Thursday 31 May 2012

Vintage & Rare Guitar of the Week: The Lanzi Telecarla from Argentina
Last month here on Guitarz we looked at a bass from Argentinian luthiers Lanzi Instruments, namely the Lanzi Mk1 Rick Bass which takes the famous Rickenbacker 4000 series bass design as a starting point and boldy updates it for the 21st Century.

Here we see a left-handed Lanzi Telecarla W. Herrera Signature model in gloss white, which takes Leo Fender's classic design for a certain 62 year old guitar and updates it in the same way that the Rickenbacker design was updated for the MK1 Rick Bass.

This guitar is currently available for sale via Vintage and Rare - please enquire for a price. And if anyone knows who W. Herrera is, please enlighten the rest of us!

G L Wilson

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

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Weird plexi-bodied guitar with 1970s Gibson SG neck
This guitar is a real oddity. You cant but help noticing the distinctive Gibson logo on the headstock, but the body is totally unlike anything that Gibson ever built - plus of course it's been fashioned out of clear acyclic. Of course, it's not a Gibson at all, well other than the neck, that is, which was taken from a 1970s Gibson SG. It does beg the question of what happened to the original SG, but looking closer at the back of the neck you'll notice that the headstock has suffered a break in the past so it might be a safe assumption to say that the original guitar suffered some considerable damage - perhaps through some ghastly accident or possibly at the hands of a Pete Townshend wannabe.

Although I've got a bit of a "thing" for acrylic bodied guitars, I can't decide whether or not I like this one. The body design is rather mis-shapen; in fact it reminds me of a melting ice sculpture, but maybe that was the intention. Part of me thinks it should have been made to look more Gibson-like in keeping with the provenance of the neck, but another part of me applauds the maker for doing something different with the design.

This guitar is currently listed on eBay with just over a day left before the end of the auction, currently has no bids and a starting price of $499.

G L Wilson

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

Tuesday 29 May 2012

A German take on the Coronado

This Fender Coronado vintage copy doesn't sport the name of the German company that released it probably in the 1970s, and though these special pickguard and headstock shapes look familiar, right now I can't figure the brand - can anybody help?

I love the very Americana-style red/cream gradient paint job and the checked binding, it recalls the fascination German had for American Wild West and the Yougoslavia co-produced proto-spaghetti western series with legendary Winnetou...

Bertram D

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

Monday 28 May 2012

Fender Classical Stratocaster - nylon strung Strat from Japan
Here's another apparently "pickup-less" solidbody, this time it's a Fender Stratocaster Classical from Fender Japan. It's equipped with piezo pickups in the bridge saddles and is strung with nylon strings. I'm really curious to know what those nylon strings sound like with the Strat tremolo. It's not something that classical guitar usually calls for, although I doubt this would be used for playing classical guitar upon anyway. It's more an instrument for the rock guitarist who's after the nylon strung sound for certain particular songs.

The seller thinks this may be a one-off or a prototype, although I think this is doubtful. It's most likely a Fender Japan model that was not made for export outside of Japan.

G L Wilson

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

Sunday 27 May 2012

Rickenbacker 620 in JetGlo (black) finish

"Là tout n'est que luxe, calme et volupté..."

Yes, on Guitarz, we also quote Charles Baudelaire, but nothing is too good for a Rickenbacker 620...

I know, I've shown a few 620s already here and this one has nothing special but its JetGlo finish that, combined with white binding and pickguards and chrome gear, emphasizes its perfect outline - but my fascination for this guitar doesn't wane a bit!

Bertram D

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

Saturday 26 May 2012

Can you identify the mystery doubleneck guitar / (very) short-scale bass?
Guitarz reader Jeff brought this mystery doubleneck to my attention. It's currently being offered for sale on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $649, although the seller is completely in the dark as to what this guitar/bass combo actually is. Apparently the pickups are made by Framus so it would be a perfectly reasonable piece of guesswork that the whole guitar might be made by Framus, but the seller claims to have checked with Framus who have responded that it's not one of theirs. Jeff suggested to me that it has the looks of a Carvin to it, and I reckon he might be onto something there.

Can any of you guys identify it more conclusively?

G L Wilson

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

Friday 25 May 2012

Vintage & Rare Guitar of the Week: Tao Phaeton futuristic hollow jazz guitar
It's a swelteringly hot day here in Wales, and I don't feel much like making a meal over anything right now, so I'm going to be really lazy and copy and paste the details of this guitar straight from Belgian luthier Tao Guitar's page on Vintage & Rare:
This project started out as a cure for a friend & customer who was diagnosed with a very acute form of the G.A.S. (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome). We offered to make him a unique masterpiece that would both calm his illness and at the same time bring us the opportunity to build our dream guitar with a "carte blanche". The whole idea was to build a hollow jazz guitar that could handle high volume feedback in a more compact rounded ergonomic body with a solid body style sustain...

ORVILLE GIBSON’S "STYLE 03" GUITAR BEING ONE OF OUR FAVE GUITAR DESIGNS with its anthropomorphic visual and its experimental crafting method made it the most exotic vintage guitar in our eyes – some kind of mythical piece of craft, a milestone in Guitar History. This gave us the guiding conceptual direction for our "Phaeton".

As explained by Lewis Williams in the first 1903 catalog "front and back made in swelled shape by being carved, leaving the layer grain of the wood in the same position as in its natural growth, thus insuring strength, free vibration, and unusual sympathetic resonance" or "special relatedness and agreements of parts”.

In all its forms, car styling aesthetics are obvious here, from the two tone color scheme to the sound – holes bearing air intake visual reference, the whole thing breathing our love for the golden years of American Car Design.

The "Phaeton" name has always been synonymous with class and luxury in the automobile history.
(Weird capitalization seller's own).

If you're interested in owning your own Tao Phaeton,  contact the seller via Vintage & Rare.

G L Wilson

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

Thursday 24 May 2012

One-off Rickenbacker 481/12 Walnut twelve-string electric  

AS far as I was aware Rickenbacker do not offer one-off or custom shop versions of their guitars and basses, but here we have a factory one-off Rickenbacker 481/12 in a stunning walnut finish, made in August 2011. I guess it's some kind of prototype or experimental model. It has a "bass shape" 4002 body married to a 660/12 neck with unfinished maple fingerboard, and is currently listed on eBay UK with a Buy It Now price of £3,995.

G L Wilson

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

Wednesday 23 May 2012

What's that guitar? New Sound budget electric guitar
Jimi writes:

My name is Jimi Cullen. I am a musician from Ireland. I have been following your blog now for some time and absolutely love it. It's really great for building ideas as well as identifying unusual guitars. I have spent many hours looking through all the great stuff. Thank you. The other day I picked up a guitar that I have been unable to identify and cannot find on the blog. I was wondering if you knew anything about it.

The name on the headstock is New Sound but I'm not sure this is the original neck as there is a small gap at either side of the neck pocket so it may be a replacement. It's the body that I'm really interested in. Have you come across one before? Of course I may be mistaken about the neck and it may belong to the body.

I have attached some photos. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and keep up the great work


Hi Jimi, I think we can safely say that your New Sound would have been a "budget" guitar back in the day. The single pickup is very similar to that appearing on the cheaper Teisco and Kay guitars. I'd wager also that the neck was original - they were rarely a snug fit in the neck pocket on these cheaper guitars. I'm not really able to say much more about it (because I simply don't know) but let's throw the question open to the Guitarz readership?

G L Wilson

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

Tuesday 22 May 2012

one-off bat (or dinosaur) small guitar

Handmade, kid size, bat (or dinosaur) themed, carved, with nondescript color, this guitar had everything to be a sorry failure... But this strange little guitar by German luthier Wölfinger is actually quite cool, both original and well balanced, with a combination of curves, color and wood texture surprisingly agreeable... 

I don't know who would play such an instrument but I'm sure that it could ravish some young guitarist - you could learn to play on much worse!

Bertram D

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

Monday 21 May 2012

Eko Florentine 360

Have you seen anything as attractive as this Eko Florentine 360? A double florentine cutaway is always beautiful, it's a plus if it's on an archtop, but when the two horns have these Bison-esque curve, I just can't resist! Add to this the fancy double pickguard and big square white switches and you wonder why you weren't born 50 years before and in Italy, when it was ordinary for guitars to be so cool!  

Bertram D

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

Sunday 20 May 2012

Wandre of the month: the Polyphon

Another (not too) crazy Wandre guitar, the Polyphon has a design based on the Brigitte Bardot hollow-body model (lots of curves), an aluminium neck with 6 in-line tuners headstock and all the other unique Wandre gear - pickups, suspended bridge, tremelo... This one doesn't have big square switches like other Polyphons but more regular knobs, but there were always many variations in Wandre's series.

It also sports both the Davoli brand and the Krundaal K-logo - Davoli Krundaal was the amplifier brand of Athos Davoli who made the electronics and pickups of Wandre's guitars, it was used also for  the Bikini guitars with embedded amps, then it turned into the Davoli guitar brand, so it probably tells that it's an early model from an undecided time... An ultimate internet database on Wandre guitars is still missing! 

Bertram D

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

Saturday 19 May 2012

Vintage & Rare Guitar of the Week: 1969 Kustom K200
What a beauty we've got for you in this week's Vintage & Rare selection! It's a Kustom K200. Kustom, based in Chanute, Kansas, were of course known mainly for their amps - and in particular you may remember that they had a nice line of solid-state amps and speaker cabs covered in Tuck-And-Roll naugahyde in a choice of various glittery finishes - but like many other amplifier manufacturers it was almost inevitable that at some stage they'd want to test the market with their own line of electric guitars. The Kustom K200 is an example of the guitars bearing the Kustom brandname, which were only made between 1968 and 1969 so I guess they weren't a commercial success (and thank goodness they didn't cover the guitars in naugahyde!). But what a gorgeous guitar it is, with possibly more than a nod to Rickenbacker in its design. Apparently these guitars were not re-branded instruments from another manufacturer like the Ampeg/Burns of London guitar we looked at recently; the K200 was an original design instigated by Kustom owner Bud Ross with input from country guitar legend Roy Clark.

The guitar is a semi hollow and uses a similar construction technique to that of Fender's rosewood Telecaster and (I believe) Thinline Telecaster in that the front and back are formed from separate pieces that have been hollowed out and then glued together. Other features are a pair of DeArmond humbuckers, a Bigsby vibrato, and more fingerboard position markers than you could ever need!

This guitar is currently being sold via Vintage & Rare, priced at $1,699.

G L Wilson

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

Friday 18 May 2012

1978 BC Rich 10-string Bich

One of my favorite guitars ever is the 10-string Bich by BC Rich, with double four higher strings for rich harmonic sound and single lower ones for heavy riffs... Designed by Neal Moser in 1977, it's part of the early BC Rich models that were so cool and so good at proposing alternative designs after the 1960s creative boom waned and had left rock musicians with 4 or 5 dominant guitar designs... Moser also created its electronics - there are plenty of knobs and switches as you can see, to split, boost and phase the humbuckers, plus a varitone à la Gibson, for a wide range of sounds.

The guitar on the picture just sports 6 strings - that is a mystery to me, why downgrade such a brilliant guitar, but you know very well that rationality is often overlooked when it comes to the magic land of electric guitars... Anyway, I love how design and ergonomics collide to create a new form that becomes instantly just obvious: that is really the genius of 20th century, and 21st still has to prove that it has better to propose to mankind (iPad is definitely not enough!)

Bertram D

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

Thursday 17 May 2012

Late 1980s Washburn SBT-21 piezo-powered Tele

This Washburn SBT-21 is a Tele-style guitar with a pointy 1980s-style headstock and looks like it is a relation to the Washburn Tour 24 Tele.

At first glance it would appear to be an electric guitar with no pickups, but the acoustic style bridge is a dead giveaway as to its true function - of course it has piezo pickups under the bridge saddle.

I guess this was designed for (hair) metal bands who just couldn't bring themselves to use a proper acoustic guitar for live shows (which wouldn't look "metal" enough, or some such nonsense).

These days a guitar such as this is more of a curiosity than a practical versatile guitar. As a "solidbody acoustic", it's neither one thing or the other. Electric players will want a guitar with magnetic pickups, whilst those wanting an acoustic sound would be better served with a genuine acoustic or - if they must - electro-acoustic guitar. Now, if this guitar had magnetic pickups in addition to the piezos, then it could be a truly useful hybrid instrument. Having said that, the pickup-less solidbody look is quite cool, and thank goodness Washburn didn't stick a faux soundhole on it and place slider volume and tone controls on the upper rim.

This guitar is currently listed on eBay UK with a starting price of £180 and a Buy It Now price of £300, which seems quite reasonable for a not too common 1980s-era Japanese made guitar. Alas, as explained already, it is an instrument of limited appeal; unless. that is, you are the occasional guitar strumming singer of a hair metal band wanting a guitar for those cheesy power ballads.

G L Wilson

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

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Sawn-off Squier Strat is John Mayall tribute
I guess that this sawn-off and relic-ed Squier Strat is one of those love it or hate it modifications. Compared with John Mayall's own modified Strats, the body surgery is actually quite conservative. This guitar is currently listed on eBay UK with a Buy It Now price of £295.

G L Wilson

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

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Ampeg (by Burns of London) Jazz Splitsound

Here's another familiar-looking guitar with an unfamiliar logo on it. This 1963 Ampeg guitar is a re-branded Burns of London Jazz Splitsound (although to be perfectly fair, the logo does say "Ampeg by Burns of London").

Ampeg, known mainly for their amplification, have made various attempts over the years to market their own brand guitars and basses; this guitar is from their first attempt in 1963 when they imported British-made Burns Splitsound, Nu-Sonic, Split Sonic and TR_2 guitars complete with their own branding. We don't have records of how many such instruments were involved, but the Ampeg/Burns union only lasted a year in which time the guitars didn't sell particularly well. The eBay seller tells us that the transparent red finish on this example makes this guitar even rarer as most Ampeg/Burns guitars were finished in tobacco burst.

Currently listed on eBay UK with a starting price of £1,050.

G L Wilson

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

Monday 14 May 2012

Dwight-branded Valco/Supro guitar from 1960
Valco was a manufacturer of guitars and amplifiers from the 1940s through to 1968. Originally formed in 1930 by the former owners of the National Dobro Company, the name "Valco" comes from the initials of given names of the three business partners - Victor Smith, Al Frost, and Louis Dopyera - plus Co. for company. Valco guitars were sold under various brandnames depending on which retailer they were being sold through, and these names most famously include Supro, National, and Airline.

A lesser-known brandname was Dwight, with a small quantity of guitars being built for Sonny Shields Music stores - owned by a certain Mr. Charles "Dwight" Shield, hence the brandname. Apparently only 18 such examples exist as manufactured by Valco, although Epiphone were also known to have produced a limited number of guitars with the Dwight brandname.

The above pictured Valco/Dwight guitar circa 1960 is currently listed on eBay; it is in fantastic condition for a vintage guitar of its age, which no doubt is reflected in the Buy It Now price of $2,499.

G L Wilson

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

Sunday 13 May 2012

Bass legend Donald "Duck" Dunn passes away in Tokyo, aged 70

Bass player and songwriter Donald "Duck" Dunn, a member of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame band Booker T and the MGs and the Blues Brothers band, has died in Tokyo. He was 70.

Dunn was in Tokyo for a series of shows. News of his death was posted on the Facebook site of his friend and fellow musician Steve Cropper, who was on the same tour. Cropper said Dunn died in his sleep.
(Read more...)

Here's a live clip of Booker T and the MGs playing their most famous hit, "Green Onions":

R.I.P. Mr Dunn.

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

Saturday 12 May 2012

1960s Japanese-made Conrad Violin Bass with f-holes and scroll headstock
I think I prefer the design of this 1960s Japanese Conrad Violin Bass over that of the Höfner which it is so obviously inspired by (which in turn was inspired by the Gibson EB-0, but because of it being Paul McCartney's bass of choice it's the Höfner design that the legions of copies all emulate). The scroll headstock and the f-holes in the hollow body make it much more violin-like. It's a short-scale bass with a scale length of 30", although this particular example is not 100% original having Eastwood P90 style pickups installed (probably better than the originals) and non-original rosewood volume and tone knobs. Hey, at least the mods are tasteful. That's the golden rule - if you MUST modify a vintage guitar, do it tastefully.

Currently listed on eBay with a very reasonable Buy It Now price of $350.

See here for a 12-string companion to this model.

G L Wilson

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

Friday 11 May 2012

Auerswald Instruments Viva - German design, luthiery and engineering a mere snip at $10,000
Here's a guitar from a maker which we are not used to seeing turning up on eBay with any kind of frequency. It's an Auerswald Instruments Viva, numbered 12 in a very limited series.

Auerswald guitars and basses are boutique instruments handcrafted in Germany by Jerry Auerswald, and used by the rich and famous, people like Prince, U2's Adam Clayton, and Chico Hablas ("Who?" you may ask. I've tried finding out more about him myself, for he played one of my favourite ever guitar solos on the song "Desire" by Yello - other than his work for Yello I know nothing about the man).

This particular Auerswald guitar looks positively normal alongside some of their other designs (see for yourself at Note the use of proprietary hardware rather than the same generic parts seen on, well, just about everything these days - and with a price tag when new of approx $40,000, I should think so too! However, you could snap up this particular example for a fraction of that price, as this guitar is currently listed on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $10,000.

G L Wilson

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

Thursday 10 May 2012

Vintage & Rare Guitar Of The Week: Girl Brand Opium Girl poppy festooned T-type guitar
This Girl Brand "Opium Girl" guitar is quite appropriate for this time of the year when the poppies have started blooming. (Incidentally, our poppies here in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales are yellow rather than the more usual red).

Girl Brand guitars are one-off works of art by luthier Chris Larsen of Arizona, and as such do not come up for sale very often in the usual guitar marketplaces, however this example from 2002 is being offered for sale by Jay Rosen Music in the USA via Vintage & Rare.

Although the Telecaster influence is obvious, the body is actually of a hollow construction, formed from an aluminium rim supporting top and back plates. These vary from one individual Girl Brand guitar to the next and can be made from materials as diverse as formica, rusted steel, plastic laminates, street signs. Some examples even feature windows in the top of the guitar allowing you to see objects placed inside the guitar body (depending on the "theme" of the particular guitar).

This particular example is priced at €2854 / $3695.

G L Wilson

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

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Danish instrumentalists Tremolo Beer Gut play Kraftwerk in a surf / spaghetti western style

Contradictory to my passion for the guitar, I am also a big fan of electronic music and in particular Kraftwerk. I've often said that my ideal band would be like Kraftwerk with guitars (perhaps something like Neu!, and come to think of it might also explain my fondness for Devo), so I take great delight in this version of "The Model" by Danish instrumental covers band Tremolo Beer Gut.

G L Wilson

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

Tuesday 8 May 2012

1980s Magnesium alloy Staccato guitar with "interchangeable" neck and fibreglass body
We've previously looked at a Staccato bass here on Guitarz and today we're taking a peek at this Staccato guitar, one of the lesser known 6-stringers that they made, which - compared with the bass - is a much more conservative almost Strat-like design too. It's one of just (approximately) 200 such instruments built between 1985 and 1987 by Pat Townshend in partnership with Chris Jagger (yes, the brother of a certain other Mr Jagger).

As well as the unusual choice of materials used (magnesium alloy for the so-called interchangeable neck - which actually encompassed the centre body section too - and fibreglass for the body), the main innovation behind the Staccato was the ability to swap and change necks. I can't see that in a performance this would be any more convenient than swapping a whole guitar, but there you go, at least this company was trying something different.

This Staccato guitar is currently listed on eBay UK with a starting price of £599.

G L Wilson

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

Monday 7 May 2012

Porl Thompson's one-off 8-string guitar

You might have heard that The Cure's former guitarist Porl Thompson currently auctions some of his instruments - including this strange 8-string hybrid bass/guitar. 

I cannot figure out what is the device under the strings - my first idea was some kind of adjustable buzzing thing turning it into a guitar sitar, but it seems much more complicated that the buzz bridge or saddles one can use for that purpose (as you can see here). 

The instrument has 6 guitar strings and 2 bass ones with a much longer scale - hence a fretboard divided in two parts with two different nuts - simple but effective (though much less elegant than fanned frets)  - and it makes sense - when I play bass I mostly use the 2 lower strings... It's quite an inspiring instrument in my opinion, anybody know anything about it and its features - and was it ever used with The Cure?

Edit: thanks to our Facebook page, this guitar has been identified as a Carter Custom Hybrid 8 - there are no detailed explanations about what they call the "Dampler Strikers" but the photos show a.o. that there is more room under the strings that it seems... More comments are welcome!

Bertram D

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

Sunday 6 May 2012

Unidentified German Guitar

It's old, it's small, it's German, it's cute, it's a guitar and it's for sale - that's all I know...

So what can we see there? First the strange though simple outline (all I like in guitar design) of its small-sized archtop body - combining a 'dreadnought' shape with a minimal cutaway. It has the typically German fretless upper fingerboard, cooly shaped sound-holes and scratch-plate, and an unidentified pickup in neck position...

Can anybody tell more about it?

Bertram D

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

Saturday 5 May 2012

Vintage Otwin X-7 western-style acoustic guitar
Here's an Otwin acoustic guitar which the seller on eBay dates somewhere between 1957 and 1963, telling us that:
It was manufactured by Otwin Guitars some time between 1957 and 1963, the only clue to the age of this guitar is X-7 which I am told refers to the model, X being the model and 7 being the serial number. The X series were produced in small numbers by a german luthier better known for his Archtop jazz Guitars... so this guitar has a 6 year window. The logo on the headstock is a simple screen print [...] so it is likely to be earlier rather than later.
We are also told that that guitar has a solid spruce top and maple laminated back and sides, whilst the fingerboard is maple which has been ebonised except for the block markers which have been left in natural maple.

I like that the guitar has a very hourglass shape, and in keeping with a manufacturer best known for archtop guitars rather than flat tops such as this, it has a floating bridge and strings anchored at a trapeze-type tailpiece.

As regular readers of Guitarz may have already suspected, Otwin was a brandname for guitars were actually manufactured by the Musima Company in East Germany.

This guitar is currently listed on eBay UK with a starting price of £75.

G L Wilson

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

Friday 4 May 2012

Teisco TG-64 - a classic Japanese solidbody guitar from 1965
Continuing on the Teisco theme, here is another of their guitars, the Teisco TG-64, which carries several of their best known design features: the striped metal pickgulards, the 4+2 headstock style, the pushbutton pickup selector keys, the offset block fingerboard inlays, and the proto-monkeygrip "handle" in the body. We have actually looked at one of these guitars before on this blog (not to mention the Bass VI version, the TB-64) but it's not often you see them come up for sale on eBay, and this is a particularly clean example and in a much nicer finish than boring old sunburst or even Teisco's rather grim grey-green which always reminds me of the decor in hospitals.

This guitar is currently listed on eBay UK with a very low starting price of just £30 - I hope someone out there snaps it up! Let us know if it's you.

G L Wilson

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

Thursday 3 May 2012

Vintage & Rare Guitar Of The Week: 1965 Teisco Model Z Lap Steel
This guitar - a Teisco Model Z lap steel from 1965 - is about as simple as they come: slab-bodied, single pickup, single volume control, but I find it absolutely fascinating. I've not seen one quite like this before but that grey-green colour is a typical Teisco finish.

Note how the plastic-bodied pickup is not only inlaid with green pearloid but also appears to be "scalloped" with channels for each of the strings. I also like the contours of the metal components: the tailpiece, panel carrying the volume control, and the little pickup bracket. Compare this with modern lap steels with use generic bridges and Strat-like single coil pickups.

Note also that the fingerboard appears to be inlaid with real frets which is unusual on a lap steel where the only function for frets (or fret-lines as on most examples of this type of instrument) is as visual markers.

I love the Teisco label on the reverse on the head complete with a mis-spelling on the word "guitar", and also the label from an accordion retailer where this lap steel was originally purchased.

The guitar even comes in its original hard case, and is available for sale via Vintage & Rare for a very reasonable €250.

G L Wilson

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

Wednesday 2 May 2012

"The Bum" - a rather cheeky electric guitar from UK luthier Pete Back
Do you really need me to say anything about the guitar pictured here? It's currently being offered for sale on eBay with a starting price of £599 - which is pretty decent for a quality luthier-built one-off guitar. As the seller suggests, it would suit a glam or Spinal Tap-type band (yeah yeah, we know "Big Bottom" ought to be played on a bass).

Check here for more of Pete Back's guitars.

G L Wilson

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

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Tanglewood Evolution TB Baby has teething problems ... any suggestions?

Please forgive what may look like a gratuitous photo of my cat, Elsa, but her appearance here does help to put the size of this Tanglewood Evolution TB Baby acoustic guitar into perspective. This is Tanglewood's answer to the Taylor Baby. With a scale length of approx 22 3/4", the TB Baby is intended as an acoustic travel guitar, but despite its small size it is a quality instrument as I hope these photos help illustrate.

I bought this particular Tanglewood Evolution TB Baby recently; it was brand new but I got it for about a third of the normal retail price. However - as is often said - "there's no such thing as a free lunch". In other words, there's a good reason why I got it so cheap. 

It has a cedar top, mahogany back and sides, and mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, attractive maple binding and an abalone soundhole rosette.

Check the detail on the heel of the neck (below), with the abalone Tanglewood "T" set in a heel-cap of maple.

Tanglewood guitars are a British company, and you'll notice they proudly display "United Kingdom" on the back of the headstock...

...and also on the label inside the guitar. Despite this open display of "British-ness" I can't help thinking that the guitar was probably made out in China or elsewhere in the Far East. Note it doesn't actually say "Made in..." anywhere, and the United Kingdom references may just be to the nationality of the company. But this wasn't what I really wanted to talk about...

It's actually a very sweet sounding guitar, with a very pleasing tone, quite unlike that of a full size dreadnought. Unfortunately, this guitar has issues. As I believe is often a problem with short-scale guitars such as this, the intonation is way out. At first I wondered if the bridge saddle had been inserted the wrong way around, but I have checked it and it seems fine. What I am not so sure about, however, is the fretting. I don't know what you think, but to me the distance between the nut and the first fret appears to be too large for the scale being used here. Take a look at the photo below and see what you think?

I have tried playing with a capo at the 1st, 2nd and 3rd fret positions and it does perform a little better - you can actually play so that the guitar manages to play in tune with itself. Even better, I found, is to tune the guitar up a semi-tone and then use a capo. However, this is far from ideal because it means that we're having to deal with an even shorter scale and are being forced into playing in keys we might not want to play in.

Anyway, the guitar is - supposedly - designed to play in standard tuning. If I was forced to keep in permanently in another key, just tuning it up a semi-tone seems hardly worthwhile. Tuning up to G would seem more useful, but when I tried tuning up to G, the tension on the strings was just too much. Different gauge strings might be an answer, but then again they may intone just as badly.

The way I see it I have three options:
  1. Try the guitar with different gauge strings and see if a different tuning helps. However I'm almost convinced that this option will not bear fruit because I very strongly suspect that the intonation problem stems from the incorrect distance from nut to first fret having been used (my experiments with the capo would seem to confirm this), but it has to remain a consideration.
  2. Try the guitar with nylon strings which are known to be much more forgiving when it comes to intonation. And - yes - you can get nylon strings with ball ends nowadays, but the nut slots would need widening.
  3. Get someone competent to install a (tall) zero fret or maybe some kind of compensating nut such as an Earvana (although I'd prefer not to pay Earvana prices).
So, it looks like it's a case of either spend money on a bunch of different kinds of strings to see what works, or else spend money with a luthier or guitar repairer.

Does anyone have any further suggestions? Or maybe you have had intonation problems with a guitar like this? Please let us know via the comments below.

G L Wilson

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