Saturday 31 March 2012

John's attic guitar find - Any ideas as to the identity of this weird old guitar?

I just discovered your blog, as I was looking for some information on a guitar that I’ve found in someone's attic.

It looks like something East European, or maybe Italian, from the sixties, but I could find nothing that relates to a name, or brand, or manufacturer.

The only print that I found was on the white potmeter you can see above the bridge pick up. It reads something that begins with ORAL...IO (the dots are not readable), it’s a 100K potmeter (for tone control I guess...).

Maybe you could post the picture to find out if someone knows more on this guitar.

The body and headstock are veneered by someone earlier on, I’ve started scraping the veneer off. I think the guitar was painted in some colour paint originally, because underneath the veneer there’s a thick layer of ground lacquer.

The brass nut is probably not original, and the guitar has a zero fret.

Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures, they were taken with my cell phone.

Greetings from Belgium,


© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Friday 30 March 2012

Quiz: the mystery guitar strikes back!

Don't look at the lower picture, just focus on this one and try to guess what famous brand released this bizarre guitar, with a carved Telecaster outline, uncovered humbuckers, a strat fixed bridge, minimal controls (including a split coil push/pull tone knob) and glossy metallic blue finish. 

Usually when I show this kind of hybrid guitars on Guitarz, people protest in the comments that they are pointless, if you want a Tele, you take a Tele, and if you want a LP, you take a LP, but I like it and to be honest, I only read dithyrambic reviews about it, though it's been very short-lived (it seems that it's been a prototype for an also short-lived model from a more high-end brand) - it's from the early 2000s - and stayed mostly unknown...

So did you find what it is? It's a Squier Double Fat Tele Deluxe!


PS. Usually I don't do that, I don't talk here about my personal blog, but yesterday I posted on it a new series of guitar design sketches that I quite like, and I want to invite Guitarz readers to have a look at them - partly with the hope that one day I will meet a guitar maker - a luthier, or a company, or an amateur - looking for new guitar designs, since I'm still a debutant maker and won't use a 100th of the ideas I have - and willing to collaborate...

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Thursday 29 March 2012

Teisco Del Rey ET-460 4KL
The Teisco Del Rey ET-460 is probably one of the more recognizable 1960s Japanese-made guitars, and epitomises the Teisco brand with its bold striking body shape with German carve, 4+2 headstock design, four pickups with pushbutton selector switches, striped metal pickguard, and Teisco's own take on the Bigsby vibrato. The model was so famous (or should that read infamous?) that it was one of Eastwood's earlier re-issues of classic and retro guitars.

This original Teisco example in very nice condition indeed is currently being auctioned on eBay with just 8 hours left to go at the time of writing and with bidding currently at $510.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

1960s vintage Italian Phantom-style guitar from Boyfendery
This Boyfendery Phantom is a curious guitar. Allegedly made in Catelfidardo, Italy, it is obviously styled after the Vox Phantom guitars popular at the time and which were also made in Italy. However, the Boyfendery, either by accident or design, has gotten the Phantom shape wrong, and the design is not helped by a German carve, nor a badly designed pickguard which is totally lacking in grace. Is it any wonder that the Boyfendery name isn't better known? How many guitarists do you know who in the 1960s would have been comfortable playing a guitar with a name that sounded like "boyfriend"? Not a good marketing strategy, methinks.

When I first saw the photo for this guitar, I thought that the headstock should have been shaped like that on a Vox guitar of the period, but had suffered some damage. However, this example on Fetish Guitars has the exact same headstock shape so it looks like it was made that way deliberately.

This guitar is currently being auctioned on eBay with bidding starting at €1. The seller claims that "this is one of the rarest guitars in the world" but rare does not necessarily equal desirable so it'll be interesting to see what this sells for.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Vintage & Rare guitar of the week: Mervyn Davis doubleneck guitar and mandolin

I think these "Vintage & Rare guitar of the week" posts have gotten a little out of sync recently, which wasn't helped by me being sick all last week (but thanks again to Bertram for posting in my absence).

So to make up, if in only a small way, this week's guitar of the week gives two for the price of one: a six string electric guitar and 4-string electric mandolin all in one package.

It's a Mervyn Davis doubleneck. This is a one-off instrument built by Mervyn Davis himself, a South African luthier who graduated from making oil can guitars as a boy to a fully-fledged maker of fine stringed instruments including electric and acoustic guitars and basses, violins, mandolins and even the occasional oud. You can check out some of his very striking designs at

He is known for his inlay work which at times has a distinct African flavour with indigenous animals and insects often appearing, as well as soundholes decorated with figures of African bushmen.

I like on this doubleneck how the mandolin portion appears to have its own top set into the top of the guitar, which beautifully defines the concept that here we have two instruments in one.

This guitar/mandolin doubleneck is currently available for sale via Vintage & Rare, although you will need to call for a price.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Reverend Club King RT in transparent orange finish

I've always loved Reverend's guitars, but I can't stop looking at this Reverend Club King RT (RT is for Revtron, Reverend's version of Gretsch's Filter'trons - the Club King model exists also with P90s) and enjoy the simplicity and purity of its line, the smart mix of contemporary and vintage, including the almost ironical telecaster control plate.

There are not so many guitar designs that manage so well to pay homage to their illustrious predecessors while being still really up-to-date, and propose an improvement within minimalism (contrarily to many guitars in the 1980s that were in a similar trend but mostly failed, IMHO). They even created their own F-hole (tell me if I'm wrong there!)


© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Monday 26 March 2012

A rather generic Kent-branded dreadnaught acoustic guitar customised into an 8-string
I've spent the best part of today converting this unsuspecting acoustic guitar into an 8-string. It's a (possibly 1980s/1990s) Kent-branded acoustic that I bought very cheaply off eBay recently because I wanted a back-up guitar for my main acoustic guitar. However, for one of the songs we are doing at the guitar club I attend, I've been hankering after a 12-string sound. But as I don't currently have a 12-string acoustic (to to be honest I don't really get on with them too well as they can be hard work in a number of ways) and also because I have very limited finances, I decided to make use of bits and pieces that I already had and convert a 6-string into an 8-string. That's an 8-string with 6 courses - octaves accompanying the G and D strings. It's a compromise in some ways, but one which I think will work for what I want.

The Kent's tuners were really rather dreadful, so I swapped them out for a set coming off a donor acoustic I have lying around (on which the bridge has lifted, so I'm just using it for parts now and maybe a future project). From all the screw holes in the back of the Kent's headstock, it seems that someone has previously swapped out the tuners - I'm guessing in that instance they were taking nicer tuners off for another project and replacing with something really quite nasty and ineffective because the ones I had to remove were ghastly.

For the two additional tuners, I used a pair that originally came off a Washburn guitar I used to own. You may notice in the above photo what might at first seem like an odd placement of these tuners. My reasoning was to use the two different tuners for the two octave strings.

Anyway, I've strung it up, tuned it, and it's really quite effective with a sound that's not quite as rich as a fully-fledged 12-string guitar, but which comes close - and that's just from adding octave strings to the G and D.

Hopefully it should be less trouble than a 12-string. Easier to re-string, easier to tune, and what's more it doesn't have that annoying wide fingerboard that many 12ers have. I'm aware that it looks a bit "Heath Robinson" perhaps, but I don't care too much about the aesthetics in this instance. It's the sound that I was after.

This conversion cost me nothing. I used a guitar, parts, strings and tools that I already had.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Thomas shows us his Fender Precision twin humbucker "TomBass"
Bonjour M. Wilson;

I'm a long time reader of your blog ... Thanks a lot for this daily "Guitarz minute"!! Here is my bass (and its story):

It started as a US Fender PBass of 1989 bougth in 2000 with Seymour Duncan active pickups (PJ configuration) and with a 22 frets neck.

Over the year, the neck started to bend and "twist" up to the point it was unplayable. So I decided to customize it - or to be honest (and wise) to ask a luthier to customize it, M. Leray in Nantes, France - and here is the result:
  • neck has been changed for a Mexican Fender PBass "road worn" 50s 2011 with 20 frets
  • 2 pickups Rio Grande Pitbull Humbucking (nickel cover) with selector and Push/Pull tone pots
  • Bad Ass II bridge
The design is very much inspired from a 2009 Fender Telecaster Bass from the Custom Shop.
Unfortunately, I don't have any record to send you, but trust me, it sounds great!

Musically yours

PS: note the "Competition stripes" (which appear on some Mustang Bass) has been replaced by a "Cool Stripe" (better karma)

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Sunday 25 March 2012

Pedal time 2! Dallas-Arbiter Trem Face

While we're on a pedal trip, I'd like to add my own Dallas Arbiter pedal into the mix. Mine is the Trem Face, which I bought at a car boot sale in the early 90's. For a long time, it was pretty obscure and became almost mythical until someone found a couple of boxes of about 40 NOS examples in a warehouse and put them on the market. It's estimated there were about 100-200 made altogether, so that still makes it fairly rare. I've seen these go for a thousand dollars a few years ago to less than three hundred a year or so back on Ebay but then there was someone asking $1795 (plus shipping) in 2010 on The Gear Page.

The sound is quite nice and has a wide range and like many old pedals, the quality of the sound depends to some extent on the freshness of the battery. As the battery runs down it does start to break up a bit. Having said that, the battery does last a pretty long time.

There are a few sites showing how to make your own and as, like the Fuzz Face, it's a simple circuit, it should be fairly simple - if you can find the right Germanium transistors...

One of those sites, Geofex, has diagrams and some interesting thoughts on the construction of improved versions.

On a side note, mine stopped working a while after I bought it so I took into the old Vox shop in Charing Cross Road (Macari's) and asked them to repair it. I had an old Colorsound pedal (which also didn't work) and I offered that in a straight exchange for fixing the Trem Face. When I pulled it out of my bag, the shop guy called the other guys over. They had never seen one before and as they were the ones who'd re-issued the Colorsound range, they ought to know something about them. Anyway, they agreed and I got it fixed. It has always been in the back of my mind just what that pedal was but I never saw it re-issued so it probably was just an experiment that never caught on and was dropped. The only thing I can remember about it now was that it was brown, more modern looking that the other pedals in the range and had an "IC circuit". Hmmm.

David in Barcelona - inexplicably absent for the past few months but, hopefully with more time now.

  © 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Pedal time! Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face

Everybody is much probably familiar enough with the Fuzz Face so I don't have to recall that it's one of the earliest effect pedals, released by Ivor Arbiter in 1966, that the round case was inspired by the base of a microphone stand, that it somehow looks like a smiling bearded face (imagine the effect on musicians on LSD back in the days), that it comprises no more than 11 electronic components - including germanium transistors (normally when they read germanium, old school guitarists get short-breathed) and contributed to the sound of Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend and David Gilmour... 

OK, one thing I might be able to tell that you don't know: if someone loves this pedal so much that he couldn't live any longer without a 1969 one, it would just cost US $1 795,00... (Personally, I use a 95 € Boss FZ5 modeled fuzz that in these times of vintage, analog and boutique pedals praise, nobody cares to display on their pearlboards, and I think that it sounds terrific, but who am I to say?)   


© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Saturday 24 March 2012

Hofner 4577 thinline

This Hofner 4577 - the thinline version of the 477 hollow-body model, introduced in 1967 - has at least two features that make it much desirable: a florentine cutaway and a Hofner tremelo, both things that I love on a semi-hollow.

Add to this the Hofner 512 pickups - you should start to be familiar with these by now - and a dangerous looking scratchplate, and you have again a very cool vintage German jazz guitar...


© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Friday 23 March 2012

1950s Hopf Special

3 years ago I posted on Guitarz about the Hopf Special, but with a very small picture, and I've been frustrated about it since! Happily I finally found much better photos of this indeed special hollow-body guitar from the 1950s (with a different pickguard though - there were different models).

Eveything is slightly twisted in this guitar, the outline is almost the one of a  renaissance guitar, the stoptail looks like it's been cut by Matisse, the F-holes are dolphin shaped, the headstock and the pickguard look like a guan dao blade - the result is very cool, and the craftsmanship enhances it: double binding, ebony fretboard, nacre inlays!  


© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Thursday 22 March 2012

El Daga one-of-a-kind "art guitar" looks surprisingly familiar...
This oddly-shaped and very brightly coloured "one-of-a-kind El Daga art guitar" does indeed look very familiar. Never mind the very peculiar outline defining the shape of the body, the reflective (vinyl?) affixed to the surfaces or the metallic plastic trim used as binding, the real give-away is the sweeping wave-shaped pickguard.

Could it be that the El Dega is really a re-modelled and tarted-up 1960s Japanese Zenon guitar? Popularly believed to have been made by Teisco, this model appeared under various brand names.

I think I prefer the non-carved up version.

El Daga Art Guitar: Buy It Now for $1,295.

1960s Japanese Zenon guitar: currently being auctioned on eBay with bidding at $48 at the time of writing and just over a day left.

Thanks to Vince Gotera who spotted these items on eBay. Also, many thanks to Bertram who has been ensuring that we have a daily blog post here on Guitarz whilst I've been in my sickbed since last weekend.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Tinariwen play guitars

A few months ago, a reader mentioned Tinariwen, wondering why a Malian band was performing on an American TV evening show - the answer being of course "because they're good". And that is good news, it means that musical quality can sometimes be a criteria to be on a music TV show, and it even allows to grab a Grammy Award (whatever it is) once in a while. 

Anyway, I like what they do with guitars! You cannot ignore that the blues scale comes from Mali and was directly transposed from the kora to the guitar - koras were not accepted onboard slave ships it seems... But it comes from southern Mali, in the north people are tuaregs and play assouf - that means blues -, and some are successfully touring around the world for a decade with this music... 


© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Voss jazz guitar

What a poor guitar blogger I am, today again I cannot say much about this Voss jazz guitar, but a rough description. First of all, I never heard about the Voss brand so far, even after a few years spent glorifying German schlaggitarren, and a quick Google search gives just a few contradictory inputs, from rebranded cheap plywood models to high end West-German luthier...

So let's see what we have here: a hollow-body guitar without all the sophisticated details you usually find on German jazz guitars (original design, German carve, etc...), electronics all connected in one block comprising the pickup, the pickguard and a control plate supporting the knobs, inserted between the neck (very German style with a few missing frets) and the bridge. That could be a cheap way to turn an acoustic archtop into an electric one, like Egmond used to do, but that is also how some very sophisticated jazz guitars used to be, when electric was still on the verge of being vulgar and had to be just amplification....

The wood doesn't look so amazing, but the gear is quite well designed, the system is unique and smart, so I have a positive feel about this guitar, but I'd be interested in having other point of views...


EDIT: again, Guitarz having brilliant readers, there is key information to be found in the comments.

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Monday 19 March 2012

Duesenberg Dragster single cutaway

I don't have to tell again my admiration for Duesenberg guitars, so I 'll skip this part! So here is the Duesenberg Dragster, a simple beauty in two tones sunburst finish, with a wrap-around bridge and a single P90 in bridge position - this P90 is the Dusenberg Domino model and is adjustable to get three different sounds.

It has the typical art deco gear - knobs and scratch plate, fitting with the sexy retro-futurist D logo. The Dragster has a mahogany body and a set neck - and a 65 cm scale (25,59 inch) so it can be easily down-tuned. Dunno about you but this guitar makes me shiver...


© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Sunday 18 March 2012

Lefty Gibson custom SG Elliot Easton

Elliot Easton plays lead guitars in The Cars and happens to be left-handed, that gives me the opportunity to present a lefty guitar - something we can never do enough. So here is his signature Gibson SG about which I have nothing special to say - I can just point at the Maestro tremolo and its long engraved tail piece. 

I was wondering why the typically Gibson pale blue finish - their response to Fender's 'Lake Placid Blue' - is called 'Pelham Blue' and I found out that it's based on a Cadillac finish from the 1960s - but now I don't know why Cadillac called their blue 'Pelham'...


© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Saturday 17 March 2012

1970s Lew Chase with piezo pickups

I found only two entries about Lew Chase guitars on Google and they are divergent - one states that Lew Chase was a luthier who worked for Peavey and Azumi in the 1970s, the other that it's a UK importer that rebranded Azumi guitars before designing its own models.

Both could be true, but this guitar is far too special for a mere rebranding so there must be a failed visionary behind it. This late 1970s Lew Chase has  piezoelectric pickups - one for each strings, and each having its own sliding volume behind the bridge, in addition to the general volume knob.

Its design is similar to the Azumi Nanyo we saw a few months ago - Azumi is slightly less obscure that Lew Chase - and the guitar is made in Japan. Anybody with extra information is welcome of course!

EDIT: check the comments for extra information!


© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Friday 16 March 2012

Vintage & Rare guitar of the week: Wandre Rockbasso - 1960s Italian sculptural minimalism
This vintage Italian Wandre Rockbasso is a perfect example of a guitar that is both sculptural and minimalistic.

It's a short-scale bass with a single pickup at the neck and a single volume control behind the tailpiece at the base of the instrument. This particular Wandre model allows you to see how the backbone of Wandre's steel neck passes straight through the body of the instrument all the way down to the tail-end. I'm guessing that in this instance it is also carrying the wiring from the pickup.

Someone has rather inexpertly removed the frets, which unfortunately may devalue the instrument slightly. I say "inexpertly" because no effort has been made to fill in the empty fret slots and refinish the fingerboard. It all seems such a waste of effort, because to get the best advantage of the fretless sound, a shortscale bass with a single pickup mounted at the neck does not present the best candidate for conversion. It also contributes to rather spoil this classic vintage bass. On the plus side, because the fret slots haven't been filled in and lacquered over, it should make refretting a much easier task if someone decides to restore this bass.

This bass is currently being offered for sale by Palm Guitars in The Netherlands via Vintage & Rare, price available on application.

If you thought you'd seen something similar previously on Guitarz, we looked at the 6-string guitar version, the Wandre Rock 6, back in May 2008.

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Rickenbacker 260 El Dorado

I usually avoid to label a guitar as being rare, since it is usually just a cliché intending to add value to a banal instrument - and often it is its only virtue. In the case of this Rickenbacker 260 El Dorado, it might well be true, and it's just a detail because it's above all a Ricky and you can't be disappointed... But you won't find this guitar on, it's a short-lived model from the early 1990s and there are not many traces of it left on the Internet, just a few positive reviews here and there...

At first sight, though its quite discreet design, the El Dorado looks bizarre: it has a typical Rickenbacker feel but looks like no other of their more famous models, more like a double cutaway version of a telecaster, if I may say so (another Fender-esque trait is its bolted neck). Its pickups looks like nothing else - they are actually mini humbuckers, very Ricky as are the headstock, the pickguard (more a control plate) and the binding. This one has a fireglo (red burst) finish and golden gear.

The 260 El Dorado doesn't have the presence of a 620 or a 330 but it has the lines of a classic. I'd be curious to know what made people at Rickenbacker release it then cancel it so quick - I'm not against experimentation, on the contrary, but creating a new model is quite a lot of work and investment, it feels like a bad business move...


© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Thursday 15 March 2012

Double Dragon guitar offers impractical body design and very silly headstock shape
A few years ago we here at Guitarz were accused of only ever showing hideous or amusing guitars on the blog rather than beautiful or desireable guitars. I do believe that we have reversed that situation in the intervening years, but I am still drawn to the occasional abomination that I would like to share, such as the Double Dragon guitar pictured here which is currently being offered for sale on eBay with a starting price of $275.

I suspect it may be from the same Far Eastern maker that produced the Squashed Frog (supposedly another "double dragon") and whatever this is supposed to be. My guess is that these guitars are inspired by some of ESP's wilder Japanese guitar designs (you know, the ones featuring angels with intricately feathered wings), but I doubt these are of similar quality. What is similar is the totally impractical design, and what must surely be the worst headstock design I've seen since the Kramer Triax. Did they not know that a straight string pull is desireable?

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Wednesday 14 March 2012

1960s Japanese Mosrite-inspired semi-hollowbody
What with the popularity of The Ventures in 1960s Japan and the whole "Group Sounds" phenomenon, it was inevitable somehow that the one of the most emulated guitar brands was Mosrite. Note how this particular 1960s Japanese-made Mosrite-inspired guitar even has the "M" headstock. It is lacking a name badge or logo, and I guess could have appeared under one of many brand names.

One feature I thought was particularly interesting is the volume and tone controls mounted discretely beneath the pickguard's edge - surely a throwback to how electrics were originally mounted on archtop jazz guitars.

The guitar is "untested" and as such is being sold for parts or repair. It's currently listed on eBay with bidding at $188 at the time of writing.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Gibson Explorer Shadow Bass from 1986 - but where are the pickups?
Graphics like these appeared on a number of mid-1980s Gibson Explorer guitars and basses, but more unusually this 1986 Gibson Explorer Shadow Bass appears to have no pickups. Of course, it does have pickups but not of the magnetic variety that you'd usually expect to find on a solidbody instrument; the bass features piezo elements in the bridge saddles courtesy of Shadow pickups. This specific model bass was produced in very small numbers, and were apparently only in production for one year.

This bass is currently listed on eBay UK with a Buy It Now price of £1,075 (approx $1,690 USD at the time of writing).

Another example is listed by an American seller on Vintage & Rare and priced at $2,500.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Here comes Noddy... (No, not Noddy Holder from Slade... the other one...)
I feel it would be rather mean of me to make any disparaging comments about this nylon-strung acoustic guitar decorated with what appears to be wrapping paper featuring Enid Blyton's "Noddy" character (a citizen of Toy Town, his neck was made from a spring which meant that his head was always nodding, hence his name). It brought a smile to my face, and kids will probably love it, so that's good enough for me.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Monday 12 March 2012

Andreas by Infeld stratoid guitar

We recently saw the radical Andreas Fierce Shark, here is a more tamed model by Andreas (in collaboration with Austrian guitar strings company Thomastik-Infeld), still with the typical mix of elegance and high-tech design, soft coat finish and brushed aluminium plates, but a more classic stratocaster pickups configuration.

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Sunday 11 March 2012

Vintage & Rare guitar of the week: Pagelli Splash Bass
I don't know how many bassists could get away with playing a bass like this Pagelli Splash Bass because it makes a very visual statement. Maybe someone like Adam Clayton of U2 or Gerry Casale of Devo (although as a left-hander he would have to play it upside-down, which might actually look more correct with this design!).

Pagelli guitars and basses are designed and hand-built by Claudio Pegelli in Switzerland. Pagelli designs are certainly fresh and interesting compared with the mainstream. This Splash Bass is a perfect example of a fully functional bass guitar that is also sculpturally exciting as an art work. Pagelli describes it very succintly:
Simply funky! Body alder, neck maple, pick-ups by Harry Häussel / covers and tunerknobs by Pagelli.
This bass is available from Pagelli via Vintage and Rare, price on application.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Saturday 10 March 2012

Oddball Italian acoustic is not quite what you'd want on your spaghetti western soundtrack
The eBay seller of this guitar has listed it under the title Vintage Italian Acoustic Guitar Rare and Cool Spaghetti Western Guitar, which must surely be rather wishful thinking. I can't imagine this guitar being much use on an Ennio Morricone soundtrack. It's obviously one of the cheaper guitars churned out of Italy during the 1960s Beat Boom when the musical instrument makers of Europe couldn't produce guitars fast enough to satisfy demand. However, it is not without its charms and has a certain innocence to it. Witness the plastic bridge and sound hole rosette, and the assymetrically mounted tuners. The two additional soundholes couldn't accurately be described as being f-holes, and serve to make the guitar all the more curious.

Currently listed on eBay with a possibly optimistic starting bid of $240.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Friday 9 March 2012

Can anyone identify this double Florentine cutaway semi-hollowbody bass?
Rui writes:
I would like to know something about this bass. I bought it in the internet. I suppose that is from 60s or early 70s. Good warm sound and lightweight. Did not have a brand but a serial number behind the awful painting. Thanks in advance.

Rui from Portugal
I'm afraid it's not one that I recognize. Does anyone out there have any ideas?

G L Wilson

Edit: It's an Egmond Colorado! (See comments).

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Review of UK Guitar Show 2012 - great to see Britain's luthiers out in force! Please note that the photographs in this blog post are the property of Gavin Wilson and Luke Boardman - please ask permission before copying and - when using elsewhere on the internet - please link back to this blog post. Thank you!
The UK Guitar Show was held in Birmingham over the weekend of 25-26 February 2012. Whilst not quite as big as other similar events (e.g. the London International Music Show which I last attended in 2009), what was firmly impressed upon me was the number of UK-based luthiers in attendance.

Based in Carmarthenshire, Wales, Jaden Rose Guitars are closest to me geographically, so I'm going to start with them.

Jaden Rose, the man behind the eponymous brand, personally builds each of these beautiful no-nonsense guitars from exotic timbers, usually equipped with his favourite DiMarzio pickups and with natural finishes which not only show off the beauty of the timbers, but also makes sense sonically; Jaden told me he'd experimented with different finishing methods and that he could hear the detrimental effect that paint had on a guitar's tone. Despite this, Jaden will occasionally produce a guitar with a more outlandish finish, if that is what the customer wants, such as this "swirl"-finish guitar, pictured below.

Style-wise, they look as if they could be a shredder's dream. The Rolls Royce of Shredders, perhaps? 7-string and multi-scale models are also available.

JJ Custom Works from JJ Guitars (as pictured above) are certainly very eye-catching instruments, exquisitely crafted and finished and featuring gorgeous flamed and quilted tops. I got my paws on a couple of them and can confirm they feel great and are comfortable players too.

Models include the Retrolux (1st and 2nd as pictured above), the singlecut Electra (3rd and 5th in line) above) and the Jewel. All have a 25" scale length and coil tap facility or tone contour EQ for increased palette of sounds controlled via a push-pull tone control.

A JJ Guitars innovation is the 6-way switch controlling a pair of humbuckers, and allowing for a huge array of tonal possibilities. As well as the normal three positions that you would expect, this system also offers the outer coils from each humbucker being used in parallel, inner coils in parallel, or inner coils in series.

To my mind they out-PRS Paul Reed Smith guitars. AND they are made in the UK.

Flame Guitars (pictured above) are built by David Kennett in Sutton on the outskirts of London. David has been building guitars for over 20 years, and has designed his F1-F5 series of guitars to offer something a little different from the "same old same old" designs we see trotted out time and again elsewhere. Whilst he has his basic models, he still offers a fully customisable service, allowing the customer their own choice of timbers, pickups, hardware, etc.

Flame Guitars are fitted with Earvana nuts for correct intonation all the way up the neck, and pickups direct mounted to the guitar's body with maximum tone transfer. Each is finished with a water-based lacquer, which allows the beauty of the chosen timbers to shine through.

One particularly interesting area of construction is the way in which the neck is mounted onto the body: the neck is mounted via a tenon as used on set-neck guitar, but is actually bolted from behind and also from inside the body from the neck pickup cavity. This is what David calls a "bolt-in" neck; he told me that he had experimented with traditional bolt-on and glued-in necks, but that his bolt-in system was the one that he found worked the best, and also allows the neck to be detached for servicing the instrument.

Vanquish Guitars are another British-made brand that look like they could give PRS more than a run for their money. Once again we see exotic tonewoods and gorgeous natural hand-rubbed oil and wax finishes, and not a Fender or Gibson clone in sight. Whilst all the elements are customisable, Vanquish Guitars are fitted with a custom-made VQ range of (British-made) Bare Knuckle pickups as standard.

Vanquish Guitars also feature a "patent applied for" unique designed neck join for increased wood to wood contact, Buzz Feiten tuning, and have Musitrac microchips installed as standard for peace of mind in case of theft.

Sabre Guitars (pictured above) of Newmarket in Suffolk also had some tasty-looking guitars on display with some quite stunning inlay work and finishes very much in evidence.

For those wanting something, more traditional (shall we say?), but still wanting to support British luthiers, Beryl Guitars make some very fine, high quality, versions of certain American designs (pictured above).

John Birch Guitars are still going strong, although alas some of their wilder designs such as the now legendary Superyob guitar were conspicuous by their absence. John Birch himself actually died back in 2000, leaving the business to luthier John Carling who had been working alongside Birch when the company was re-launched in 1993.

Another well-established UK guitar maker, Patrick Eggle were also present, although this display (above) looked near identical to one I saw three years ago.

The UK-made guitars we've been looking at so far are high quality boutique instruments, costing thousands of pounds. At the other end of the price scale but also made in the UK we have the wonderful products of Chickenbone John, including cigar box guitars and diddley bows.

Chickenbone John himself was on-hand to demonstrate these unique instruments.

He also stocked a few CBGs from other makers.

UK's finest, Overwater Basses (pictured above and below).

Overwater's head guru, Chris May, explained to me that as well as their standard and mid-price ranges, they have just launched the Overwater by Tanglewood series of basses, which brings the high standard set by Overwater's boutique instruments to the masses in the shape of off-the-peg basses built to Overwater's specification by Tanglewood in the far east.

Stormshadow Guitarworks (above) are a small UK Custom Shop, based in Sheffield, offering custom-built guitars in the Charvel mould with comparable quality and prices to similar USA-made guitars.

John Hornby Skewes, a UK-based distributor, were also present with a stand which included the British-based Vintage brand of high quality but budget priced instruments.

Vintage brand guitars that caught my eye were theVintage Icon V6MRHDX (pictured above), the signature guitar of Thomas Blug and obviously inspired by Jimi Hendrix's "sacrificial" Monterey Pop Festival Strat (and arguably better looking than Fender's own re-issue of the same) and the Vintage Gordon Giltrap Signature Series VE2000GG-12 twelve-string (pictured below).

JHS also had on display Italia and Danelectro guitars, including the "new" Danelectro Wild Thing based on a 1960s prototype (above).

Also distributed by JHS are Trev Wilkinson's Fret King guitars, which are available in a Green Label and STVDIO (Made in the UK) series and also a more budget conscious Blue Label and Black Label (Made in the Far East) series. Designs obviously owe quite a lot to some of the American classics, but with Wilkinson's own innovations.

London's own Bass Centre were unveiling their new Bass Collection, which included the above bass which at first I thought was a tribute so certain Soviet-era Russian-made instruments, but is, it turns out, a Bill  Wyman tribute.

And why did I find this particular Bass Centre J-style bass so familiar?  Well, it's nicknamed the Blockhead, and is a copy of Norman Watt Roy's 1962 Fender Jazz Bass which I featured on this blog only last month. Note also the R***********-like bass standing next to it; I can't imagine a certain company will be too happy about that.

Bass Centre also had a few of their own P-basses on display (above). Surely the one in the middle must be a Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy tribute edition.

Speaking of tribute and signature guitars, BM Guitars were in attendance with a bunch of guitars based on Brian May's Red Special (above) including one emblazoned with the Queen logo (close-up below).

It's certainly an improvement on the one they produced with Brian's face on it a few years ago.

Although UK luthiers and UK brands took centre stage, it wasn't all UK-based gear. We also saw:

Fibernare Guitars of Hungary (above)...

Mayones Guitars and Basses, handmade in Poland (above)...

Ibanez (RGA8-BK eight-string pictured above)...

Vigier basses (and guitars) from France (above)...

PRS (above), who were definitely outclassed by various UK luthiers at the show...

...and Yamaha, who were displaying several of their new "souped-up" Pacificas (above). Seeing as the Pacifica is often thought to be an entry-level very basic guitar, I couldn't stop the expression "polishing a turd" coming to mind. They are nice enough looking guitars, but perhaps Yamaha should have slapped another name on them.

Finally at the Piccywood booth, we saw guitars that had been decorated using the art of pyrography (literally, "writing with fire") by artist Chris Martin.

For me, the great thing about the show was seeing so many UK guitar makers together under one roof - and they were only the tip of the iceberg - there are plenty of others who weren't in attendance. All in all it was a very entertaining day out, and I enjoyed meeting and chatting to the various luthiers and stallholders.

G L Wilson

© 2012, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!


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