Wednesday 31 March 2010

Astro Cows!
I can only assume that when the "Astro Cows" inlay work for this Les Paul-style guitar was designed, the inspiration was the old children's nursery rhyme: "Hey diddle diddle / The cat and the fiddle / The cow jumped over the moon / The little dog laughed to see such fun / And the dish ran away with the spoon", and in particular the line about the cow jumping over the moon.

For more inlay overload see:

Thanks Biliby for that one!

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Eko model 1100 bass in gold champagne sparkle
This 1960s-era Eko bass is absolutely gorgeous, if a little over-the-top in the bling department. But then, glitter and pearloid and pushbuttons is what you expect from a beat boom-period Italian guitar or bass, surely?

Just look at the photo of the pickguard with its multi-coloured edging detail. It really is a fantastic looking instrument, and I have to confess as I am writing this that I am very tempted to bid. Actually, I'm going to schedule this post to appear when the auction has ended, because I don't want to bring this bass to your attention and then have one of you guys outbid me!

Click here for a lot more photos.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Tuesday 30 March 2010

G L Stiles electric guitar
I confess that I had not heard of the luthier Gilbert Lee Stiles before I saw the above-pictured guitar for sale on eBay. Apparently he built a series of one-off guitars from his workshop in Florida throughout the 1960s and 70s. I do like this Bigsby B5-equipped guitar which has several interesting features such as the scrolled body horns and the intricately-shaped headstock. The fingerboard inlays too are quite individually distinctive. The guitar also features a pair of DeArmond pickups and Kluson tuners.

I wonder how this little-known American guitar ended up in Cheshire, England?

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Grand Suzuki Explorer
Uh-oh! The pointy guitars are back - and this isn't even Bertram posting this time!

In fact, this is an appeal for information on the brand Grand Suzuki. I'll let the owner of the guitar pictured here, Thomas Silver, explain:
"Hi, I follow your blog and I just want to show you this Explorer I got some time ago. It was refinished in EVH when I got it so I dont know the original look. I just had to remove a little on the headstock and there: Grand Suzuki?

I've been playing and collecting for a long long time and I like to think that I've seen it all! No, not really. But this blew me away!

If you have any info, please let me know. I have searched the net like crazy. It sound awesome and have the fattest neck ever! Correct weight. Strange knob positioning - too close to each other.

Many thanks
Thomas Silver"
Well, I'm aware of the Japanese Suzuki brand, although to the best of my knowledge they made violins and acoustic guitars. I suppose it's possible that Grand Suzuki was a related brand, perhaps created for electric guitars. Just curious, Thomas, is is a set-neck or a bolt-on?

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

"Rhino" headless guitar by Jeffrey Schreckengost
The guitar pictured above is a headless hollow instrument which uses a knot in the wood to form the soundhole. Called the Rhino, it is one of a number of guitars built by artist Jeffrey Schreckengost. You'll see if you click through on that link that he's built some other weird and wonderfully eccentric guitars including a shortscale 2-string fretless bass and a five-string baritone guitar.

The Rhino was built for David Kuzy, guitarist of noise rock ensemble Microwaves, who says about the guitar:
"I think the dark wood is walnut. The lighter wood looks like mahogany, but I am not sure. The neck came from a Squier Tele that I bought at a flea market.

"The fit and finish isn't as nice as some fancier guitars I own (Teuffel/Scott French) but it is definitely playable and a lot of fun. There is no volume control, just a momentary on/off switch.

"I didn't know this guitar was being built for me, I went to an art opening Jeff has with his wife, featuring his guitars and her photos, and he told me he was giving it to him in return for a bunch of random parts I had given him over the years."
Thanks for sharing that with us, David. It's just the sort of oddball instrument that we enjoy looking at here at Guitarz.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Monday 29 March 2010

Johnson Guitars USA Chicago Tommy Gun guitar

There something exceedingly tasteless about a guitar shaped like a gun, not to mention that it's the most appalling cliché. There's always some smart arse who comes up with the idea of a gun-shaped guitar as if it's never been seen before. It's a bit like the jokers who believe they are the very embodiment of wit and the first person to have ever thought of such a prank when they list an "air guitar" on eBay. Yawn...

This Tommy Gun guitar from Johnson Guitars looks to be a cumbersome beast. Note the pickup selector switch as trigger. Even that's not an original idea - see the Colt Peacemaker which has more detailed finishing touchs, although it's equally as obscene as this guitar.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Rickerbacker 4001FL fretless bass from 1976
Here's another 1970s vintage fretless bass that the collectors wouldn't want me to "spoil" with roundwound strings (see previous post).

It's a Rickenbacker 4001FL in "autumnglo" finish and is on eBay right now with a Buy It Now price of $3200, so all Rickenbacker collectors can breathe a sigh of relief - I'm not going to be buying it any time soon.

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Sunday 28 March 2010

Fender Precision Bass with fretless maple neck from 1978
This fretless Fender Precision Bass from 1978 is a thing of beauty, and I'm saying that even as a non-fan of sunburst finishes. However, I always do a double take when I see a fretless bass with a maple fingerboard instead of the more usual rosewood or preferably ebony. It looks totally weird to my eyes, which isn't to say that it's unattractive.

I think I'd upset a few Fender collectors if I ever got my paws on a bass such as this because the very first thing I'd do would be to rip off the dreadful flatwound strings that people insist on putting on fretless basses and replace them with proper roundwounds.

I know WHY fretless basses got saddled with flatwounds - it's so as not to mark the fingerboard. However, they totally kill the tone. Put roundwounds on and the bass will sing and sound glorious. I'd rather have a bit of fingerboard wear rather than a bass that sounds dead.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

1970 Antoria 2358R (Epiphone Al Caiola pre-lawsuit copy)

fujigen antoria

This Antoria 2358R is not only a pure beauty, it is also a complicated story.

The original model is an Epiphone signature guitar designed in 1963 for jazz musician Al Caiola (who sided the greatest such as Frank  Sinatra or Buddy Holly). In 1970, Ibanez issued a quite accurate copy - that's what they were doing at the time, before they started to get sued by Gibson - but the FujiGen Gakki factory that worked for Ibanez also made the same guitar for the UK brand Antoria.

This guitar is remarkable for being a thin full hollow-body E-335 without F-holes - this being being aimed at reducing feedback - similar to the B.B. King Lucille signature model Gibson released in 1983. I like the FujiGen Gakki model better for its curved control plate being further back an smaller than on the Epiphone, but the big round scratchplate is a little bit bizzare.


Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Saturday 27 March 2010

1979 Martin EM-18

Martin EM-18

A few weeks ago someone asked about the connections between his Goya and the Martin solid bodies ; to complete the answers made then, here is the short-lived genuine Martin EM-18

It never really took, so Martin resumed making acoustic guitars in 1983 and ever since.


Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Friday 26 March 2010

Moridira Hurricane EXB-01 Bass
Tyler Beard has been in touch again:
Well, after my Futura, I realized I had something else you might like! I have included decent pics this time!

Anyhow, got this for $90 at a local Pawn Shop. I have searched, and have found little reliable info: Produced in the 80s, predecessor to Morris Guitars, made in Japan and/or Korea, and 80s speed metal band Cacophony (featuring Marty Friedman) used Hurricane guitars for a bit.

What I can tell you, is that this is a really good and solid bass. The tuners are Gotohs, and stock as far as I can find out. They definitely don't let you down, holds tune very well. And trust me when I say that, I play with an aggressive fingerstyle just short of tearing the bass apart, haha.

The neck has a Jazz Bass feel, with a good taper and it's pretty thin. The neck is maple, so far as I know, and finished to match the body, as you can see. The fretboard is rosewood with small dot inlays. The body, though, is plywood. Luckily, plywood is not synonymous with junk. Pretty thick finish on it, to hide the plywood, I suppose. But the body material is easily made up for. The pickup, although with low output (although it seems like it's just my amp for some reason), has a very nice sound, and is pretty versatile for a P-style. The pots are full size, which surprised me. I need to clean them, as they are pretty dirty and have a tendency to cut out (volume). Pretty high pickguard, weird shape too, like someone did a good freehand. Same with body. Like a warped P-bass. The bridge is just the factory one, nothing bad but nothing special. For $90, I can't complain, not bad. Has that 80s look and it starts a conversation, as no one seems to recognize it. Any readers who have info can contact me.

Thanks again, hope you like!
(Apologies for the weird "cut & paste" Photoshop effort above - I was trying to fit as much into one image as possible.)

Looking at the body shape, I am reminded of the Fender Mustang, but the pickup and pickguard are more Precision-like and the narrow neck is more Jazz Bass-like. Looks like it is long-scale, and not short-scale like the Mustang. The logo on the Aria-like headstock is very oddly positioned with a string retainer right in the middle of it. I wonder if that was added later?

It's an interesting bass - thanks for sharing it with us.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Thursday 25 March 2010

70s Musima Eterna

Musima EternaLadies and Gentlemen, I'm proud and delighted to introduce you to my very own Musima Eterna, a guitar I bought a few days ago and received this morning! I've been trying for a while to acquire an East-German vintage guitar, and I finally succeeded, with the best model I could dream of - you may remember that I actually posted here about this guitar last summer.

I'm really not disappointed, and firstly, contrary to things I could read here and there, the sound is pretty cool. I've never played a guitar with 3 single coils (no, I've never played a strat!), so the sound is very new for me. The output is actually too high, and I think that sooner or later I'll slightly modify the electronics (I have no problem with upgrading a vintage guitar, I also already plan to change the tuner heads that are made of cheap plastic) to make it playable on modern amps.

The neck is big and round, but comfortable for me since I've been a classical guitar player and still play a nylon strings guitar, and it's quite good for soulful blues. There are two volume knobs and two rotating switches, I still have to figure how it works but two positions give nice bass sounds. Actually, without effects, the sound is really clear and balanced, when a distortion bring more confusion, but I still have to play it with my regular amp to be sure.

There is one of these huge old school tremolo, but unfortunately I don't have the arm, that looks like a Jaguar one, I think that I can manage to find one. There is a strange device that is probably a mute system, but it's not set and a little bit rusted, i'll have to soak it and the whole bridge in coca-cola (that's how we use it in Europe, also to heal stomac flu) to clean it and see how it really works.

The fretboard inlays are simple and original, and there is a pearloid binding on the neck and headstock. The chrome parts look their age, I intend to clean them intensively and rejuvenate the guitar as much as possible, and to put it on stage very soon!

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Captain Sensible's cricket bat guitar

When I saw Colin Flint's Cricket Bat Guitar on eBay a few days ago, I immediately thought that it might be the same instrument as used by The Damned's Captain Sensible back in the mid 1980s.

However, I emailed Colin Flint and he told me that he did not build Captain's cricket bat guitar (he hadn't even been aware of it), although coincidentally it also has a Telecaster neck. The body, in this case, is flat and not contoured in the right places like a real cricket bat, and is more than likely just a cricket bat-shaped guitar rather than a guitar made out of an actual cricket bat.

Captain Sensible is known to have used this guitar on stage with The Damned, including on one notable occasion at Brockwell park when he used it as an actual bat to hit baked potatoes that were being thrown at the stage. (The mind boggles... but then Damned gigs did have a repuation for being chaotic!)

Captain gave this guitar away as a prize on the BBC1 Saturday morning TV show "Saturday Superstore". If you were the lucky winner or if anyone out there knows of this guitar's whereabouts now, we'd love to hear from you!

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Home-made violin bass

This home-made violin bass is currently being offered for sale on Craigs List. The seller obviously wants to claim that it is an instrument of great vintage and optimistically labels it as being from the 40s or 50s.

Well, seeing as it uses Danelectro parts - witness the dolphin-nosed Danelectro headstock and the lipstick tube pickup - and Danelectro didn't actually come into being until 1954, he can certainly forget about the 1940s. That is just impossible.

A Danelectro expert might be able to date the dolphin-nose headstock design for us, but I actually suspect that this bass was thrown together in the mid 1960s. I say this because of the violin-shaped body. Although originally designed by Gibson, the violin bass was popularised by Paul McCartney of The Beatles - in his case it was a Hofner. The design of the violin bass became iconic and spawned a plethora of copies. The Beatles, of course, were virtually unheard of in America before 1964.

Of course the maker of this home-made bass may not have been inspired by The Beatles and may have arrived at the violin design by an entirely different course, but the odds are stacked against this eventuality.

It doesn't take too much detective work to more accurately date guitars like this. Which is better than making a wild stab in the dark and coming out with "1940s" just because it looks old.

The lesson to be learnt here is not to take the seller's word as gospel. They very often do not know what they are talking about.

Thanks to Emmett who emailed me about this bass.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Davy Graham’s Fylde Falstaff Guitar

The legendary and sadly departed folk musician Davy Graham was a highly-innovative guitarist and is often cited as the originator of the DADGAD tuning. I remember seeing him playing a very low-key gig in Oxford circa 1989/1990 and it was a very intriguing, if eccentric, performance. He was using a nylon-strung guitar, and I recall him playing some eastern-sounding sitar-like pieces, and with a lot of tuning changes between songs.

Now one of his guitars from his later musical career is being auctioned off for charity. The following is a press release with all the details:
“Davy’s favourite guitar”

This was one of two guitars made by Fylde in 2005 for Davy to aid his return to professional performance after years of obscurity. Prior to owning this instrument he had been without a steel strung guitar having suffered a break-in at his home that left him without any quality instruments for some years.

This guitar was used for live performances and for recording between 2005 and 2007. It can be heard on “Broken Biscuits” his final album. The guitar is complete with Davy’s own guitar strap and letters of authenticity from Davy’s manager and from Fylde Guitars. It also includes a number of photographs of Davy playing the guitar in different situations and a CD of three tunes recorded on the Falstaff and not released elsewhere.

The guitar has been re-fretted and set up by Fylde especially for this auction, and is fitted with a Headway FEQ pickup. There is some pick wear on the soundboard, and three dents which were caused when Davey knocked over a microphone stand in the studio. These dents have been sealed and partly filled by Fylde. None of this detracts from the guitar, which is otherwise in excellent condition.

The new retail price of the guitar is £2595 plus the pickup at £220, making a total package worth £2815 when new. It is a unique chance to own a historic guitar and could easily be valued at a much higher price. For someone looking for a second hand Falstaff, this guitar comes with the priceless added value of its history and previous owner. For someone thinking of buying a new guitar, this is an excellent alternative, a chance to acquire a piece of history that has been owned and played in by an icon of acoustic guitar playing

All the proceeds from this auction will go to charity, split between the Vaughan Williams Library at Cecil Sharp House, and the Local branch of “MIND”. Both of which were important in Davy’s life. If the sale realises more than the expected amount, other charities may be included in line with Davy’s interests.

Click here to view the ebay listing.
G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

The Coverdrive CF cricket bat guitar

Colin Flint has combined his love of the sport of cricket, playing guitar and carpentry, to produce the Coverdrive CF cricket bat guitar. The guitars feature Telecaster-style necks and other components mounted into the body of a genuine cricket bat. Some of the guitars he has for sale on his website are built using some quite valuable bats, such as his Signed Slazenger 1977 'Ashes Victory' cricket bat guitar, which is built using an unused bat from the 1977 Ashes series, won 3-0 by England, complete with signatures on the front of England and Australia players.

The guitar pictured here, based on a 1990s Slazenger V600 cricket bat, is currently being offered for sale on eBay.

As a guitar made from an item of sporting equipment, it certainly beats the 2-string tennis racquet guitar we looked at in January.

For more information, please see

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Acrylic BC Rich Ice Mockingbird

mockingbird lucite

You can consider - like I do - that BC Rich mostly makes guitars that nobody can appreciate  after 15 year old when you get rid of your plastic monster action figures... Nevertheless their first guitars issued in the 70s  had quite revolutionary design and stay alternative classics, like the Bich and the Mockingbird

Here is an Ice Mockingbird, the acrylic version of a remarkable guitar (from BC Rich's Acrylic Series). Acrylic body guitars have their pros and cons, I never played one so I cannot tell about the sound (acrylic's high density provides purity and sustain they say) but the visual effect is undeniable. That's probably the sign of the quality of its design, it can stand endless finish variations...

This guitar was never released out of the USA, so here is one available in Germany...

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Tuesday 23 March 2010

I really cannot find a good title for this post


This is a brandless cheap minimal Chinese travel guitar with a bizarre shape - it's supposed to look like a fish but it doesn't... The shape is actually not bad, simple and weird at the same time, a good designer could probably do something interesting out of it... 

I'm more and more interested in a single middle pick-up, I should find a guitar like that to check how it sounds!

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

1958 Framus Bill Lorento thinline

framus bill lorento jazz

There's already been a Framus Bill Lorento guitar presented in this blog, but not as fine as this beautiful thinline model from 1958. This is another example of how terrific German jazz guitar have been in the 50s - though this one doesn't have the huge hollow-body characteristic of these guitars. 

Its most noticeable feature is of course the raised metal pickguard that includes the pickup covers - I don't think I've ever seen this before... 

the lyre-shaped tail is also something, as are the big block inlays on the fretboard.


Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Gibson Korina Futura 1957 prototype


In my previous post about the Epiphone Prophecy Futura, I failed to identify its original model - the Futura designed in 1957 by Gibson - and credited it to the Epiphone current creativity (well I actually think that Epiphone anyway refined and updated the line of the Futura). 

I'm even more baffled at this guitar thinking that it's been created in the 50s, but that should not be a surprise when you know the other guitar designs Gibson experimented at that time, including the supreme Flying V. The Futura was anyway too radical and not issued then, but lead to the creation of the Explorer. If you're interested in the whole story, you'll find it here

Thanks to Greg for pointing my mistake.

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Monday 22 March 2010

Epiphone Prophecy Futura

prophecy futura

Unlike the previous Explorer variations I showed here before, the Epiphone Prophecy Futura doesn't try to hysterise its model but on the contrary, by reducing its body results in a very strange and radical guitar indeed... The narrow wasp center is disturbingly unusual (much more than a BC Rich guitar with plenty of pointy bits in every direction) even if the relation to the familiar Explorer is obvious.

Thought it's as angular as a regular Explorer, it is more ergonomic - even the longer lower horn is relevant, allowing to hold the guitar on the lap with a high neck. It looks like every superfluous wood was eliminated, making it much lighter than an Explorer. This guitar is more than a show-off and was meant to be useful in any situation. I still need to see it in someone's hands to see how this strange shape feels in relation to a human body (the best would be of course to play it but I've never seen it in any guitar shop I ever visited).

A few days ago I was writing here that Epiphone issues mush more new models (real new models) than Gibson, that's what I meant, and there're many like this, plus the regular Gibson budget models.

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Peavey Rotor with comics custom

peavey rotor

The custom paint of this Peavey Rotor is based on the Proximity effect comics that features the Peavey Rotor as the guitar of a sexy super-powered heroin, this being a subtle mise en abyme that is not common in the guitar design field, nor in comics.

The Peavey Rotor is obviously another variation on the Explorer, closer to the original design than the Jackson Kelly, with just slight design modifications that give it a very 90s cyber feel, like a mechanical piece from a space ship in Matrix (I know, there are no space ships in Matrix but you know what I mean...) - at least the one with the black finish. 

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Sunday 21 March 2010

1989 Jackson Kelly custom

Jackson Kelly custom

Another variation on the Explorer is the Jackson Kelly. I always think it's hilarious when the main argument to define a guitar is to mention its easy access to the high notes, like the ultimate purpose for a guitarist would be to play over 10000 Hz (while others favor drop tuned 7-strings guitars for the opposite purpose, but I don't know why, it feels more convincing). So as you can see, this one has a deep cutaway (though it could have no cutaway at all to make it even easier), and adapts the Explorer design with curves when it's possible and points where it's possible. 

This Kelly has a noticeable pop flashy paint work, but I'm not sure that I want to hear the music of someone who like this design with this finish! any suggestion about what music it would be?


Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Avast ye landlubbers! Pirate bass ahoy!
Guitarz reader Chris Dubis found this Pirate Bass for sale on Rondo Music. As if the black and red colour scheme weren't enough, the bass is adorned with a skull and crossbone motif as a 12th fret inlay and on the headstock and neckplate. The control knobs are abalone-topped, and the bass comes with a free pirate headscarf! How's that for an accessory?

All in all, it would be perfect if you wanted to start an Adam and the Ants or Bow Wow Wow tribute band. For everyone else, steer clear!

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Saturday 20 March 2010

Adam Black Libra UK
The Adam Black Guitar Company is a relatively new name to the guitar world. Distributed in the UK by Rosetti, Adam Black offer a very attractively-priced range of acoustic, electric and jazz guitars. Their guitars have been earning some very postive reviews and are already the choice of several bands on the circuit, including old punks Sham 69.

For the most part Adam Black guitars are made in Indonesia (in the former Epiphone factory), but the model pictured above, the Adam Black Libra UK, is built in Braintree, Essex, in the United Kingdom - hence the Union Flag you can see proudly displayed on its headstock. Selling for £399 (inc VAT) in the UK, this surely has got to be the cheapest "Made in Britain" guitar on the market today.

The singlecut body design is reminiscent of the Danelectro U2, but is made from solid North East Ash and has a bolt-on Rock Maple neck with a Fender-esque 25.5" scale length. Pickups are two high output humbuckers with ceramic magnets and are controlled via a simple one volume, one tone and 3-way pickup selector layout. The pickguard and control panel are plastic with an attractive carbon-fibre weave.

For those on more of a budget, Adam Black also offer an Indonesian-built Libra as well as several other models, but I think it's great that their top of the range electric is made in the UK and hope that the model is a success for them.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Friday 19 March 2010

Burns Scorpion Gothic

bison scorpion

Since we got started on guitars with rear horns, I couldn't avoid to present here the Burns Scorpion, the first one to feature this design if I'm not wrong ; a beautiful vintage chrome plated Burns Scorpion bass was already presented on this blog, so this is the guitar.

The Scorpion was first released in 1979 during the penultimate incarnation of Burns - Jim Burns Actualizers Ltd. - but here is the 2002 reissue by Burns London Ltd., under the Gothic label (something terrible to rock music happened when gothic started to be misused for metal music...) - now it's called the Scorpion Design. This is the hardtail version, it's more common with a Floyd Rose trem.

In 2003 there was a short lived model with golden finish and hardware, definitely too late for glam-rock, I wonder who ever bought it, but some crazy Japanese Visual Kei band (you can see how coherent this blog is!)

Anyway, the Scorpion is a nice looking guitar for such a radical design, I appreciate the challenge, but it's not as good as the Bison that shares its front horns (in my humble opinion).


Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

1983 Electra Futura X1-PW
Here's another email from a Guitarz reader:

Hello Mr. Wilson, my name is Tyler Beard.

Seeing the more recent posts of the Vigier (the model name of which I've already misplaced in my mind) and Aria Pro II Urchin, I thought I'd give you a peek at what is a more considerably "balls-out" version, which doesn't feature the same elegance of the Vigier or professionality (sic?) of the Aria Pro II, but can very easily blow just about anything else to bits.

This is a 1983 Electra Futura X1-PW (one of two models, this one being the reversed body, and a seperate model designation from its red variant). These, like, Arias, were built by Matsumoku, the premier Japanese maker by many.

As far as the technical facts, it has a maple neck, ebonized (darkened) rosewood fretboard, and alder body. The Pearl White finish has obviously yellowed, so it's more of a "Yellow Snow" finish now. It weighs a bit over 8 pounds. Has 22 frets, and sealed tuners which are just stock factory tuners, nothing notable, but they do the job wonderfully. The bridge on mine is not original, but a TekGlide, on which the trem block and plate are forged as one piece. Holds tuning amazingly well, even thorugh dive-bombs like EVH wouldn't believe. It's got a bit o' flare in the electronics, with push/pull tone pots activating coil tap and phase reverse. Pickup selector is positioned like a Les Paul, and is a standard 3-way. The real fire comes with the pickups. Pickup makers should take a gander at these. They are MMK45s, and are probably some of the best pickups of the era, or even compared to today-well, I think so. Never have I heard such pure, unmolsted screaming, crying, or singing from a guitar. No need for effects or any fancy amps here, the guitar does the job.

And this thing has a bit of a story. Back in the 80s, I suppose when smashing was cooler, it was the victim of such an act. The body was effectively cracked and the lower bout by the electronics broken off almost entirely. There was no neckplate, the 1-3rd frets were popping out, what have you. But, she was free. Won in a sort of contest. There were alternative Electra prizes but I picked this. I graciously thank the man responsible, I gave him a bit of trouble with it. But she now has a temporary Squier neckplate (which I'm not proud to say) and mis-matched neck screws, but will be better soon. Of ocurse, all the wear and tear won't be touched, after 26 years of established gigging, it wears the scars loud and proud, with her rust, dings, dents, scratches, cracks, chips, faded gold plating, and whatever else comes to her.


Hey, thanks for all the info, Tyler. That's not one that I've (knowingly) seen before. I hope you've had her strung up and rocking since those photos.

Keep 'em coming, folks! We want to see your guitars - the more ususual or original, the better.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Thursday 18 March 2010

Fernandes Hisashi Imai Signature model BT-1200MM

As a sequel to yesterday's blog post about Hisashi Imai's Fernandes stabilizer guitar, here's another of the Buck Tick guitarist's signature models, the Fernandes Hisashi Imai Signature model BT-1200MM.

It makes a change from all the ultra-pointy guitars, I suppose.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Ibanez Destroyer II with Japanese war flag finish

ibanez destroyer

After my last post, I was wondering what kind of variations of Explorers exist.
The first guitar that comes to my mind is the Ibanez Destroyer II - and I've been lucky to find this 1984 model, with a very 80s Japanese war flag paintwork that gives exactly the feeling of what this guitar meant to be...

Ibanez started to make Explorer models in the mid-70s - already called Destroyers, they were exact copies of Gibsons. In 1980 they issued the Destroyer II with slight variations from the original model, but enough to give it a real personality, with a minimal recall of the famous Iceman in the lower horn...

I think its design is very outdated, but it might soon become a vintage guitar (though it's been regularly reissued since) with a sought after cool retro feel of the time when guitarists wore tennis head- and wristbands (I hated that at the time, we postpunks hugely despised glam-metal trend).

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Fernandes Hisashi Imai Stabilizer Guitar

I don't know if you'll believe me that it's possible, but it would seem that the Japanese are even more crazy about the guitar than we are in the West. They have long had guitar models that simply do not see the light of day outside of Japan. Just take a look at some Japanese guitar websites - you'll see all sorts of guitars that you've never laid eyes on before.

The Fernandes Hisashi Imai signature guitar features their own Sustainer system and a stabilizer bar similar to that found on the Roland GR-707 guitar synthesizer controller of the 1980s. With the GR-707 the bar supposedly kept the neck rock steady and allowed for accurate tracking of the strings. I'm wondering if the bar on this Fernandes maybe performs a similar function and improves performance of the sustainer? But the cynic in me doubts it; I reckon it's just there for aesthetics.

Hisashi Imai is guitarist of Japanese rock band Buck Tick who formed in 1984, and are founders of the Japanese musical movement known as Visual Kei, a style of music characterized by the use of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes (and which sounds like the 1980s never ended for some). I suppose it figures that such a band would use flamboyant looking guitars too.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Atlas of Plucked Instruments

Yesterday, when trying to find some information on the 14-string Philippine Bandurria, I found this wonderful resource, the Atlas of Plucked Instruments. I ended up spending quite a few hours last night looking through its pages.

Wow, I wish I'd had access to this website when I was writing the 500 Guitars book. The Atlas is a labour of love by Dutchman and musician Henry De Bruin who, it seems, has travelled the world and amassed an impressive collection of stringed musical instruments along the way.

The Atlas covers guitars, mandolins, banjos, ukuleles, citterns, lutes, dulcimers, sitars and all the variants that you can think of from around the world - plus many others that you never knew existed!

I'm happy to report that the author bends the rules slightly every now and again, and related stringed instruments that aren't strictly speaking plucked as such have entries (e.g. the Indian tampura and the original tapping instrument, the Chapman Stick).

It's a fascinating website and one that I would recommend to all interested in guitars and related instruments. But be warned, you might find yourself spending a lot of time there.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

70s Hoyer Explorer

Hoyer Explorer

Strangely, we haven't showed many Explorer models on this blog, though it's as a classical and avant-garde design as the acclaimed Flying V. Is it because it's associated to metal music (even if it's a design from the 50s) and therefore to often ridiculous guitars? Or just because you have either original Gibson or 80s copies and that narrows anecdotes?

Anyway, here we have a beautiful circa 1975 Hoyer Explorer that looks indeed to be a faithful copy of the Gibson original, maybe a little bit less angular, that is a improvement to me. It has the beautiful white binding contrasting with its black finish, always a guaranty of elegance, and something that particularly underlines the pure complexity of the Explorer design.
But I wish Explorers had Flying V triangle headstocks, that would fit much better than the banana ones.

I had thought about making a post about the Gibson 7-string Explorer when it was released but I don't like the idea of doing advertisement for a dominant brand novelty, though to be honest I'm quite interested in this guitar (that I'll never play, too luxurious for me poor guitar lover). I'd love to see a baritone version one day, though Gibson seems to have given up any kind of creativity now, and capitalizes endlessly on a glorious past (even Epiphone has more new models!)

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Tuesday 16 March 2010

14-string "guitar"

This strange-old 14-stringed instrument is currently up for sale on eBay, although I am not sure if the seller is correct in calling it a "guitar". The body shape is like that of a cittern. When the seller claims it is 24 inches long, I guess he is referring to the total length rather than the scale length, so to my mind that would make this instrument nearer in scale to a mandolin than a guitar because you have to factor in the length of that enormous headstock!

Having fourteen strings, you would be forgiven for thinking that it had seven courses of paired strings, but in fact it has only six courses, arranged with the highest three being tripled, the middle basses being doubled and the lowest bass being just a single string.

It's not a stringing system I have seen anywhere else, but perhaps it is better known than I believe. (I'm learning things all the time writing this blog). Possibly it is a relation of the Portuguese guitar, but with fourteen strings instead of twelve and a different headstock design. As usual, if anyone has any further info, please let us all know below in the comments.

G L Wilson

Additional: It's a Philippine Bandurria - see comments.

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Yet more Kapa guitars and basses
Guitarz reader Greg Cadman has had quite a collection of Kapa guitars over the years and has kindly sent us these photos. From what information I can gather together elsewhere on the net, the above two basses are Kapa Continentals. There were also six and twelve-string guitar versions of the Continental. Pictured below are twelve and six-string examples of Kapa's hollowbody guitar, I believe its designation was the 506 (please correct me if I am wrong), and a pair of Vox Teardrop-like Kapa Minstrels.

Kapa guitars were designed and built between 1962-1970 by Dutch immigrant Kope Veneman and Company in Hyattsville, Maryland, USA. The name Kapa was composed of the initial letters of the names of Veneman's immediate family. The original guitars were assembled in the USA with German-manufactured Hofner necks and harware, while later examples used Japanese parts. When the company ceased trading in 1970, assets were sold to Mosrite and Micro-Frets.

For more, please see this excellent post on The Unique Guitar Blog.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Monday 15 March 2010

70s Ovation Preacher Deluxe 12-String

Sorry for the small and low quality picture, but an Ovation Preacher Deluxe 12-string 1285 is not a guitar you find on eBay everyday. Anyway, you will get better pics here and here.

You just look at this guitar and you see that the people who built it knew what they were doing!
Ovation solid body guitars were amongst the finest electric guitars ever (in my opinion), and this one is on the top, together with the Breadwinner.

It's always a mystery to me how the whole guitar business ended up revolving around a few brands, independently of the quality of the instruments, so that some companies had to give up excellent products for lack of sales. 

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Sunday 14 March 2010

Jolana Tornado

Jolana Tornado

This early 60s Jolana Tornado is a pure beauty, and has a good reputation as a player too, compared to average east-European communist era electric guitars.

I like the wide pickguard - unusual on a semi-hollow body -, the headstock is perfect in his simplicity and originality, the tremolo (at least aesthetically) could have become a standard, and above all I love the chrome switches - this is better than any Italian vintage guitar!

Would anybody buy my right kidney so I can buy this guitar?

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Saturday 13 March 2010

Strat that thinks its a Tele

Even if they are regarded in many circles as highly unoriginal, I am still a fan of the all pervading Stratocaster and I don't care who wants to moan about them. It's a pity really that the design has been diluted and trivialised by so many (often mediocre) copies. Is it any wonder that the likes of Rickenbacker are so aggressive in their opposition to look-a-likes and counterfeits, when you see that the designs of Fender have effectively become public domain?

The one thing, however, that I have never liked about the Fender Strat is the one feature that many love it for. The tremolo. Personally, I've always found it a complete waste of time. Perhaps I never developed a good tremolo playing technique, but all it ever did for me was to send the guitar out of tune. And so, with every Strat I've had I take the trem arm off and either leave it in the guitar case or else lose it.

The idea of a hardtail Strat has always appealed to me. I'd love to try one out and compare it to my trem-equipped Strats, because even though I remove the arm, of course the trem block and springs are always present and correct. Some would argue, and rightfully so, that the springs in the back of the Strat contribute to its distinctive sound; they act like a built-in spring reverb. I appreciate this fully, but still the idea of a proper hardtail Strat continues to appeal to me.

Could the Haywire Stratotelia pictured here (currently for sale on eBay) be the ultimate hardtail Strat? It has through-body stringing and uses a Telecaster bridge with its larger footprint for increased sustain and a Telecaster-style bridge pickup. It would be interesting to see if indeed it plays like a hybrid Tele/Strat. (Previously the only hybrid Tele/Strat I've seen have had Tele-style bodies with a Strat's hardware. I never could see the point. Surely, that's just a Strat with the upper horn lopped off?)

The neck is by Warmoth (and as such is Fender licensed) and Haywire claim that the guitar has the ability to accommodate either 25-1/2" (Fender) or a 24-3/4 (Gibson) scale neck with no body or neck modifications. So you could have yourself a Strat/Tele/Gibson hybrid too. They also offer a choice of Strat or Tele headstocks.

It's a quality instrument, but with a base price of $1750.00, some might not like having a relatively unknown brandname on the headstock.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Caparison Dellinger Chris Amott Signature


On the comments of the previous post we've been debating about what is a superstrat. For me this Caparison Dellinger is a perfect example: based on Leo Fender's 1954 double cutaway design, it has its horns elongated while the back on the guitar stays classic, and the headstock is pointy because a superstrat has to be pointy. The main pickup is the bridge humbucker, the trem is a Floyd Rose, there are only two knobs, and there are 24 frets on the neck.

You don't take risks with such a guitar, it's tasteful though a little bit boring, and you can play plenty of notes very fast with it I assume.

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Friday 12 March 2010

Hohner Revelation RTX in marblish finish

Hohner Revelation

I've stated here a few times that I don't like strats, and not shredding either, so of course superstrats are not particularly my cup of tea. However, this early 90s Hohner Revelation RTX caught my eye, first because of its bizarre finish I guess, but also because its shape reaches a strange mix of elegance and extreme pointiness that you usually find in Japanese early 70s guitars such as the Tokai Hummingbird...

Unfortunatly I couldn't find much information about the Revelation, Hohner is more known for its current ergonomic and headless guitars and basses (and great harmonicas, I have a few of them), but beside the shape I like the H|S blade pickups, the 4 + 2 headstock, and the Wilkinson trem bridge.

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Thursday 11 March 2010

Kapa Minstrel 12-string electric teardrop
Here's another Kapa guitar, this time it's a Vox-inspired teardrop-shaped Minstrel 12-string electric solidbody, complete with a Jazzmaster-style tremolo. I like that it's not a straight copy of the Vox, but that Kapa have created their own interpretation of the teardrop.

So, it's an American "copy" of a British guitar design from well before the USA-made Vox reissues and Phantom-branded replicas.

Currently for sale on eBay here.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Kapa Cobra 1960s vintage American electric guitar
Here we see a Kapa Cobra single-pickup electric guitar, manufactured by Kapa guitars from the early 1960s up until 1970 in Hyattsville Maryland, USA. It's a simple guitar with a design which, to my mind, owes elements to both Fender and Mosrite. It's good to see the the Jazzmaster-style tremolo system appears to be all present and correct other than the tip of the plastic on the end of the arm being broken off. The only negative as far as I'm concerned is that the colour is rather bland. (Apparently it was originally black but someone decided to give it an amateur refinish. Why did they choose such a nondescript colour? It's beige, for crying out loud!) These guitars were also available in other colours including a rather gorgeous cherry.

In 1965 this guitar would have cost $119.50. I wonder what price this example, currently for sale on eBay, will fetch.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Hondo Flash headless bass designed by Harry Fleishman
Hondo guitars don't have the best of reputations. Those that remember their poorly executed copies of Gibson and Fender designs recall them with a shudder and rarely have a good word to say about them. In the early 1980s Hondo brought in luthier Harry Fleishman as a design consultant, and together they came up with this, the Hondo Flash Bass.

It has the appearance of being all neck. Indeed, the fretboard sports 30 frets (unless I miscounted) and I think you can safely say that access to the upper frets is unhindered. The volume and tone controls are mounted on the upper edge (reminiscent of the LaBaye 2x4) and the Hondo/Fleishman team have come up with quite an elegant solution to the problem of where to locate the tuners. The bass has a single J-style pickup and allegedly a piezo pickup system too.

The seller keeps referring to it as a "travel guitar", but you'll see in the photo of it next to a Jazz-esque Bass that it's about the same length. The length subtracted from the head has simply been added behind the bridge. However, if you're talking body mass, then yes, it's a lot smaller but it's still going to have to fit inside a lengthy case or gig bag.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Watch this eBay listing get pulled...
Rickenbacker are known to be particularly zealous when it comes to copyright infringements based on their brand name, designs and trademarks. They are known to trawl the eBay listings looking for cheaper copy guitars listed in conjunction with the Rickenbacker brand being mentioned. The best a seller of a Ricky rip-off can do is to display good clear photos so the buyer can see what they are getting, and avoid mentioning the R-word anywhere in the text. Even derivatives of the name, e.g. Ricky, aren't advised, as these will get pounced on too.

With a feedback score approaching 1000, you wouldn't have suspected the seller of this Greco of being that green in this respect, but he or she is really asking for it when listing this guitar thusly: "1984 Greco Rickenbacker Vintage and Rare COOL!"

They are only making matters worse for themselves when they say:

If you have been craving a Rickenbacker but don't have the funds then this might just be for you, it's a made in Japan 1984 Greco Ricky copy with 3 toaster pick ups and the all important blend knob which helps give it it's (sic) distinctive sound, it plays nice and looks the part, in fact you only need change the tail piece and truss cover to rickenbacker ones and nobody will know it's not the real thing.
Shooting yourself in the foot or what?

Anyone want to bet how long it is before this listing gets pulled?

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Goya Rangemaster vintage Italian-made guitar with split pickups

Alan writes to say:
It's not only eBay where you find wacky guitars. Check out this page from the Washington DC USA branch of Craigslist.
Of course he's absolutely right. I tend to check eBay because it's much more international and I do like to think that I could bid on these items myself once in a while.

But never mind all that, this guitar - a Goya Rangemaster from 1968 - is a real beauty. I expect it is so named because of the range of tones obtainable from the split pickups allowing you to mix the sound of the top three strings in the neck pickup position with the bottom three strings in the bridge pickup position and vice versa. (There seem to be lots of these split pickup guitars coming out of the woodwork lately).

The design is reminiscent of the Gibson Barney Kessel with its twin Florentine cutaways. However, probably due to the location of the banks of switches, the f-holes seem to have gone south!

As with other Goyas, it is re-badged guitar for import into the US market. The Rangemaster series was made in Italy, which you may already have guessed from the general design with all those switches, and the manufacturer is believed to have been the Polverini Brothers, although this remains unconfirmed.

For more information there is a great site about Goya guitars at

A great find!

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Ex-Nuno Washburn Mouradian prototype

Yes, I appreciate that this Washburn Mouradian guitar is a rare "one-of-a-kind" prototype model.

I appreciate also that it belonged to Nuno Bettencourt and is the actual guitar that he played it with Extreme at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in 1992.

Nevertheless... a $35,000 Buy It Now price on eBay?

You're having a laugh?

Thanks to Jono for bringing this guitar to our attention. As he says, "You gotta wonder where they pull out those prices from and more importantly, who the hell buys this stuff?"

I've got nothing against Mr Bettencourt, who is a fine guitarist, but I wouldn't have thought he was the kind of guy whose personal instruments commanded those kind of big bucks. That asking price is not quite in Hendrix/Beatles/Elvis territory, but it's close.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!


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