Monday 25 April 2016

1977 Burns "Jubilee" Flyte with faded UK Union Flag finish
As I have mentioned many times in the past on this blog, I am a big fan of the Burns Flyte guitar, even though the only time I have actually seen one up close and personal was last year when my band was playing a psychedelic festival and Nick Saloman of The Bevis Frond, who were also playing, let me have a look at his.

However, I'm not so sure about the patriotic finish on this "Jubilee" example from 1977. (1977 was the year of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee, i.e. she'd been monarch for 25 years). Even though this is the original factory finish, the Union Flag - popularly known as the Union Jack but technically speaking it shouldn't be referred to as such unless flown from a ship - has been poorly rendered with very thin crosses and not enough of a pinwheel effect on the diagonals. It's made to look all the more bizarre by the process of ageing which has turned the blue background to green and the white to yellow - in fact when I first saw this I was trying to decide if it was supposed to be the Union Flag or not. If you didn't know it was supposed to represent the flag of the United Kingdom, then perhaps it'd be easier to think of it as an abstract design. Still don't think I'd like it.

Like it or not, it's still a very interesting piece. This particular example was being sold by Denmark Street Guitars in London but is marked "Out Of Stock" which implies that it has either been sold or else withdrawn from sale. Unfortunately this means I cannot give you a price or value. However, three years ago, a Burns Flyte with "supposedly" original rare red finish was being offered for sale in Germany with a price of €1444. My feeling is that this Jubilee edition would be more valuable. Burns experts please feel free to correct me!

G L Wilson

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Friday 22 April 2016

Prince RIP

What the hell is going on this year? We've lost so many of our beloved creative geniuses from the worlds of music and entertainment. First we lost Motorhead's Lemmy in the very tail end of 2015 (as close enough to 2016 as damn it). Then David Bowie's death in January hit a lot of us really hard, and now Prince - another omni-talented highly creative individual - has also passed away.

Not to mention the sad demise of Merle Haggard, Maurice White (Earth Wind & Fire), Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane), Glenn Frey (The Eagles)... RIP, all of you.

Lonnie Mack
Now I hear that Lonnie Mack has passed away too. Sad times.

G L Wilson

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Please read our photo and content policy.

Monday 18 April 2016

Dave Of England hand-built solidbody - Zemaitis related

Here's a stunning UK hand-built guitar from a luthier I was hitherto unaware of (hey, you can't know them all) and which has strong stylistic and heritage links to the legendary guitars made by the late Tony Zemaitis.

It's a Dave Of England guitar, currently being offered for sale on eBay. It'd probably be easiest just to copy the text of the auction rather than reinterpret what the seller has written so well already:

This is an unique guitar made in 2011, completely by hand, for me, by now-retired guitar maker (luthier!) Kevin Parsons. We made guitars using patterns and jigs supplied by Tony Zemaitis upon his retirement, and this is one of our last. Our guitars are/were all “Dave Of England” guitars, and we have built them for the likes of Ronnie Wood, Pete Townshend and many more. All by hand.

The body shape is one of Kevin Parsons’ original designs, it is quite slim when compared to a Les Paul, but has a similar tone, as the best quality mahogany and flamed maple are used. The top is an incredible flamed bookmatched maple set, and the back is 3 pieces of mahogany with reverse grain construction, as favoured by Tony Zemaitis. There is a smooth cutaway for easy access to the dusty end. The two-piece bound neck is mahogany, too, with a rosewood fingerboard and rosewood head face on the Zemaitis-shaped headstock.

The high quality Gotoh tuners are complemented by wooden buttons.

The bridge and tailpiece are hand-made, as well as the pickup surrounds, all from top grade aluminium. They too are made in the Zemaitis style, to get the fantastic sustain and tone that these instruments were noted for. The bridge and tailpiece are mounted into threaded brass inserts in the body, using galvanised steel bolts. The aluminium parts are all hand engraved by Kevin Parsons.

The pickups are from the Creamery, hand-made again in the UK, to order, just for this guitar. They sound powerful, and quite thick, in a nice way.

The finish is nitrocellulose over a very old stain, supplied to me by Mr. Zemaitis. The colour fades out after a year or two to give a very vintage amber look. Although shiny and glossy, the finish is very thin, again, a Zemaitis trait. It helps resonance and shows grain like antique furniture, it is not like glass or a Japanese instrument, you can see and feel the undulations in the grain.

This instrument is quite a bespoke affair, and won’t suit someone looking for a Les Paul lookalike. But if someone was looking for an easy playing modern hand-made, great-sounding unique electric solid body guitar, they should look no further.

It is a really excellent professional quality instrument, made from the finest materials by hand, here in England.

Scale length is 25” and the scalloped nut is approximately 1 11/16ths of an inch.

The case is a Hiscox.

Don’t confuse this with, or compare it to, a factory-made guitar. It is a complete one-off and took many, many hours to build.

This guitar was originally sold to a studio owner friend of mine, who took great care of it then traded it back to me for a vintage Telecaster.

A Dave Of England solid body guitar was listed recently at Sotheby’s of New York at $17,500 or  thereabouts. One of my old headstock badges with my name on it is currently for sale for $499! Grab this one while you can.

Currently listed on eBay UK with a Buy It Now price of £1995.00.

G L Wilson

© 2016, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
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Thursday 14 April 2016

A 1960s German take on the Stratocaster by Klira

This vintage 1960s S-type guitar from Klira in Germany is quite an oddity. It seems familiar yet alien at the same time what with the inclusion of features like Klira's own branded K pickups which visually have a P90-ish vibe to them plus the Jazzmaster-ish tremolo system. The Strat-style body appears to be of high quality with some very nice figuring to the timber beneath the sunburst finish.

The listing refers to this guitar as a "Hammer Guitar" or "Hammer Gitarre" which makes little sense to me. I feel something is being lost in translation here. Currently listed with a &eurol449 Buy It Now price.

G L Wilson

© 2015, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
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Tuesday 12 April 2016

Vintage 1960s Mark in Dartford Kent, Vox Clubman Bass for South Paws

A guilty secret of mine is that I do actually quite desire one of these: a original 1960s Vox Clubman Bass, "Made in Dartford, Kent" (England) by Jennings Musical Industries (JMI).

Pre-dating the Italian-built Vox guitars of the later 1960s, the short-scale Clubman Bass was part of Vox's range of "student" instruments. The body was made of plywood, and whilst the neck had no adjustable trussrod it did have a steel bar embedded beneath the fingerboard. [EDIT: According to the Vox Showroom website, it had TWO non-adjustable steel rods embedded in the neck.]

So, if it's such a cheap, crudely made instrument, why should I be interested?

Well, it's just that the Vox Clubman Bass has quite a reputation for playability and versatility. It has that particular sound that typifies an era but yet still manages to sound relevant today. I also quite like the design and used to own a similar Clubman II guitar that was my 2nd electric guitar (I've lost count of how many have followed - I'm sure it's in three figures) so it's partly a nostalgia thing, I guess.

This particular example, currently being offered for sale on eBay UK with a Buy It Now price of £320, is the rarer left-handed version. Whether it sells is another matter; a right-handed example in the more common red finish failed to sell earlier today with a Buy It Now of £399.  I know these instruments are quite desirable amongst collectors and people like me, but I do wonder if perhaps they are being priced a little too highly in today's market.

Note that this example has a jack output socket which is probably a later conversion as from the factory it would have been equipped with a television-aerial type co-axial socket.

G L Wilson

© 2016, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
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Monday 11 April 2016

Aria Pro II ST-1504FL Super Twin guitar/fretless bass doubleneck from 1982
Now this is my kind of doubleneck. From 1982, it's an Aria Pro II ST-1504FL Super Twin with 6-string guitar neck and a fretless bass neck. It's Japanese-made, of course, almost certainly from the now legendary Matsumoku factory - note the trademark through-neck stylings so typical of both the period AND Matsumoku, and in this case it's a double through neck!

It ticks all the boxes for me as a bassist who prefers playing fretless and also dabbles a little in guitar. Also it has the necks the correct way around with the bass neck at the bottom and the guitar neck up top. (Correct way? I explain more about this here, and in case you haven't been following I did indeed get that custom doubleneck built).

However, with a Buy It Now price of a whopping US $4,299.00 for this Ari Pro II doubleneck, I think that I'm going to have to give it a miss.

G L Wilson

© 2016, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!
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Sunday 10 April 2016

Tokai Hummingbird 1960s classic from Japan
I know, I know, I know...

It's been FAR TOO LONG.  Time to get our arses into gear.  Thanks to Rich who kept the ship afloat for a long while in my absence.

I've got lots of things I want to tell you guys about.  New guitars and basses of my own, plus a couple of projects I've been working on.

Meanwhile I just want to bask in the gloriousness of this piece of 1960s Japanalia (is that even a word?) that is the Tokai Hummingbird. Yes, we've seen them before on this blog, but they look good enough to warrant another post.

This baby has a built-in distortion effect too... I'm guessing that's the battery access on the side of the guitar near the output jack.

But it ain't a cheapie. An eBay Buy It Now price of US $1,550.00 for this example illustrates just how popular these old Japanese guitars have become in recent years and how yesteryears oddities are now so supremely collectable.

G L Wilson

© 2016, 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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