Wednesday 28 October 2015

1973 Hayman 3030. The Happy Birthday to R.W. edition

Firstly, my apologies for a minimal amount of posts recently. Life has been pretty busy and though the actual posting of cool guitar pictures doesn't take long, the scouring of the web to find said guitars takes a while.
I do miss it. Both the posting and the scouring.

That said, not all is sad and busy in my world. I finally got a guitar I've been coveting for years. A Hayman 3030. I sold a bass and some smaller gear and got myself this awesome birthday gift.

The good:
1) This thing is in impeccable shape for something nearly my age. So very clean with just enough wear to show it's been properly used.
2) Almost everything is original and even has the oft-lost headstock disk.
3) It's super quiet. I've not had a chance to test it in a band environment, but at studio levels there is no noise at all.
4) I love the neck on this thing. It feels like home.
5) About 1/3 the cost of the last few 3030s I've seen for sale.

The Bad:
1)It's not all original.
2) The trademark pickguard with appliance style control plate is gone. The replacement is well made and in my opinion it looks pretty great.
3) The Re-An pickups are gone too. The replacements look similar to the humbucker on my Burns Steer, but more research leads me to believe that they could be late 1970 Dimarzio Super 2s. I'm not sure how to feel about this as I've never had Dimarzio pickups in any of my guitars. Time will tell.
4) The tuners have been replaced with Sperzel locking tuners. I know this may not be a bad thing but I'm the guy that wraps as much string on the post as he can. I've been that way for 30 years, going to take a lot to get past that.

The good very much outweighs the bad here. It's going to be a very happy birthday for this fella!

R.W. Haller

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Thursday 22 October 2015

Rayco ResNick Resophonic Banjo

As a struggling Dobro and Banjo player the thought of adding a hybrid of the two to my arsenal is both appealing and daunting.
Perhaps this Rayco ResNick Resophonic Banjo designed by Ross Nickerson could be a replacement for the other two.

Less gear to carry is always a good thing, right?

Currently listed for $2200 Canadian.

R.W. Haller

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Please read our photo and content policy.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Shonky 2-string fretless upright-convertible cigar box bass
 photo Shonky 2-string cigar box bass - 06_zpswebfiimt.jpg

Here's an instrument that I've been using a lot recently. It's one I commissioned to be built by Antony Moggridge of Shonky Musical Instruments and its very simplicity is a nice juxtaposition against the over-the-topness of his previous build for me, the Shonky bass and guitar doubleneck.

Originally I had asked Antony to build me something along the lines of the LongBow American Classic 2-string stick bass, which ceased production quite a few years ago. The initial plan was to borrow the LongBow's design (if something so simple can be said to have been designed) but through discussions between the two of us we came up with quite a different looking instrument.

To start with, it's not just a simple "stick". We decided that to accommodate ordinary off-the-shelf pickups and the electrics, controls, etc, that a small body would be a good idea, and as Antony already had experience with cigar box guitar builds, it seemed the logical step to make this a cigar box bass. My main stipulations were that it be a fretless 2-string bass, with a 34" scale length and with magnetic pickups (not being a particular fan of piezos).

 photo Shonky 2-string cigar box bass - 07_zpsngvbelca.jpg

Antony had a number of cigar boxes already in stock, so I chose one from his selection, with dimensions 9"x7"x1.5" and Jamaican in origin. We opted for a tapering neck with a separate fingerboard (the LongBow's neck is parallel along its length and is one-piece with integral fingerboard). Bridges are two individual single string units which gave us some flexibility when it came to deciding upon string spacing.

The cigar box body does seem to be pretty solid. I'm guessing the neck goes right through into the body and I believe the spaces either side have been filled in too.

 photo Shonky 2-string cigar box bass - 12_zpsbjvic1dr.jpg

For pickups, a standard P-Bass split pickup very conveniently became a pair of 2-string pickups. Three controls on a cigar box bass does admittedly seem like overkill on such a simple instrument but I really wanted individual volume controls for each pickup and a separate tone control. I'm glad to report that this set up does indeed generate a very wide range of sounds; this bass is NOT a one-tone wonder.

 photo Shonky 2-string cigar box bass - 09_zpsrx0jw6cp.jpg

Like the LongBow, the neck is very thick and chunky in depth but Antony has rounded the back of it for comfort, whilst the very attractive piece of Sapele used for the fretless fingerboard has been left flat but softly rounded over at the edges. The neck has no truss rod either. Hopefully, given its chunkiness, it's not going to bend in one direction or the other. Along the top edge of the neck there are dot position markers in the key fret positions of 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, etc. These dots appear to be metal (brass rod perhaps?) which does look very pretty, although to be brutally honest, they are not very easy to see in low lighting conditions (e.g. as often when on stage).

 photo Shonky 2-string cigar box bass - 11_zpsj2riflcf.jpg

The two strings I have tuned D and A. That's a D below the low E on a regular bass. I do prefer to play in Drop D normally, and for a 2-string bass, D and A seems all the more logical because it allows for a greater range whilst at the same time conveniently aligning the notes on the D string with their respective 5ths on the A string.

So some people out there are still thinking, BUT WHY TWO STRINGS? Well, why not? In a way it's a reaction to all these basses with 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 strings and more which so often seem to me to be ridiculous. And the thing is, you can do a lot with just two strings. This is actually a really versatile bass and because it only has a pair of strings it encourages creativity in playing. This bass is NOT all about just playing the root note.

I've played this bass at gigs a few times already. I play it with a largely acoustic-based group I sometimes perform with, and I take it with me to Open Mic sessions where I usually don't know who I'm going to be playing with or what songs; the bass copes admirably. It also gets a lot of comments from people, many are surprised by the huge sound that comes out of it. I've had the comment, "But it sounds like a ... BASS!" several times. Well, of course! Actually the fretless voice is quite glorious; I don't know if that is thanks to that sapele fingerboard, but it certainly puts my ESP LTD Vintage-214 FL (fretless P-Bass clone) to shame. It is also fantastic for reggae and dub basslines... quite appropriate for a bass made from a Jamaican cigar box!

 photo Shonky 2-string cigar box bass - 13_zpsa1ft8xps.jpg

Some have commented that it sounds like an upright bass... Speaking of which, this bass CAN indeed be played as an upright thanks to a clever piece of design using the brass fitting from a 2-piece snooker cue set into the base of the cigar box - plus the business end of the snooker cue itself which acts as a spike. I have played on stage with this bass in upright mode and it feels quite liberating. Of course, with such a small body, the bass can move around quite a bit when played as an upright, so I usually position my righthand-thumb behind the heel of the neck at the top of the body to steady it.

And of course, without the snooker cue "spike", it can be played horizontally guitar style. I use a piece of string (Seasick Steve style!) tied to the strap button at the base of the body and the other end tied around the headstock. I admit, it doesn't hang particularly well, that's part of the problem in having such a small body on a bass with a 34" scale.

 photo Shonky 2-string cigar box bass - 08_zpsxdzzhmsw.jpg

I absolutely love playing it and usually have it within reach at home. Of course its portability is another factor that makes it so appealing.

Such a great instrument, I'm beginning to wonder if there might be a market for the 2-string bass. Not only would it make a great learner instrument, but it is perfect for more seasoned players too and encourages inventive playing.

Antony certainly delivered the goods with this one. If doing it again, I'm sure we could tweak the design some more, most notably where balance on a strap is concerned, but that is one very minor niggle.

Photographs by Antony Moggridge Shonky Musical Instruments.

G L Wilson

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Please read our photo and content policy.

Saturday 3 October 2015

Taylor GT8 Baritone 8 String acoustic guitar.

I'm not necessarily a fan of Taylor guitars. I've played a lot of them and they are actually quite playable, I've just never played one that sang to me in anyway and they really aren't offering anything unique. At least I thought they weren't.
It seems I was wrong.

This now discontinued Taylor GT8 is a baritone guitar and the middle 2 strings ( A and D ) are double coursed with an octave string. The result is rather piano-esque (or rather pianistical?) sound and I can see a lot of applications here for an acoustic performer. I'm a little surprised that it's no longer made. Perhaps the $3500 list price was too much for most.

You can get this one for $2500 Canadian.

Check out a demo here.

R.W. Haller

© 2015, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
Please read our photo and content policy.


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