Tuesday 31 March 2009

...and now it's the UGLY Dragon Strat

This is one seriously ugly Strat. The seller claims that it is "hand-crafted" and "made with all-American Fender parts". I don't care. It's gross. The textured and patterned scratchplate looks bad enough, but what's the deal with the stuck-on dragon "carving" which I can only assume they copied from the much more tasteful Aria Dragon Strat? And why is the "carving" coloured black so that it looks like an oil slick? If you check the photos on the linked page, you'll see it also has skull-shaped strap buttons. Can I say "gross" again?

This guitar was put together by someone with absolutely no idea of taste or aesthetics. Vile.

Monday 30 March 2009

Spencer Seim's Scott French SF0SS Guitar

Guitarz reader Jason Moody writes to tell me about this guitar. Built by luthier Scott French for Spencer Seim ("the drummer for the NES cover band The Advantage, and the noise rock band Hella", apparently), the guitar incorporates several interesting features such as an egg shaker with contact mic mounted into a rear cavity, B-Band piezo strip installed as nut pickup, and the green nitrocellulose lacquer with beardburst finish made from Spencer's own beard clippings.

Pics from www.scottfrench.com.

Saturday 28 March 2009

Musicvox Spaceranger with P90s

Yes, I know we've looked at a Musicvox Spaceranger on this blog already, but I think the design is so completely bonkers that it withstands looking at again. The eBay auction for the Spaceranger pictured here ends tomorrow night. By all accounts they are very fine players, so for the guitarist who wants something that looks that little bit different, why not go for it? And don't you think the yellow volume and tone knobs make it look even madder?

I still reckon these are destined to become collectors items, the cheesy guitars of the future, so it could well be an investment. In years to come, some company like Eastwood Guitars could well be making replicas of these.

Edit: I'm told that - because of the presence of the P90 pickups - this is a Space Cadet, apparently. However, if you click through to the auction page and check the close-up of the (huge) headstock, then you'll see the name "Spaceranger".

Friday 27 March 2009

Fender "Your Name Here" Showmaster

So, it's a carved-top one-off Custom Shop Fender Showmaster master-built by Chris Fleming and featuring a set neck, two-piece alder AAA curly maple top, transparent crimson urethane finish, Sperzel staggered tuners, Duncan Fat 50 and Trembucker pickups, etc, etc...

So, what's not to like?

The fingerboard inlay, perhaps!

OK, so it was made for the 2003 Summer NAMM show as a showpiece but outside of that arena I can't see this appealing to anyone other than the Fender collector with a lot of cash to spare.

Thursday 26 March 2009

Alien USA Skull Hologram guitar

This hologram-topped guitar from Alien Guitars might appeal to those of you out there who like your guitars with skulls on, but to me it's a tired old cliché.

Thanks to G at Iconic Guitars for sharing this.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Return of the Breadwinner

Last June I commented that Eastwood's proposed Breadwinner re-issue was not going to happen. Well, now it seems that the situation has changed and Eastwood are already taking orders for their Breadwinner tribute guitar which has already been shown at NAMM 2009. I guess that for whatever reason, Ovation (now owned by Fender) had changed their minds about allowing the re-issue.

Other than the obviously different-shaped headstock, there are quite a number of cosmetic features that are, quite frankly, inaccurate, and if I was shelling out best part of a thousand dollars for one of these, I'd want it to be a much more faithful replica than the guitar we see in the image above. I see from the specs that Eastwood are making trem-equipped models available, something that the originals never had.

If I was in the market for another Breadwinner I think I'd prefer to track down an original which could theoretically be cheaper than this Eastwood, although some retailers are already hiking up the prices of the originals. I bought my own 1976 Ovation Breadwinner back in 2006 for a little over £300.

Kudos to Eastwood for responding to public demand and making this re-issue available, but why the high price and why wasn't attention to detail better?

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Hamer Suede Tele with Matching Strap and Boots!

For today's post I am again featuring a one-off Hamer guitar, this possibly being one of the bizzarest I've seen on ebay in a long time.

This Hamer T-51 Tele-style guitar has its body covered in suede leather and comes with matching strap and pair of cowboy boots (US size 12)!

This was a custom order created for Bill Kamen, president of Kamen Music, parent company of Hamer Guitars.

As I write this, the auction only has 2 hours left to go, so if you fancy this guitar and can wear a size 12 boot, then you've not much time left!

Monday 23 March 2009

Andy Summers' one-off Hamer Phantom

Jol Danzig and Hamer built this guitar for The Police's Andy Summers back in 1983. It's major distinctive feature is that it has three inter-changable magnetic fingerboards - regular fretted, modal fretted, and fretless.

And, if you've got the required $7000, it could be yours as it's up for sale on eBay!

Saturday 21 March 2009

Flightcase Guitar

This Flightcase Guitar from Chickenbone John on eBay is a modern take on the traditional cigarbox guitar. I'm wondering if the flightcase can still be opened. Just think, inside you could have another similar guitar, only smaller, in the fashion of those Russian nesting dolls.

Friday 20 March 2009

Weird Gibson "Hybrid" Guitar

Unsurprisingly this unusual Gibson dates back to 1985. I say unsurprisingly because it screams out 1980s to me. I don't know if this was a special order, an experimental model or a prototype guitar, but essentially it is a double-cut Les Paul with an Explorer neck, and is equipped with a Kahler trem and HSS pickup layout.

Does anyone have any more info on this guitar. The seller mentions having seen another one with a red finish, so it sounds like it wasn't a one-off, but was it ever a production model, however limited?

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Aria Pro II PE-160 "Dragon Strat"

Remember the Univox Eagle Bass that we looked at last month? Well, here is its six-string counterpart also from the Matsumoko factory in Japan, the Aria Pro II PE-160 "Dragon Strat". This example is owned by Guitarz reader Justyn, who tells us that:
"I bought this guitar about 17 or 18 years ago when I saw an advert in a local paper for £80 and it has been my only electric guitar. The guitar itself is a real workhorse, extremely rugged and produces quite a wide range of sounds for a very basic 3 position switch system. It performs well with effects pedals and like you said, you can get a good approximation of Hendrixy tones especially from the neck pickup which is very good for chordal style rhythm playing like Little Wing, Castles Made Of Sand, etc.

"In all the time I have had this guitar I must admit that I have treated it very roughly, I have only bothered with a guitar stand for it recently and it was often left leaned up against whatever I was closest to when I put it down and as you can see from the pics it has a multitude of scrapes, dents, scratches and bumps, the poor thing has been dropped and knocked over many times but has never been affected by the harsh treatment I lavished upon it. The neck still plays well and because of its ruggedness you can play it as viciously or as tenderly as you like.

"When I first bought it I didn't know what I had got hold of but as I have mellowed with age I began to care more about it and got curious one night and tried to find out a bit about it. You know how it is when you have too much coffee and it's past 2 in the morning, sometimes you think of things you usually wouldn't. Anyway after a bit of digging around I found out that these guitars were only produced in a short run and are quite rare even if they are not that expensive compared to other vintage guitars, they are well worth buying if you get the chance. I really would hate to loose mine as it has bags of character and always seemed to forgive me for the abuse I put it through. I will be replacing the bridge soon though as it is starting to corrode a bit.

"This guitar was made in 1977 and they were made with three designs (two Dragons and an Eagle) from solid Walnut. You can find the original catalogue picture here: http://www.matsumoku.org/models/ariaproii/pe/nptype/nptypes.html and you can also find pics of the other Dragon design here: http://www.matsumoku.org/models/ariaproii/pe/nptype/pe160/pics.html, and the Eagle here: http://www.matsumoku.org/models/ariaproii/pe/nptype/eagle/pics.html.

"I'm pretty sure the Univox Eagle Bass Guitar was made in the same factory. There were also Ibanez carved strats. The Cornucopia (http://www.ibanezcollectors.com/forum/replicas-and40ibanez-brand-only!and41/got-a-carved-strat!!!!/), Dragon and Eagle designs (sorry no links for these two).

"These were made in the Matsumoku factory and if you are interested you can find out more about the guitars they made by looking here: http://www.matsumoku.org/guitars.html. They produced Univox, Aria, Aria Pro 2, Washburn and many other brands. The site has got an amazing amount of information and the forum is full of very knowledgeable people who like you and I love the weird and wonderful guitars that are often overlooked."
Thanks for that, Justyn! This is the exact same guitar that my mate Phil had many years ago (I hope that he still has it), although his had a single coil-sized stacked humbucker in the middle pickup position (not a pickup combination you usually come across) and that gave it some fantastic sounds.

One thing that always struck me about Phil's guitar was that the dragon was effectively upside-down. I wondered if this was so as to give the guitar a Hendrix vibe as the dragon would have been the right-way up if played upside down, a la Jimi.

When Relics Go Bad

To quote from the eBay listing for this poor Thinline Tele:

"I 'modified' this guitar by dragging the body (without the neck and hardware obviously) down my driveway behind my 66 Mustang and then I set it on fire for a while."

I think that says it all.

Thanks to Rich for emailing me this one.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Kay K45 travel guitar

This Kay-branded travel guitar, the K45 is currently for sale on eBay, and looks to be a pretty clean example. In the USA this guitar was known as the Austin Hatchet. Built in the early 80s, this guitar features a laminated through-neck construction, and has nut, bridge and fingerboard dot inlays all made of brass. The humbucking pickups are "DiMarzio designed" and the controls include a coil tap. The strap is integral to the design and doubles as a carrying strap when the guitar is cased up.

I own one of these guitars, although mine appears to have been very well used (and abused) over the years (not by me, I hasten to add - it was an eBay purchase last year). It also lacks the case. The construction is incredibly solid; the neck is like a baseball bat with a deep V shape in section. However, it needs some work doing to it. The electrics aren't great and it needs a good set-up. One of these days I'm going to get around to sorting it out properly.

Monday 16 March 2009

The John Mitten Bulletproof Plexiglass Guitar

I'm not sure if John Mitten's plexiglass guitars actually pre-date the Dan Armstrong designed plexiglass guitars that Ampeg produced, but they certainly didn't go into major production. I don't think there's very many of these bulletproof beasties in circulation.
(Sorry, I have no links for this item. Photos from John Mitten, plus a couple I found online.)

Sunday 15 March 2009

Garish and gaudy monstrosity from a manufacturer who ought to know better

For a well-respected and much revered guitar manufacturer, C.F. Martin and Company don't half take the mickey sometimes. I mean, just look at this awful hippie-themed guitar.

Simply horrible.

self playing robot band

Hey its Ben from All About Guitars again
The Trons is New Zealand's band made of four robots who play guitars, drums and keyboard to convincing effect.
Ham is the frontman (vocals, rhythm guitar), Wiggy is the lead guitarist, Swamp is the drummer & Fifi is the keyboard player.

Friday 13 March 2009

Hohner "The Prinz" Tele

What was once a budget "copy" guitar has now become a desirable and much sought after instrument. Much like Paul McCartney's Hofner violin bass which was styled after a Gibson instrument, this Hohner "The Prinz" guitar - styled after the Fender Telecaster - has become desirable mainly through celebrity useage, being Prince's guitar of choice alongside several other more flamboyantly-styled instruments.

By all accounts these are excellent guitars, and although based on the Fender Telecaster, many of the accoutrements are Hohner's own: the sandwiched maple body, the binding, the walnut (?) central stripe, the tortoiseshell pickguard and similar plate surrounding the bridge...

The seller tells us that this is an "original issue with Telecaster headstock not to be confused with the later and lesser value TE series", although it can't be one of the very first as the "Prinz" appellation was given to this guitar after Prince had been using one for quite a while. In a way, it was a case of Hohner cashing in. As far as I am aware Prince never officially endorsed any Hohner guitar models.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Teisco Del Ray TB-64 Bass VI guitar

Here's a Japanese Teisco Del Ray guitar from the 1960s, featuring a 4 + 2 headstock (way before Musicman thought of it) and a handle in the body (way before Ibanez thought of putting the monkey grip in the Jem range of guitars). It just goes to show, there aren't that many original ideas out there. Someone has almost always thought of it first a long time ago.

Actually, looking at the close-up pictures of this one on the eBay listing I'd say that this example is actually a six-string bass that someone who doesn't know any better has strung up with regular guitar strings. Check out the huge machine heads and the size of the slots in the nut. The scale length also looks longer than that of a regular guitar (for instance, look at the huge amount of space between each of the three pickups). I'd wager good money that this is a bass VI.

Additional: A quick check at the ID Parade over on the Teisco Twangers website tells me that this is TB-64 from 1965, and that it is indeed a bass. Pity the trem is missing on this example.

Log - it's better than bad, it's good!

Yes indeedy. It's a bass guitar featuring a body crafted from a log by Ras Allover.

I know a few other blogs have been featuring this bass and whilst I usually strive for original content on this blog, I wanted to feature the log bass simply because it gives me an excuse to show the following clip courtesy of Ren and Stimpy:

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Guild X100 Blade Runner

Whoah! This might be a rare - even desireable - guitar, but would you be prepared to spend £7000 for it?

It's a Guild X100 Blade Runner and its "Explorer with holes" design puts me in mind of the Schecter Genesis, but I wonder which one came first?

Apparently this Guild, equipped with Kahler trem and single EMG pickup, dates back to 1985 when less than 100 such guitars were produced. Whether that makes it worth £7000 (approx $9,681.25 USD as I type this), I really couldn't say.

And before you say it, I have already seen Gibson's recent limited edition Holy Explorer.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Gene Autry Cowboy Guitar

Here's one for all you would-be singing cowboys out there. It's a vintage Gene Autry cowboy guitar, and this particular one is in the rare black finish (complete with Gene Autry cowboy graphic, of course!).

If black isn't to your liking, then the same seller has a bunch of other cowboy guitars for sale at the moment.

Can you help idendify Kurt's bass?

Kurt writes:
I picked this short scale bass at a garage sale in New York and don't know the make. It's got a 2 digit serial number on the bottom of the fingerboard and a round black pad on the back. It looks like a sticker on the headstock was peeled off leaving some residue. I was hoping you might have seen one before and could help me with the history.


Any info would be appreciated.
Well... It's not one that I recognize, although the Mosrite influence is obvious with the bodyshape with the longer lower horn and the carving on the top edges. It could be of European origin, although what with the Mosrite influence my inclination would be that it was Japanese. I may well be very wrong, so please feel free to correct me!

I wonder if the pickups are original. The pickguard looks like it was cut to fit around a much larger pickup in the neck position, or else there is a pickup surround or cover missing. The existing neck pickup is weird - it looks like two single coils staggered alongside one another.

If anyone recognizes the bass, then let us know!

Sunday 8 March 2009

A pair of Mockingbirds

After Fender's Tele and Strat and Gibson's Les Paul and Flying V, the BC Rich Mockingbird must surely be one of the most instantly recognizable guitar shapes out there. Over the years, the Mockingbird - like the other guitars I just mentioned - has appeared in a whole variety of guises from handmade boutique instruments to mass-prodcued entry-level guitars, and with a few bizarre variations along the way including bass and acoustic models.

The above-pictured Mockingbird is custom order from 1999. It was built by Bernie Rico for a well known industry insider (I guess someone with the initials "GP" judging by the 12h fret inlay). The customer wanted "Les Paul" specs on a Mockingbird and so the guitar features a stunning bound flame Maple top with a Mahogany neck-through, koa wings, ebony fretboard, and a scale length of 24.75.

The BC Rich Mockingbird in our second picture couldn't be more different. Never mind the locking trem and the bolt-on neck, the main feature here is that this is a metal-bodied Mockingbird. The aluminium body features a green burst over metal flake with scales and added graphics by Nicolas, the master chopper painter of Vicious Cycles in Orlando, FL.

Friday 6 March 2009

1963 Framus Doubleneck

We're always pleased to take a look at a vintage Framus guitar here on Guitarz. This 1963 Framus doubleneck is no exception. Note the small body, which I suppose would make it easier to manage although I suspect it might be somewhat neck heavy.

Thursday 5 March 2009

Diminuitive homemade acoustic guitar

As I write this, this small handmade acoustic has just 3 and a half hours before its auction finishes on eBay, and bidding is currently at £15.

The seller rather curiously descibes it as a "Handmade Lapsteel Guitar". I can't see why he thinks it might be a lapsteel guitar as it has a round-backed neck and it has FRETS. Perhaps, he's an estate agent and used to trying to turn negatives into positives, so that when he says it's a lapsteel what he really means is that the action is horrendously high. (He does mention that the bridge has lifted).

It also appears to be strung left-handed.

It's a pity the photos aren't better, as it looks to be quite nicely made, despite the dodgy bridge.

Edit: Sold for just £15. Someone got a bargain. Perhaps.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Sssshhhh... no-one tell Matt Groening...

Hey, if you are going to give your guitar a DIY paintjob, it may as well be on a cheapy like this Vantage.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

1982 G&L SC-2

The following is an article written by Glynn from the Generally Electric guitar blog, and concerns an unassuming-looking but highly desirable guitar from the genius that was Leo Fender:

G&L was founded by George Fullerton and a certain Leo Fender in the late 1970s following the deterioration of Fender’s relationship with Musicman, and the SC-2 was one of G&L’s earliest production guitars.

They’re perhaps best known as Bob Mothersbaugh of Devo’s guitar of choice but, for me, inspiration came from early Helmet and Band Of Susans records. The latter even used SC-1s, customised with pick-guards, in their album photography and on posters, apparently catching the attention of Leo Fender himself. Nevertheless they remain a relatively obscure guitar.

Being of rather Spartan design, the SC models are often thought of as “student” or "economy" guitars, though I’ve heard a conflicting story along the lines that G&L's intention was to produce a reasonably priced, high quality US built instrument to compete with inexpensive instruments from the Far East. Whatever the motivations, the SC’s utilitarian appearance is perhaps an acquired taste and, possibly as a result of this, it was never a terribly popular guitar. In fact, by 1984 the body shape had been completely re-designed, supposedly at the behest of a G&L sales team who were struggling to convince buyers with the original design.

Nonetheless, there's nothing budget about the construction, specification or tone of these guitars. Body, neck and fingerboard are all of high quality maple, while the hardware and Magnetic Field Design pickups are the same as those used on G&L's more expensive guitars. In fact the only area where any obvious financial savings have been made in the guitar's construction, other than the function over form design, is the use of fairly cheap looking plastic tone and volume controls which, if the owner found them particularly offensive, could be replaced for pocket change. Really, the SCs remain an outstanding example of how to make a no-frills affordable guitar, and it's a shame that, these days, manufacturers concentrate their efforts on making their entry level instruments ape the slick appearance of their pricier models, rather than focusing on build and component quality.

Ultimately, only around 600 SC-2s were made, and the registry at G&L owners’ site Guitars by Leo records only 100 or so, many of which have been modified to varying degrees, and often to their detriment. Mine, a lucky eBay find, was no exception, but too good an opportunity to miss all the same.

On first opening the case the smell of paint was overpowering. It had been treated to a rather uneven spray-can paint job and the fretboard, including the fret wire itself, had been varnished with a brush. Worse yet, there was a tellingly humbucker shaped indentation between the two original pickups and, more tellingly still, the control plate had two additional holes drilled into it.

With the SC-2’s rare-bird status in mind, I decided to set about restoring my SC-2 to its original condition, or as close to it as possible. This began with the painstaking task of gently removing the excess varnish from the fret wire with a razor blade and cleaning the tarnished hardware with Brasso. I then managed to source a replacement control plate from a 1983 SC-3 body I found on eBay.

Having never refinished a guitar before, and concerned about what I’d find under the existing paint, I decided to let a professional finish the job. In the end, I settled on David Ridgeway of Ridgeway Guitars who, over the course of a couple of months, made me very grateful I didn’t try to do the work myself.

Having stripped the spray paint, David discovered an unevenly gouged hole between the pickups which had been filled with soft putty. Having removed the putty, he re-routed the hole and then filled it with a properly sized block of maple. After sanding and priming, the guitar was finally finished in blue.

Oddly, as this work was being done, G&L re-issued the SC-2 in updated form. Well, actually G&L say that it’s “not a re-issue” and is, in fact, an “evolution”, but I think their efforts to evolve the design have robbed it of all the charm that made the original truly special. If you want one, my advice is to keep your eye on eBay in the US and buy the real deal.

Monday 2 March 2009


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