture. That one we can identify.

No, the guitar we are interested in is the one on the right-hand side of the picture. It appears to be a Gibson SG equipped with a Bigsby and a Flying V neck - check that pointed headstock. Does anyone know the identity of this guitar and the story behind it? Is it a one-off, or was it part of a limited edition? Also, who played this guitar? Anyone we should know of? The fact that it's on display in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame would imply that it's a famous guitar or was at least owned by someone famous.

If anyone could tell us what the plaque beneath the guitar in the display cabinet actually says, we'd love to know! There must be a story about the guitar - look - it's got much more info on the plaque than Kurt's guitar has.

Is there anyone in Cleveland who can help, or perhaps someone who's recently visited the exhibit?

Saturday 26 April 2008

Tennessee Guitars: Buyer Beware!!!

I was rather alarmed to see that the hideous Tennessee 6-string bass / 12-string guitar combo that I featured in yesterday's blog entry received a whopping 19 bids before selling on eBay for $275.

I have previously posted on this blog about these suspicious looking instruments, but this time I decided to do a little homework and it didn't take very long to dig out the dirt. Checking through the seller's feedback reveals numerous stories of unplayable instruments, instruments damaged in transit, instruments not set up, etc etc. Feedback such as this would have put me off, so it amazes me that people still bid.

Over at Harmony Central there are three user reviews for the Tennessee brand of instuments, none of which are favourable.
  • Tennessee 10 String Bass

    Tennessee 10 string bass"The electronics though are horrible. Described as having two volumes and three tone controls, it actually has one volume and four tone controls. After removing the control cover plate and studying the wiring, both pickups are wired in parallel to the main volume control and the other four controls are wired as tone controls with the exact same spec capacitor. As you turn up each tone control you roll off more and more highs, until you are left with mud. [...]

    When I received this bass it was unplayable. [...] The nut looked liked it was slotted by an 8 year old Chinese sweatshop employee...which it probably was. The "fully" adjustable rosewood bridge only has height adjustments at each end and when adjusted all the way down the action is still a mile high, and of course the intonation is way off with no way to adjust it. Had 4 low frets and several sharp fret edges. [...] If it couldn't get any ground the strings/bridge, a wire soldered to one of the tone pots is fed through the ball ends of all the strings!"

  • Tennessee 6 string electric/8 string lap steel double neck

    Tennessee guitar lapsteel doubleneck" was delivered with a broken nut on the lap steel, and in severe need of a proper set-up on the 6 string. [...] This guitar ... is in desperate need of a luthier. [...] It arrived un-playable on either neck.

    The 6 string neck seems "ok", but I've not been able to play it at all, due to such a horrible "initial set-up". The action, as delivered, is on par with a properly set-up lap steel guitar. The intonation isn't as well set as my first service merchandise "toy" guitar. The humbucker's trim ring was clearly designed to fit an arch-top guitar in the neck position, but is mounted on a flat top in the bridge position.

    The bridge for the lap steel is wooden and NOT mounted to the guitar; it was held down by string pressure, alone. It is not wide enough for the standard 3/8" string spacing and will be replaced with a good hunk of metal. The strings run through the body via PLASTIC ferrels, and were secured by nothing but the wood of the body, and a grounding wire from the electronics run through the ball ends of the strings. The nut was broken between the two lowest tuned bass strings at delivery, and will also need to be replaced. That's just fine, as this will give me time to properly finish the "fretboard", which appeard as if it came straight off of a belt sander wrapped in 80 grit.

    Currently, I wouldn't rely on this guitar to hold a door open. [...]

    This could not be considered an instrument; merely a representation of one. It is advertised as a "pro" guitar; I wouldn't even consider it a beginner or student level guitar. I wouldn't foist it upon anyone for anything other than shooting practice..."

  • Tennessee Mandolin/Guitar Doubleneck

    Tennessee mandolin guitar doubleneck"Believe it or not, the guitar has no bridge* - the strings come straight off the bigsby, so there is no way to adjust height or intonation. I found that if I threaded the guitar strings under the retainer bar on the Bigsby (which is proper) the strings hit the fretboard. If I allowed the string to be above the retainer, then the 12th fret is no longer halfway between the nut and bridge, and intonation is off by a mile. This is a serious design flaw - the bigsby should have been placed further back towards the endpin so that there would be room for an adjustable bridge, which is the proper set up for a bigsby. (I'm not kidding - if you look at a photograph of one of these, you will plainly see that the guitar has no bridge).

    On the mandolin side, putting 2 strings in each of 4 string ferrules is not a good system because the strings do not stay separate as they cross the bridge, and the bridge itself was not grooved to hold the strings in place. The bridge on the particular instrument I received was much too large to function as a mandolin bridge - it was over 3" wide (closer in size to a bass bridge!). [...]

    It also smelled like paint. [...]

    The instrument I received was not a playable or professional quality instrument."

    * - note that the guitar pictured by way of illustration, DOES have a bridge.
These reviews seem to confirm what I've suspected. That is, that these guitars are just thrown together in an attempt to make a quick buck and that the manufacturer really has no idea what they are doing.

Remember the old saying: "If it looks too good to be true - it probably is!"

Friday 25 April 2008

6-string bass and 12-string guitar all on one neck!

A very very silly ideaMore and more often on eBay these days I'm seeing guitars bearing the Tennessee brand. These guys don't play it safe with tried and trusted popular models. They seem to make up the most outlandish designs possible such as crazy multi-necked instruments (I've featured some of these before) and they always seem to be very cheap so as to appeal to the buyer who thinks "That guitar might well look crazy, but at that price I'll give it a whirl." It's an interesting marketing strategy.

But are these cheap 'n' cheerful (and very probably nasty) instruments actually playable? I'm not just talking quality and set-up, I also wonder if some of them are actually physically possible to play.

A case in point is this ridiculous six string bass and twelve-string guitar on one neck combo. I can't imagine why anyone would want such a thing in preference to a doubleneck. How difficult must that be to play? The difficulty would be further compounded by the two parts of the instrument having separate fingerboards and scale-lengths. I'd love to hear from someone who's played a guitar like this? Just what are the advantages, because I can't see any.

Just because it is possible to build something, it doesn't mean it's a good idea to go ahead and do it. (Even if the headstock does look kind of impressive!)

BTW, for this model, it looks like "Tennessee" copied this guy's design and added the extra strings themselves. From his comments on a previous thread on this blog, the guy who designed the original didn't seem to know how he was going to approach playing it. Then more recently I saw that he had adveristed it for sale! I wonder why?

Thursday 24 April 2008

Snotty guitar

Lumpy, green, unpleasant looking thing

Currently for sale on eBay, this cheap 'n' nasty guitar looks like it's just been sneezed out of something's nose. It's that particular insipid shade of light green that suggests that it might be luminous. Surely, it'd be bad enough having such a vile-looking thing assaulting the optic nerves in daylight, without the bloody thing glowing in the dark too. Blimey, I mean, if I was to stick this thing away in some dark corner I'd want it to stay hidden.

Does anyone actually buy this crap, I wonder?

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Premier Guitars Magzine reviews Guitarz

Premier Guitars Magazine review Guitarz blogI'd like to say a big Thank You to Joe Coffey and Premier Guitar magazine for the half page review of this very blog that appears in their May 2008 issue. However, I have to add that I'm not always able to post daily. In an ideal world I would do, but it doesn't always work out that way.

The whole magazine is available to view online at the website, but I'm going to want to get my hands on a physical copy of this as a keepsake. Also, it looks like there's plenty of other interesting stuff to read in there (and it's just not the same squinting to read it on the screen). I'm not sure Premier Guitar is readily available in the UK; my local WHSmiths doesn't stock it anyway. If anyone could help me track down a copy I'd be grateful.

I always appreciate hearing that people out there enjoy the blog. I originally started it solely for myself and as a way of keeping track of my guitar-based web browsings. It's great that other people appreciate it too!

By the way, in case you've ever wondered why it's spelt Guitarz with a "z", it's because Guitars with an "s" was already taken on Blogspot. However that blog was just your common or garden Teen blog and wasn't guitar-specific despite its name. The only other guitar blog I could find at that time (2002) was Guitar Bizarre which was in Portuguese. Unfortunately that one seems to have bitten the dust now, which is a shame because whilst I was unable to read the text, it always had nice pictures to drool over.

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Objects of Desire. #1: Paul Weller's Ricky 330

Paul Weller Rickenbacker 330This is the first in an occasional series of blog items, basically for when I'm experiencing a slow news day in the guitar world and for when I haven't found anything particularly alarming on eBay to show you.

Here's a guitar that Paul Weller used in The Jam. It's a Rickenbacker 330 finished in a pop-art design borrowed from Roy Lichenstein. Allegedly this guitar was actually quite unplayable, and was mainly used for promotional purposes such as TV appearances (i.e. when the band were miming). Nevertheless, it's a fantastic looking piece. If it were mine I'd take it to a luthier and see about making it fully playable again.

Apparently there's no truth in the rumour that Andrew Ridgely of Wham! offered to buy the guitar from Weller, although perhaps having that other band's name plastered over the front of it was what prevented Weller using the guitar with the Style Council.

Monday 21 April 2008

Holy bass on eBay

Holy bass
Holy bass

The owner of this Precision bass copy has done a really interesting custom job on it. The quality of the finish looks most professional. I don't care much for the way he's trimmed the body and the headstock, but I do very much like the holes. It could be a companion for my own Feline "Holy Panther" Strat.

And before someone else says it, I'm so glad that he didn't finish it in yellow so it ended up looking like a piece of swiss cheese.

UPDATE: Sold for £156.30.

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Vintage Lucite-bodied Fender Musicmaster Bass

Lucite Musicmaster BassHere's a rare Fender - in fact it's so rare that it's one of those models that doesn't officially exist!

Currently for sale on eBay, this lucite-bodied Fender Musicmaster Bass dates from the 1970s. Be quick if you want to bid as the auction ends very soon.

The seller doesn't seem too sure of its provenance but I'm almost certain that it's one of those one-off instruments built for display at trade shows.

Fender also famously built a lucite-bodied Stratocaster for this very purpose - a guitar that was reputedly so heavy that it was totally impractical for playing purposes.

UPDATE: Sold for US$1,185.50 (approximately £600.07).

Sunday 13 April 2008

Could this be the Rarest of all Mosrites?

Mosrite Brass RailThere's a listing on eBay right now for a 1976 Mosrite Brass Rail which the seller claims is "the rarest of all Mosrites" and which has a hefty starting price to justify this at $2,999.

Aesthetically it's a very conservative looking guitar for a Mosrite. It's puts me in mind of the shape now used by the Washburn Idol series. It seems that Semie Moseley developed these guitars for the Japanese market. Here are his comments about the guitar:
"I was convinced I had to change my design, and I built this guitar called the Brass Rail. If I'd stuck with my original design and not spent so much money trying to come up with a new one, I could have made it. See, I put a 1/4" brass right into the neck 3/4" deep and I drove the frets right into it. Sustain like you never heard! I did necks both ways [bolt-on and set]. I mean, it was the ultimate in sustain. You could tune all the strings to zero and the first string would stay to pitch. So, I took a couple of these and let [a salesman] show them, and that's now I got into a deal in Japan."
The example shown here is one of the set necks - the neck continues down inside the guitar underneath the pickups and right up to the bridge.

Apparently there were only about 100 of these built (as you can see in the photo, this is #74) but does that make this "the rarest of all Mosrites"? Well, for a production model, this is very likely true, but there were numerous custom one-off Mosrites including double- and triple-necks and these surely must be considered rarer. I'm also reminded of the trio of surfboard-inspired guitars that Semie built for Strawberry Alarm Clock.
Why don't girls play guitar? asks the BBC News Magazine. Which is a strange generalization, I reckon, because the trend over the last few years seems to be that more girls than ever have been taking up the guitar. Haven't they? They must be building all those Daisy Rock, Luna, Fender Hello Kitty, and Kramer "Jewel" guitars for someone, surely? However, it's a pity that the marketing departments of some of these companies seem to think that in order to appeal to the female market a guitar needs to be pink or hideously cutesy in some way.

Friday 11 April 2008

Wolf Marshall

Bad Hair Decade

This guitar instructional VHS video was purchased for 20p in a charity shop. Blimey! The 80s were certainly a scary decade. Just look at that hair!

But never fear! I'm glad to report that not only is Wolf Marshall still going strong but also that his hair is looking so much better these days.

Thursday 3 April 2008

Japanese Vintage: Kawai Moonsault Guitar

Kawai Moonsault
Kawai Moonsault
It might sport a totally impractical body shape, but to my eyes this 1980s Japanese Kawai Moonsault is a thing of beauty. Despite the obvious shape difference, it has a Les Paul quality to it. Look at that binding, the pearloid inlays, and my favourite feature: the phase of the moon fingerboard inlays. I also love the silverburst finish, which is infinitely preferable to yellow which makes the guitar resemble a banana.

On another topic, I'm taking a break over the next week or so, so don't expect a plethora of new posts. I may try to post something whilst I'm away - it all depends on how busy I am. Regular blog posts should begin again on 14 April.

Tuesday 1 April 2008

Jaco Pastorius & the Bass of Doom

The Holy Grail of Basses Found at Last

It may be old news to some of you out there, but I only just heard that Jaco Pastorius' 1962 Fender Jazz Bass has been found over twenty year after it mysteriously went missing.

Nicknamed the "Bass of Doom", it had last been seen with Jaco in Central Park in 1986, the year before Jaco's untimely death.

Pictured left: Jaco with the bass as it is most often remembered with worn sunburst finish, and on the right as repaired and re-finished by luthier Kevin Kaufman after Jaco had smashed the bass supposedly in an argument.


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