Sunday 31 August 2008

Celeb Ukes

Celeb UkesSome enterprising soul has been customising cheap ukuleles and travel guitars using the medium of stencils and spray paint and selling them on eBay. Very cunning, I thought, although I'd have preferred to see the stencilling on front of the instrument. I suppose you'd have to have a image that fits around the bridge and soundhole.

Saturday 30 August 2008

CD Review: Blackmore's Night - Secret Voyage

Blackmore's Night - Secret Voyage
Now the music press has been rather unkind to Ritchie Blackmore in recent years. He's been portrayed as a nutter who has forsaken his once-beloved Fender Stratocaster and has taken to prancing around dressed up as a court jester whilst playing the lute.

With this imagery in mind I approached this latest release from Blackmore's Night with caution. I really wasn't sure quite what to expect or what I'd make of it. I was prepared to be confused and dumbfounded.

I don't know what I was worried about. I loved it.

Now to start with, let me say that the cover art could have been straight from a Rainbow LP! So, no change there then.

Onto the music... The album opener, the instrumental "God Save The Keg", is a pompous overture if I've ever heard one! It erroneously and worryingly hints that it's going to be an album of progressive rock, but despite this it's good fun all the same.

Next we're neatly segued into "Locked Within The Crystal Ball" which begins serenely with with monks chanting, but soon a galloping beat deveops and we're off. Now Blackmore's Night isn't just Ritchie Blackmore's baby. It's a joint project with singer Candice Night (see how they got both their names into the band name? Clever, eh?) and she has the voice of an angel. The song fairly gallops along and has oodles of Blackmore's trademark guitar and what sounds like a hurdy gurdy and a harp. It's very poppy and radio-friendly despite being a whole eight minutes long.

"Gilded Cage", a folky ballad, slows the pace down with acoustic guitars and a violin solo, and is followed by "Toast To Tomorrow" which begins with a hammer-dulcimer intro, and then fiddles, accordions and mandolins(?) start up in what could be a Grecian or Russian dance. Listening to it you can just imagine the cossack dancers. It's a triumphant track!

The pace slows once again for Ritchie's solo piece, "Prince Waldeck's Galliard", renaissance-style acoustic guitar with birds tweeting in the background. It sounds naff when I put it like that, but is quite lovely.

On "Rainbow Eyes" Blackmore cheekily covers himself, as this song was originally by a certain band called Rainbow. It's a ballad with some gorgeous slide electric guitar from Blackmore.

"The Circle" is medium-paced folk rock with a slight mediterranean flavour. There's more slide guitar and an electric solo during the rising crescendo at the song's finish.

"Sister Gypsy" is a medieval sounding folk song with guitar (or lute?), fiddle and basic percussion. It's simple but very effective and beautiful.

Now when I heard the opening bars of "Can't Help Falling In Love" - Yes, the Elvis song - at first I thought "WHY?" but then I found myself quite enjoying it. Again we have the galloping rhythm from "Crystal Ball". Oh, and a widdly solo!

"Peasant's Promise" opens with some more lute-esque renaissance guitar. Then the beat of a bodhran-style drum comes in and we get a renaissance folk dance with pipes and/or recorders(?). It's quite hypnotic.

"Far Far Away" is a much more up-to-date sounding folky ballad in 3/4. It's still an excellent song, with accomplished playing and singing but somehow, for me, is not as enjoyble as the other tracks.

Finally, we have "Empty Words", a brief track with begins with a lone acoustic guitar, which is then joined by Candice Night's vocal, and gradually strings come in as further accompaniment. It possibly ends the album on a downbeat. When I first listened to this album I was playing it on my iPod in the office, and I inadvertantly had "shuffle" selected so that after the first track, all the following songs were in the wrong order. On that occasion the album finished with "Locked Within The Crystal Ball" which, I thought, was an excellent way in which to finish the album - on a high note and leaving the audience wanting more!

All in all, I think this is a fantastic album and I would give it a full 5 out of 5. Now Ritchie Blackmore has over the years earned himself the reputation of being - how shall we say? - a moody git, and I always felt that he was never happy in Deep Purple or Rainbow. Somehow, through the medium of this music of Blackmore's Night, I get the impression he's now doing what he really wants to do and that it makes him happy. And you can only wish him the best of luck in that, can't you?

Now I must apologise for not saying much about Candice Night throughout this review. I confess I know very little about her. She has what I like to call an "English folk-singing voice" (and that is not meant in any detrimental way) and I hope it's sufficient to say that her voice is equally suited to the folk, medieval and rock tracks on offer here. I'd say that she was the perfect vocal foil to Blackmore's guitar. I hope that their relationship continues to be a harmonious and happy one.

Buy it here!

Friday 29 August 2008

Soil Scientist's Space Bass

Soil Scientist's Space BassHa! I deliberately included a couple of weird guitars that we haven't previously covered in yesterday's photo collage just to see if anyone out there would take the bait.

"What's the bass (bottom left photo)?" asks BigRedX. "It didn't show up in a search of basses in this blog."

Well, apparently it's the "Space Bass" belonging to James Cassidy, one-time punk rocker with a band called Information Society and who these days is a soil scientist. Apparently the band were recently featured in an episode of MTV's Bands Reunited.

Thursday 28 August 2008

Guitarz Blog - Bringing you Weird and Wonderful Guitars since 2002!

Bringing you Weird and Wonderful Guitars since 2002
Yes! It's Happy Birthday to this blog, which is six years old today! I reckon that means it's OK to blow our own trumpet. There are hundreds of guitar blogs on the internet today, but this was the very first in the English language and it is also the longest running guitar blog ever! (And we STILL get missed off the lists of who's who in guitar blogging. We're obviously not in the right clique.) We might not be as deep or intellectual as some guitar blogs, but if you want a regular dose of weird and wonderful guitars, then look no further. Thanks for reading.

Quick Quiz: The Answer

It's supposed to be Hendrix, would you believe?Thank you for all your submissions to this quiz that I posed back on Monday.

Your suggestions as to the identity of the person immortalized in the carving on this cheap and nasty guitar included Marc Bolan, Mike Bloomfield, Chris Hillman, Bob Dylan, Mozart, Beethoven, Phil Lynott, Jack Bruce, and - of course - Jimi Hendrix.

It's a barely recognizable Hendrix. It looks like he's got mumps or else is chewing several toffees.

If I'd shown you the carving on the upper horn, where a left-handed guitarist can be seen (although it still looks NOTHING like Hendrix), that may have been too much of a giveaway.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Rickenbacker Lightshow Guitar

1971 Rickenbacker 331 LightshowIf you have $20,000 dollars to spare, you might want to buy this 1971 vintage Rickenbacker 331 Lightshow guitar, currently on eBay, and possibly one of the oddest guitars that Rickenbacker ever built.

It's surprisingly unsophisticated under the hood. The perspex front panels merely conceal a bunch of fairy lights and baco-foil. I'm assuming that the pot near the tailpiece of the guitar controls the lightshow.

The only time I remember ever seeing anyone use one of these was a contestant on "Opportunity Knocks" (a 1970s talent show on independent television in the UK), and the impression I got was that the lightshow on the guitar made me feel sick. Or perhaps it was just a really crappy song. I don't recall.

For a more uptodate take on guitars that incorporate a built-in lightshow, Bell Guitars make some very tasty semi-acrylic/semi-timber bodied guitars with this feature.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Strange Fernandes Guitar

Strange Fernandes guitar
I'm not sure what to say about this very peculiar looking Fernandes Guitar. It's not a model I've ever seen before. Possibly it's a guitar intended for the Japanese market only. It appears to be quite a diminuitive guitar, so my guess is that this is aimed at children, and that it has an on-board amp and speaker (the big black "hole" near the bridge). Does anyone recognise the logo underneath the red button on the upper horn?

Monday 25 August 2008

Quick Quiz: Who Is This?

Remember the ghastly Elvis tribute guitar? Well, in the same spirit comes this other carved guitar. But who on earth is that supposed to be?

This is just a bit of fun. There's no prize for getting the correct answer, just kudos for being able to recognize someone from a particularly bad artist's rendition.

Answers in the comments, please.

Sunday 24 August 2008

Butchered Fender Mustang

Buchered Fender Mustang
I sincerely hope that the buyer of this sorry-looking and carelessly butchered Fender Mustang intends to restore it to its former glory. I mean, just what is the meaning of that badly executed cut-out at the rear of the body? Please tell me that this is going to be patched up and repaired.

Why oh why do people resort to such butchery on something like this which is, after all, a vintage guitar? Such cackhanded DIY efforts should be reserved for the el cheapo guitars coming out of China these days. Having said that, of course, I don't know how long ago that poor Mustang was vandalised. The sticker is for David Bowie's "Tonight" album which was released back in 1984, so this axe abuse could date as far back as then. The Fender Mustang would still have been a desirable guitar, even then, so I really don't understand what was going through the mind of the perpetrator.

I love to hear from the buyer about his plans for this guitar.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Brian Eastwood "Bender Distortocaster" on eBay now

Now I'm sure many of you will have seen Brian Eastwood's Dali-esque take on the classic design of the Fender Strat, the appropriately-named Bender Distortocaster, but you don't often see these come up for sale on eBay, so if you're looking for something a bit weird but which will also play beautifully, snap it up now while you can!

...and cue the solo on "Wild Thing"

This guitar has NO strings at all.

But then, it's not a guitar, although it IS a musical instrument.

It's a guitar-shaped ocarina.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

LongBow American Classic 2-String Bass

If three strings are still too many for you, how about going one less and opting for a two-string bass?

We've already covered two-string basses on this blog - remember Stig Pedersen from D-A-D and his wacky basses?

The Longbow American Classic Two String Bass is a much simpler affair, and resembles a lengthy rectangular block of wood with pickups, machineheads and two strings attached. Which is basically what it is.

It is fretless, which also keeps things simple for the manufacturer, and is supposedly available in left or right hand versions, short, medium, long or extra-long scales, and with pickups placed in regular or "EB" positions (the latter supposedly being good for dub reggae sounds).

Except that according to the Orders page, "Due to internal company re-organization, we are not accepting Longbow orders until further notice." Which is sad, as this looks like a fun instrument. Having said that, am I the only one who thinks the listed price of $395 is a little steep for such a basic instrument?

Tuesday 19 August 2008

And now for something completely different...

After a couple of posts about 12-string guitars (and basses), I'm now going all minimalist on you and am once again featuring my down-tuned three-stringed guitar - or, according to The Presidents of the United States of America - my "guitbass". I built this from parts from an old Japanese Strat copy, plus various other bits and pieces that I had in my box of bits. The three strings are tuned C#, G# and C# (octave higher than the low C#).

Perhaps I should also add that this poor instrument is the one I take out my frustrations upon. It's been dropped and abused and has also survived being set on fire.

If you want to know what it sounds like, then check out this video that I put together this weekend:

I like the idea of minimalist instruments such as this. In a way it's a reaction against these guitars and basses with an ever-increasing numbers of strings just for the sake of it, rather than because a greater number of strings is useful musically or makes for a more playable instrument. It seems there is rivalry amongst some bassists as to who can have the instrument with the most strings. (And I'm talking about individual strings, not strings arranged in courses such as on a twelve-string guitar or the Hamer 12-string bass we looked at yesterday.)

You don't need a 7-string guitar - just listen to what a three-string can do. Sometimes less is more.

Monday 18 August 2008

Hamer Short-Scale 12-String Bass

Continuing the theme of the last two posts on 12-string guitars, today I would like to draw your attention to this gorgeous Hamer 12-string bass currently up for grabs on eBay. Hamer's Jol Dantzig and Cheap Trick's Tom Petersson were responsible for bringing the 12-string bass to the world, and despite it being a somewhat unusual instrument it does have quite a dedicated following - see for more! This particular 12-string bass is of the short-scale variety. I believe that early on there were concerns about the effects of the string pressure on a long-scale neck, although whatever those concerns were it seems the problem was solved as long-scale 12-string basses have existed for a while now.

I've always fancied having a go on one of these, but I'm not really a bassist so who knows what horrible noises I'd make with such an instrument should I even be able to manage the fingering on those tripled strings.

Sunday 17 August 2008

Your Guitars: Andy's Self-Built electric 12-string

Here's a very fine looking guitar from our friend Andy Stone. I'm sure he wouldn't mind me saying that his Les Pew and Rocket Bass were both rather rustic looking (which is not a bad thing), and an entirely different kettle of fish from this beauty. As before, I'll let Andy tell the story:
I built this guitar at an evening adult education class in 2002-3, the course was called 'Stringed Instruments'. It took me about 18 months just working on it a few hours a week. It was the first neck I built.

It's my own design and has a one-piece ash back (it's rare to find a one-piece ash guitar) routed out both sides leaving a central block to minimise feedback (335 style) and a book matched maple top, a set neck with an ebony fingerboard, Schaller hardware and Kent Armstrong pickups, and it is strung the Rickenbacker way round.

The body shape is from a Gretsch White Falcon and is the same size as I scaled it from the scale length. It's always stayed pretty well in tune, it's only problem is that it's a bit on the heavy side. When I initially cut into the block of Ash it revealed a split, and as I couldn't completely hide it I made it into a feature by filling it with wood from Brighton's West Pier that I bought stuck on a greeting card made by some enterprising soul just after the concert hall fell down! I feel I have a little local history embedded in the guitar now.

Sound? BIG!
Thanks Andy for sharing that with us.

Now, let's see YOUR guitars!

Saturday 16 August 2008

Super Rare Univox Solid Body 12-String Guitar

Yes, I'm back and what a rotten two weeks of the year to take off as holiday. The weather was appalling. Anyway, before I forget, I'd like to say a big thank you to Gary for doing such a great job of keeping the blog alive and interesting whilst I was away. He likes his metal-bodied guitars, doesn't he?

Back to the main reason you all come here, that is, to look at weird and wonderful guitars, today I've got a cheesy but strangely appealing looking 12-string electric for you. It is apparently a very rare example of a Stratocaster XII instead.

Friday 15 August 2008

My Guitar (by Gary)

I only have one electric guitar and this is it, an early '90s ESP Telecaster. The pups are all supposed to be Seymour Duncans, though I haven't disassembled it to find out. It doesn't matter though, because it sounds and feels great. There's loads of versatility from the 5 way switch and coil tap on the bridge pup (an SD Jeff Beck) (7 combinations, I think) It also feels great - well worn and well used. I've had this for less than a year - I bought it after i was loaned it when my Koreacaster broke for the second time.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Casio Synth Guitars

Casio synth guitar

Ah yes, the constant quest for the sound of tomorrow - the synth guitar. There have been many advances since these Casio's were produced - though I know Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead (Best Band In The World) used a Casio MG510 for a while.
I've never played a synth guitar, but of course with midi pickups and
everything it is much easier these days to get a realistic and responsive system - Garcia and Phil Lesh of the Dead also used them - I remember seeing The Dead at Wembley and Garcia's trumpet playing was stunning. This one is here, with the added advantage that you can type in the numbers "07734", turn it upside down and say "hello"!

This is the one that Bob Weir played for a while - the MG510

Tuesday 12 August 2008

Groovy Guitar

I suppose if you're going to plough the lonely furrow of guitar playing, you might as well plough it with a guitar that's been, you know, ploughed. Apparently the grooves provide increased resonance.

Info from Blueberry: All Blueberry guitars are handmade and hard carved on the Island of Bali. Bali is home to the most gifted woodcarving artists in the world, whose traditions go back for thousands of years. Once our guitars are completed, they are sent to Montreal where tuners are added and final setup, inspections and adjustments are made. Prior to this project there had never been a guitar produced on Bali Island. It took twenty months from the conceptualization of Blueberry guitars in August 2005 until our Master Luthier agreed that our guitars were perfect and had his approval to be sold. Here

Friday 8 August 2008

Tin Telecasters

(Not really!) I know that GL has posted about Trussart guitars before, and he left me this Ganja Telecaster to watch while he's away. I'm not sure if you need to be high to play it or if playing it will get you high, but it is a very nice guitar.

My friend Bad Bob Bates of local beat combo The Bandits has many nice guitars (he builds some himself) one of which is this Trussart Steelcaster.

The Bandits mainly play in pubs and Bob is a little worried about taking his expensive guitar out and about. We're sharing the bill at a charity gig later this month and he is seriously considering bringing the Trussart out to play. I hope he does!

Here's Bob's collection.

Thursday 7 August 2008

More Metal Mayhem?

More guitars from the Talbo comments - here's a new archtop aluminium guitar from Normandy Guitars - I think they look really cool, and as they are semi-acoustic they don't weigh much more than, say, a Les Paul. There's some videos here.

Talbo Time

In the comments to the Talbo post below, BigRedX pointed us to his own Talbo twins.

He says: "Both bought from Japan; the Talbo Jr (with a built-in amp and speaker)
in 2002 from a small music shop in Osaka on my last trip out there and the bass earlier this year from Ishibashi on the web"

Nice score Red, thanks for sharing!

Wednesday 6 August 2008

Three Part Harmony

Way back in 1972/73 I used to have one of these Harmony guitars. (Full story at my place here) Mine didn't have a Bigsby, but was a good guitar anyway. Yes, I wish I'd kept it - and ebay prices are too high now for me to consider getting one for nostalgic reasons. (Unless GL wants to get me one as a thank you gift for caretaking the site while he's on holiday!)

This harmonious trio are here, here and here.

Monday 4 August 2008

Metal guitar - just for metal music?

GL left me a few snippets behind and
here's one of them - a nice Tokai Talbo aluminium guitar - I saw one of these in Hamilton's in Middlesbrough a long long long time ago - looked lush but I never got to play it. My research tells me that this is a pretty good price too.
Here's a YouTube video of somebody with quite a collection.

Saturday 2 August 2008

Nice looking Rickenbacker

I prefer this Laguna's natural walnut finish to any other Ricks that I've seen - though some of the new blue ones are very eye catching too. I've never played a Rick, even though I was in a band (Dead Messengers) with a guy who had 6-string and 12-string Ricks - I never got to try them out. Another friend a long time ago had a Shaftesbury copy of a Rick 12-string and that was a lovely guitar. I'd give either version a good home!

Friday 1 August 2008

Caretaker here

Hi folks, our beloved Blogmeister (GL, as we know him) will be away for a couple of weeks and has allowed me to take on some caretaking duties while he is away.

I'm Gary, and I have my own place on the web over at Thumbrella where I too talk about guitars, gigs I've played (I'm in 2 bands and do solo gigs too)
and whatever else takes my interest. I've been coming to this great place for a while now, and GL and I have quite a few things in common - the main one, of course, being guitars. So for the next couple of weeks I'll be popping in and out, feeding the fish, watering the plants, turning the lights on and off, and rummaging through GL's private stash of Guitar Pr0n while he's away!
I'll try not to break anything, even if I throw a wild party the night before you're due back, GL!

H.S. Anderson Houston Guitar, a.k.a. The Beatles Apple

Despite its "also known as" tag of The Beatles Apple, this H.S. Anderson "Houston" Guitar has nothing whatsoever to do with The Beatles. Its nickname is derived from its body shape, which has been likened to The Beatles' Apple logo as seen on their record labels. (Personally, I think one green apple looks much like another and wouldn't have made The Beatles connection at all). Still, it's an interesting design, and one that I haven't seen before.

According to the seller, H.S. Anderson were responsible for building the original skunk-striped Telecaster style guitar as used by Prince. It was originally called the H.S. Anderson Madcat, but was licensed to Hohner and eventually became the (much sought after) Te Prinz model.


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