Thursday 30 September 2010

the misused Nick Page's Eiserne Baron (what an enigmatic title, isn't it?)

This week, on my way to rehearsals, I've been passing everyday in the metro by some ugly poster for I don't know which discount shop trying to convince suckers that their lives will be more complete if they watch TV on a flat screen. For some reason there was on this poster a photo of a caricature rock musician holding a engraved metal front guitar with a bizarre headstock...

I managed to not really see it for three days but this morning I realized that, beside the fact that it's quite exceptional to see on a mainstream media an electric guitar that is not Fender or Gibson, I knew this guitar, and I even love it!

It is actually a new version of Nick Page's Baron, a guitar I presented on this very blog last year, and if at that time you didn't check this Berliner luthier's website, I recommend to have a look there; I really appreciate what they do (and I don't say this because their workshop is in my neighborhood  or because they gave me a hand with some of my projects!). They have some cool guitars - original models and standards - and are particularly good with finishes, including aluminium fronts and better paisley Telecasters than Fender ever released!

Let me add here a more dignified picture of the 'Iron Baron', a real beauty with its Rickenbacker-inspired 'crest wave' horns, sober floral pattern engraved aluminium front, sophisticated binding, big stoptail and acoustic guitar-like headstock. Honestly, if I ever get to buy a luthier's guitar, it would be this one!


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

Fernandes GM-85 MS Pearl Yellow Kenichi Ito
ESP are usually the manufacturer we immediately associate with weird and wonderful signature guitars designed for a whole host of Japanese guitarists and bassists, names that we in the West are not familiar with. However, Fernandes have also got in on this act (indeed we have looked at some of these previously), and this particular yellow guitar, the Fernandes GM-85 MS is the signature guitar of Kenichi Ito formerly of the band Iceman.

If it looks familiar to some of our regular readers, that may be because we previously featured a diminutive version of this guitar with built-in amp.

G L Wilson

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

Wednesday 29 September 2010

1971 Crucianelli élite stéréo
Here we see a Crucianelli élite stéréo archtop guitar from 1971, currently being offered for sale on a French website. Made in Italy, Crucianelli had strong ties with Eko (as discussed here) and this same body was also used for the Vox Super-Linx which was also produced in the Eko factory.

The most interesting feature of this guitar, however, must be its four pickups - two for the treble and two for the bass strings - and the independent pickup selectors for treble and bass. No doubt this allows for some interesting pickup combinations, which would be made all the more interesting by the stereo output.

Thanks to Dirk Lubbe for bringing this beauty to my attention.

G L Wilson

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

1965 Magnatone Zephyr
There is something I find really appealing about this Magnatone Zephyr in Lake Placid blue. It's quite a conservative-looking unassuming little guitar, but I find its proportions and softly rounded body horns most attractive, whilst the DeArmond pickups (described by the seller as "STRONG" in capitals) and behind-the-bridge floating trem a la Jazzmaster just enhance its appeal. Instruments like this help to reinforce the notion that there's a lot more to vintage American guitars than the same old usual suspects (Fender, Gibson, etc).

G L Wilson

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

Home made aluminium lap steel

Homemade 'steel' guitar.

This very simple instrument, made out of a piece of aluminium double glazing extrusion, is especially interesting to me as I just bought a Peavey Powerslide and I'm in the process of getting the hang of it. Not a piece of cake by any means.
The builder of this guitar (Airbrake 1 or Marscape 1, depending whether you find him on Flickr or Youtube) has further simplified the construction - and complicated the learning process - by leaving out the fret markers! Which makes his rather modest claim to not be able to play steel guitar even more remarkable. On his Flickr page, he says "I decided to fit 3 strips of tape to show the 5th fret position, the 12th and the 24th. I could have fitted more, but I wanted to try to develop my ear, so I would be able to automatically find the right notes. It takes some practice to do this!" Yeah, you don't say. Check out his not too shabby video. If I could coax something like this from my Powerslide, I'd be pretty pleased with myself.

David in Barcelona

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

Tuesday 28 September 2010

The Crucifixion Tele
Let me begin this post by saying that I really am not trying to offend anyone here. Although I'm not a religious person I would never mock another's faith. However, I found myself totally flabbergasted when I saw this Fender Custom Shop Telecaster complete with crucifixion artwork. I can't imagine that even the most devout Christian would consider that an appropriate scene with which to decorate the front of a guitar. But maybe, I'm wrong. Still, it's little wonder really that the seller describes this guitar as being "in immaculate condition and has not been played."

Thanks for this one, Bill!

G L Wilson

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

Fender Mandocaster Mandolin 1966

This Fender Mandocaster or Fender Electric Mandolin as it is properly known, is a nice instrument and is unusual if not rare. A quick Google of Fender Mandolin/Mandocaster does bring up quite a few instances. The Mandocaster was in production for twenty years 56 - 76 so you'd imagine they were popular enough but as it apparently sounded more like an electric guitar than a regular 8 string mandolin, it didn't have that wide appeal. It makes you wonder why fender didn't discontinue it, especially as Gibson had really cornered the market. The eagle eyed of you will have already spotted the 24 frets! Altogether un-mandolin-like.

Coincidently, Gavin's recent post on Grinderman led me to this video of Honey Bee (let's fly to mars) on their Treacle Sessions.

David in Barcelona

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

Monday 27 September 2010

Framus Tennessee Pro

I've seen this Framus Tennessee Pro before but the regular models in natural finish felt a little bit heavy and boring, like the 50s plywood dresser of my grand-mother, so I paid little attention. 

Then today I found this one, in burgundy - coming then from the Framus custom shop (it's not produced anymore otherwise, but it's not a vintage model, it's pure 2000s) - and it looks really cool, a convincing update of the contoured old German jazz guitars (that made famous the characteristic German carve), with its contemporary Seymour Duncan humbuckers, Gibson-esque stoptail and flamed maple top on a chambered mahogany body. 

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

3-string piano-bass

Here's a homemade 3-string bass built from the parts of an old dismantled piano, which includes piano strings, tuning pegs, and - strangely - a hammer (I'm not quite sure how that is employed here, whether there is a mechanism for it or if you simply take it in hand and hit the strings).

You can read more about it here on Dnki's blog.

G L Wilson

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

Warren Ellis Signature Tenor from Eastwood Guitars
I was watching Later with Jools Holland the other night, and was intrigued by the session from Grinderman whose Warren Ellis was making an incredible sound with what appeared to be Fender Musicmaster or Mustang but with just four strings (see YouTube clip below - OK, so he's obviously using a lot of loops there too).

So, a quick search shows that it's actually the new Warren Ellis signature model tenor guitar from Eastwood Guitars. The alder body is offset like a Mustang rather than an even-waisted Musicmaster, although like the latter it has just a single pickup in the neck position, in this instance it's a blade style pickup. As is common with tenor guitars it has a shorter than usual scale-length of 23", for which the Fender student-model stylings seem all too appropriate.

G L Wilson

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

Sunday 26 September 2010

In the beginning there was the guitar

This an interesting example of a great solution to a problem that doesn't really exist for many other makers. Maybe it's to give you something to talk about. A way of breaking the ice at parties. "Hey man, crazy tuners you got on that geetar!" Is it really such a huge benefit to have the strings aligned perfectly straight? And, does that outweigh the disadvantages of having machine heads that are practically impossible to replace should it be necessary?

However, it is a very nice looking guitar and the seller says it's one of the best guitars he's ever played. And, as Modulus have stopped making guitars and now only produce basses and they made very few guitars during a short period, it is deserving of the tag "rare".

It may seem, from the slightly cynical tone of my intro, that I'm a bit of a luddite. That's not true. Well it might be but, in this case, it seems like being different for the sake of it rather than true innovation. I'm all for innovation and for the evolution of guitars. In fact, when you look at, say, Fender's bewildering catalogue of micro-variations on the Tele/Strat themes and those hideous limited-edition-figured-burly-swirly-deluxe-looks-like-a-sideboard-costs-an-arm-and-a-leg-made-in-the-USA Premiumcasters, it's clear that it's only the small boutiques that are truly pushing the evolution of guitars forward. And don't get me started on those ****ing "relics"! Sorry, sorry, hyperventilating. Don't worry, I'm OK now.

David in Barcelona

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

Saturday 25 September 2010

TrueTone vintage guitar ... any more info?
James from Krazy Cat Music in San Antonio, TX, has been in touch again with another interesting vintage guitar to show us. He writes:
We've been getting a lot of cool old cheesy guitars lately; this one's a bit harder to find info on. TrueTones are Kay and Harmony guitars with different headstocks, and were sold at Western Auto in the 60s. This one's got two pickups, two volumes and two tones, 3 way toggle. Still has the original cheesy wooden bridge on it. 3-bolt neck. This sucker's got killer vintage tone. Not sure of the model on this one, if anybody knows drop us a line.
If anyone knows anything more about this guitar, please share with us the comments below and we'll pass any on info onto James. Thanks!

G L Wilson

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

Friday 24 September 2010

This Rickenbacker's got legs!

This 1960 vintage Rickenbacker 100 Consolette steel guitar is one of a species that could be described as a "missing link". Console guitars - essentially lap steels with legs - evolved from the more usual kind of lap steels that you actually play with the guitar on your lap, and would later evolve further with the addition of pitch bending levers and pedals into the pedal steel guitar.

G L Wilson

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

Thursday 23 September 2010

A Flying V for jazzers?
Here's a Flying V-styled guitar with a difference - it's an archtop! This guitar was handcrafted by Personal Guitars of Washington, USA, and was recenrly offered for sale on eBay Australia. Thanks to Liam, who spotted this one.

G L Wilson

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

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Kenneth Lawrence doubleneck Explorer
Instruments like this Kenneth Lawrence doubleneck Explorer - with two six-string necks, 24.75" and 27.75" (baritone) respectively - are certainly very impressive looking creations. This particular guitar is currently being offered for sale on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $18,250.00. The body is made from mahogany topped with premium Hawaiian Koa, and accented here and there with the same plus snakewood for the knobs and pickup rings. It certainly makes for a very eye-catching instrument.

And yet...

Apart from the almost certain likelihood that it's quite an impractical guitar (how often would you need both necks on the same song?) and is almost certainly monolithically heavy, there's something about the guitar that positively screams "Do not touch!" And at that price I think I'd be scared to touch it. I get the feeling that it's not so much a guitar but more a very expensive work of art or else a showpiece demonstrating the luthier's craft. One can imagine that here is one guitar destined to spend its life inside a glass display cabinet - and that's a shame.

G L Wilson

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

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Teisco May Queen reissue from 1999
The Teisco May Queen was a late 1960s design possibly borrowed from the Vox Mando Guitar of the same period, or maybe even the Eko Auriga (which had a much cooler reverse headstock design). After all these years, it is very difficult to say with any authority which came first. Anyway, there have recently been a couple of the Teisco May Queen reissues offered for sale on eBay (see here and here). These re-issues were intended for the Japanese market only and few are seen outside of Japan. The quality and playability is said to be much higher than that of the originals, although curiously whilst these two examples (see photos above and below) are supposedly both from 1999, they each have different pickups, vibrato, control knobs and even different Teisco logos on the headstock.

By way of furher comparison, here is an original Apollo-branded May Queen which was allegedly the deluxe version compared with those branded with the Teisco name.

G L Wilson

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

1960s Wandre Davoli Psichedelic Sound

A quick look at this guitar could make you think that this is just some 1960s German or Japanese take on the ES-335, but a second look reveals that it's more than that, a genuine Davoli Wandre with an alu neck and other weird details like a plastic fretboard...  Not the craziest model so, but a Wandre is a Wandre and we like them, it doesn't have to be all strange looking for that!


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

Monday 20 September 2010

Uknown Japanese vintage guitar
Does anyone have any idea what this guitar might be? It has "Japan" stamped on the neckplate but no other clue to its identity, and is almost certainly from the 1960s. The seller suggests Guyatone, Sekova, Kimberly, or Teisco, but is just throwing names out there.

Still, it's a fine looker for the lover of cheesy guitars with its chrome pickguard and four pickups. The seller claims it is a good player too (well, you would in an auction) and is not just one to hang on the wall.

G L Wilson

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

Liquid Metal Guitar Paisley Telecaster (I had a dream)

Paisley Liquid Metal Telecaster

Dear Santa* / Tooth Fairy* / Kim Jong Il* / Bernard Madoff* (*select your favorite fulfiller of impossible wishes), you know how much I love black paisley for guitar finish - a perfect metaphor of my dichotomous tastes in pop music -, and since I'm a gentleman (as much as I can), I would see it on a sober and classic guitar like a telecaster for example (would put a neck P90 though for a more exciting sound)... Also I'm dreaming for years to get a metal body guitar - a shiny one, not an easy relicking à la Trussart - so combining all this would create the most desirable guitar... 
Alas, I don't believe in miracles and benevolent entities, so...

No, wait, now it exists for good! Liquid Metal Guitars did it, and it's just perfect!  I've been fantasizing for ever on Moollon etched guitars but the paisley pattern really makes my DNA ring... But I'm just an humble musician, and I will never be able to afford such a guitar, so it's still just a dream...

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

Sunday 19 September 2010

Minimal headless guitar with interesting lap-rest

headless guitar 1
This nice headless guitar is much likely handmade - its seller calls it a aa-Craaft Shark but aa-Craaft is a German brand of sound-systems (and they also tried to penetrate the guitar amps market - unsuccessfully since there are no traces of this on the Web) and never released any guitar unless I'm wrong - so the sticker on the guitar must come from a speaker...

Anyway, it's a very minimal log headless guitar - you can't be wrong when you build this - but what interests me is the original lap-rest, a very 90s design curved piece of plastic that seems quite fitting... Never saw that before, anyone did?  

EDIT: just received this message from Ed from Laguna: "The picture of what you called a  'lap-rest' is upside down.  My original Steinbergers have a similar plastic 'boomerang'.  It is a pivoting connector for the shoulder strap, not a lap-rest." This means that such a lap-rest is yet to be invented, if I wasn't a lazy looser, I would patent this right away... Ed ends his message with: "Love your blog" so I forgive him for making a fool of me.


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


...the SEARCH function on this blog finally works! Apologies to anyone who has ever tried to use it in the past and gotten no results. It was useless, and would give zero results for the serach "guitar" even. (Blame Google/Blogger - it was their code).

Of course, the other way to navigate the blog is by checking the A-Z list of keywords at the foot of the page. That and the "You might also like" features beneath each post. But the now-functioning SEARCH box should make it even easier. Hurrah!

Sorry it took so long!

G L Wilson

1965 Kay Vanguard
James of Krazy Kat Music in San Antonio, TX, emailed these photos of this unusual vintage guitar they just got in. He explains:
It's a 1965 Kay Vanguard. The body is made of some sort of MDF (you can see it where the paint is chipped off on the headstock). The pickguard is very cool! The single coil pickup is glued to the bottom of the pickguard, and the pickguard has a raised section with the design of the underneath pickup. Nothing of the pickup is exposed thru the top (the pole pieces and shape are etched into the pick guard). We've been jokingly calling it the "soap dish" pickup. Single volume, single tone. Strangely enough, the tone is the first knob, which is counterintuitive. Three bolt neck. The headstock still has the sticker of the store it was originally bought at, Mary L. Spence Music in Plainview, TX. The tuners have been replaced over the years, the original screw holes are still evident under the new tuners.

Something else strange too: when I removed the pickguard to check it out, I noticed that the electronics weren't grounded to anything. The pickguard was completely independent from the rest of the guitar.
Thanks for that, James! We always enjoy seeing unusual - and even downright cheesy - vintage guitars. Thanks for sharing.

G L Wilson

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

Saturday 18 September 2010

Dingwall Custom I
I'd like to feature some contemporary instruments on this blog, without having to resort to the latest slight variations on a theme from the usual suspects, and so it is that we must look to the independent guitar builders. The influence on the above-pictured Custom I from Dingwall Guitars must be all too apparent, but it doesn't slavishly follow the guitar that is its obvious inspiration, and is - I think - all the better for it. With a highly-contoured sculpted body, TV Jones pickups and Bigsby vibrato, this is one elegant T-type electric guitar.

Here is the full press release from Dingwall Guitars:
Dingwall Custom I Guitar

Dingwall Guitars best known for their critically acclaimed high-end bass guitars are going back to their roots with the Custom I guitar. The first guitar in this series combines the look of a classic rock/blues guitar with the fit, finish, performance and tone equaling the very best of the boutique guitar world. It made it’s debut at the Montreal Guitar show and received rave reviews.

Guitar designer Sheldon Dingwall concentrated on several key areas such as tone, resonance, lightweight, balance, ergonomics, tuning stability, seasonal stability, feel and appearance.

Resonance, tone and lightweight all can be greatly affected by wood choice and tone chambers. Years of testing have lead Dingwall to a tone that’s warm and full without the typical nasal quality that some tone chamber designs produce. Traditional woods like alder and swamp ash are used for the body because they provide a great platform to enhance through design. Using ultra lightweight Sperzel tuners and leaving select areas of the body solid to create a ballast effect achieve exceptional balance.

The body’s contours have been designed with several playing positions in mind from standing with the guitar strapped high, slung low, seated in a traditional position or hunched over as you would late at night when playing quietly. The scooped out horn and tapered heel allow unhindered access to the very last frets.

Tuning stability is addressed by combining an ultra low headstock angle in conjunction with a custom formula Graph Tech nut, locking Sperzel tuners a Graph Tech bridge and a customized Bigsby tremolo. Sheldon says “It’s hard to tell the difference between the best sounding guitar and the worst sounding if they’re both out of tune. They both just sound bad.” For this reason Sheldon Dingwall takes the “use any means possible” approach to making sure the guitar plays and stays as in tune as possible.

Seasonal stability is not something that’s discussed or advertised much. Due to the extreme mid-west climate a large percentage of guitar repairs that came into Sheldon Dingwall’s repair shop were humidity related. Glenn McDougall of Fury Guitar (Canada’s first electric guitar manufacturer) taught Sheldon many secrets to a stable neck/truss-rod assembly. By carefully matching neck and fingerboard woods, installing a truss-rod designed to minimize thermal changes Dingwall has created a neck that is extremely stable through temperature and humidity changes. The standard neck is a 3 piece maple laminate with walnut as an option for even more resonance and lighter weight.

The Custom I neck carve is influenced by 60’s C-shaped necks. The fretboard edges are rolled in for a played in feel. The fingerboard features a compound radius starting at a very comfortable 7-1/2” at the nut and flattening out to 16” at the bridge.

A TV Jones Classic Plus is featured in the bridge position with a TV Jones MagnaTron in the neck position. The 3-way blade switch is located out of strumming range to avoid accidental selection changes.

The look of the Dingwall Custom I is pure Rock’n Roll. With the gain dialed up on a good tube amp the bridge pickup nails the crunchy yet warm classic rock tone with a distinct almost cello-like character. Through the clean channel the neck pickup tone ranges from sweet and slightly scooped to warm and jazzy.

For pricing, options and availability contact
G L Wilson

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

Vintage Tokai Japan 60s Pre Talbo Weird Cool Teisco!

Another case of an eBayer who, not knowing the manufacturers name, lists a couple of fairly smart guesses including the all embracing "Cool" and the inevitable Teisco! - The exclamation mark did not go unnoticed.

Whatever it is, one thing's for sure. It's a corker. And, after a little research - it's a Guyatone Victoria.

The beauty at the bottom is from a Japanese site and there is yet another on Craigs List. The CL pictures are very poor and it's hard to tell anything except that it's bright blue. I think it's a fairly rare item as Google throws up very few examples and fewer still with decent pictures.

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

Friday 17 September 2010

Hohner/Bartell Black Widow Fretless Bass
OK, this is my eBay tip of the week and the auction finishes in two days - unless someone snaps it up on Buy It Now. I must admit I was sorely tempted to "hit that BIN" myself, especially at this price (starting bid: $459.00 / Buy It Now: $539.00).

For the uninitiated, this is an early 1970s Hohner-branded Bartell semi-solid fretless bass and was designed by Paul Barth, a former employee of Rickenbacker, Magnatone and National. It is a close relation of the Acoustic Corporation Black Widow (one of the guitars listed in my 500 Guitars book and which we also looked at here, some examples of which were built in Japan whilst others were built by Mosrite in the USA). We also looked at another Hohner-branded fretless bass - this time in natural finish - here.

For more information see the Acoustic Black Widow Fanpage.

G L Wilson

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

Bigsby-equipped T-type lefty from Liquid Metal Guitars
I've been awfully remiss in recent times in posting guitars aimed at the southpaw contingent. Interesting lefties are indeed hard to find. So, when Liquid Metal Guitars emailed me with photos of one of their latest creations - and it's a lefty - well, I knew I had to show it to you. As ever with LMG's guitars, the body made from a solid block of 6061 T6 Aircraft Aluminium. This model is equipped with Seymour Duncan pickups (a Lil'59 in the bridge position and what looks to be a humbucker-sized P90-style at the neck) and the aforementioned Bigsby.

More photos here.

G L Wilson

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

Thursday 16 September 2010

"Stella" Soviet Russian stereo electric guitar
Here's another Soviet-era Russian-made guitar festooned with pickups and switches, and with the now familar 5-pin DIN output often seen on these instruments. This is another guitar that I freely admit I know nothing about, so I'm going to unashamedly borrow text from the eBay listing.
This thing was made in the USSR since '70. It was produced by the Rostov na Donu factory of keyboard instruments, and was probably the most hi-fi and experimental instrument ever produced in USSR. It has four pickups (two single coil and two split coil pickups), stereo output and was stuffed with electronics. It is a stereo guitar, but if you want you can switch from stereo mode to mono. It has 1 mono/stereo mode switch, 7 small switches for different pickup modes and 5 knobs for different sound modifications.
G L Wilson

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

1970s Höfner 4575 verythin semi-hollow guitar

This is a Höfner 4575 and I like this kind of old school hybrid guitars mixing a semi-hollow body with features you usually find on solid bodies - three pickups, a trem bar (a cool 60s one, typically Höfner) and lots of control switches and knobs (the curved control plate is particularly nice).

It's bizarre that in our times that value versatility in guitars, nobody proposes this kind of combination anymore...

Here you can see Alison Mosshart playing a 4575 when with the Kills - a band quite relaying on vintage German guitars - not the only reason why I enjoy them...

I'm in bed with a bad flu for one week, if someone would offer me this guitar, I would feel much better already!

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

Wednesday 15 September 2010

1960s Bradford - as used by Link Wray?

I've never heard of Bradford before seeing this pristine 4 pickup beauty currently with a BIN of 900 bucks! The seller claims Link Wray played one of these on Rumble. I wonder what Gavin thinks. [I don't think so - GLW]. It is a great looking guitar and I'm sure if Mr Wray saw it he'd play it.

David in Barcelona

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

Tuesday 14 September 2010

1960s Japanese 4-pickup solidbody
Here's another "unknown" guitar from 1960s Japan. With the plethora of brandnames applied to the same guitars coming out of the same factories, it's very hard to identify guitars like this. The seller comments that it:
"...looks like a Bison copy. The headstock design looks like Bruno. The pickups are the same as the Kent 720 series - their topline guitars. I suspect this came out of the Kawai factory because they produced Bruno, Kent and Teisco guitars."
Interesting features include the two plates on the headstock matching the plate the pickups are sitting on; separate plates for pickups and controls; the German carve around the top of the instrument's body; and, of course, the four pickups and attendant switches (my guess is that the switch near the volume and tone pots selects between the front and rear pair of pickups, whilst the two toggles near the lower horn are 3-way selectors for each pair).

Anyway, a very interesting instrument.

G L Wilson

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

Baglama bama a wap bam boo

We usually try to steer clear of repeat postings but I think this is sufficiently different from Bertram's recent post to allow ourselves a little indulgence. More of an extension really.
When I was buying my Baglama Saz in Turkey, I had the opportunity to try an electric one which was much more like a western style guitar. It had a solid, Strat-like body, bright red paint job and had a spiky, angled headstock. I should have taken a few pictures. However, I came across this one in a DailyMotion video. More traditional in style but definitely more "guitarish" and a chance to hear one in action.

Caution. For the sake of your sanity DO NOT click on my name!

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

Monday 13 September 2010

VICTORIA Solid Body 1965
A rather nice looking guitar with its distinctive S shaped scratchplate and single neck pickup - I guess aimed at a jazzier part of the market. The components are all quite unrefined with barely a curved or chamfered edge. Even the nameplate is simply screwed onto the -almost batwing shaped- headstock giving it, for me, an air of solid functionality about it. This is my kind of guitar, if only it had more pickups, more switches, a little more chrome and wasn't quite so tasteful. From a design point of view (I am a designer by the way - not guitars) there is a lot to admire about this instrument. It follows the aesthetic conceit of "form follows function" even to the extent that the controls are visually linked to the pickup via the scratchplate. Practically the only concession to the un-neccessary is the tailpiece cover but I think we can forgive the makers this time. I just looked at the pictures again and I think it was out of synch with its time. This IS my kind of guitar. Bugger! I think I just fell in love.

David in Barcelona

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

Ibanez Talman TC420

Ibanez talman

OK, OK, OK, lately we've been showing plenty of über-cool guitars, vintage ones, rare ones, exotic ones, custom ones, but guitars need also to be simple, humble, cheap, practical, mainstream and still cool, such as this Ibanez Talman TC420 - a short lived model that existed in many versions but only between 1994 and 1998 (there still is an acoustic version).

The Jazzmaster-shaped Talman was first made of fiberboard (a MDF called Resoncast) with lipstick single coils à la Dan'o, then with mini-humbuckers, humbuckers, P90s and different pickups combinations, then it shifted to different kinds of woods - this is the case of the basswood TC420 that is one of the later models. I like several things on this guitar, particularly the strat/tele control plate with one knob and the jack socket (I wish I'd find one of these for my projects - I love one knob guitars) and the perloid pickguard (I usually don't like perloid but here it fits), but in general this guitar has a good feel (and I don't hate Ibanez just because Steve Vai is a show-off)(too many brackets).


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

Tantra Surya from 1983
For the guitar enthusiast such as I, there is always something "new" to discover. Yes, the guitar world is extremely conservative and set in its ways, but that doesn't mean there have never been any mavericks. You just have to look a bit harder to find the more unusual stuff.

This French seller currently has this Tantra Surya guitar from 1983 on eBay. It looks for all the world like a very curvy Flying V, and has an almost Sci-Fi/flying saucer feel to it. The pickguard appears to be made from alumunium and has an integral bridge with the saddles attached to an up-turned lip at the rear end of the plate.

Unfortunately I can tell you very little else about this model, and the seller doesn't seem to know much about it either, but mentions a possible connection with French superstar Johnny Hallyday.

As ever, if anyone has any more info, please use the comments below!

G L Wilson

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

Sunday 12 September 2010

Formanta Borisov from Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic

formanta borisov

Another Soviet guitar - literately - this 1980s Formanta with its rough switches (for built in effects) is one of my favorite eastern guitars. I missed one on eBay a few months ago and I still sigh with melancholy just recalling this...

This guitar had many interesting finishes, I like this combination of metallic blue, perloid brown and mate aluminium - I saw it in different sunbursts, mauve and even a sparkle pink one that didn't look silly at all!


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

Electro Saz


I've been wanting to show here an electric saz for ever, and I finally found a good picture of one. The saz is a Turkish version of a lute or oud (hence a close cousin of the guitar), with a longer neck and a specific scale of 15 intervals tuned in just intonation, and 3 double strings (if you want to make some research about the saz, it's also called bağlama).

The saz seems to be used in every form of Turkish music - its electrified version has the same status as the electric guitar - and I particularly heard some Turkish jazz and jazz-rock music played by incredible saz virtuosos that really attracted me to this instrument... Unfortunately so far you cannot find Made in China cheap saz to try out the instrument that stays quite expensive, so I couldn't get one yet (I played an acoustic one though, and really enjoyed it).


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

Saturday 11 September 2010

Crazy Russian guy makes guitars out of shovels

Micha brought this to my attention - never mind cigar box guitars, these are shovel guitars! (More photos here and see also here). Admittedly, the above video does go on a bit too long, and I guess is supposed to be funny. I suppose it helps if you speak the language.

G L Wilson

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

Friday 10 September 2010

A rather eccentric German electric from A. Hoyer
Here's another German guitar currently being offered for sale on eBay. It's a very eccentric-looking instrument by Arnold Hoyer with such features as that huge neck plate, a super thin body, Hoyer-branded parallelogram-shaped pickups, crude-looking Bigsby-esque vibrato, antique-looking controls, and a 5-pin DIN output socket.

What's more, as is evidenced by this video, it plays rather nicely too!

G L Wilson

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

Hofner 500/8BZ bass with built-in fuzz
You could be forgiven for thinking that Hofner were a one-trick pony when it came to bass guitars, but there were other models than the one popularised by a certain Beatle. For example, how about this attractive Hofner 500/BZ from 1968 with semi-hollow construction and twin Florentine cutaways. It also features on-board fuzz circuitry as was sometimes the fashion in the day. Fantastic!

G L Wilson

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

Thursday 9 September 2010

Lemon Yellow Orfeus Guitar from Bulgaria
This very crude-looking Bulgarian-made Orfeus from the 1970s is a delight to behold. It looks for all the world as if it could have been cut out from cardboard by someone who wanted something roughly between a Jazzmaster and a Stratocaster in shape. In common with other Orfeus guitars it has a 5-pin DIN output, and Orfeus' own very peculiar pickups which were single coils wound around a trio of square magnets and held in place with bands.

Alas, I can tell you nothing more about this particular instrument; it's not even listed on Cheesy Guitars' Orfeus page.

Any further info would be gratefully received.

G L Wilson

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

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Jet Harris plays Fender Bass VI

We've been often showing baritone guitars and short scale 6-string basses on this blog - really exciting instruments I must say (I have a Dan'o baritone for a few months now and I start to figure out what to get out of it!)

For people of my generation, the Fender Bass VI is mostly the unique sound of the Cure in 1981, but it's not bad to hear how it was used in the early 60s when it was released. Jet Harris was the bassist of the Shadows (the first one to use an electric bass in the UK - a Framus one, yes, a German guitar) then had a short and fulgurant solo carrier. He's playing here on his Bass VI the theme of the Man with the  Golden Arm - a brilliant and catchy song.  


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

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Robert Smith's custom Fender Jazzmaster

custom jazzmaster robert smith

Robert Smith is famous (amongst guitarists) for his versatility in his guitar choices: for about twenty years - until he finally got his signature guitar by Schecter in 2004, the very appealing Ultracure - he's been changing guitar regularly (Gibson, Fender, Gretsch, National, Hopf, Ovation, Guild, Vox, Mosrite..., all of them black or refinished in black), and from one tour to the next you can see him changing his sound sometimes radically with a different instrument - also in one set he could switch from solid body to semi-hollow to acoustic to 12-string... He's been faithful though to the Fender bass VI that have been essential to the Cure's early sound, but it seems (I'm not sure and I'd like to know more about this) that he's been using lately a one-off Ultracure baritone instead.

But I've been interested lately in his early sound and I realized that his best music (I belong to the people who think that the Cure's best drummer was Lol Tolhurst but this makes sense only for Cure's old school fans) has been composed and played on a customized 1965 Fender Jazzmaster - with the addition in middle position of the neck pickup teared off a plywood cheapo - the Silvertone 313 sold by Woolsworth as the Top 20 (Smith's guitar until 1979, on the picture on the right). I really love this kind of spirit, and laugh at all these tone fetishists who would purchase high-end pickups to upgrade already expensive guitars just to reproduce a vintage sound heard a million times, when one of the most influential musicians of our time created his sound with the lowest grade material!

Originally there's been two of these custom Jazzmasters, the backing one was beige and became the main one, refinished first in white, then in black, and used to record Seventeen Seconds, Faith, Pornography and The Top... I could tell several anecdotes, like Smith chose the Jazzmaster because he saw Elvis Costello playing one on TV, or that he paid his first one 100£ after his producer claimed that he couldn't record an album with his Top 20, or that the guitar was used again for the Trilogy concert in 2003 to play Pornography extensively with its original sound - but if you want this kind of details, you can pick them on or (in French).

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

Monday 6 September 2010

1930s Wappen classical guitars


Being from the 1930s, this Wappen nylon string guitar is more than vintage, it's antique! So antique that it was not strung at first with nylon but with gut (ox or cat) like all classical guitars did until the late 1940s - actually when all the gut was used as surgical thread for the wounded of the WWII, urging guitarists to discover nylon that was invented in 1935 and used so far to make fishing thread - a.o.

It's a German guitar, with a quite different design than the more regular models from southern Europe (France, Italy and Spain) that fixed the shape in the 19th century and made it universal. Germany's contribution to guitar design didn't start with electrification!

Edit: lots of extra info in the comments!

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

This is a long one one one one ne ne ne e e e e e e

In a slight departure from my previous posts, I'd like to talk about a couple of things that interest me. Echo machines, an echo machine that's on eBay right now and eBay in general.

I've always been keen on echo machines and I've owned quite a few different makes over the years.

One of the great things about tape echo, apart from the sound quality, is being able to manipulate the tape for on-the-fly effects like grabbing hold of the tape guide, finger pressure to slow down the repeats or when it's recording (when you let go it speeds up). Great for dub effects and "experimental" music styles. The Echoplex goes one step further and incorporates a moving head which opens up a whole bag of possibilities. This video on Youtube shows it in action and you don't even need to plug a guitar in (that can't be right).

Anyone interested in the possibilities of the Echoplex only has to listen to John Martyn (Solid Air is a good place to start). It's hard to believe what he was doing in the 70s and it still sounds fresh today.

The down side of tapes is they wear out and start to get noisy pretty quick but even that can be a source of sound texture. The down side of those old machines themselves is the motors can be pretty noisy and earthing (grounding US) standards weren't so stringent in those days so it's not a bad idea to get an electrician to go over it as simply earthing it can cause a hum loop.

I was intrigued by this VERY-OLD-GUITAR-RECORDER on eBay as it was obviously not a recorder but a tape delay. Unfortunately the pictures were so bad and the description so scant that it seemed a dead end. Guitarz to the rescue. Gavin suggested it might be an Echoplex but it's not how I remembered my own one from years ago. Google to the rescue. A few minutes of Googling and the track was getting warmer. It was some kind of Echoplex but I couldn't find anything that looked similar. Photoshop to the rescue. A little enhancement with curves (Image > Adjustments > Curves) and a lot more detail was revealed. This has been modified and flight-cased (professionally?) to give a much longer loop and extra playback heads. Now I'm really intrigued but Google hasn't been able to throw any more light on it. Is this a standard mod (a kit?) because it seems pretty well done?

Can any of our readers shed some light?

As we are uncommonly fond of eBay and while we're on the subject, here are some of my eTips.

1. Put a few GOOD pictures of your offering. Especially important if you're not sure what that gizmo is yourself. There are a lot of generous eBayers out there who will offer information on your obscure or mis-titled treasure.

2. Describe it. Does it work? That's a good one, always works for me. If it's a guitar, the single most important and problematic to fix is the neck. Is it straight? and what's the action like? I am a lot less likely to trust something where they say "I'll let the pictures do the talking" and I'm especially suspicious of guitars which are "set up for slide".

3. Delivery. I know it's a fag taking stuff to the Post Office but if you live in Lower Uppington-in-the-Marshes, the chances of finding a buyer who can collect from you but only Wednesday mornings is greatly reduced. And, once you've dragged yourself all the way down to Post Office, there really isn't any difference sending it to another country. That will increase your selling chances greatly.

4. Do your homework and find out what's a reasonable price. One of the techniques that real auctioneers use to get a little competition going is starting off on an attractive price. If it's too high you reduce the chances of even getting started. There was Vox Organ Guitar sold recently after being listed three times. It went for a lot more than her BIN price in the first listing and there was a flurry of activity in the closing moments. The only thing she did was add a little more info and start off on a lower price. I know coz I was bidding for it and I gave her that extra info (see 1 above).

5. As much as you want to get the highest price for your treasure, what you paid for it has no relationship to what you can expect to get for it. There is a six month old guitar on eBay right now with a BIN price that's higher than the price (including delivery and guarantee) from both Thomann and Amazon.
Any more eBay tips? - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!

Sunday 5 September 2010

Not just RARE but EXTRA RARE. Soviet rare doubleneck guitar YEREVAN #089 double neck

This is one of my favourite eBay sellers. Not because I've ever bought anything from him (yet) but simply because of the wonderful instruments he digs up. AND THIS BEAUTY IS NO EXCEPTION.

Those Soviet manufacturers were no slackers when it came to souping up the humble six string. This one even has an extra neck. Not to mention enough wood in the body to make three normal guitars. I've not heard of Yeravan until now but this is certainly an eye opener and I will be researching this brand in the not too distant future.
To be perfectly honest, it's not really my cup of tea but it does have a decidedly WTF aspect to it that would be hard to ignore. The solid black colour is pretty restrained considering the shape of the body and the pick ups are nicely understated but the single horn and the strange shape of the rear edge, the mismatched headstocks, the apparently cheese cutter action all conspire to make this hard to justify it's $500 (plus shipping) price tag. To me, the word "rare" is bandied about a bit too much in the vicinity of odd guitars. And don't get me started on "extra rare". That should only be applied to steaks, according to my missus. It may well be extra rare but in this instance, I'd say there was a very good reason. - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 9th year!


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