Dream Guitars

Lorrie Collins of The Collins Kids RIP

Lorrie Collins – 2000

One of Rock-a-billy’s greats has passed away. Lorrie Collins, the beautiful half of the Collins Kids, died on August 4th as the result of a fall. She was 76.

Many folks now may not be  aware of the popularity of this duo during their heyday.

The Collins Kids – 1958

The Collins Kids, Lorrie and Larry, were very big in Southern California in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s due to their appearances of popular television shows, such as Town Hall Party in 1954 where they were regulars, Western Ranch Party in 1957 and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1958.

The duo was discovered by Leon Leon McAuliffe, the steel guitarist of the Bob Wills band when they were playing music in a Tulsa Oklahoma ballroom. She was 12 and her brother Larry was 10 years old.

Lorrie Collins “In My Teens”

Lorrie, whose actual name was Lawercine, had begun at age 8 appearing in and winning talent shows. Her father was a dairy farmer and crane operator, while her mother was an amateur singer, and mandolin player. After hearing the kids,

The Collins Kids Town Hall Party

McAuliffe urged the family to move to southern California. Their act consisted of Lorrie, singing and playing guitar, and looking gorgeous, while her little brother played amazing guitar breaks, and danced around the stage. Both wore customized Western clothing.

Larry Collins – Joe Maphis

Guitarist Joe Maphis trained Larry, and he did a great job. Maphis made sure that Larry was equipped with a one-of-a-kind handmade, double neck guitar from Semie Moseley. Though it appeared to be similar to Maphis’ instrument, Larry’s guitar was equipped with 2 six on a side headstocks, while Maphis’ guitar had 3 on a side headstocks on both necks.

Larry and Lorrie
with Moseley guitars

Lorrie played a Martin D-28 guitar, that had been re imagined by Moseley, by replacing the neck with one of his custom-made creations that had a six-on-a-side headstock.

Lorrie’s Mosrite/Martin

He also put on a bridge that looked almost like the one on a Gibson J-200. Moseley also crafted a huge black pickguard, that had white eighth notes, a flying eagle, and flowers. Her name was inlaid on the fretboard. It was an impressive instrument, made to stand out. 

Though she was just a youngster at the time, hear voice was amazing. Lorrie was right up there with Wanda Jackson, Brenda Lee and Patsy Cline.

The Collins Kids – Town Hall Party

Back in that era, California had experienced an influx of workers migrating from the southern states, Texas, and even Detroit, in search of work in the newer factories. They brought with them their love of Country Music.

Locally produced black and white television shows picked up on this, and the performers became stars.

Ricky Nelson & Lorrie Collins

It was on Town Hall Party that Lorrie met Ricky Nelson. Although it was never mentioned on the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Ozzie Nelson got his start as the leader and vocalist of his own big band. His wife Harriet was the singer. The show had a great following in the late 1950’s.

Ricky Nelson & Lorrie Collins

When Ozzie discovered Ricky had a great singing voice, he talent was put on display. Ricky Nelson met Lorrie on the set, and eventually dated her. She was asked to appear on two episodes, and played identical twin sisters.

The Collins Kids

Sadly, during the era of the 1950’s Lorrie, and her brother Larry took a lot of flak for singing rock-a-billy music. In her own words she says that people were awful to her parents, telling them, “You shouldn’t let her sing those kinds of songs! You shouldn’t let her dress like that!”

When Lorrie was 17 and the Collin’s Kids were on a road show with Johnny Cash, she met and eloped with Stu Carnall, Cash’s manager.

In 1961 she gave birth to her first child, and decided to quit the music business.

Lorrie and Larry – 2006

Larry pursued a career as a songwriter, and scored a hit with the song, Delta Dawn. The Collin’s Kids eventually reunited in 1993 for a performance at a rock-a-billy festival in England, and continued to perform right up until Lorrie’s death.

Her brother Larry recalls “We grew up with Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Carl Perkins,” Larry Collins told The Post. “Everybody that came to California when they first started did ‘Town Hall Party.’ All those acts, Lorrie and I got to meet them, know them, travel with them, work with them.” “Lorrie and I had the luckiest childhoods of anyone that you can imagine.”

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Guyatone Guitars

The Japanese guitar industry has a very interwoven history. One of the earliest guitar manufacturers in Japan, Guyatone, began production in 1933.

Guyatone Guitars

Matsuki Seisakujo, the name of the original company, was founded by a cabinet maker’s apprentice Mr. Mitsuo Matsuki and friend Mr. Atsuo Kaneko. If you read my previous article on Teisco guitars, it will become evident that Atsuo Kaneko was also the partner of Doryu Matsuda, and one of the principle founders that started Teisco Guitars in 1946. However, Guyatone was in business over a decade, before Teisco.

Mr. Atsuo Kaneko (center)

Mr. Matsuki was an apprentice at a cabinetry firm, and enrolled in night classes to study electronics. Mr. Kaneko got his start playing Hawaiian music in Japan, which was popular at the time. Kaneko also played Spanish guitar.

Kaneko was a friend of Matsuki, and he suggested that they build electric Hawaiian guitars. So by the late 1930’s the Matsuki Seisakujo (company) was set up. The name translates to the Matsuki Joiner Company. They began by building electric lap steel guitars in the style of that era’s Rickenbacker guitars for domestic use. These early instruments sold under the Guya brand name.

China Japan War  Manchura 1931

In 1940 the company had to halt production since Matsuki was drafted into the Japanese Army to fight in the war between Japan and China. This last until 1945 when the war ended.

Upon returning Matsuki formed his own business and called it Matsuki Denki Onkyo Kenkyujo or Matsuki Electric Sound Laboratory. This would explain the departure of Atsuo Kaneko, who had become involved with Teisco during the ensuing years.

After the war, Matsuki production restarted and the Guyatone  name was used on the companies instruments and products. This company not only made electric guitars, but also built amplifiers, and cartridges used for record players.

For those unfamiliar with “record players”, may I digress for a moment.

1950’s record player

Record players were originally called phonographs, and played vinyl records on a turntable. By the late 1940’s these “record players” contained an amplifier. The grooves on the vinyl disk were read by a needle on the end of an arm or aperture.

Guyatone A-16 tone arm

The needle was attached to an electronic cartridge, which was an electro-mechanical transducer that picked up the signal from the grooves.

Guyatone C-2 phone cartridge

These vibration were turned into electrical signals and sent it to the amplifier. The cartridge essentially worked like a guitar pickup. In fact Chet Atkins and Les Paul both took apart old phonographs to use the cartridges as pickups on their first acoustic guitars.

So let us get back to the Guyatone story:

Guyatone was manufacturing a lot of record player cartridges and this market was boosted after their products were being used by NHK, a government owned broadcasting station.

In the early to mid 1950’s the company’s name was changed to Tokyo Sound Company (which also leads to some confusion with Teisco). It was later changed to Guya Company Ltd., but later was changed back to Tokyo Sound Company.

1950’s Guyatone Guitar

By July 1956 the Tokyo Sound Factory began large scale production. During the late 1950’s to the early 1960’s they were producing up to 1500 electric lap steel guitars, 1600 electric guitars and basses, 2000 guitar amplifiers, and 5000 microphones every month. These were distributed and exported under different brand names.

Early photo of employees
of the Hoshino Gakki Company

In Japan the Hoshino Gakki Company exported Guyatone guitars and products under the Star and the Ibanez brand names.

Hank Marvin with his Antoria LG-50

In the United Kingdom, the James T. Coppock Leeds Ltd imported Guyatone products under the Antoria brand name. Some well know players got their start playing these guitars including Hank Marvin, Marty Wilde, Rory Gallagher, Johny Guitar, Jeff Beck, and even Ringo Starr, who played drums and guitar with Rory and the Hurricaines.

From the Bell Music catalog

Some of these instruments were imported by the Bell Music Company and sold under the Guyatone brand.

Early 1960’s Selmer Freshman

Selmer of Paris imported some Futurama guitars made by Guyatone, although most came from the Drevokov Company of Czechoslovakia. They were also imported under the Broadway brand.

Selmer – Guyatone catalog

Here is the mid 1960’s Selmer/Guyatone catalog.

1940 Buegeleisen and Jacobson
Catalog

In the United States, Buegeleisen and Jacobson of New York City were importing Guyatones and badging them under the Kent brand, the Saturn brand, the Starlight brand, and the Royalist brand.

Tokyo Sound Company

In 2013 the Tokyo Sound Company closed up shop and transferred ownership of the Guyatone name to Hiroshi Matsuki, the son of the company’s founder, and brother of the company’s current CEO.

It took about a year, but the company reorganized, and reopened. The company manufactures mostly parts and effects pedal now. They currently maintain an office in Oswego, Illinois. Guyatone built some excellent and unique instruments from the 1950’s through the 1980’s.

Guyatone LG-40

Here is the Guyatone LG-40 built in 1959.

Guyatone LG-65

I saw many, many of these Guyatone guitars pictured here, most were being sold in pawn shops in the mid 1960’s. Some had tremolo units, but many did not.

Guyatone GT-70 Star

Another model that was popular in the mid 1960’s,was the model GT-70 Star.

One method of distinguishing Guyatone guitars from Teisco is the slanted string bar that is on the instruments peg head just above the nut.  This model was sold under the Star brand, and the Ibanez brand. The body shape is used today on the Ibanez Talman models.

Hound Dog Taylor with his model 1860. 

One of the most famous artists that was known for using this model was Bluesman, Hound Dog Taylor. It was also known as the Rhythm Maker model 1860. Another famous artist that used this guitar was a young Jimi Hendrix, who traded his Danelectro for one of these guitars.

Guyatone LG-60B

One of the most well-known and respected Irish blues musicians was Rory Gallagher. During his early career he owned and played a Guyatone LG-60B. This is his guitar and is on display at Harrod’s of London. Hank Marvin started out playing an Astoria LG-50, in his early days of playing guitar for Cliff Richard and the Drifters.

1965 LG-130T

This model was also popular during the mid to late 1960’s, and perhaps was Guyatone’s take on the Stratocaster. This is their model LG-130T.

Photos by Bill Menting

These are the Guyatone guitars that I recall being sold in pawn shops and some music stores back in the mid-1960’s: the model EG-90, the model 1202 bass, the model 1830 small body, and the model 1830 large body, and the set neck model 1860.

Tulio brand guitar, made by Guyatone

Some of these were sold under the Guyatone brand, and some under the Ibanez brand, and of course some jobbers put the retailers brand name, such as this 1960’s Guyatone sold under the Tulio brand name.

Guyatone M-66
12 electric 12 string

As the 1960’s progressed, the  sound of the 12 string electric guitar gained popularity in pop and rock music. This is a mid 1960’s Guyatone electric 12 string guitar.

Kent Model 820

Here is a mid 1960 Kent model 820 hollow body electric, with a gorgeous stripe on its side. The neck is a bolt on type, and has a skunk stripe down its middle.

Silvertone 1445

Most all of the major department store chains sold Guyatone guitars at their stores and through their catalogs. Here is a late 1960’s Silvertone 1445, which was heavily influenced by that era’s Mosrite guitars, right down to the German carve.

Guyatone LG-350T-DX

This is a Guyatone model LG-350T DX, that was sold only in Japan. It may have been built as a homage to professional motor sports legend Nobuhiro Tajima. This was an original and very unique guitar. It has a bolt-on neck, a blue sparkle finish, and an unusual vibrato system.

Model LG-160T

One of the more unusual Guyatone models was the model LG-160T Telstar. This was considered a very good instrument in its day. FYI, Telstar was the first communications satellite launched in July of 1962, and was a very big deal at the time. It even inspired a popular song, of they day produced by Joe Meek.

1975 LS-380

By 1975 Guyatone was making replica guitars, sometimes under the Ibanez brand name.

1960’s Guyatone amplifier

Guyatone also made amplifiers such as this 1960’s version such as this model GA-520.

1960’s Guyatone amplifier

Here is a more powerful model, the GA-620. Both had point-to-point wiring.

1970’s Guyatone GA-1030 Reverb

By the 1970’s Guyatone amplifiers were clones of silver-face Fender amplifiers.

1970’s Guyatone GA-1050 Reverb Jazz

Here is a 1970’s Guyatone replica of a Fender Twin Reverb.

Guyatone US

Guyatone is still in business, but now concentrates on effects pedals and parts.

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Made In Japan – The History of Matsumoka Industrial

Matsumoku Industrial was established around 1900 as a woodworking manufacturer. However the company is best known for the guitars and basses it built.

Shortly after WWII the Singer Corporation established a division known as Singer Sewing Machine Company Japan and contracted Matsumoku to build sewing machine cabinets and furniture. This opened up business with other companies looking for inexpensive wood procucts, such as cabinets, chairs etc.

The company then ventured into musical instrument production in the mid 1950’s and built guitars that typically classical versions, violins and other steel string instruments.

Due to competition, Matsumoku set out to build instruments of high quality, basing their designs on non domestic instruments from other companies of this era.

In the 1960 woodworking machines had greatly improved. The newer technology allowed enhanced production.

The world took note and Matsumoko was contracted to build guitars and guitar parts for other companies. This is known as jobbing.

Matsumoko either built or sold parts to Vox, Greco, Yamaha, Aria, Norlin/Gibson, Univox, Westbury and Washburn.

The large music conglomerate, St. Louis Music Company contracted with Matsumoku to build it’s line of Univox, Electra and Westbury brands.

Matsumoku also built it’s own guitars using the Westone brand.

The Matsumoku Company formed a relationship with the Arai Company of Japan. This company built mostly classical guitars. Their name was later westernized to Aria.

In the mid 1960’s the companies teamed up to produce instruments under the Guyatone brand. Aria’s expertise was in domestic production, exporting and sales, while Matsumoku’s primary concern was production.

In the early 1970’s Gibson made a bold move to move their production of Epiphone guitars to Japan. They could produce instruments based on Epiphone designs, but sell them at a much lower price due to cheaper labor costs.


Gibson hired Aria to do the job. In turn, Aria hired Matsumoku as a subcontractor. So Matsumoku essentially built most of the Epiphone line of higher quality instruments such as the Sheraton, Riviera, Casino, Emperor and Flying V.

Many of these instruments started out with bolt-on necks. Because of the tradition of U.S. made Epiphone guitars using set-in necks, by 1975 Matsumoku changed the specification and began producing set neck instruments.

In the late 1980’s Singer Sewing Machines Corporation was bankrupt. This caused Matsumoku became a liability. Gibson/Norlin moved it’s operations to Korea, due to cheaper production costs. These factors caused Matsumoku to cease production and went out of business.

’60’s Univox

In the early 1960s the Unicord Corporation was manufacturing electronic transformers. This lead to the purchas of a Westbury New York company called the Amplifier Corporation of America.

Through this acquisition, the company started a line of Japanese produced guitar and bass amplifiers sold under the Univox brand.

Later on the company also sold guitars that were primarily copies of United States instruments. This lead to lawsuits. However, due to price point, the sales were brisk.

In 1975 the Gulf and Western Company, looking to diversify, purchased Univox. Guitar production remained with Matsumko. However the Westbury brand was made in Korea.

Univox was dealt a blow when the Matsumoku company had a large fire in their production plant.

Gulf and Western sold their interest to the Korg Corporation which ended Unicord/Univox. Westbury guitars were sold by a company in Westbury, New York called Music Industries Corporation. This was the demise of Univox.

Univox’s claim to fame was their “lawsuit” instruments. These were replicas of guitars made by Gibson, Rickenbacker, Dan Armstrong, Fender and Mosrite. Lawsuit guitars are a whole ‘nother story that is very complex.

I recall seeing and playing some of the lawsuit instruments in two different music stores back in the 1970’s.

Wert Music was located in Erlanger Kentucky. The had a Les Paul copy and a Gibson EDS-1275 (six string – twelve string double neck) copy in stock. Both guitars were inferior to the domestic Gibson models. The EDS -1275 was poorly set up with the strings at least a half an inch above the fretboard. Both models appeared to be authentic but for the name on the headstock and the bolt on neck plate.

Shortly after this a Music Store in southern Indiana had just opened and advertised a Fender Stratocaster-style guitar selling for $99.

I drove out to take a look at it. It was vastly inferior to any Fender product.

However there was also a Univox Hi-Flyer model that was an excellent copy for around $200.

Fender, Gibson and other United States manufacturers all have moved into Asia and Mexican markets for some of their production, which proves the saying, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

 

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Josh White Guitar – The First Signature Guitar named for an African-American.

Josh White

Recently I was talking with a friend about recordings, and he brought up Josh White. I knew very little about this man. What I did know was that the first signature Ovation guitar was The Josh White Model.

Josh White Jr. and Elyse Luray
of the History Detectives.

So I did a little digging, which involved watching a most interesting episode of History Detectives about a Guild guitar that belonged to Josh White.

1965 Guild Josh White Guitar

In the program it was claimed this could possibly be the first signature model ever named for an African American guitarist.

If we are referring to all guitars, acoustic and electric then dispute that fact.

Fernando Sor

For many years, guitar manufacturers and luthier have created guitars for well known players in hope that customers would purchase products named for these players. Players purchased signature guitars in hopes of sounding like their favorite players.

1836 Rene Lacote Guitar

As far back as the 1830, builder such as Johann Stauffer, and René Lacote built signature guitars for players such as Luigi Lagani, Fernando Sor (whose guitars studies are still in use at conservatories), and Napoléon Coste. In fact the first known 7 string guitar was designed by Coste, and built by Lacote.

Nick Lucas with his
signature Gibson model

The first American company to produce a signature guitar was Gibson. In the 1920’s singer-guitarist Nick Lucas was all the rage on phonographs. By 1926 Gibson produced a signature Nick Lucas model. This was updated in 1935 to a 14 fret neck.

Though the C.F. Martin Guitar Company created some early models for popular recording stars, it was not until recently that signature models were produced.

Leadbelly with 12 string Stella guitar

The same could be said for Stella guitars, which were played by so many Blues guitarists. There was never a signature model.

Josh White

Josh White had a fascinating life and career as a musician. He went on to become a torch bearer for the Piedmont Blues style of music.

At the age of 5 Josh White’s mother, who was in dire financial straights gave him to a Blues musician named Blind Man Arnold, who took him around the country for the next 8 years.

Arnold would sing and play guitar, and young Josh would dance and collect coins in a tambourine. Blind Man Arnold sent White’s mother $2 a week.

Arnold then rented out young Josh White other Blues street musicians, to help them attract customers. Finally a record producer for Paramount records recognized White’s talent and  through legal action was able to free him from this indentured servitude.

A young Josh White 

By the 1930’s Josh White began a career singing Gospel songs as The Singing Christian. During this period of time White injured his hand. It went untreated and became gangrenous. For a while White went to work a dock worker and during this time exercised his hand by squeezing a rubber ball until he could once again play guitar chords.

Josh White and Leadbelly 1940’s

By the 1940’s he starred in a musical called John Henry, playing the part of Blind Lemon Jefferson. This lead to a meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt, and many visits to the White House, including a performance at the inauguration of President Roosevelt.

Society Blues

A Greenwich Village club called the Café Society was frequented by a racial mixed audience and racially mixed musicians. This not only opened the door to New York society, but to European society as well.

1950 brought the onslaught of McCarthyism, and the witch-hunt for Communist sympathizers. Many actors, artists, and musicians fell prey to the House Committee on Un-American Activity, and were black-listed from working in their respective industries. Although White was neither a Communist or a sympathizer, he interjected protest songs into his stage act, to express human rights for all people, including people of colour.

Josh White found little work after that in the United States, and went to England to start playing in London Clubs. He stayed there for the next five years singing and acting in performances for Granada Television.

Odetta and Josh White
at March on Washington

Upon moving back to the United States, he performed at the 1963 March on Washington, alongside Reverend Martin Luther King, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and others. His career picked up steam as the popularity of Folk Music increased.

1962 Martin
00-21 New Yorker

For much of his career, Josh White played a Martin 00-21 12 fret guitar. This guitar has a wider neck and is sometimes referred to as a New Yorker model. The bridge on this guitar was a flat piece of rosewood, not typical of Martin guitars of the day. The bound top was solid spruce, and the back and sides were rosewood.  The rosewood fret board was wider than most  models. The headstock was slotted with open machine tuners.

1957 Josh White Zenith
Guitar by Boosey and Hawkes

While in the U.K. and Europe, Josh White was approach by the music company Boosey and Hawkes to put together a guitar method book. Boosey and Hawkes is still one of the World’s biggest publishers of written music, and at that time were manufacturing a variety of musical instruments.

To go along with their book, they also created a Josh White guitar under their Zenith brand name.

Josh White with Kay Kraft guitar

As a young man he also played a mid 1930’s Kay Kraft guitar, made by the Stromberg Voisinet. This was a very interesting instrument, since there is a small bolt on the neck heel that easily turns to adjust the string level.

Josh White with double pickguard
unidentified Martin guitar

He also played a variety of Martin guitars and usually favored a large pickguard; sometimes using two pickguards.

’67 Ovation Josh White Model

By 1965 Charles Kaman created the one of the first ever Ovation guitar with the fiberglass (Lyracord) back and solid spruce top, and the neck joined the body at the 12th fret. In 1967 the company offered the a signature guitar build specifically for Josh White and had a wider neck. The back had the parabolic fiberglass bowl. The name Josh White was written on the slotted headstock between the strings.

Prior to offering the guitar to the public, Josh White was presented with his signature model during an appearance at the Hotel America in Hartford Connecticut in 1966.

One of a kind Guild Josh White model

Later that same year, 1966, Al Dronge, owner of Guild Guitars, of Hoboken, New York, built a special model for Josh White. This was a gorgeous instrument and it featured a wide neck, a slotted headstock and an auditorium sized body.

Guild Josh White Guitar

Guild may of initially set it’s sights on producing this model as a production guitar, however by 1965 Folk Music took a downturn, being replaced by The British Invasion. The Guild instrument never went into production.

1967 & 1968 Ovation Josh White models

One interesting fact about Josh White is that in later life he suffered from psoriasis on his hands, which caused his fingernails to crack and break. This was tough condition for a finger-picking guitarist.

Through his relationship with Ovation Guitars, one of the foremen at Kaman Industries made a cast of his hands, and produced fiberglass fingernails for him. These were attached with a new type of glue called Eastman 910 (which later is still be sold as Super Glue).

1957 Zenith
Josh White model

I mentioned earlier that I disputed the fact the Josh White was the first African American to have a signature guitar named after him. This holds true if we count only United States Companies. However if we look at companies throughout the world, it was in 1957 that Boosey and Hawkes produced the Zenith Josh White guitar. So yes, Josh White would be the first African-American musician to have a signature guitar.

1958 Bo Diddley Gretsch

But in the United States, the honor of the first African American to have a signature guitar would go to Elias Bates, better known as Bo Diddley. In 1958 he went to the Gretsch Guitar Company and persuaded a designer named Juiliano to built his rectangular cigar box shaped guitar which he dubbed The Twang Machine.

1958 Bo Diddley
Gretsch Jupiter

That same year Gretsch Guitars also build another model for Bo that was based on the tail fins of a Cadillac of that same year. This was called the Bo Diddley Jupiter and was later re-christened the Billy-Bo Jupiter..

Other notable African-Americans to have signature guitars would include B.B. King, Richie Havens, Jimi Hendrix. Prince, George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Tracy Chapman, and Charlie Christian had a pickup named in his honor.

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further reading.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

Here is the original 1957 Zenith Model

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Jerry Leger – European Tour

Jerry Leger & The Situation are one of Canada’s best bands in years. I wrote a review of their album "Nonsense & Heartache" after seeing them live in Toronto a few weeks back. Now, they’re on their first ever European…

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Maton Guitars

Tommy Emmanuel

Tommy Emmanuel was in town recently and put on a wonderful concert. Emmanuel is an amazing guitarist, and endorses Australian made Maton guitars.

Maton Guitars

The Maton brand is not well known in the United States, or Europe as in most countries there are only one or two franchised distributors.

There are only eleven USA music stores that carry the Maton brand, which I find very odd for a brand of guitar that has been in production for over 70 years.

Bill May – founder of Maton Guitars

Maton was established by Melbourne resident Bill May in 1946. May was a woodworking instructor, and a jazz musician. He knew the best guitars in his day came from the United States, which was rather frustrating for Aussies. Along with his brother, Reg, who was a wood machinist, May sought to change all that by creating high quality Australian manufactured guitars to be sold locally.

The brothers put together a company call Maton Stringed Instruments and Repairs. The Maton name is a derivative of the words “May” and “Tone”, and it is pronounced “May-Tonne.”.

Maton became the very first guitar manufacturer in Australia. Until the mid 1930’s an Australian guitar manufacturing industry was virtually nonexistent and good quality guitars were hard to find. The best guitars came from the U.S.A.

Linda and Neville Kitchen

The Maton company is still family owned and run by Linda (Bill May’s daughter) and her husband Neville Kitchen. The factory was originally in Canterbury, Melbourne, where the company created over 300 different models. In 1987 when the Kitchens’ purchased the business, it was in trouble.Their strategy was to concentrate on building just steel string acoustic models. They now produce over 7,000 guitars each year that are available locally and shipped all over the world.

In 1990 a new modernized facility was open in Bayswater, Melbourne. Bill May lived long enough to see the new factory. His health failed in 1989 and he passed away in 1993.

Linda Kitchen at the Box Hill factory

In 2003 a new facility that was four times the size of the previous ones was opened in Box Hill, Melbourne to meet the demand for Maton guitars and products.

Maton Guitars made in Australia

One of Bill Mays goals was to pioneer the use of Australian wood species in his guitars, and his daughter and son-in-law maintain his dream. The company also utilizes locally designed computer programs and technology to maintain their standards.

It is interesting to note that every worker at the Maton plant is a guitar player, which enhances the love of the instrument.

Late 1950’s Maton Alver.
Their budget brand

During the early days of the venture the company concentrated on high quality, and good value instruments for professionals and students.

1962 Maton EG75 and Goldline 750

By the late 1950’s Maton had branched into the Australian rock scene by manufacturing acoustic and electric guitars aimed at the market. The Country’s tariff situation made it far more appealing to purchase a locally made guitar, than an imported one.

The Strangers in 1965

In the mid 1960’s, the company also inked a deal to sponsor the popular Aussie band, The Strangers, and supply them with equipment, including Maton El Toro electric guitars.

The Strangers with Maton Guitars

This group became the house band for a popular TV series called The Go!! Show, which was quite similar to the US produced TV shows, Shindig!, and Hullabaloo. By then Maton was making solid body and acoustic thinline electric guitars.

1960’s Maton Electrics

Some of the 1965 electric models looked similar to Asian made instruments, perhaps in an effort not to copy US made guitars of the day.

The Easybeats with Maton guitars

Another Australian group from the mid 1960’s was The Easybeats, who scored an worldwide hit with their song, Friday On My Mind. They played Maton guitars,

Maton Sapphire 12 string

Easybeat lead guitarist Harry Vanda was well known for playing a red Maton Sapphire semi-acoustic 12-string guitar, which became part of the groups sound.

Colin Hay with Maton guitar

Men At Work frontman Colin Hay uses Maton Custom Shop guitars as part of his live show.

Neil Finn with his Maton guitar

Neil Finn, of Crowded House, and The Finn Brothers also uses Maton guitars.

Big Jim Sullivan’s
Maton Cello Guitar

British player, guitarist Big Jim Sullivan owned and used a Maton ‘Cello’ guitar for many years during the peak of his career, playing it on recordings with Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis, Jr.,Tom Jones, and Johnny Keating and his Big Band.

George Harrison with his Maton

Even George Harrison played a Maton Mastersound MS500 electric guitar early in his career. He borrowed it from Barrat’s Music of Manchester while they were repairing his Gretsch Country Gentleman

This guitar sold at auction for a tidy $485,000.

Maton guitar have come a long way since those days, and now produce some very fine instruments in a variety of price ranges. However, expect to pay from $1600 to over $4000 in today’s United States market.

1960’s Alver electric archtop by Maton

Back in the 1950’s Maton had a line of budget guitars sold under the brand name Alver. These included archtop models that were comparable to Harmony archtop guitars of that era.

’58 Maton F-240

Their high-end models, such as this 1958 F-240 is akin to a mid-range Gibson, Epiphone or Guild archtop of that era. Maton has been making great acoustic flat top guitars for many years, and just seems to improve their design with time.

5 year old Tommy Emmanuel

In an interview, Tommy Emmanuel states he has been using Maton’s since 1959. Believe it or not, Emmanuel has been playing guitar since he was four years old.

Emmanuel Family Band 
The Midget Surfaries

His family had a band, and traveled throughout Australia performing for years. Early on, Tommy and his brother Phil played Maton electric guitars.

1970 Maton F100

The current line up of Maton guitar uses some woods that you cannot get any where but in Australia. The backs and sides are made of Australian Blackwood, which is indigenous to eastern Australia and is a type of acacia wood. On some of the models, the back and sides are made of Queensland maple.

Current Maton
Mini Diesel

Most of the necks are made of Queensland maple. The tops are made of sold Sitka spruce in various grades, from A to AAA, depending on the model. Bracing is always X style with scalloped braces.

Tuning machines are Grover Rotomatics. The saddle and nuts are made of bone, even on the lower end models. Frets are made by Dunlop.

Maton  ECS80

Maton uses their own proprietary acoustic pickups the call the APS 5 or APS Pro. Maton has done some serious research into their acoustic pickup design. Instead of 9 volt batteries, the APS models use 2 AA batteries.

Maton EBW808
(blackwood)

Maton builds guitars in a dreadnought shape, and also auditorium sized, and jumbo sized shapes. Though the tops are usually Sitka spruce, the M series is made of Sapele wood, which is also known as African Mahogany. The necks on this series are made of Fijian Mahogany.

Heritage ECW80C

The Maton Heritage series makes available reproductions of older Maton instruments, using todays technology combined with materials used on models from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Instead of maple backs and sides, these instruments include Sapele wood for the back, sides, and neck.

Maton Starline 4606

The Heritage series also includes two electric models; a Jazz style hollow body model called the Starline 4606, which includes twin JHB humbucking pickups, that have a coil tapping feature. There is also another guitar that Maton intends to make available soon.

1958 MS500

This is the 1958 MS500, which is the 50th Anniversary model of a guitar similar to the one that Tommy Emmanuel played as a child, and the one that George Harrison played. It has a solid body made of Quandong, and a set Queensland maple neck. That begs the question; what is Quandong. It is a wood indigenous to Australia also known as Silver Quandong, that is occasionally used in construction.

The pickups on the MS500 include one Maton vintage single coil model, and one Maton vintage humbucking model. Though this model is not currently available, it will be very soon.

EBG808C
MicFix

Maton also offers the EGB series that includes the EBGMicFix model that was built and designed for singer songwriter Michael Fix. The top is AAA Solid Sitka spruce, and the back and sides are made of Queensland maple. Fret board inlays on the ebony fretboard are mother-of-pearl snowflake designs. This guitar comes with the APS-Pro pickup system. The EBG808 is a non electric model that has a top made of AA Sitka spruce, and the back and sides are made of Blackwood.

EBG Artist

The upgraded version is the EBG808 Artist. It too is non-electric and only available through select dealers.

The EBG808 Nashville (which also comes as the EBG808C cutaway model) features AA a solid Sitka spruce top with a brown-burst finish. The back and sides are made of “A” grade solid blackwood. It features the APS Pro pickup system.

EM100

The Maton Messiah EM100C and EM100 (non-cutaway) features a newly tuned, scalloped braced top and Solid Rosewood back and side sets.  This guitar and others in the Messiah Series are Maton’s top-of-the-line.

This guitar features a Solid Mahogany Neck adds thickness to its deeper and richer tone and again the Maton UV paint finishes this model with a finer and more refined quality. The Maton signature M MOP decal on the headstock is the finishing touch to a guitar that is truly a world class performer.

EM100J

In creating the Messiah line up, Maton sought to bring together the best of the world’s tone woods. In 2012 the line-up was enhanced to improve their flagship model to maximize its tone and projection by giving it a combination of scalloped bracing, mahogany neck, a thinner, rounded, back and an ultra thin UV finish.

The Messiah line-up features the APS Pro pickup system, as well as top-of-the-line woods, Ivory bridge pins, gold Grover tune-o-matic machines, herringbone binding, and comes with a Maton case.

This guitar also comes as a 12 string model, and as the Messiah EM808 auditorium size guitar, and the EM100J, Jumbo size model. These were the guitars favored by Tommy Emmanuel, before he was honored with his personal model.

EM808TEC

The Maton TE Series was designed in conjunction with Tommy Emmanuel. These the are Maton top-of-the-line guitars that Tommy uses in concert. They are based on his specifications to give a huge sound on stage, as well as withstand the various climates of the cities throughout the world, where he performs.

TE Personal

All of the Tommy Emmanuel models feature a Mother of Pearl block inlay on the 12th Fret, engraved with “C.G.P.” The acronym stands for “Certified Guitar Player,” a title bestowed on Tommy by Chet Atkins and held by only 3 other guitarists in the world – John Knowles, Jerry Reed and Steve Warriner.

Click on the links under the photographs for sources, click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)







Dream Guitars

Jerry Leger – Nonsense & Heartache

I had the good fortune of seeing Jerry Leger & The Situation live in Toronto recently. They have a strong local following for their regular gig at Castro’s Lounge in the Beaches area of town. While guitarist and pedal steel…

Dream Guitars

Guitar Rifles – April 1 2018

Sincere protester that should
have paid more attention in class

These days there is much turmoil in the United States regarding guns. I have no opinion. I am neither pro or anti-gun. But I do have a wonderl solution.

Much like pounding your swords into plowshares, turn your rifles into guitars.

Homemade Kalashnikov
guitar-rifle

Just think of it; a 100 watt Marshall stack cranked up to 11, and strumming power chords on your Kalashnikov rifle guitar; that would be enough to send the bad guys scrambling.

Former UN General Kofi Anon
 with his AK-47 guitar-rifle

All you are going to need is a rifle, a guitar neck with frets and tuning machines, a pickup or two, and a bridge. Oh you might need a few tools. How hard could it be? Kofi Anon, former UN Secretary General built one. So can you.

Rifle Guitar 

First make sure the magazine is empty and there are no rounds in the barrel.

Guitar Rifle with neck attached

Next remove the barrel, or you could even use it as a truss rod if you like. You will need to attach the neck to the rifle’s body. I’ll leave that up to you. Be creative.

On the rifle’s body, route out a section for the pickup(s).

Guitar Rifle controls
in the magazine

I suggest that you run the wiring into the magazine clip. Onto the clip add the volume and tone controls. Use the gun’s trigger as a pickup switch, or volume boost, by adding electronics into the stock. Add a bridge and saddle. This one is off of an acoustic guitar. I prefer metal bridges, but whatever works for you should be fine.

This guy used a Strat Jack – Smart move!

Of course you will want to add the input jack at the end of the rifle’s butt.

The most wonderful thing is that there are plenty of ready made molded hard shell cases to carry your Guit-rifle.

You may have a little trouble getting it through security and onto a plane, but once again, I have faith in you.

Glen Burton AK-47 Guitar Rifle

Now go forth, and turn your weapon into a formidable ax.

By the way, did you realize this is April Fools Day?

Click on the links under the pictures for sources.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

Dream Guitars

Nokie Edwards, Surf Guitarist and Much More

Nokie Edwards    1935 – 2018

Nokie Edwards, best know as lead guitarist with The Ventures passed away on March 12, 2018 at the age of 82.

Born  Nole Floyd Edwards on May 9, 1935 in Lahoma, Oklahoma, and nicknamed Nokie, Edwards was a native American Cherokee. He came from a family of accomplished musicians, and by age five he began playing a variety of string instruments including the steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, and bass. He became an excellent guitar player.

Later in life, his family relocated from Oklahoma to Puyallup, Washington. At age 18 he joined the Army Reserves and traveled to California and Texas for training. After his stint was over, he returned to Tacoma, and his family.

Nokie with his trio

In January 1958, country songwriter and guitarist Buck Owens relocated from California to Tacoma, Washington, as owner of radio station KAYE. Prior to the formation of The Buckaroos with Don Rich, Edwards played guitar with Owens in the new band he formed in the area, and also played in the house band of television station KTNT, located in the same building as KAYE.

That same year found Edwards playing at a local club.

Don Wilson and Bob Bogle had a chance meeting in 1958 where they discovered they both played guitar. These guys bought a couple of used guitars from a pawn shop and started playing at bars and small clubs.

Nokie with the Original Ventures

They went to see guitarist Nokie Edwards, who was playing at a nightclub and asked if he would join them as a bass player.  He took them up on the offer.  They originally called their band The Marksmen, but soon changed the name to The Ventures.

The drummer that originally played on the recording of Walk, Don’t Run, was Skip Moore. He left the group to work at his families gas station.

General George Babbit with The Ventures

Next George Babbitt joined the group, but had to leave, because he was too young to play in nightclubs. Years later he joined the US Army and went on to become a 4 Star General.

The Ventures then hired Howie Johnson as their drummer, and he played with the group until he was injured in an automobile accident. He was replaced by Mel Taylor. Taylor stayed with the group throughout the band’s tenure until he became to ill to continue, and was replaced by his son, Leon.

Johnny Smith

Back when Wilson and Bogle met Nokie Edward, he was already performing a Chet Atkins song called in his nightclub set called Walk, Don’t Run. This song was actually written and recorded by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith.

The Ventures

The Ventures took their version of this song to a recording studio and laid down a track, along with a B-side called Home, and had the company press some 45 rpm records, which they shipped to record companies and radio stations. The tune was eventually picked up by Dolton Records and went on to become #2 on the charts.

Walk Don’t Run ’64

It was later redone by The Ventures with an updated surf guitar arrangement and released again as Walk, Don’t Run ‘64. This song became one of only a handful of recordings that charted twice on the Billboard Hot 100. Walk, Don’t Run became required playing for all garage bands in the mid 1960’s.

It’s theme was slightly more complex than other surf songs, as it went from a minor to a major mode. The Ventures went on to produce many more albums, and even TV themes, however the early recordings were generally surf based music.

Night Run – The Marksmen

But in 1960, the first song Edwards and The Marksmen recorded was a single, “Night Run” with a song called “Scratch” on the B side, on Blue Horizon Records.

The Ventures 1960 Nokie on bass guitar

Edwards originally played bass for the group, but he took over the lead guitar position.

The Ventures in Japan 1965

The Ventures released a series of best-selling albums through 1968.  It was that same year that Edwards left the group, although he would occasionally reunite with the band.

The Venture Japan 2011
Nokie is seated

Nokie Edwards continued to tour Japan annually with The Ventures, primarily in winter, until 2012. It is amazing that the popularity of The Ventures never waned in Japan.

Edwards began a solo career in 1969 and released several albums through 1972.  Unfortunately Edward’s solo career was never successful in America.

The Ventures 1984

Nokie returned to the Ventures as lead guitarist in 1973. Edwards performed with the band until 1984, when he left again to pursue a music career in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nokie with The Ventures 1984

By the later 1980’s Edwards re-joined The Ventures once again. The group began another short stint of recording and touring before returning to Nashville.

Nokie Edwards on TNN 1996

During the 1990’s Edward’s was involved with numerous country-influenced recording projects. He became known and respected among many musicians and people in the recording industry.

These included Mark Moseley, who is the nephew of Semie Moseley, and owns a successful recording studio in Nashville that was started by his father, Andy Moseley.

Another friend of Nokie Edwards was Bob Shade, the current owner of Hallmark Guitars. Dana Moseley, Semi’s daughter, who still makes and sells Mosrite guitars in the United States can be counted among Nokie’s friends.

Deke Dickerson, who carries on the tradition of guitar music from the 1950’s and 1960’s was also one of Nokie’s friends.

Joe and Rose Lee Maphis were both friends of Edwards. There are also many more folks that worked with and respected Nokie Edwards.

The Ventures Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Finally in 2008, Edwards and The Ventures were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Ventures 1959

 Nokie Edwards and The Ventures used quite a few guitars during their careers. During their early years, The Ventures played late 1950 era Fender guitars; a Jazzmaster, a Stratocaster, and a Precision Bass. But probably the best known Ventures’ model was made by Semie Moseley’s company, Mosrite guitars.

Gene Moles on the left

One evening California session player, Gene Moles, was displaying his Mosrite guitar to Nokie Edwards of The Ventures. Edwards feel in love with that guitar. He asked Moles to take him out to visit that guy that builds these wonderful guitars and the men went to visit Semie Moseley.  That evening Edwards came home his own Mosrite.

Soon after the encounter, The Ventures hooked up with Moseley to build custom made Ventures guitars and basses.

Original Mosrite
Ventures model

“It was a beautiful guitar,” said Gene Moles, the Bakersfield session guitarist, and member of Jimmy Thomason’s TV band.

Moles was and assembly-line inspector for Mosrite guitars. Mole’s is quoted as saying  “It was a well-designed instrument. It felt good to a guitar player when he grabbed it. It had a narrow neck and a low profile, so you didn’t have to push down as hard on the strings to play it. And it had what we called ‘speed frets,’ where you could slide up and down the neck without getting held up on high-profile frets.”

Later Side
Jack Model

The client who turned Mosrite into a household name, at least among guitar enthusiasts, was Nokie Edwards, lead guitarist for the kings of ‘60s surf-rock, the Ventures. Edwards fell in love with the Mosrite guitar, and by 1962, the entire Seattle-based band set their trademark Fender guitars aside and were playing Mosrites on songs like “Walk, Don’t Run” and the theme from “Hawaii 5-0.”Before long, Edwards struck up a deal with Moseley to build guitars under The Ventures logo.

The Ventures signed a special distribution agreement with Mosrite, featured their guitars on their album covers.

This arrangement lasted from 1963 to 1965, when the model name was changed to the Mark I. However The Ventures continued to tour with Mosrite guitars from 1963 to 1968.

Briefly Mosrite had attempted to build and market an all transistor amplifier under The Ventures banner. However it failed, due to design problems. Mosrite made at least 4 versions of The Venture’s model that included a budget version and a six string/12 string double neck.

After the agreement between Mosrite and the Ventures ended, The Ventures returned to playing Fender instruments.

Wilson Brothers Model

Later in life, the group had arrangements with Aria Guitars, and Wilson Brothers Guitars to produce Ventures model guitars.

 Hitchhiker Guitar

Bob Shade of Hallmark Guitars, created a special model for Nokie called The Hitchhiker. This is an exquisite neck-through body guitar, with a hard maple neck, ebony fret board and highly figured body. The twin Seymour Duncan humbucking pickups are controlled by master volume and tone potentiometers, with a five-way pickup selector switch, a two mini-toggles that yield a tonal palette of 15 different sounds.

Hallmark Hitchhker 1

Shade also built Nokie an exquisite gold sparkle version of the Hitchhiker called The Hitchhiker 1. Nokie loved his Hitchhiker and it was the last guitar that he played in his concerts.

Nokie with an Aria guitar at
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

Though Nokie Edwards was known for his single note picking on The Ventures records, he was also a devotee and friend of Chet Atkins, and Nokie was an excellent finger picking guitarist.

He claims that the longevity of The Ventures was due to the songs they choose to record. They would look at the Billboard Top Hits, and the guitar styles played on those songs, and copy those styles to stay current with the times.

For all of us that learned guitar back in the mid-1960’s, we owe a debt of gratitude to Nokie Edwards, and Bob Bogle. We learned to play single note guitar, by listening to Walk, Don’t Run, and the other hit song by The Ventures.

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

Dream Guitars

Norma Guitars

Norma Guitars

In the mid 1960’s, a wholesale musical instrument distribution company existed known as Strum and Drum. They were based in Chicago, Illinois and imported guitars from all over the world and sometimes re-branded them for sale to United States music stores, or anyone who owned a business and wanted to sell guitars.

Don E. Noble & Company

In the 1950’s company called Don Noble and Co, was founded in the 1950’s by Don Noble, a well-known accordion player and entrepreneur.  He began by importing Italian made musical instruments, mainly accordions, in an era when the “stomach Steinway” was very popular and accordions were being sold door-to-door, and accordion academies were common in most larger cities. But he also imported guitars under the Noble brand name.

Somehow Noble became involved with business man Norman Sackheim.  Eventually the name became Strum and Drum.

Italian made mid-1960’s Nobel Guitar

Between Nobel, and Sackheim they imported quite a line-up that included Italiian guitars from EKO, Avanti, Wandre, and Goya.  In 1969 Strum and Drum purchased the National Guitar brand name.

Norma  EG-470

However from 1965 until 1969, you could find guitars with lots of pickups and switches under the brand name Norma, which was the feminized version of Mr. Sackheim’s name. He made certain the name adorned the headstocks of thousands of inexpensive guitars back In a time when everyone wanted to be the next big rock star.

The logo was a stylized music staff, with the name Norma entered with the “N” as artistically designed 8th note. On some “high-end” models, the fret maker inlays were done in the letter “N”.

1966 Norma Guitars

The manufacturing origin of these guitars is somewhat of a mystery, but for the most part they seem to have been manufactured at a plant called Tombo. We are for certain most of the fancier versions had their origin there.

1966 Tombo Guitar

As an aside “Tombo” is the Japanese word for Dragonfly The company is still active, but no longer manufacturers guitars. They now specialize in harmonicas under the Lee Oskar brand name. Some of the Norma guitars may have been manufactured by Teisco.

1969 Norma electric
  very similar to a Goya Rangemaster

The necks on these guitars were rather thick, possibly due to not have an adjustable truss rod. The single coil pickups are basic, and some guitars had as many as four pickups.

1966 Norma Bass Guitars

Then there are switches and knobs; lots of them. Most of these guitars and bass guitars were sold with a chipboard case, and retailed well below $100.

Mid 1960’s Norma Catalog

Unfortunately after purchasing National Guitar, Norman Sackheim was killed in a plane crash while on a trip to Moscow. I know the company existed at lease until 1972.

’68 Norma 12

By far my favorite Norma electric guitar was their 12 string. The body was based on an exaggerated version of a Fender Stratocaster.

Head stock of 12 string

The headstock was an exaggerated version of a Rickenbacker 12 string.

1968 EG421-4

This guitar also came in a six string version with four pickups, lots of switches, and knobs. In doing some further research on Norma Guitars, I have learned that these guitars are prized by collectors, and are currently selling in the $800 to $1000 USD range.

Dream Guitars

Stella Guitars

The Oscar Schmidt Factory
 Jersey City, NJ

Stella was the model name given to a series of guitars manufactured by The Oscar Schmidt Company of Jersey City, New Jersey. This company was established sometime between 1871, and incorporated in 1911.

Vintage Stella paper label

The Oscar Schmidt Company not only made some nice guitars, but manufactured a variety of stringed musical instruments, such as lap harps, autoharps, chord zithers, and something called a ukelin (which is a bowed psaltery made in the shape of a violin).

While other instrument manufacturing companies would create instruments to be sold through department stores, or catalogs, usually under the store’s brand name, the Oscar Schmidt Company’s strategy was door-to-door marketing.

A pair of top-of-the-line
Stella guitars with Tree of Life inlay

Each year the company would offer a special edition of an instrument, which was sometimes linked to a current newsworthy event, Salesmen kept detailed records of the customers buying habits, with the intent of reaching out to this customer in the future. Most of the instruments produced by the company were durable, easy to play, and to learn on for beginners.

Family music time in the parlor
circa 1920’s

During this era the only form of entertainment for families was outings, playing games such as cards, or playing music. Playing music in the family room/parlor, was how the term “parlor guitar” was coined.

1920’s Stella               1925 Soveriegn                  1925 La Scala 

The company created the Stella brand in 1899 as low cost and mid level guitars. At the time the company had two other brands; La Scala, and Sovereign, with Sovereign being their top-of-the-line. Stella guitars were made in various configurations, from parlor-sized, grand concert, even jumbo sized.

1920’s Stella

To keep the manufacturing cost down, many Stella guitars were made of solid birch. The nicer models were made of mahogany or German spruce. Despite the low cost, the wood was solid. Some of the tops featured unique decal designs. I’ve even run across those with decals applied to the fretboard. Stella guitars generally used ladder bracing.

1920’s Stella


Most Stella guitars did not last throughout the years, as the interior finishing was rather crude, and quickly completed. The bridges were made of rosewood, and on some instruments the strings attached to a trapeze tailpiece.

1935 Stella Westbrook

The fretboard was usually made of birch or maple and it was stained black. Unfortunately this stain caused some of the boards to eventually rot.

Leadbelly with his Stella 12 string
He tuned it down to B

With all that said, Stella guitars sounded great, and came with an affordable price; only $15 for a new guitar. This made the Stella an attractive guitar for Blues players of the day.

Stella 12 string


Leadbelly’s 12 string Stella (he called his guitar Stella, in the same way B.B. King called his guitar Lucille) provided a loud booming sound that could be heard In the Juke Joints or in the house parties during the days when amplification was not available, or deemed necessary. He tuned it down to B.

1920 Stella Regal


The Oscar Schmidt Company flourished for many years. At one point they even had five manufacturing facilities within the United States. Unfortunately the company did not last through the Great Depression of 1929. In 1930 the company’s assets were sold to the Harmony Company of Chicago, although Oscar Schmidt continued to manufacture and market autoharps.

Harmony made Stella H6130

Most guitar aficionados  will be more familiar with the inexpensive  Stella guitars manufactured by Harmony, than those made by Oscar Schmidt. Many of these were made by Harmony using solid birch wood for the bodies, that was painted to appear to have faux flame. The tops were usually had a two tone sunburst.

1965 Stella
Steel Reinforced Neck

The necks were made of poplar. The headstocks proudly announced “Steel Reinforced Neck”, although it was not adjustable. The position markers were painted on the fret boar. The machine heads were inexpensive, 3 on a plate, open gear style tuners.

A typical mid 1960’s Stella guitar
 model H929

Most models had a stamped metal trapeze tailpiece. If there was a fixed tailpiece, it was screwed into the body.

Stella-type guitar
 under the Winston brand

In later years manufacturing of some Stella-type guitars were built in Japan. These were beginner or student grade budget guitars. A four string tenor model was also available. These guitars usually retailed for a mere $20.00 USD and were made by either Teisco, or Kawai in the mid-1960’s. Essentially they were copying (although they refer to it as ‘making a reproduction’) of an already inexpensive USA made guitar. They were sold under the Winston brand name, and they were actually “badged” guitars, made for an import firm.

Waterloo WL-14

A few years ago, before his passing, luthier Bill Collings, of Collings guitars launched a new venture. He wanted to recreate guitars made in the 1920’s, that had “that” sound you would find on a guitar much like an Oscar Schmidt made Stella guitar and other brands of the era. So he founded Waterloo guitars.

Waterloo WL-S Deluxe

Waterloo instruments come in parlor to jumbo sized model guitars that feature ladder braced tops (with an X bracing custom option), necks with a V shape (this was an important feature on older guitars before truss rods were used), tops are spruce, backs, sides and necks are made of mahogany.

Instead of a $15 price for a new 1920 Oscar Schmidt Stella, with a $2.00 cardboard case, a Waterloo guitar with a custom hard-shell case will set you back around $2200.

But they are very nice guitars.

Currently the Washburn Musical instruments owns the Oscar Schmidt brand name. The company was formerly owned by musical instrument/electronics distributor U.S. Music, but was recently sold to the Canadian firm J.A.M Industries, which also is the wholesale distributor of musical instruments that are made abroad, and electronic musical equipment.

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further reading.
©UniqueGuitar bliPucations (text only)

Dream Guitars

Paul Weller – Live in Detroit

I’m a bit behind in my posts, so I’ll keep this one short. Paul Weller did a US tour, following his fall European tour, and I managed to see him live in Detroit at St Andrew’s Hall. I’d seen Weller…

Dream Guitars

Paul Kelly – Live in SF

Paul Kelly has been one of my favorite musicians since a trip a few years back to Australia. A buddy set me up with an iPhone full of Australian music and Paul Kelly’s "Songs of the South" greatest hits album…

Dream Guitars

Surf Guitar – Instrumental Guitar Music

The British Invasion

In 1965 the British Invasion was in full force, and so was the guitar boon. As a 13 year old boy, I had to have a guitar, and so did many of my friends.

The Surfaris

The popular British groups were mostly vocal groups. So, back in those days, to learn guitar we turned to guitar groups such as The Ventures, Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, The Chantays, and of course The Surfaris.

The Surfaris – Wipe Out

The Surfaris had written, recorded and performed the one-hit wonder “Wipe Out”. This simple 12 bar tune had only four notes that were repeated in the I, IV, and V position. If a guy had any sense of rhythm at it was simple to learn, and a great starter tune for all those young garage band guitarists.

An early publicity photo of
The Ventures

Those of us who wanted to take a further plunge into Surf guitar stepped up to learn songs by The Ventures, such as Walk, Don’t Run (both versions) or The Chantays song, Pipeline,  or Dick Dale’s Miserlou, or The Marketts song Out of LImits. All you needed was a good ear, and some ability to play basic guitar.

Dick Dale

Credit should be given to Dick Dale for the creation of Surf Music. As a young man, Dale had two passions; playing guitar and surfing. He was born in Boston, with the name Richard Monsour. His family lived in an Arab/Lebanese community in Quincy Mass, where he learned to play traditional music that was taught to him by his uncle. One of these songs was known as Egyptian Muslim Girl in Arabic, but translated to Miserlou in English.

While growing up, Dale learned to play traditional instruments. And this is where he got his rapid picking technique.

By his teen years, Dale’s father got a new job and moved the family to El Segundo, California. There Dick got involved with surfing and taught himself how to play guitar. And he became a master of both skills.

Dick Dale and The Del-Tones

He changed his surname to Dale, dabbled for a while in Country and Western music, before finding a niche by creating music about surfers and surfing. He then put together a band and called it Dick Dale and The Deltones.

By 1961 Dick Dale had become so popular in the city of Newport Beach that he was able to get permission from the owner of the Rendezvous Ballroom to reopen the shuttered establishment and put on a series of dances that he called Stomps. These events were very popular, drawing crowds of up to 4,000 people at each dance. Dale played this venue for a six-month stretch.

Dick Dale and the Del-Tones

During his sets, he kept blowing up his amplifiers, since his style of playing pushed those amps and speakers to the breaking point. As a result he got in touch with Leo Fender and Freddie Travares. Both men came to watch him play and after the shows, the men all got together to discuss what could be done.

Dick Dale with original Stratocaster

The result was the creation of the Fender Showman amp, which had transformers that could withstand Dale’s aggressive and extremely loud style, and also had a 15” JBL D130F heavy duty speaker, and boosted an output of 100 watts RMS.

This was the amplifier that Dale needed, and it went on to become the staple of most Surf bands.

Fender Reverb Unit

The other device that Dale, and many other Surf bands used was a outboard Fender Reverb Unit; model 6G15. This was a tube powered device that utilized a 12AT7 preamp tube, a 6K6 power tube, and a 12AX7 tube as the reverb recovery tube. This unit was usually placed on the floor, so it would not rattle on top of the amp and make noise.

It featured three controls; Dwell, Mixer, and Tone. This was usually the only effect that Surf bands used.

Surf music was meant to be played clean and loud. Any distortion came from the tubes in the amplifier.

The Chantays

Dale was a Californian. So were the members of the Chantays. Surprisingly,  some of the most well-known Surf bands were not from California, or even near an ocean.

The Marketts

The Marketts were more or less a studio band that played songs written by producer/songwriter Michael Z. Gordon. In 1961 Gordon put together a group of musicians from his home town of Rapid City, South Dakota called The Routers, and the group went on tour.

The Routers eventually moved to California and were signed by Warner Brothers Records, where they had a hit record called The Pony.

The Marketts aka The Routers

Gordon went on to write another tune that he called Outer Limits. This instrumental had a catchy recurring four note theme, which sounded too close to the theme song of a very popular television show called the Twilight Zone.

Around the same time the song was released, the Twilight Zone’s creator, Rod Serling, had developed another science fiction/mystery show called The Outer Limits. Not only was Mr. Serling not amused with the song, he thought the song’s title infringed on his new show’s trademark name. Serling sued and to settle the song was re-titled Out of Limits.

Out of Limits

Like many touring bands from that era, the song was actually recorded by session players in Los Angeles, including drummer Hal Blaine. This method saved the record companies money and put out recordings that were professionally done. Out of Limits went on to sell over a million copies. Gordon went on to write some lesser known surf songs. He later became famous for writing film and television music.

The Chantays

The Chantays started in 1961 as a group when they were still high school students in Orange County, California. A year later they had a hit record with their song; Pipeline. The Chantays had a few other minor hits, but will forever be remember for their one big hit.

The Chantays on Lawrence Welk

Pipeline was so popular that it was recorded by many other artists. The Chantays other claim to fame was being the only Rock/Surf band ever to be featured on The Lawrence Welk Show.

The Ventures 

Perhaps the biggest instrumental surf music band of all was not from California. Members of The Ventures all lived and worked in Tacoma, Washington.

Don Wilson and Bob Bogle

Don Wilson and Bob Bogle had a chance meeting in 1958 where they discovered they both played guitar. These guys bought a couple of used guitars from a pawn shop and started playing at bars and small clubs.

Nokie Edwards at right

They went to see guitarist Nokie Edwards, who was playing at a nightclub and asked if he would join them as a bass player.  He took them up on the offer. They called themselves The Ventures.

The Ventures with Howie Johnson

The band later went through several drummers before settling on a guy named Howie Johnson. The drummer that originally played on the recording of Walk, Don’t Run, was Skip Moore. Moore left the group to work at his families gas station

Next George Babbitt joined the group, but had to leave, because he was too young to play in nighclubs.

Babbitt went on to become a 4 Star General in the US Army.

The Ventures with Mel Taylor

Johnson played with The Ventures until he was injured in an automobile accident. He was replaced by Mel Taylor.

Back when Wilson and Bogle met Nokie Edward, he was already performing a Chet Atkins song called in his nightclub set called Walk, Don’t Run. This song was actually written by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith.

The Ventures Walk, Don’t Run

The Ventures took their version of this song to a recording studio and laid down a track, along with a B-side called Home, and had the company press some 45 rpm records, which they shipped to record companies and radio stations.

The tune was eventually picked up by Dolton Records and went on to become #2 on the charts. It was later redone by The Ventures with an updated surf guitar arrangement and released again as Walk, Don’t Run ‘64. This song became one of only a handful of recordings that charted twice on the Billboard Hot 100.

Walk, Don’t Run

Walk, Don’t Run became required playing for all garage bands in the mid 1960’s. It’s theme was slightly more complex than other surf songs, as it went from a minor to a major mode. The Ventures went on to produce many more albums, and even TV themes, however the early recordings were generally surf based music.

The Pyramids (with Dick Clark)

Another one-hit wonder band was The Pyramids. These guys were from Long Beach, California and scored in the Billboard Top 20 with their self penned song called Penetration. The group went on to get a part in the Bikini Beach movie, playing another song they had written called Bikini Drag.

1964 Fender Showman 15″ JBL

Most Surf groups used high wattage Fender amplifiers, usually a Showman, or Dual Showman. The only outboard effects were the stand-alone Fender Reverb unit. The sound also sometimes relied on the amplifiers onboard tremolo/vibrato circut.

Mosrite Fuzzrite

In 1964, The Ventures were working with Semie Moseley, and he gave them a Mosrite Fuzzrite pedal, which was used on a few songs; notably the 2000 Pound Bee (Although one source cites that the fuzz pedal used by The Ventures was made by a pedal steel player named Red Rhodes, that joined them on the album The Ventures In Space).

Interestingly, Moseley had hired a young man to help design amplifiers for his company. So Alexander Dumble is rumored to have modified The Venture’s Fender amplifiers.

Early photo of The Ventures

During their early years, The Ventures played late 1950 era Fender guitars; a Jazzmaster, a Stratocaster, and a Precision Bass.

Mosrite guitars had already become popular in California, due to the double neck model that Joe Maphis and Larry Collins played on a California television show called Ranch Party.

Gene Moles with his Mosrite

Semie Moseley, the guitars creator, also made a single neck version. Nokie Edward saw a local guitarist named Gene Moles playing one of these new Mosrite guitars. Edwards was fascinated with the sound and design and asked if Moles would introduce him to Moseley. On their first meeting Nokie Edwards walked away with a Mosrite guitar.

Mosrite
Ventures Model

Before long, Edwards struck up a deal with Moseley to build guitars under The Ventures logo. This arrangement lasted from 1963 to 1965, when the model name was changed to the Mark I. However The Ventures continued to tour with Mosrite guitars from 1963 to 1968.

Briefly Mosrite had attempted to build and market an all transistor amplifier under The Ventures banner. However it failed, due to design problems. After the agreement between Mosrite and the Ventures ended, The Ventures returned to playing Fender instruments.

Wilson Brothers
Ventures Model

Later in life, the group had arrangements with Aria Guitars, and Wilson Brothers Guitars to produce Ventures model guitars.

Aria Ventures model

And later in their career, The Ventures enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in Japan; the same country where Aria guitars are manufactured.

The Chantays

The Chantays played matching 1960 model Fender Stratocasters and a Fender Precision Bass from that same era after they became famous.

The Chantays

Prior to that one of the players used a 1961 Kay K580 with a single coil pickup. The other player had either a Valco or Airline single pickup guitar. The Chantay’s bass player had a 1960’s model Precision bass.

This group used Fender Showman amplifiers that were built between 1960 – 63 that were covered with white Tolex and had maroon grill clothe. Before that they have a Fender Deluxe amp, and a Danelectro/Silvertone style Twin Twelve amplifier, and of course the Fender reverb units.

The Pyramids

The two guitarists in the Pyramids played 1960 Fender Stratocasters. One player was left-handed and played a red strat, while the other right-handed player had a white strat. The bass player had a sunburst Precision bass with a black pickguard. This group also used “blonde” Fender Showman amplifiers.

Dick Dale’s Stratocaster

Dick Dale was given a Fender Stratocaster by Leo Fender. The story goes that Dale visited Fender at his office and announced that he was a guitar player, but did not have an instrument. Leo procured a Strat and has Dale to play something.

Dick Dale’s Stratocaster

Since Dale was left-handed, he flipped the guitar upside down and to Mr. Fender’s amusement played the guitar in this manner. Dick Dale had learned to play guitar with the large E string on the bottom and the small one on the top.

Mr. Fender must have been impressed because he had a left-handed Stratocaster built for Dick Dale. However Dale always strung it like it was a right-handed guitar.

Dale’s set up – original Showman amp
 – Dual Showman cab – reverb unit

Dale and Leo Fender had lengthy discussions on building guitars, amplifiers, and even combo organs. As previously stated, this was how the Fender Showman and Dual Showman were developed. At Dale’s suggestion the Tolex was changed from white material, to a light brown colour, which showed less dirt.

Dick Dale’s mid 1950’s Fender Stratocaster was originally painted Olympic White with a red tortoise shell pickguard. It is odd, since most models of that vintage had maple fretboards, Dick Dales model was perhaps the first of that era to have a rosewood fretboard.

Dale modified the guitar by removing all of the pots, since he felt they took away from the volume, and he always kept the guitar at full volume anyway.

His guitar had the older 3-way toggle switch. Dale had another switch installed that turned the middle pickup on or off. This enabled him to use the middle and neck pickups or the middle and bridge pickups simultaneously. Dick Dale never used the vibrato. He blocked it off with a piece of wood.

Dick Dale’s repainted Stratocaster

Sometime in 1963, Dale had the guitar repainted with a gold sparkle finish. He also changed pickguard to a plain white one. It has remained that way for years, and Dick Dale still uses the same guitar in his concerts.

Though Dick Dale was mainly thought of as an instrumental guitarist, he also sang on many of his early recordings.

1960 Fender Jazzmaster

Many of the California Surf and instrument guitar players preferred the Fender Jazzmaster, because of its pickups, which had a warmer sound than Stratocaster pickup and some of its other attributes.

1959 Fender Jazzmaster

One of the other features that made this guitar desirable to Surf players was it’s dual circuitry. The switch on the guitars upper bout enabled the player to chose the lead mode, in which both pickups acted conventionally, or the rhythm mode, which worked only on the neck pickup.

In this mode, volume and tone were controlled by the roller switches on the upper bout. This also activated a capacitor in this circuit that gave the guitar a warmer tone with more of an acoustic feel. The other difference was the use of 1M linear taper potentiometers for the lead tone control, and a 50 k linear taper potentiometer for the rhythm tone control.

The final feature that made the Jazzmaster most desirable was it’s long-armed vibrato. The vibrato in Surf  music of the day was used subtly to enhance the end of musical phrases.

1960’s Fender Stratocaster


The Fender Stratocaster seemed to be the preferable  choice for Surf bands as their lead instrument. It was usually played with the bridge pickup activated to get the best sound for this genre.

Fender Flatwound strings

Strings were also important to Surf players. They preferred heavier gauged flat-wound strings.

Difference – roundwound – flatwound

These strings were great for recording, and perhaps live playing, since there was no string scraping noise.

Dick Dale preferred regular extremely heavy gauged guitar strings as part of his sound. His preference was .016, .18, .20, .39, .49, and .60 gauge strings, with the .60 string being the first string.

One other aspect of surf music that may seem odd today, but was downright cool to a kid in the 1960’s was that while the groups played they also did a sort of synchronized dance; moving the guitar necks up, down, and side to side, while stepping back, forth, and sideways sometimes kicking a leg up and down. It is damn silly looking now.

Over on the other side of the world, there were a couple of groups that were prominent in instrumental music, which sounded very close to Surf music.

The Shadows

The Shadows were originally formed as the band that backed popular British singer Cliff Richards on his recordings and shows, and worked with him from 1956 to 1968.

However the group charted with several instrumental hits on their own. Most notably was a 1960 song called Apache. It was a great song.

The Shadows band included guitarists Bruce Welch, and Brian Rankin, aka Hank Marvin. They added bass player Jet Harris, aka Terrance Harris, and drummer Tony Meehan.

Apache – The Shadows

The song, Apache, was written by Jerry Lordan, went on to become a number 1 hit in the UK and abroad.

The Shadows had several more hit songs. Perhaps the best known player from the group was Hank Marvin. He was one of the first players in the UK to own a Fender Stratocaster.

VML Easy Mute and Trem bar

Marvin later modified this guitar to include a device called a VML Easy Mute Vibrato. This features a longer trem arm with an extra bend at the base. It allowed the player to hold onto the bar while picking the notes, and muting the bass strings with the palm of one’s hand.

The Shadows – Burns/Baldwin Guitars

At one point Marvin and the Shadows played Burns of London/Baldwin guitars, but later went back to Fender instruments. They always played through Vox AC30 amplifiers., and used a Watkins Copicat tape echo unit.

Telestar Satellite – 1962

In 1962 Bell Laboratories launched the first of two communications satellites into orbit around the Earth. Both satelited were called Telestar. The world was in awe and so was a British record producer/sound engineer named Joe Meek.

Joe Meek

Meek had a rented flat above a leather goods shop in Northern London. There he kept a lot of recording equipment. One electronic instrument that he had on hand was called a Clavioline.

Joe Meek’s Clavioline

This was a small electronic keyboard, which came with an amplifier and a stand. The Clavioline was only capable of generating one note at a time. Joe Meek used this instrument to compose the theme to a song he called Telestar.

Joe Meek and The Toranados

Meek recorded this song in his apartment and accomplished part of the arrangement by splicing in recordings of the computer like language that the satellite was transmitting back to Earth. He interspersed this with the theme music that was played on Clavioline, guitar, bass, and drums. He must have recorded the musicians there after the shop had closed.

His recording was laced with a lot of echo and reverberation giving the illusion that this song was being played by a much larger group in a much larger hall.

The group of musicians that recorded Telestar were known as the Toranados. They went on to do live performances of Telestar and other songs and were featured on LP’s.

The Toranados

Some of the members were session players in the British recording industry. These members included Clem Cattini on drums, Alan Caddy, who played the lead guitar part on a double cutaway Chet Atkins Gretsch model (also a Duo-Jet), George Bellamy who played o rhythm guitar on a mid 1950’s acoustic Gretsch model 6030 , that had an aftermarket pickup built into the pickguard (also seen with a Gretsch Anniversary), Heinz Burt, who played bass on a Framus Star bass guitar, and Geoff Goddard who played the Clavioline and did the vocal.

The Original Telestar Record

The Telestar song sold over 5 million copies and won awards. And though it was not a Surf song, it was a very important instrumental in rock/pop music history for this period.

Click on the links below the images for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

Dream Guitars

Ted Leo – Live in Detroit

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, one of my favorite bands in the last twenty years, is on tour promoting their first new album in seven years. Although the album "The Hanged Man" was mostly composed and performed by Ted Leo…

Dream Guitars

Glen Campbell – Some History and a Retrospective of His Guitars.

I’m dedicating this one to our own Glenn, my son-in-law. We nearly lost him in a tragic automobile accident on the very weekend I started writing this article. I am so glad you are still with us. You are a terrific father and husband. It will get better. Hang in there buddy.

Glen Campell on TV in 1965

The first time I saw Glen Campbell play was on a television show called Shindig It aired from 1964 to 1966, and it featured some top musical acts of that era.

Some of the Shindogs

The “house” band on the show were called The Shindogs and comprised of some of Los Angeles’ best session players, whose players alternated from time to time.

The band members included Glen Campbell, Joey Cooper, Chuck Blackwell (drums), Billy Preston, James Burton, Delaney Bramlett, Larry Knechtel (on bass), Leon Russell (on piano) Glen D. Hardin and bass player Ray Pohlman.

Glen Campbell rehearsing on Shindig!

Campbell was featured as a solo act on this show, singing and playing an unusual guitar that he seemed to favor. The guitar was a 1960 Teisco model T-60, that featured a set neck, and a hand carved body that had an unusual cut-out on the guitar lower bout and the headstock.

1960 Teisco T-60

It was equipped with 3 pickups that were made by the company, and a three-piece bridge/saddle unit that resembled the one found on early Fender Telecasters.

The metal pickguard covered much of the body. On it was mounted a volume and tone control and a 3 position rotary switch that chose the pickup. It would be a few years before Teisco (the Tokyo Electric Instrument Company) began flooding the US and European market with cheap electric guitars.

Campbell with The Wrecking Crew

Glen seemed to favor this guitar and used it during his days as a LA studio musician, with The Wrecking Crew. When he first made television appearances, he played this same guitar.

Glen was born into a family of 12 children, His father was a sharecropper. He grew up and lived in a town near Delight, Arkansas. He received his first guitar at age 4 and took to it immediately. Since the neck was not adjustable and the strings were high, his father fashioned a capo out of an old inner tube. His extended family included several musicians. He was fond of reminding people that he was the seventh son of a seventh son.

Glen on a Tele with his uncles band

At age 16 Glen dropped out of high school to pursue a career as a guitar player. His first job was with his uncle Eugene aka Boo, at a nightclub gig in Casper, Wyoming.

In 1956 they traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico in a group called The Sandia Mountain Boys, which was led by another Uncle named Dick Bills.

Within a couple of years, Glen Campbell had formed his own band called The Western Wranglers. By 1960 he moved to Los Angeles California and had a daytime job working for the American Music publishing company, writing songs and performing demo recordings. Word got out about this talented singer/guitar player and he was in demand.

Glen Campbell in The Champs

By October of that year he landed a job as a guitarist for The Champs who had recorded the 1958 hit,Tequila. Interestingly, the other Champs members at the time were Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts.

Around this same time, Glen Campbell was hired by several session producers to play guitar with other anonymous back up musicians that later were came to be known as The Wrecking Crew.

Glen Campbell in the Wrecking Crew

Campbell played on recordings for such well-known acts as Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson (Travelin’ Man), Dean Martin (he played on the hit Everybody Loves Somebody), Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra (These Boots are Made for Walking).

He aslo backed up Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean (Surf City), The Beach Boys (he played acoustic guitar on Be True to Your School, Pet Sounds and other recordings), Ronnie Dove, and Frank Sinatra. Phil Spector sought him out to play on some of his hits recorded by the Righteous Brothers.

Elvis, Priscilla, Campbell

Glen Campbell played on recordings for Elvis, striking up a friendship with The King. Both men came from the same humble Southern roots. Glen played guitar on many demo recordings for Elvis and on the album Viva Las Vega.

Campbell goes solo

By 1961, Campbell had left The Champs to pursue a solo career and was signed by Crest Record, which was a subsidiary of the music publishing company where he worked. His first recording, “Turn Around, Look at Me” peaked at #62 on the Billboard Hot 100 that same year. It later became a hit for The Vogues.

That same year Campbell formed another band called the Gee Cees with some of the members of The Champs and played at local clubs.

By 1962 he inked a deal with Capitol Records and had a minor hit with the song “Too Late to Worry, Too Blue to Cry”.

He continued to record and write music. However his forte at the time was the session work. He was featured on an incredible 586 recorded songs, despite the fact that he could not read music. He would have someone at the session sing or hum the part and he immediately played it “by ear”.

Not only did he play guitar, but doubled on banjo, mandolin, and bass guitar.

It was in 1964 that Campbell got into television, as a regular on several shows including a California series called Star Route, and the Shindig!, and another California series called Hollywood Jamboree.

Glen Campbell as a Beach Boy

Around this same time, Beach Boys founder and song writer Brian Wilson had succumb to a mental breakdown and quit touring with the band. The Beach Boys hired Glen Campbell to tour with them. For a year, Glen Campbell played bass guitar and sang harmony with the act.

In 1965 Glen Campbell finally had a a solo hit record with a song called Universal Soldier. This anti-war song (the US and allies were in the midst of the Vietnam War) was written by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

The following year, Campbell was hired again by The Beach Boys as a session player for their Pet Sounds album.

Rick Nelson and Glen Campbell 

Later that year he was hired to play bass guitar by Ricky Nelson on a tour of the Far East.

Campbell with Epiphone Zephyr

During his time as a session player, Glen played his Teisco guitar and an Epiphone Zephyr Deluxe.

It was in 1966 Glen finally struck gold when he was paired with songwriters Jimmy Webb and John Hartford.

He shared a friendship with both men throughout his life time.

Glen Campbell & John Hartford

John Hartford wrote and recorded Gentle on My Mind and Glen had heard Hartford’s version. Campbell hired fellow session players to come into the Capitol Record studio and make a demo of him singing this song so he could pitch it to producer Al De Lory.

During the session, Campbell shouted directions to the players. He left the rough cut for De Lory to hear.

The next day De Lory listened to it and fell in love with the song and Glen’s recording. De Lory immediately went to work on it, removing Glens directions to the musicians, but keeping Glens vocal and the music. Without telling Campbell, De Lory went ahead and released the song. It went on to become a mega hit for Campbell and won a Grammy for John Hartford.

In 1968 Campbell followed up with the song Wichita Lineman, which was penned and orchestrated by Jimmy Webb. Webb says he wrote the song as he drove through Washita County in southern Oklahoma.

The road was straight and seemed to go past endless lines of telephone poles. He saw a solitary lineman that was strapped at the top of one of these poles, doing repair work, causing Webb to think about the loneliness of this job. The phrase “singing in the wires” came from the vibrations induced by the electric current flowing through the lines.

Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell

In his arrangement he tried to mimic this through the droning of the string parts and the sort of Morse code at the end of the verse. Webb had made a decision that Wichita Lineman had a better ring to it than “Washita” Lineman, so the songs working title was changed.

Campbell’s recording was also produced by Al De Lory and charted for 15 weeks in 1968. It is listed among Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 500 greatest songs of all time.

By The Time I Get To Phoenix

Campbell followed this up with two other Jimmy Webb songs; By the Time I Get to Phoenix, and Galveston. By the Time I Get to Phoenix was inspired by Webb’s break up with his girl friend. This song was originally recorded in 1965 by Johnny Rivers but failed to chart. Glen added it to his album in 1967.

Galveston

The song Galveston was Campbell’s follow up hit, released in 1969. Webb had written it as a war protest song during the Vietnam War years. During the Civil War the Battle of Galveston took place in 1863. I do not know if this battle influenced Webb. What I do know is that Webb imagined a soldier who had come to the realization that he was fighting for a cause that he felt was disingenuous.

Webb imagined the soldier thoughts and put them into these lyrics; “Wonder if she could forget me, I’d go home if they would let me, Put down this gun, and go to Galveston.

In 1968 Glen Campbell won 10 Grammys, three Hall of Fame Awards, a lifetime acheivement award, and the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award.

Galveston – 45 rpm single

Hawaiian singer Don Ho introduced Glen Campbell to the song. However that profound verse was deleted and changed to; “I still hear your sea waves crashing, While I watch the cannons flashing, I clean my gun, and dream of Galveston.” This made it less of a protest song, more of a love song, and a number one Billboard hit for Campbell. This song came out in 1969.

Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour

Due to his popularity 1968 Glen Campbell was asked by CBS to be the summer time replacement host of the successful Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour variety show. The audience loved him and the following year he was invited to host The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.

This show debuted in 1969 and ran through 1972.

Jerry Reed and Campbell

Campbell introduced a lot of wonderful musicians on this show, including his friends Jerry Reed, John Hartford, Doug Dillard (the banjo player for the Dillards), and Mason Williams. Toward the end of the show, they would all sit together and play a few songs in the “Pickin’ Pit.

This show introduced a lot of people to Country Music that would not have listened to it otherwise.

Campbell also turned his talent to the movies, making appearances in one flick called Norwood, and the John Wayne movie, True Grit.

Rhinestone Cowboy

While touring Australia Campbell heard a tune by Country Music writer/singer Larry Weiss, called Rhinestone Cowboy. Campbell related to the song and upon returning to the United States took it to Capitol Record and recorded his version. It charted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. (For those not familiar with Nashville, Tennessee, Broadway is the street where you can find all the music clubs.)

Allen Toussaint Southern Nights

New Orleans pianist and song writer Allen Toussaint has left us with some incredible music. In 1975 he wrote a song based on the childhood memories of the evenings he spent with his Creole grandparents on the porch of their home.

He called the song, “Southern Nights”.

Toussaint’s version was down tempo, thoughtful, and the lyrics are just plain beautiful. Songwriter Jimmy Webb loved the song and brought it to Glens attention. With the help of his friend, Jerry Reed, they came up with the guitar introduction that featured the treble strings playing a descending two bar passage, while at the same the bass strings played an ascending passage. Glen’s version was uptempo, and cheerful, and was another hit for him.

Later in his career Campbell continued to tour, had three failed marriages, a fling with Country Music singer Tonya Tucker and had battled substance abuse. Most of this occurred during the mid 1970’s,

Glen and Kim Campbell

Glen finally got the help, discipline, and understanding he needed when, in 1982, he remarried for the last time to his wife Kim.

Campbell recording with
The Stone Temple Pilots

During the 1990’s he became a successful performer, owning his own Goodtime Theater In Branson, Missouri. He still toured the world giving concerts, sometimes with symphony orchestras.

In 2008 Glen decided to record a project called Meet Glen Campbell. This featured some songs by Green Day, The Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, John Lennon, Lou Reed and others. Backing him on this recording were Wendy Melvoin, who played keyboards for Prince, Tom Petty, Rick Neilsen, and Danzig guitarist Todd Youth. In addition to others that sang background, were Campbell’s own children.

Glen and Ashley Campbell
The Last Tour

In 2010 his doctor gave him the dreadful diagnosis that Campbell was in the early stages of Alzheimer disease. The following year, 2011, Glenn, his wife, and the three children from his marriage to her, embarked on his farewell tour. His three children comprised most of his back up band.

The tour was filmed and the results showed his regression as the disease ravaged his brain. Though he could no longer remember lyrics to songs, he did not forget how to play guitar.

Sadly, he went into the studio and recorded one last song called I’m Not Going To Miss You. The recording was backed by several of his friends that played in The Wrecking Crew.

Campbell passed away last week on August 8th when the disease robbed his brain of the ability to control his central nervous system. Throughout his career Glen Campbell used a vast collection of guitars. One of the first guitar companies to have a relationship with Campbell was The Ovation guitar.

Ovations similar to those that Glen played

Ovation guitars were a fairly new comer to the guitar market, having its start around 1965, with the development of an acoustic guitar with a round fiberglass back. Glen Campbell like the rugged concept of the guitar.

He encouraged the company to produce a model with an acoustic pick up, since he did not like to have a microphone stand in front of him.

He also did not think the guitar was loud enough. CEO Charles Kaman took his advice and obliged by having his engineers develop one of the best under-saddle acoustic transducer/pickups that was ever designed.

In a meeting with Campbell, Mr. Kaman gave him one of the first Ovation acoustic-electric Balladeer guitars. Campbell used this guitar, and many other Ovation guitars on his Goodtime Hour televsion show.

Campbell with
Ovation Glen Campbell model

Among those guitars were the Ovation Balladeer (this one was redesigned especially for Glen and designated The Glen Campbell model 1627), an Ovation classical acoustic electric model 1613, an Ovation acoustic electric 12 string model 1615.

Campbell playing an Ovation Toronado

He also several Ovation electric models, including a Tornado electric guitar.

Campbell with Ovation Viper 12 string

Campbell played an Ovation six and 12 string Viper models in a blue-burst finish that were referred to as Bluebirds.

Ovation Toronado

The Tornado guitar that Glen can be seen playing on his TV show is an interesting guitar. Ovation did not build the bodies. They were manufactured in Germany by the same company that made bodies for some Framus guitars. The pickups were made by Schaller, another Germany manufacturer. The bodies and parts were sent to the Kaman factory in Connecticut for assembly and bolt-on Ovation necks were added. Even after the TV series ran its course, and late into his career.

Campbell with Ovation Breadwinner

Glen also played an Ovation Breadwinner. This was a uniquely shaped guitar that essentially looked like a battle-ax. The body was made of mahogany, the neck was bolt on, and the electronics were active.

Campbell continued to play Ovation guitars at his concerts throughout his career.

Campbell with Mosrite
12 sting

I do not know how much of a relationship Glen had with Semie Moseley, the creator/builder of Mosrite Guitars. I know that Glen played several Mosrite guitars, including a 12 string electric, a Mosrite hollow body Ventures 12 string model, and a custom Mosrite Californian resonator guitar that had 2 pickups.

Semie Moseley of Mosrite took over the Dobro operation from the Dopyera brothers in 1966. Their factory was based in Gardena California.

The first instruments that Mosrite made were assembled from original Dopyera parts in the Gardena factory.

Campbell with Mosrite Californian Dobro

Later on Semi phased in his own components and concepts. This guitar was made with Dobro parts and a Mosrite neck and pickups. Glen’s name is inlaid on the fretboard.

He owned two other Mosrite electric guitars and one rare Mosrite acoustic guitar.

1966 Mosrite Celebrity

One was a Mosrite Celebrity model. The body was made by Framus, the neck, pickups, and electronics were by Moseley. The vibrato was made by Framus.

Plainsman Dobro 

The other was a 1966 Mosrite Plainsman Dobro electric guitar. This one was made by Dobro. Semie Moseley added the pickup, electronics, and added a Mosrite neck.

Campbell with Mosrite Seranader

The acoustic model is a 1965 Mosrite Serenader. The body is solid spruce, the back and sides are solid mahogany. The dove tailed neck has the Mosrite headstock. The unique pickguard has a tortoise-shell appearance. Glenn owned two of these guitars.

Campbell with a Fender Bass VI

Campbell played a Fender Bass VI on Wichita Lineman, and Galveston.

Campbell with a Stratocaster

Much later in his career he routinely played a dark blue Fender Stratocaster. On one of the forums that I used to visit, a guitar tech said that one of Glen’s guitar techs brought it into his shop for some quick repairs and adjustments. He commented on the forum that it was a great guitar. Glen also owned a Lake Placid Blue stratocaster, a black stratocaster, and a red strat with twin humbuckers.

Campbell 1956

You can see from one picture towards the top of the page, Glen started out playing a Telecaster that was equipped with a Bigsby B5.

This Tele had the Bigbsy as an add-on, longer before Fender offered this option in 1967. The photo is from around 1956. He is playing at a store that sells house paint.

Glen with a G&L Comanche

Glenn also owned and played a G&L Comanche, which was a strat-style guitar that had split pickups.

Campbell with his guitars

Glen owned and played so many guitars, it is difficult to mention all of them.

Glen owned several Martin guitars, one was a Martin N-20 classical model.

Campbell with Martin

The other was probably a Martin D-28, since the sides appear to be rosewood.

Campbell’s Ovation Vipers
(Blue Birds)

Glen loved 12 string guitars. He played his is can be often seen playing his Ovation Viper 12 string.

Campbell with Hamer 12 string

Later played a beautiful Hamer 12 string electric guitar that he used in concert when he played Southern Nights.

Glen was an amazing guitarist and vocalist. In fact he is one of the most versatile guitarists ever.

As a session player he played on many of the Beach Boys songs, and also played on Frank Sinatra’s classic recording of Strangers In The Night. He loved his family, and made a life with his music that many of us can only dream about.

He remained an incredibly talented man right up to the end. He will be missed.

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©UniqueGuitar Blog (text only)

Glen plays an incredible solo on a vintage late 1950’s Stratocaster in this video





Dream Guitars

The Guitars of Roger McGuinn

Roger McGuinn

Roger McGuinn was born in 1942 and grew up in the Chicagoarea. His parents were journalists. They loved to read and were devoted to literary charities, even going so far as to have a book published.



James Joseph McGuinn, his given name went to The Latin School of Chicago. He became bitten with the music bug after hearing Elvis Presley sing Heartbreak Hotel.  

He begged his parents for a guitar.

Other childhood influences include Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins and the Everly Brothers. 




Old Town School of Folk Music



In 1957 McGuinn enrolled in
Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. It was there that he learned to play the five string banjo and got serious about playing guitar. By his graduation he was playing solo at various Chicagocoffeehouses.  




The Chad Mitchell Trio


His influences included several trio vocal groups including the Limeliters and the Chad Mitchell Trio, a group which he would later become a member.

Bobby Darin


McGuinn got a job playing guitar and singing background in Bobby Darin’s band. This job lead to him relocating to California and the Los Angeles music scene. It was in Los Angeles that he met future members of the Byrds.




The Brill Building



In 1962 Darin hired McGuinn with the thought in mind that Darin wanted to add some folk music to his career. These were the years that Folk Music had significantly gained in popularity. By mid 1963, Darin’s health began to fail and he retired from singing. He opened a songwriting and publishing office in New York City’s BrillBuilding and hired Jim McGuinn. 

McGuinn also found work as a studio guitarist and that same year was backing up Judy Collins and Simon & Garfunkel on their recordings.

The rumblings of Beatlemania and the British Invasion were about to take place. Within less than a year the Beatles American tour would commence. 


The Troubadour


McGuinn traveled back to Los Angelesand took a job at Doug Weston’s The Troubadour. Jim McGuinns act included folks songs that were played in a rock style. 

This caught the attention of Gene Clark. Clark befriended McGuinn and thus was formed the beginnings of the Byrds.

Eventually the duo found other like-mined folk/rock influenced member, Chris Hillman, David Crosby and Michael Clarke. The quintet began to perform at Los Angeles clubs. In January of 1965 they recorded the monster hit, Mr. Tambourine Man. 

The Byrds’ version was much different than what the songs writer, Bob Dylan, had put down on vinyl.

Their version began with an amazing four bar guitar intro and outro that was played on a Rickenbacker 12 string guitar. This was a fairly recent instrument at the time and provided a very unusual sound. Part of that sound was dependent on the engineers use of compression technology. 

Members of the Byrds were dismayed by the fact that the only group member playing an instrument on the recording was McGuinn. 

This was typical of most major recording sessions. Studio time was expensive and record companies wanted ‘product’ out as soon as possible. And this track was being done at Columbia Studios.  



’65 McGuinn and producer Terry Melcher

Members of the Wrecking Crew, including Bill PIttman on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on bass, and Leon Russell on piano, backed up Roger McGuinn, who played his 12 string guitar on Mr. Tambourine Man. 

The other members of the Byrds sang back up.


Members of the Wrecking Crew were hired to play on the hit instead of The Byrds members. The Byrds did their own vocals with McGuinn singing lead. 


Rickenbacker 360/12 string

In McGuinn’s words, “The Rickenbacker 12 string by itself is kind of thuddy. It doesn’t ring. But if you add compression you get that longer sustain. I found this out by accident. 


Teletronix LA-2A Compressor

The engineer, Ray Gerhardt would use compression on everything to protect his equipment from loud rock and roll. Two Teletronix LA-2A tube based compressors and the guitar signal was sent directly to the board. 

“That is how I got my ‘jingle-jangle’ tone. I was able to sustain a note for three or four seconds.”




The Byrds Eight Miles High


This came in handy with the Byrds next hit, Eight Miles High. It was in this song that Jim McGuinn attempted to emulate John Coltrane’s disconnected jazz riffs. He didn’t think this could be accomplished without such sustain.





Rickenbacker 360/12

McGuinn goes on to say, “I practiced eight hours a day on that ‘Ric,’ which worked out well. Acoustic 12 strings have wide necks and thicker strings that were spaced farther apart and were hard to play. But the Ric’s slim neck and low action let me explore jazz and blues scaled….I incorporated more hammer-ons and pull-off into my solos. I also translated some of my banjo picking techniques to the 12 string. 

By combining a flat pick and metal finger picks…I discovered I could instantly switch from fast single-note runs to banjo rolls and get the best of both world.”


The Byrds

As a group the Byrds lasted two years, but played and recorded with other members and other differing names. The actual band officially called it quits in 1973. McGuinn went on to maintain an electric guitar band until 1981 when he decided to be a solo artist.




Roger McGuinn 2014

When James Joseph McGuinn started with the Byrds, he used his given nickname ‘Jim.’ Sometime in the mid 1960’s he started exploring spirituality and became involved with the Subud Spiritual Association. In 1967 the groups leader suggested if he was going to vibrate with the universe, he should consider a new name. 

Jim sent in a list of ten names that had to do with airplanes and science fiction

As Roger was the one actual name and the 18th letter of the 
alphabet that air pilots use when talking on the radio, that was the name McGuinn chose. 


Camilla and Roger McGuinn



Since then Roger and his wife Camilla have become Christians.





370/12RM


McGuinn’s first Rickenbacker was a two pickup model 360-12 that had a beautiful blond finish. He was fascinated by the guitar George Harrison played in Hard Days Night. Harrison’s guitar was bound on the front and the back of the body. It was done in a yellow-to red sunburst finish that Rickenbacker calls Fireglo. 

McGuinn could not find a Rickenbacker 12 string that had the pointier cutaways and top trim. He purchased the only available model and used it through his Byrds career.



This guitar was stolen and when he replaced it with a similar instrument. He states that in later years it showed up at an auction and sold for $100,000.

JangleBox Compressor

As he states, much of his sound is based on compression, for years Roger McGuinn was unable to replicate that sound on a live stage. 

Paul Kanter of the Jefferson Airplane suggest using a Vox Treble Booster. This was one of the first generation sound enhancers. The unit was small and plugged into a guitars input. 


McGuinn took the booster apart and installed in internally in his Rickenbacker. He states he tried other compression units, but could not get his sound until the Jangle-Box was invented.


Rickenbacker 370/12RM

McGuinn states that he has since he currently has a built-in compression unit onboard his triple pickup Rickenbacker 370-12RM that was designed by engineer, Bob Desiderio. As an aside he states that John Hall, the owner of Rickenbacker, allowed 1000 370-12RM models to be built and will not produce anymore to preserve their value.




Roland JC 120 Jazz Chorus


McGuinn currently uses the Jangle Box and a Roland JC120 amplifier to achieve his sound. 








Rickenbacker 360/12


McGuinn does his own string changes and set up on his guitars. Changing strings on a Rickenbacker 12 can be an all day task. McGuinn has produced a video to show how he changes strings and also how he makes neck adjustments.


Martin D12-42RM

Besides the Rickenbacker 370-12RM, McGuinn has other guitars he carries with him on tour.  The Martin Guitar Company has produced and provided two Roger McGuinn models. The first is a D12-42/RM 12 string guitar. This is an exquisite 42 model Martin with all the bells and whistles. Alas, it is no longer in production.


Martin also came out with a very unique model for McGuinn called the HD-7. This is a historic dreadnought style 45 Martin that has 7 strings. The unusual thing about this instrument is that an octave ‘G’ string is added to give the sound of a 12 string guitar, but the ease and convenience of a 6 string guitar.  

Roger frequently utilized single string runs to get his sound and this guitar does the trick.  It too is no longer in production, but is still available through some major music stores.



He was using a Fender Mastertone banjothat was given to him by Fender guitars when they were about to be acquired by CBS. He traded it to a friend for an old banjothat was made using Vega and Ode banjo parts.




During his days with Sweethearts of the Rodeo, he used a Gretsch Country Gentleman. He did not think the Rickenbacker 12 would fit into Country Music.


He states that he owns two Rickenbacker ‘Light Show’ guitars, but no longer takes them on the road. He owns a number of Rickenbacker guitars. He also owns a Martin 00-21.



Now in his 70’s, McGuinn only tours to theaters and performing arts centers stating they are well equipped facilities. He travels with his wife and enjoys getting in touch with fans all over the country.




The Rock Bottom Remainders

Roger is also part of a novelty band called the Rock Bottom Remainders. This is a group of writers, who would like to be musician and musicians and all are having a great time. 

The band was established by writer, producer and literary agent Kathi Kamen Goldmark.  

Over the years the Remainder has included among its members Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Cynthia Heimel, Sam Barry, Matt Groening, Greg Iles, Maya Angelou and Al Kooper.
 
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©UniqueGuitar Publications

Dream Guitars

Emerald Guitars

Alistair Hay

Alistair Hay grew up in the Irish seaside town of Creeslough, located in North West Donegal in Ireland. His father ran the family farm. His father was quite a craftsman and made whateve was needed by the family or at the farm. His father eventually took a job with an engineering firm as a designer and moved the family to East Donegal.

East Donegal Today

When the firm he had joined began to fail.  Mr. Hay set up his own business building products made from fiberglass that included boats, children’s play equipment, and go karts.

As Alistair grew up, he went to work with at his fathers business where he learned about composites and fiberglass. This peaked Alistair’s interest in engineer and designing products made of composite materials.

Royal & Prior - Athlone Tech

Alistair went on to attend Royal and Prior College, and the from compounds. Upon graduating he went on to attend Athlone Institute of Technology to study Polymer Engineering.

Seebold Sports Formula One Racing

After graduating, Alistair Hay had an opportunity to take a job with Seebold Sports, a company that builds fiberglass bodies, motors, and parts for racing boats. The owner of the company, Bill Seebold, became his mentor.

He encouraged him to follow his own path and find a career based on what he knew and enjoyed. Hay chose to work with carbon fiber; a subject of which he has amassed tremendous knowledge.

Steve Vai with Custom Emerald Ultra

In 1994, while still working at Seebold, Hay had an idea to build guitars from composite material. But he had no knowledge of luthiery. Hay played guitar and was fascinated by guitar players, especially Steve Vai. But had no knowledge of guitar construction.

He learned to build guitars by reverse engineering his own guitar. He made many mistakes during his learning curve. He developed a friendship with a skilled luthier that offered him instructions that became a tremendous help.

The First Emerald Guitar
 to leave the factory

By 1998 Alistair Hay was confident enough to start Emerald Guitars and offer his instruments for sale. He admits it was trial and error, and continual improvement until 2001. The first Emerald Guitars were offered to the public in 1999.

During those early years, Emerald Guitars had partnered with Parker Guitars in a deal to use their fret boards. This was a great partnership until Ken Parker and his partner sold Parker Guitars to the musical instrument conglomerate US Music.

Richie Sambora with
Emerald 

The sale created a real problem for Hay and Emerald Guitars, since US Music quit sending fret boards to Hays’ company. In 2008 Emerald Guitars was unable to fulfill any orders and had to shut down operations.

Steve Vai  with Emerald Ultra LP Cover

As stated, Hay states he was always fascinated by guitars and guitar music. He found inspiration from listening to an album by Steve Vai. And later Hay built 3 guitars for Vai.

Wang Leehom & Alistair Hay
with Tay Kewei’s Emerald Guitar

In 2008, while traveling, Hay met a singer from Singapore named Tay Kewei. She was in a band with guitarist Wang Leehom, who is very popular in his country. Kewei was looking for a new guitar, so Hay built one for her with a unique body and headstock that resemble dragons.

Hay with a custom guitar

This creation inspired Hay to start building guitars again, and restart Emerald Guitars.

It was almost four years before Hay was able to redesign his molds to include a carbon fiber fretboard. By doing this, the company is no longer dependent on outsourcing. Since resuming production in 2012, Emerald Guitars has come with with quite a line up.  Their guitars are well made and by no means inexpensive. However they are built for a lifetime.

The Opus line is the most available. These guitars only come with a black finish. They come in a full line up of guitars, ukes, and a bass. There are options that can be added if desired.

Opus 7

The Opus 7 is a parlour sized instrument with a 24″ scale. The overall length is 30″, so it makes a great travel guitar.  The Opus 20 has similar accoutrements to the 7 model, but is a full sized guitar, with a 25 1/2″ scale, and a 40″ overall length.

Opus 20

The Opus 20 is offered for right or left handed players. Both instruments come with a gig bag, and pickups can be added at an additional cost.

Opus Chimaera

The Opus Chimaera is a double neck 6 and 12 string instrument. Both necks have a 25 1/2″ scale, and the instrument weighs less than a Fender Stratocaster; only 6.3 lbs (3 kg).

Emerald Synergy Opus 7 and Synergy Opus 20 Harp Guitars

Emerald Guitar’s forte is their harp guitars. Not a lot of companies specialize in harp guitars. For their Opus line, Emerald offers two instruments. The Snyergy Opus X7 pairs a 24″ scale guitar neck with six bass strings that jut out of the upper bout and are attached to the top of the instrument. The overall length is 37 1/2″. A few years ago, one of these instruments was being offered as a test guitar to anyone who signed up and agreed to pay $45 to keep it for a week and then ship it to the next person that wanted to try it out.. This guitar is acoustic, but a pickup can be added.

The Synergy Opus X20 is a full sized harp guitar, with a 25 1/2″ scale on the guitar neck. It too has six bass strings, and a pickup system is an upgrade-able option. Both harp guitar come with a gig bag.

Balor Bass Opus

For bass players, Emerald offers the Balor Bass Opus. This is a five string, 34″ scale acoustic bass guitar that can be upgraded to add a pickup. It comes with a padded gig bag, and Gotoh GB707 bass machine tuners.

Emerald keeps limited stock on hand for all their instruments, so check this link to the companies web site to see what is on hand.

Emerald Artisan Chimaera
in Wooded Bubinga

Emerald Guitars also offers their Artisan Line, which are custom, made-to-order hand built instruments. These include the L.R. Baggs Element active pickup system in the cost

The instruments are offered in your choice of these colours; black, blue, green, red, and amber. The guitars are sized much like the Opus series, X7, X20, the Chimaera six/12, and both Synergy series harp models.

Emerald Amicus Artisan models

Added is the Amicus Artisan model, which is a 12 string guitar, with a short 18″ scale length. It is meant to be tuned down one whole step from standard E tuning. All Artisan models come with a deluxe padded gig bag.

Custom Shop X20 Woody Cocobolo

And if you want more, Emerald Guitars can create the guitar of your dreams through their custom shop.

Alistair with custom creation

If you want to, Alistair Hay will personally design and build and Emerald Guitar to your specifications.

Emerald custom made “Cello” Guitar

Such was the case with this custom guitar that he built for someone that wanted a nylon string guitar that resembled a cello. Click on the line below the picture to learn about this amazing creation.

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Dream Guitars

Doctor Who’s Guitar

Doctor Who

I have been a fan of the British television series, Doctor Who, for many, many years. For the past two years, the Doctor has been played by Peter Capaldi, who has done a wonderful job in the role as the Time Lord. In fact he is my favorite incarnation of the Doctor.

William Hartnell, the 1st Doctor

For those who are unfamiliar with the show, the original Doctor Who was played by actor, William Hartnell from 1963 to 1966. Due to his poor health, he resigned from the series.

The show is about Doctor Who, a Time Lord, who is from another world, who travels throughout time and space in his craft that is disguised to resemble and old British Police call box. He usually travels with one of more companions. In doing so he solves problems, and sometimes changes the course of history. The older episodes had delightfully quirky special effects, For the past decade, the writing, effects, and backgrounds are all wonderful

Because of the shows popularity, at the time William Hartnell left the show, the writers decided that the Doctor would occasionally be regenerated, through elaborate visual effects, and then morph into a different person, that would still be The Doctor, but have a different body (and be played by a different actor). This allowed the show to continue, remain fresh, and attract a larger audience.

Peter Capaldi, as Doctor Who

Peter Capaldi was cast as Doctor Who in 2013, as the Twelfth Doctor Who, when actor Matt Smith left the series. It was recently announced that Capaldi would be stepping down this years and would be replaced on a special show to air during the Christmas season.

In fact, the new Doctor is to be named on the same day I am writing this article; July 16th, 2017.

Peter Capaldi as Dr. Who playing guitar

You may be asking, “What does this have to do with unique guitars? Well Capaldi is the first Doctor ever to play guitar during the series, and he does a bang-up job.

Doctor Who on guitar with Clara

The 60 year old actor probably grew up listening to some of the same music of the ‘60’s, ‘70’s, and ‘80’s that many of us have, and it certainly shows in his playing.

Dreamboys – 
Capaldi in front Ferguson in back

Back in the mists of time Capaldi, now the Time Lord, was in a rock band called Dreamboys – formerly The Bastards from Hell – with comedian and talk show and game show host Craig Ferguson.

Capaldi stated, “I was really delighted to open the script and find the Doctor playing guitar”. “I think I’d sort of half mentioned it in joking, but I was really delighted that these guys went for it as an idea.”

Doctor Who with his guitar

He also revealed that – just as when he hand-picked the Twelfth Doctor’s costume – he had a say in which axe he’d be wielding.

Denmark Street London, music shop

“We had a great day when I went to pick the Doctor’s guitar,” he recalls. “We went to Denmark Street and went to various vintage guitar shops, looking for Doctor Who’s guitar.

And at first I thought it should be like a Stratocaster or a Telecaster, one of those old classic guitars, but they all started to look like I was having a midlife crisis.” “We ended up with a guitar that looked like a Fender Stratocaster that had been described to someone who had never seen one.”

Yamaha SVG300

The guitar chosen was a Yamaha SVG300. This is an offset guitar that was made by the company from 2000 to 2007 and is based on the Yamaha SG reverse cutaway design first seen in 1966.

Yamaha SVG 300

The SVG300 came with a single coil pickup in the neck position, two single coils in the bridge position that can be set out of phase, for a humbucking sound. The electronics include a single volume control, a master tone control, and a blend control for the bridge single coil pickups There is also a three position pickup selector switch.

Yamaha SVG 300

The body is made of alder, and the bolt-on maple neck features a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets, and a 24.75” scale. The narrow six-on-a-side headstock comes with Yamaha die cast tuning machines.

The string attach on the body to a Yamaha roller style bridge. The input is located on the lower edge of the body.

Doctor Who

The Doctor’s guitar is finished in black and gives he impression of a very futuristic looking instrument.

Here are Dreamboys with Peter Capaldi and Craig Ferguson

Dream Guitars

The Amplifiers Used On Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP. There is currently a wonderful television program that goes into great detail about the production and history of each song.

Sargent Pepper recording session

While much of the music was done on keyboard and string instruments, McCartney’s bass, and some guitar is featured on the recordings.  The TV special mentioned said little about the guitars and nothing is noted about the amplifiers used on the album.

Paul McCartney with 1967 Bassman

The television program showed  only one amplifier; the Beatles’ blonde 1964 Fender Bassman. Aside from the Vox AC30, we know this Bassman amplifier was used on many of the Beatles albums.

We know that McCartney first used this amp in 1965 and continue to use it until 1967 in the recording studio.

This also may have been the first album where McCartney plugged his guitar directly into the mixing board for some of the songs.

After that Lennon and Harrison both put that Bassman to use.  Lennon continued to use it in the studio on some of his solo work. This Fender Bassman was the 1964 6C6-B circuit and featured twin Utah 12” speakers. It was a similar circuit to the one used on in the same era Bandmaster.

Beatles with Vox AC30’s

The Beatles and many other British groups preferred to use Vox amplifiers since they were readily available and less expensive than imported United States brands, such as Fender. The Vox AC30 was perhaps the most used by the Beatles during their early days.

1964 Vox AC30

The Vox AC30 was a 30 watt class A amplifier, which technically speaking is very inefficient, because the power tubes are operating at full power. However class A is very pleasing to the ear and makes for a great performing amplifier.

The Vox AC30 had cathode biasing and no negative feedback loop. In my opinion the AC30 is one of the best amps ever made.

Despite the popularity of Vox amps in the U.K., the company was facing financial difficulties as early as 1964.

Jennings and Denney

Vox’ manufacturer was JMI or Jenning’s Musical Instrument and run by Tom Jennings along with musician/guitarist/amplifier designer Dick Denney. In 1964 the partners had sold the company to a conglomerate called The Royston Company. Both men maintained posts in the organization through 1967 at which time they left the company. Perhaps the two men saw the writing on the wall, as the following year Royston filed for bankruptcy.

Some of the former JMI employees cut a deal with the bank that held the assets and they were able to procure the Vox name. Vox equipment was then produced under the name Vox Sound Equipment until 1969 when yet another bankruptcy ensued.

Vox Birch Stolec AC30

A company called Birch Stolec Industries purchased Vox from the holding company. One of the sales managers for this company was none other than Rick Huxley, the bass player for the Dave Clark Five. This firm built Vox amplifiers which included printed circuit boards and also produced some solid state versions of Vox amplifiers.

But let’s back up to before 1967 when Sargent Pepper was being made. Even before that date, when the Beatles and other bands were touring, as early as 1964, the folks at Vox realized the AC30 at full volume was not going to cut through the screams of the female fans. So they investigated producing a larger version.

Vox AC50 MKII

They had already come up with the AC50 MKII that McCartney can be seen using in concerts. (He still uses this amp today.)

Vox AC100

What they came up with was the Vox AC100 aka the Vox Super Deluxe. This was a a one channel amplifier that came with a large speaker unit, which contained four 12″ Celestion speakers. It was Vox’ answer to the Fender Dual Showman amplifier. The Beatles can be seen using this amp in concert footage.

Later in 1964 JMI reached an agreement with the Thomas Organ Company of the United State that they would be the sole US distributor for Vox. This may sound like an odd arrangement, if not for the fact the JMI was once known as the Jennings Organ Company. It may have been short-sighted of the former Jennings Organ Company to believe a US organ manufacturer would be a great vehicle to distribute Vox amplifiers. But during the guitar boon era, many companies were trying to get a piece of the pie.

US made Vox Super Beatle

Once Thomas Organ inked the deal they realized that JMI/Vox was not capable of manufacturing an adequate number of amplifiers to make the deal profitable. Thomas Organ, not at all happy about the situation and proposed a deal that they become licensed manufacturers of Vox amplifiers in the United States and Canada. Probably due to the financial situation at JMI, they agreed.

This is how the US Vox Super Beatle and other US amplifiers came to be made by the Thomas Organ Company aka Vox US.

Dick Denney traveled to the USA in 1965 to visit the Thomas Organ/VOX US manufacturing facility to see their products first hand. He was impressed with their solid state amplifiers. This lead him to come up with his own solid state/tube hybrid versions.

The guitar amps that Denney designed were called the UL7 series and the bass versions were the UL4 series.  UL was suggestive of Underwriters Laboratories, a group the put its approval on electronic merchandise.

Vox UL705

The UL705 was a 5 watt amplifier,while the UL710, and UL715 produced 15 watts. Both had solid state preamps, with tube based power amplifier sections.

Vox UL730

In 1966 a Vox UL730 was delivered to Abbey Road Recording studios for The Beatles use.

The power tube (or valve) selection of the UL730 included one ECC83 and a quartet of EL84 tubes. The ECC83 is actually a preamp tube, but was used as a phase inverter.

Vox UL730

The UL730 was a two channel amplifier with two inputs per channel, a boost switch for each channel. Channel One featured volume, treble, middle, and bass potentiometers, and controls for tremolo speed and depth.

Vox UL730 front panel

A distortion control was included in this channel. Channel Two included the volume, treble, middle, and bass controls, and added a reverb control.

The separate speaker cabinet was loaded with twin 12” Celestion speakers. Of course the amplifier featured the trolley.

The Beatles session
with the UL730

Vox manufactured only 100 units. This was not a popular amplifier since out of the 100 units sold, 76 units were returned. Some may have been defective, while others were exchanged for another amp of the era. The 76 units that were returned were said to have been destroyed.

Harrison’s UL730

The amplifier that was delivered to the Beatles included a promotional sticker inside of it that stated it was “Promotional Stock – Model No. 760 Amp A/C Current – Serial # 3020 – Artist The Beatles”.

It is said to have been in George Harrison’s procession and was to be auctioned on 12/15/2011, but the seller withdrew the offer prior to the sale date.

Vox single spring reverb

This was likely the amplifier that the Beatles used on the Sargent Pepper recordings. The UL730, and most Vox amplifiers included the Vox single spring reverb since Tom Jennings did not want to pay Hammond the $1 per unit royalty for use of their 3 spring version.

To avoid this fee he and Denney came up with their own reverb design.

McCartney using UL730

During the albums creation, McCartney played his Rickenbacker 4001S bass through it on most of the songs. Although it is said that he employed the UL430 bass amp on Lucy In The Sky.

Vox UL430

The UL430 was essentially the UL730 with no effects except for the boost switch. Other than that the tube compliment, speakers, and electronic design were similar. These amps look different from the VOX AC design. The UL amps, except for the UL705 feature controls in the front of the amplifier unit. They all still had the signature Vox grill cloth fabric. The UL730 and its companions are a part of our unique guitar history.

In addition to the Bassman and the Vox UL730, The Beatles utilized a 1967 Fender Showman amplifier that was in the studio.

1967 Fender Showman

The 1967 Fender Showman was a black faced and from the final year Fender made black face amplifiers. The amp had an 85 watt  head. The cabinet was loaded with a single 12” JBL speaker. The preamp section was made up of two 7025’s and the power tubes included a quartet of 6L6’s.

It is also written that Paul McCartney used a Selmer Thunderbird Twin 50 MkII on Good Morning, Good Morning, which he may have used early in The Beatles career.

Selmer Thunderbird Twin 50 MKII

The Selmer Thunderbird was finished in what is called “croc-skin”. The preamp and power amp were housed in the cabinet. The amplifier had two inputs, a“Selectortone” push button tone control feature, along with tremolo and reverb contols. This amp came with a stand to raise it off the floor.

1967 Vox Conqueror/Defiant

 Several other sources say that the Beatles used a Vox Conqueror on Sargent Pepper. The Conqueror was the completely solid state amp that replaced the UL730. This 30 watt two channel amp featured germanium transistors. The channel controls were mounted on top of the head and featured a normal and a brilliant channel, while the effects controls were mounted on the amplifiers front panel.

Both channels featured volume, treble, and bass potentiomers and a boost switch. And both had two inputs.

1967 Vox Conqueror
top and front pane
l

The front panel for the effects  had controls for tremolo speed and depth, as well as a reverb section that allowed reverb on channel one, off, or channel two. It also included a MRB switch that selected tone boost frequencies.


The Vox Conqueror came with a modified trolley that contained the speaker unit only. The head stood on top of the speakers.

Vox Defiant

Vox also made a similar amplifier called The Vox Defiant. The Defiants head was slightly larger than the Conqueror. In fact at first look it resembled the Conqueror. However the Defiant pushed 50 watts instead of 30 watts.  The Defiant amp was featured in the background of a promotional photo for Sargent Pepper. But for the promo video I do not know if this amp was used on the record,

The Beatles also used two other Vox amplifiers; the 7120 and the 4120 bass amp, which they had used on the Revolver LP.

Vox 7120

The 7120 was the most powerful amplifier that Vox had produced. This was another hybrid amp, with a solid state preamp section and a tube power amp section, which consisted of four KT88 power tubes and an EL84 and an ECL86 which acted as phase inverters. It was rated at 120 watts. It utilized one ECL86, one EL84, and a quartet of KT88’s. The amplifier had two channels.

Vox 7120

Channel One was the vibrato channel and had two inputs, a boost switch, a volume, treble, middle, and bass control, along with a tremolo section with speed and depth, and a reverb section, and a distortion control.

Channel two featured two inputs, a boost switch, volume, treble, middle, and bass controls, and a reverb control.

Vox 7120


The 7120 speaker cabinet had two 12” Celestion T 1225 speakers and two Goodman midax horns. The controls on the amplifier section were on the bottom of the amplifier head.

Vox 4120

The Vox 4120 bass amplifier was very similar in the amplifier section. However it lacked the effects associated with the 7120. Everything else was the same. The speaker compliment was quite different. The amp had four 12” Alnico Celestion speakers and two Goodman Midax high frequency 17 watt horns. The 4120 also had an output of 120 watts, It was made for only one year; 1966.

McCartney with a Vox UL730, Harrison and Lennon with Vox Defiant amps

This photo is from the Beatles promotional video for Hello, Goodbye.

Click on the links under the photos for their links, click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

Dream Guitars

Double Neck Guitars

The first multi-neck guitars were more than likely harp guitars. These instruments sometimes had an additional neck used to attach the bass strings, harp or sympathetic string and the tuning pegs.  

The earliest example of a true double neck guitar is from the year 1690. A guitar of that era, small by today’s standards, was built by luthier Alexandre Voboam of Paris. This unique guitar had a smaller sized guitar jutting out of the instruments lower portion. Both guitars/necks had five courses of gut strings; however the smaller guitar/neck was tuned to a higher pitch. This allowed the player to play in a low key or a high key and use similar fingerings.

Harp guitars and other multi-neck instruments were not produced on a large scale until the late 19th Century. These were instruments that allowed an individual player the ability to produce a much broader sound due to the addition of bass strings or sympathetic strings. 



The sympathetic stringswere not strummed or plucked, but naturally made sound based on the vibrations of the fingered strings.  There were few mandolin/guitar combinations produced in this era that allowed the player to change instruments during a song or saved them from having to carry two different instruments. Plus a double neck guitar looks great on stage.

One impetus that may have caused the creation of double neck guitars was the rise of interest in the steel or Hawaiian guitar.  

During the late 18th Century, Spanish speaking Mexican cowboys arrived in Hawaii bringing with them their guitars. The arrival of the guitar in Hawaiicould also be attributed to missionaries. 

Hawaiians took to the instrument andmade the guitar their own by tuning it differently and often to open chords.  

As the years progressed, we can turn to the early 20th Century when Hawaiian music became popular inthe United States

During this fad, guitar companies including Martin built instruments that were meant to be played on a persons lap. Instead of fingering chords and notes these guitars were played by use of a metal bar pressed against the strings.  It wasn’t too long before the lap steel became electrified.



Since a lap steel player was limited to keys within the open chord which the instrument was tuned, the obvious answer was to add another neck that was tuned to a different chord. By the 1920’s and 1930’s folks like Alvino Rey were playing multi neck electric steel guitars with popular orchestras. Rey had Gibson Guitars build a double neck steel guitar for him and not long after he was playing three and four necksteel guitars.

During the era of World War II, much of the guitar building business was halted as manufacturers turned their attention and fabrication to building weapons and vehicles for the United States armed forces.  


By the end of the war, Leo Fender had his own radio and television business in California.  He also repaired guitar amplifiers. 




It was not long before he realized a profit could be made by building amplifiers forthe electric steel guitar players from nearby Los Angeles and the surrounding area.  He teamed up with his friend, Clayton “Doc” Kauffmann who had worked for Rickenbacker Guitars. The two men began designing and building steel guitars, and electronic pickups.  

Traveling musicians stopped by and provided ideas of their needs. Fender went on to build two and three neck steel guitars, before turning attention to the electric Spanish guitar.



Meanwhile in another part of California, motorcycle enthusiast, Paul Bigsby, was casting his own parts for his bike. He began building his own version of the electric Spanish guitar. Though his instruments may have looked like solid body instruments, they were actually hollow to hold the wiring. Bigsby also built a vibrato unit that gave players an added dimension to their sound. His version of the guitar vibrato was built out of motorcycle parts including piston springs.



Guitarist Grady Martin asked Bigsby to build him a guitar that also had a mandolin-like neck. What resulted was an instrument which had a guitar neck, with three pickups and a Bigsby vibrato and a smaller neck with six individual strings tuned an octave higher. It wasn’t a mandolin, as the strings were individual and not in courses, but itdid give Martin a unique sound

Apparently Grady Martin’s Bigsby Double Neck was not the first that Paul Bigsby built. He built at least six double neck instruments. In those days, production records were at best sketchy.


$266 K Bigsby


It is worth noting that recently a 1949 Bigsby guitar sold at auction for over a quarter of a million dollars.


One of Bigsby’s employee’s was Semie Moseley. This is the same Semie 
Moseley that went into business in a BakersfieldCaliforniagarage, building his own brand and naming it Mosrite Guitars. 

Around this same time, the early 1950’s, Joe Maphis was a popular Country and Western guitarist and was a regular performer on a television show produced out of Los Angeles called TownHall Party. Maphis’ style was playing blazing fast arpeggios on the guitar. 

Semie Moseley struck up a friendship with Joe Maphis and his wife Rose. Rose Maphis played rhythm guitar with her husband.  Moseley built several beautiful personalized double neck guitars for Maphis. He even took Rose’s Martin guitar and customized it with a handmade Mosrite neck and he added a fancy large pickguard to the dreadnoughts body.

The exposure Maphis brought to Mosrite guitars paid off big time. A similar double neck instrument was custom made for pint-sized Larry Collins who was Maphis’ protégé and could match Joe note for note. All of the early double neck guitars Semie Moseley made had a guitar neck and an octave guitar neck.


Moseley did create one triple neck guitar in 1954. This instrument included a guitar neck, an octave guitar neck and a mandolin neck. 

While on that subject, it is possible that Doc Kauffmann, who was Leo Fender’s long time business partner might have built a triple neck guitar under the brand Kremo Kustom. It is known that Kauffmann didbuild some guitars using that brand name.

Another builder was a South Carolina fellow named Pee Wee Melton. He built a triple neck guitar for himself, but later sold it to Johnny Meeks. Meeks claim to fame was as one of the guitarist who played for Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps. It was an attention-getter. Meeks eventually sold the guitar to Vincent. 

But here I am digressing from the topic of double neck guitars.


In the mid 1960’s when Semie Moseley’s Mosrite Guitar Company was doing a brisk business, the company did offer a production twelve/six string double neck guitar for sale to the public. This guitar featured a twelve string neck on the guitars top and a six string neck underneath. Both sported twin Mosrite single coil pickups with black covers. The twelve string utilized Mosrite’s version of tune-o-matic bridge and the strings were anchored onto a chromed bar held into the body by three wood screws. 

The six string neck featured Mosrite’s classic vibramute vibrato. The necks had micro-dot position markers on the rosewood fretboard. All Mosrites had a zero fret. These guitars were offered in various colors, with the most popular being sunburst.




Hallmark Guitars are stillin business. This company was started by Joe Hall. This story about Hall’s relationship with Semie Moseley is very interesting. He had asked Semie to build him a guitar. Somehow Hall wound up working at Mosrite and learned to build guitars using Semie’s methods.

Joe Hall left Moseley’s employment and building guitars under his own brand, that bore Mosrite traits. Hall’s most popular model was called the Swept Wing. 

I do not know how many double necks he built. This guitar was specially built for Deke Dickerson.



After Moseley and Bigsby’s creations, it was not too long before other guitar companies began to eyeball the prospect of making double neck guitars.



One of the first that I came across was Carvin Guitars of California. Lowell C. Kiesel’s company first offered double necked electric guitars in their 1959 catalog. Long before the internet this company based their sales on catalogs. They still do. I recall ordering a Carvin catalog around 1963. What I received was a very plain document with black and white pictures of the guitars, guitar kits and amplifiers that Carvin offered. 

I also received a typewritten page of price updates. During the early days of Carvin some of the guitars featured necks and bodies made by the Hofner Company of Germany.

Their first double neck offering was a guitar and bass. The necks were the same length, so the bass was short scale. The body was made of maple. The guitar had twin single coil pickups that were about the size of P-90’s, while the bass had just one pickup. 

Their other double neck was a guitar and an eight string mandolin combination that came with a similar set up. These guitars were very plain and had a natural finish. The small bodies on these guitars were unusual  

These styles were offered through 1967.


By 1968, the Carvin double neck had more of a guitar shaped body with necks probably imported from Hofner. By 1971, the guitar neck was similar, but the bass neck had a more refined headstock. In 1972, Carvin changed the shape of the twelve/six model.   

It was in 1976 that the Carvin double neck guitar had a body that looked more like a small Les Paul. The necks were bound and topped with an ebony fretboard. The large rectangular position markers were made of mother-of-toilet seat. The humbucking pickups came with a chrome cover. The 1978 catalog shows a similar body with open humbucking pickups. 


These instruments looked more like the guitars that we now associate with the Carvin Company. 

By 1979 the double neck was no longer offered. By 1980, the double neck was back with a new improved shape.  


In 1990-91 Carvin offered a twelve/six model. Both had pointy headstocks and tuner on one side. By 199, Carvin discontinued their line of double neck guitars as a standard option.

Jimmy Bryant was a well known guitarist in the 1950’s.  Much like Maphis, Bryant’s style was fast, but more in the jazz and swing realm. Early on Bryant was one of the first Fender endorsers playing a Fender Broadcaster. But he was looking for a new sound and came upon a guitar builder from SpringfieldMissourithat was building guitars under the name Stratosphere Guitar Company.  

They built a Six and Twelve String double neck for Bryant. He used this guitar throughout his career. The Stratosphereguitar was rather unusual looking. It sported the maple twelve string neck on top and the maple six string neck underneath. Oddly, the headstocks for both necks were slotted. The body was offset and small. There were two single coil pickups for each neck. The neck pickups were parallel and the bridge pickups were slightly slanted. 

Both necks had steel offset bridges and stop plates to attach the strings. A switch was near the stop plates that allowed the player to switch the necks on or off. There were two sets of controls, volume and tone for each neck as well as selector switches. There is also a slider switch on the lower side of the instrument.  

Bryant tuned the six string neck in a normal manner; however, he tuned the twelve string neck to major and minor thirds.



1958 was a risky year for Gibson guitars. This was the year they introduced their ‘Future guitars’ lineup which included the Flying Vee, the Explorer and the elusive Futurama. But Gibson spotted the double neck trend and jumped into the market with two different double neck guitars.

The first was called the Double Twelve. This was later designated the EDS-1275 (Electric Double Spanish.) 

The Double Twelve was a beautiful instrument. The body on these instruments was different than the SG shape we associate with the EDS-1275. The Double Twelve came with two humbucking pickups per neck. 


A switch near the bridge plate provided the option of switching the electronics to either neck. The electronics were two volume and two tone controls and a pickup selector switch that controlled the pickups on either neck. The twelve string neck was on top with the six string neck on the bottom. In my opinion this was possibly the finest looking of all the twelve string double necks. The double cutaway body was thicker than the SG and it was bound in white trim.



The company also offered the Double Mandolin. This later was named the EMS-1275 (Electric Mandolin Spanish). This was similar to the double necks that Moseley and Bigsby had made in that it came with a guitar neck and an octave guitar neck. The guitar neck sported twin humbuckers, while the mandolin neck only had a single humbucker. Once again, the body shape was much different than the SG shape. 

The controls for each neck were mounted on the lower bout under each neck. Both featured a single volume and tone control per neck. The switches were mounted near the string stop plate. The one for the guitar side controlled the neck and bridge pickups, while the switch mounted near the octave guitar neck controlled which neck was active. This instruments body was also bound in white trim.



1965 EDS 1275

It was in 1962-63 both of these double neck instruments were reinvented using the SG shape. Gibson also added EBS-1250 to the line up. This was a combination of a six string guitar and a four string bass guitar. The bass guitar came with a built-in fuzztone. This line up was offered through 1967, with the double bass being offered through 1968.

The EDS-1275 was revived in 1974 and offered through 1998. The Nashville factory continued to build the EDS-1275 through 2003. The Gibson Custom Shop began building the EDS-1275 in 2006. 

The Epiphone version has been available for many years under the model G-1275. I believe the initial models sold under the Epiphone brand had bolt-on necks. The current production model comes with set necks.




1963 Danelectro


Nate Daniels had been building amps since 1948. His amplifiers were mainly sold through catalog companies such as Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Wards. 

It was not until 1956 that he introduced the Danelectro line of guitars. 


Danelectro entered the double neck market with its 1959 advertisement of Stan and Dan; two clean-cut young men of the day both decked out with white shirts, Hagar slacks and DanelectroShorthorn double neck guitars. The top neck was a six string guitar and the bottom neck was a bass guitar. 


While the guitar was a normal 24.75” scale with 21 frets, the bass had a short scale of 29.5” with only 15 frets. The Danelectro double neck was also available as a six string guitar and six string baritone guitar. 

As usual, both necks had two Dano lipstick pickups. 

The Masonite Danelectros lasted until 1966 when Daniels sold the company.  In 1998 the company was resurrected under new ownership. This company made guitars through 2001.  They offered two versions of the double neck. One was a six/twelve string model and the other was a six string guitar and a six string baritone guitar. Both were nice instruments with a great price. 

Danelectro guitars looked cheap, but sounded great and were used on countless recordings.

In 1961 Gretsch Guitars was looking for new ideas and came up with the Gretsch Bikini Guitar. This was one very odd concept. It was sold as a guitar or a bass guitar or as a double neck bass and guitar. The neck/pickup/bridge unit was mounted so it could slide out of the body. The body had a hinged back and could be folded down the middle. The player could fold back the body of the separate instruments and combine them into a double neck. This was one of those gems that looked good in theory, but was not at all practical.

This is a Gretsch Anniversary double neck. Gretsch currently offers a guitar/baritone guitar doubleneck.



After the British Invasion a flood of Japanese and Korean made guitars arrived in the United States. As you may have guessed some of these were double neck guitars. Greco/Kawai was a Korean manufacturer. This is a 1968 Bass/Guitar double neck.

This is a 1970 Aria copy of a Gibson double neck.


I have noted that some early Carvin guitars were made of Hofner parts. Note the similarity between this Hofner double neck from the very early 1970’s and Carvin’s double neck of the same era.

Another German guitar manufacturer named Hoyer built this 1970’s model.

Rickenbacker built and offered several models of double neck guitars including a bass/six string using their 4001 template and a twelve/six string using their 360 design.

The B.C. Rich, Ibanez and Kramer guitar companies have all built special order guitars for artists, such as Eddie Van Halen, Michael Angleo Batio, and Dave Mustaine. 

Often these guitars have two six string necks and are played by using the tapping method.

There were and are a few companies that make acoustic double neck guitars. For years Ovation guitars offered a twelve/six model. This is now made offshore under their Celebrity brand.

1979 Yairi DY 87


Around 1979 Yairi guitars offered the model DY 87. This was a wonderful guitar. It sounds great and very easy on the fingers. 

In the late 1990’s, the Washburn Guitar Company offered a twelve / six string guitar designated the model EA220 six/twelve string guitar in
their Festival Series.

I have recently profiled Blueberry Guitars. They make some fine instruments with intricate inlay and wood carving designs. All their guitars are handmade. 



They offer several double neck models which include a six / twelve string guitar, a double neck with two six string necks and fan frets, as well as a six string / 4 string acoustic bass guitar. Blueberry does not sell it’s instruments in stores. Business is done only online. 



A group of player with  their
Terry Neil McArrthur Double necks


Terry Neil McArthur is a luthier that has been around for a while building double neck guitars in the style of Semie Moseley. He has built instruments for many, many players including Deke Dickerson. He sure makes some beautiful handmade guitars.

©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)




Here is a Martin Double Neck Guitar made by their custom shop.

The clip below will give a better understanding of Jimmy Bryants odd 12 string tuning on his Stratosphere double neck. On the 12 string neck each string has two pitches that mimic the sound of two guitars. A guitarist today could use a harmonizer for the same effect. In 1956 that technology did not exist.

Dream Guitars

Jerry Garcia’s Wolf Guitar Is Auctioned For A Record Breaking Price

Jerry Garcia’s Wolf Guitar

On May 31st an event auction was hosted by Brooklyn Bowl for Jerry Garcia’s Wolf guitar. The auction was done by Guernsey’s Auctions.

Garcia playing Wolf

This guitar, which was first used by Garcia in 1973 at a New York City show, sold to Brian Halligan, the cofounder and CEO of the marketing software company HubSpot for $1.6 million plus a $300,000 premium, bring the total winning bid to $1.9 million.

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead

Halligan, cowrote the book along with David Meerman Scott, “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History.”

The recipient of the money is the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Wolf Guitar

The bid was then matched by another anonymous donor, making the total gift an amazing $3.5 million. This is the most money generated from a guitar auction.

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

The event also featured drummer Joe Russo leading an all-star cast, which included his own Grateful Dead tribute band known as Almost Dead.

Doug Irwin

Wolf was the first guitar that luthier Doug Irwin designed for Garcia.

The Wolf Decal

Its body was mad of curly maple and purple heart wood. Garcia found a sticker of a cartoon wolf and placed it below the bridge.

Through the years Garcia had several modifications performed on the instrument. The last time Jerry used the guitar was in February of 1993. He passed away 2 years later. He can be seen playing it in the Grateful Dead Movie.

The Wolf guitar in original form

The Wolf guitar was created as a result of Garcia visiting a San Francisco music store. While there he came across a very unusual guitar and inquired about it. He was told it was built by a guy named Doug Irwin. Garcia came back a few days later to buy that guitar.

Irwin tells the story that he was in the back of the store putting pickups on that particular guitar. Irwin says a couple of guys from the store came to the back room and told him that Jerry Garcia wants to buy your guitar. He thought they were joking.

Wolf with 2nd pickup arrangement

The guys came back a couple of times to get him and Irwin finally brought the guitar to the front of the store. Jerry told him that he liked the way the neck felt and he asked him to make another guitar. This Irwin built guitar came to be called The Wolf. Doug Irwin would go on to build four guitars for Garcia.

Irwin had just started building guitars at Alembic. This was a company run by Ron Wickersham, an electronics and sound expert that previously worked for Ampex, Rick Turner, a luthier and guitarist, and Bob Matthews, a recording engineer. The company started in a rehearsal room for the Grateful Dead, so there was an immediate connection between Alembic and the band.

As the story goes, Doug Irwin was recently hired by the Alembic company and was building electric guitars for them and he also built some for himself.

Eagle Guitar

The first one that Jerry Garcia purchased was known as The Eagle. This was the guitar that Jerry found when he came from the music store that where Irwin was employed. This guitar had humbucking pickups. At the time Garcia preferred the sound of his Stratocaster with single coil pickups.

Garcia asked him to build him another guitar. Irwin took a cue from this and created The Wolf, which he sold to Jerry Garcia in 1972 for $850. Garcia played this guitar for more than 20 years. Garcia asked Irwin to optimize Wolf with three single coil Stratocaster pickups.

As stated, this guitar was made of purple heart wood and curly maple. The fret board was ebony with 24 frets; longer than Fenders, which at the time only had 22 frets. The first version had a peacock inlay made of abalone, but in subsequent years Irwin changed this to an eagle.

A blood-thirsty cartoon sticker of a wolf adorned the body. This gave the guitar its name.

Garcia and the Wolf Guitar

In later years the middle and bridge single coil pickups were swapped out for humbuckers. This was an easy change because Irwin configured the pickups on a metal plate.

In fact it was Irwin who created both plates for the guitar. The pickup selector is the five position strat type.

Wolf Guitar Controls

The Wolf guitar features a master volume control and a tone control for the middle and front pickups. Two mini switches on the guitar are pickup coil switches, to choose between humbucking and single coil. There are two ¼” phone jacks. One goes to the amp and the other goes to Jerry’s effects loop.

There is also a mini switch to toggle the effects loop on or off. The electronics are accessible from a plate on the guitars back side and they are shielded. The tuning machines are Schaller’s and made of chromed nickel as is the bridge.

Wolf was the first guitar Irwin built that had the D shaped headstock that he used on other guitars he made as his trademark.

Both Wolf Headstock designs

On the headstock was the inlay of a peacock done in mother-of-pearl. While at a concert the guitar fell about 15 feet off of the stage and this caused a small crack in the head stock.

Doug Irwin took this as an opportunity to replace the head stock with ebony veneer and a mother-of-pearl inlay of an eagle, which by now had become Doug Irwin’s signature.

Garcia with Wolf Guitar

Jerry Garcia used the three single coil pickup plate up until 1978 when he had the single coil neck pickup and twin Dimarzio Dual Sound humbuckers for the middle and bridge position.

Click on the links below the pictures for their sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.

©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

Dream Guitars

Greg Allman; His Life and Guitars

Greg Allman

Greg Allman passed away today due to complications from liver cancer. As a member of The Allman Brothers band, he was mainly know for playing the Hammond organ, but even when his brother Duane was alive.

Melissa on a Washburn guitar

Greg occasionally took up a guitar for a few songs. Perhaps the most notable of these was called Melissa. This song was originally performed on an acoustic guitar that belonged to Duane that was tuned to open E.

Duane and Greg Allman

Greg and his Duane started life in Nashville Tennessee, but grew up in Florida.

The Escorts

Their first real band was called The Escorts. The band was good enough to be the opening act for a Beach Boys concert.

The Allman Joys

The Escorts became The Allman Joys, which mainly played cover songs. During this time Greg purchased a Vox Continental organ.

Hour Glass

In order keep the band together and avoid being drafted into the armed services, Greg Allman shot himself in the foot. In 1967 they were renamed Hour Glass.

Allman Brother’s Band

In 1969 the group was finally named The Allman Brother’s Band.

Allman’s motorcycle after the crash

Tragically Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1971. Following this, the bands bass player Berry Oakley also died in a motorcycle accident.

Brothers and Sisters

Greg and the remaining members carried on and in 1973 had a hit record called Brothers and Sisters. The Allman Brother’s Band broke up in 1975.

Greg Allman and Cher

Greg Allman went on to form the Greg Allman Band. He also married Cher and remained with her for a decade.

I’m No Angel

Allman recorded several albums and had a hit single called I’m No Angel. The Allman Brother’s Band regrouped in the early 1980’s. In 1989 The Allman Brothers Band got back together and continued to perform through 2014.

Low Country Blues

Greg Allman released a solo album called Low Country Blues in 2011, and his final album, Southern Blood, will be released this year.

Greg Allman

Allman is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and is on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

Greg Allman Autobiography

In 2012 Greg Allman published his autobiography called My Cross To Bear. Though Greg was mainly known as the singer and organist for the Allman Brothers Band, he did step up front and play guitar. Much is written about Duane’s guitars and equipment, but not so much is written concerning Greg’s guitars.

Greg Allman with Les Paul Custom

One of the earliest photo of Greg Allman playing a guitar is from 1975. In it he has a black Les Paul Custom.

Greg Allman with Gibson SG

The Allman Brother’s Laid Back album came out around 1973 and it had a song called Queen of Hearts. From about that same time he is shown here with a Gibson SG, that may have belonged to Duane.

Greg Allman with an SG

Here is a 1974 picture of Greg playing a different Gibson SG. Butch Trucks was the drummer for the Allman Brothers Band. His son is Derek Trucks. I’m sure Duane and Greg’s fondness for SG’s must have influenced him.

Greg Allman with Veleno Guitar

Here is another picture of a young Greg Allman playing a Veleno guitar. Those guitars were made of metal and had a mirrored finish.



Allman with Veleno guitar

Here is another photo of him tuning the Veleno up. Note the unusual headstock and metal neck.

Greg Allman – Stratocaster

Allman is seen here with a black Fender Stratocaster. It is possibly a late 1960’s model.

Allman and Cher – Ovation acoustic

Here he is seen singing with Cher and playing an Ovation acoustic. In the mid to late 1970’s Ovation’s were the go-to stage guitars, since the piezo pickups were the best. He also played an Adamas guitar that was made by Ovation.

Gibson SST 12 string guitar

Here Greg is seen singing Melissa and playing a Gibson SST 12 string.

Allman with a Martin D-35

He can be seen from this video playing a Martin D-35. Click on the link under the picture and you will see that Greg Allman was an excellent Blues guitar player.

Allman with a Guild

This clip from a TV show show Allman playing Come and Go Blues on a Guild D-40.

G. Allman Washburn signature models

Greg Allman had an endorsement deal with Washburn guitars. Here are the two models the company produced. The black guitar has “Melissa” inlaid in mother-of-pearl on the fretboard.

Allman with a Taylor guitar

At Farm Aid in 2007 Allman played a guitar made by Taylor.

Greg Allman with Gibson J-200

In recent years Greg Allman used a Gibson J-200 at his concerts.

Greg Allman struggled for years with addiction to alcohol, heroin and other drugs. He spent many years in rehab and became sober. In 2007 it was discovered he had hepatitus C. He underwent a liver transplant in 2010.

He died at his home in Savannah Georgia surrounded by his family and friends.

Please click on the links below the pictures for the sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications 2017 (text only)

Dream Guitars

James Jamerson’s 1961 Fender Precision Bass Auction

1961 P Bass

A bass guitar owned and played by Motown legend James Jamerson will be up for auction later this month. This is the instrument was not the original that Jamerson played during his years with Motown’s Funk Brothers, as the label’s go-to session bass player. It is apparently a second bass that he owned. It is a 1961 Fender Precision Bass.

’57 Black Beauty

Jamerson’s first electric bass was a 1957 Precision Bass, refinished in black, with a gold-anodized pickguard and maple fretboard, which he nicknamed “Black Beauty”. That bass was a gift from his fellow bass player Horace “Chili” Ruth. It was eventually stolen.

Jamerson with ’62 Funk Machine

His most famous bass guitar was the 1962 Fender Precision Bass which was he dubbed “The Funk Machine.” This Fender bass had a three-tone sunburst finish, a tortoiseshell pickguard, rosewood fretboard and chrome pickup and bridge covers. The bridge cover contained a piece of foam used to dampen sustain and some overtones, which was standard to the models of that era.

Jamerson with 1962 Fender P Bass

Jamerson had carved the word “Funk” on the the heel of the instrument. He typically set its volume and tone knobs on full. Sadly this bass was also stolen sometime in 1983 at a time when he was in the hospital and dying.

1961 Fender P Bass

Jamerson had lent his second 1961 bass to his aforementioned friend, Horace “Chili” Ruth sometime in 1967 or 1968  at a time when Ruth needed a bass. Jamerson never asked him to return it, so it has been in his procession ever since.

Jamerson left Detroit and moved to Los Angeles when Motown Records moved their headquarters to California. Apparently the bass was forgotten by Jamerson.

This bass is being offered by Heritage Auctions, with bidding starting on May 29th. The official dates are June 17th and 18th. There is a $12,000 premium. Click the link to register.

The bass is completely original. Only one of the La Bella strings has been replaced.

Jamerson is one of the best known and most influential electric bass players of all time. He was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. His playing can be heard on at least 30 Number 1 hit recordings and more than 70 R&B hit recordings.

Jamerson’s bass

Jamerson started his career by playing in Detroit clubs and later found session work with the Motown Record Company. He began by playing string bass, but switched to electric bass during the 1960’s.

Funk Brothers, Jamerson  in the back

As mentioned before, James Jamerson was part of a core group of Motown Session player that came to be known as The Funk Brothers. In addition to session work, he sometimes toured with the artists. Though the musicians did not receive credit on the singles or albums for their work until sometime in the 1970’s,

Jamerson with Marvin Gaye

Jamerson’s playing can be found on such hits as Just Like Romeo and Juliet, You Can’t Hurry Love, My Girl, Shotgun, For Once In My Life, I Was Made To Love Her.

Jamerson in the studio

That is him playing the bass lines on  Going to a Go-Go, Dancing In The Street, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, What’s Going On, Reach Out, I’ll Be There, and Bernadette. When Motown ended in 1973, Jamerson performed on such songs as Neither One Of Us, Boogie Down, Boogie Fever, You Don’t Have To Be A Star, and Heaven Must Have Sent You.

Jamerson’s Obituary

James Jamerson played on albums by Robert Palmer, Dennis Cofey, Al Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Ben E. King and many others. When bass styles changed, Jamerson, who was a pioneer, found himself out of work. His 1983 death was attributed to liver failure, resultant from alcoholism.

Jamerson with ’62 Funk Machine

On his Fender Precision bass, Jamerson favored La Bella heavy-guage flatwound strings (.052 – .110). He never replaced these strings unless they broke. He did not take particularly good care of his instruments. In fact he once said, “The gunk keeps the funk.” He believed this improved the quality of the tone.

It was suggested to Jamerson that he switch to brighter sounding roundwound strings, but he declined.

Jamerson with Funk Machine

In an interesting 2015 article from the Talkbass forum titled, James Jamerson’s Funk Machine – Wrong Year, the editor of Bass Magazine and a reader discuss the fact that the famous Funk Machine may not be a 1962 Fender Precision bass, but rather a model created between 1964 and 1967, based on the transition logo decal, created in 1964, and the pearloid dot fret markers.

Bridge Cover Foam Mute

Another indicator that it may be a bass made later than 1962 is the foam mute pad under the bridge cover. These were not introduced until 1963. Prior to that the mutes were made of felt.

Jamerson on upright bass

When playing upright bass, he used his index finger to pluck the strings. On electric and acoustic bass, he favoured utilizing open strings. This technique helped give his playing a fluid feel. He subsequently got the nickname; The Hook.

On studio recordings James Jamerson plugged directly into the mixing console. He adjusted the console so his sound was slightly overdriven. The tubes in the mixer gave him a little compression. 

Jamerson with Ampeg B-15 amp

When he played in clubs he used an Ampeg B-15 amplifier with an older Kustom speaker cabinet loaded with twin 15” speakers and covered in blue Naugahyde. He always played with the volume control turned up fully and the treble control turned only half way up.

Click on the links below the pictures for the sources and the links in the text for additional information. For a real treat, click on the links on any of the songs mentioned to hear some of the best Motown music ever recorded.

©UniqueGuitar Publications 2017 (text only)

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Allan Holdsworth; Jazz Fusion Guitarist Passes Away at Age 70 – His Guitars

Allan Holdsworth

I’ve been reading Guitar Player magazine since the mid mid-1970’s. I can recall that at some point later in that decade, a British guitarist named Allan Holdsworth wrote a monthly column with tips on playing guitar.

Holdworth passed away on April 15th of this year at age 70 of a heart attack.

Alan Holdsworth 1946-2017

Though Allan Holdsworth played a number of different styles of music, he will always be best known as the foremost jazz fusion guitarist.

Frank Zappa once hailed him as “one of the most interesting guitar players on the planet”, while Robben Ford compared his guitar work to that of saxaphonist John Coltrane.

Indeed Holdsworth’s style utilized complex chordal progressions and intense solos reminiscent of horn or saxophone lines.

Young Allan Holdsworth

Back in 1969 Allan Holdsworth put together a group called Igginbottom that recorded an album.  By 1971 Holdsworth had moved on to an improvisational band called Sunship. In subsequent years he recorded with a number of different obscure bands. In 1973 Holdsworth recorded a live album for a BBC radio concert as part of a group called Tempest. Amazingly this album sat dormant for years until it was finally released in 2005.

The New Tony Willaims Lifetime

Holdsworth went on to work with the well-known group Soft Machine and later with The New Tony Williams Lifetime band. By 1979 Holdsworth was tired of being the guitarist in the band and went on to pursue a solo career.

It was in the early 1980’s when Holdsworth relocated to Southern California. Here he set up his own recording studio in San Diego and named it The Brewery.


Frank Gambale and Allan Holdsworth

By 1990 he was once again performing and partnered with well known fusion guitarist Frank Gambale. The duo recorded one LP.

Allan Holdworth had a distinctive knowledge of music, voicings, and chord structure. His use of finger-picked chords and of effects such as delay, chorus, and reverb make his music stand out. One would suspect that he had an education in guitar, music performance, and music theory, but Holdsworth was entirely self taught.

Through the years Allan Holdsworth was in demand by many different guitar manufacturers to demo and represent their instruments.

Holdsworth playing a Gibson SG

Early in his career his main instrument was a Gibson SG.

Holdsworth playing his Stratocaster

Later in that decade he switched to a customized Fender Stratocaster that used humbuckers instead of single coil pickups.

Playing an Ibanez AH-10

By 1984 Ibanez recruited him to work in conjunction with them to develop two sem-hollow body guitars that were known as the AH-10 and the AH-20.

Holdsworth with his Steinberger Guitar

Three years later he was associated with Ned Steinberger’s well known instrument. In fact Holdworth assisted Steinberger in developing the GL2TA-AH headless model.

Holdsworth playing a Bill Delap guitar

Following this he began playing headless guitars made by luthier Bill Delap.

With his Carvin HH model

More recently Allan Holdswoth struck up a deal with Carvin guitars to use their model H2 exclusively. Several other Carvin models sprung from the orginal headless Holdworth model. These included an extended range baritone model, the semi-hollow H2 and H1. By 1999 Carvin came out with the “HF2 Fatboy, which Holdsworth endorsed.

Holdsworth with Synthaxe

One of the instruments that Allan Holdsworth is most famous for is the SynAxe. This instrument sort of resembles a guitar, but is actually a midi-controller.  Holdworth eventually stopped using this instrument in concert, due to its need for frequent repairs.

Aside from being an incredible and gifted guitarist, Allan Holdsworth was an afficianado of beer and cycling.  His favourite beer was New English cask ale. He even took his fondness for the clear amber drink to the next step by inventing a product called The Fizzbuster; designed to put a better head on a glass of beer.

Allan Holdsworth with his family

Holdsworth was a father and a grandfather.  He is survived by his two daughters, son, and grandson.

His fans were in shock from his passing and put together a Go-Fund-Me page which paid for his funeral expenses.

Dream Guitars

Rock Opera: Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

Note: This story is also posted at www.rock-opera.com This next one is a bit of an odd-ball to me. It’s not exactly a rock opera, but it’s close enough to warrant examination. "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County" came together in…

Dream Guitars

Electra MPC Guitars

Vintage Electra MPC guitars

Around 1977 Keller Music, the local store in my town began to offer a new guitar brand called the Electra MPC. Tim Keller, the owner, had built up a respectable business. The guitar’s distributor was more than happy to send a demonstrator to perform one night.

I could not believe how many Les Paul owners and owners of other respectable instruments traded these guitars in for an Electra MPC Les Paul style guitar.

MPC Modules

Each guitar held two effects modules and a nine volt battery in a body compartment. Instead of a toggle switch found on the upper bout of a Les Paul, there was a rotary switch to control which combinations of pickups/effects were turned on. There were twin toggle switches on the guitars body to turn on or off the modules.

The four potentiometers were lined up in a row. The upper knobs controlled volume/tone and the lower two controlled the effects level and attack.

These unusual Electra guitars were imported from Japan by the Saint Louis Music aka SLM from 1971 to 1984. The Electra guitars with MPC models were made by Matsumoku of Matsumoku, Japan. We have already discussed this company in detail if you would like to refer to an earlier post.

Matsumoku has made many popular guitar brands over the years including; Aria, Westbury, Westone, Epiphone, Vantage & Vox to name but a few.

In 1975 Tom Presley was hired by St. Louis Music as the Product Manager and part of the marketing team to begin MPC project. Electronics engineeer John Karpowitz was hired to design and build the Modular Powered Circuits knowns as MPC modules.

Finally in 1976 The MPC guitars made their debut.

By 1978 the Outlaw MPC & Outlaw MPC Bass (both named after the band “The Outlaws” who endorsed Electra MPC guitars). Around the same time, the Semi-Acoustic MPC (ES-335 style) was offered for sale and the X910 “Derringer” MPC (Explorer)debuted.

Due to a lawsuit for patent infringement that Gibson initiated, all Electra guitars with Gibson style head stocks were changed this year to what is called the wave or fan shaped head stock.

Also in 1978 the Contoured Ultima MPC Les Paul and the Vulcan MPC (a Les Paul copy with a Tele curve on upper bout)were offered.

The Leslie West MPC (sort of a Les Paul Special) and the MPC Ultima X960 also made it’s debut this year.

1981 saw ties with Matsumoku further solidified and decision was made to merge SLM Electra brand with Matsumoku’s Westone brand. In the early 80’s, some production is moved to Korea. This is mentioned in the Matsumoku post.

Unique Electra MPC ES-335 style guitars

By the fall of 1983, the Electra brand changes it’s name to Electra-Phoenix. In 1984 the company became Electra-Westone and by the end of 1984 it is just Westone as St Louis Music abandoned the Electra MPC line due to lack of marketing success.

The Electra MPC’s forte was it’s on-board effects or module powered circuits. There was no need for a stomp box. This was before the era of affordable digital effects and pedal boards. If you needed to use an effect, all that was necessary was to flip a switch on the front of the guitar, and turn a knob (also on the front of the guitar) to adjust the intensity of the effect.

These twelve Module Powered Circuits that gave the guitars their name. These modules plugged into a compartment in the rear of the guitar and were controlled by two potentiometers on the guitar front surface.

The guitar could hold two modules at a time and could be switched or combined with a toggle switch on the guitar

There were major musicians that endorsed the MPC line; Peter Frampton, Leslie West,ELO, Allen “Free Bird” Collins, Chris Squire, The Outlaws and Rick Derringer. Some artists had their own model, such as Derringer with the X910 known as the “Derringer” model Electra MPC.

Electa MPC Guitars 

Despite these endorsements, the Electra line still disappeared while the SLM went on to produce Westone & Crate products. As of now, Westone is just a memory, but Crate products are still in production.

Today, SLM distributes Crate, Ampeg, Alvarez & Austin products. Though they have simplified there product line, St. Louis Music continues to distribute musical instruments, music books and sheet music.

Early on some people thought the Electra MPC line were of inferior quality and poorly manufactured gimmick guitars.

As we lurch forward in search of vintage instruments they are finally starting to be recognized for their playability and superior build when compared to some Asian instruments that are considered to be vintage.

Electra offered the following options for their modules:

Phase Shifter – self explanatory
Dymanic Fuzz – pick harder = more distortion
Trebel /Bass boost – self explanatory
Tank Tone – provides a hollow percussive mid range sound. Sort of a Wah stuck in one position. The Vox Crybaby was designed on an EQ filter known as a Tank Circuit.
Overdrive – Self explanatory
Filter Follower – Envelope filter
Auto Wah – self explanatory
Tube Sound – provides a clean tube like sound
Octave Box – Provides Octave below
Flanger – self explanatory
Frog Nose – built in headphone amplifier (a reference to Pig Nose amplifiers)
Compresor – self explanatory.

During it’s early years Electra guitars were ordered from all the Japanese factories and distributors. As a result, early models especially vary in details and quality. Which set the Electra name up for failure.

However during the MPC years all guitar models were manufactured by the Matsumoku Company. Therefore the quality of Electra guitars were superior to other Asian made instruments. But in this era of Buy American, most all Asian manufactured guitars were considered to be inferior. This stigma still exists.


Electra produced a total of 18 different MPC guitar models.

Of these the most popular was the was a Les Paul copy known as The Super Rock.

They also made at least one bass model.
©UniqueGuitar Publications

Dream Guitars

April 1 – Annual Diddley Bow Shootout

So it is that time of year again for our annual shootout. This year we will be judging the top five Diddley Bows in the electric Diddley Bow category.

The Diddley Bow

1.This is a stunning example with a flamed pine body, and a raised pickup section. The bridge saddle is an empty beer bottle.

Top of Diddley Bow

This is topped off with a genuine Condor pickup and one lone Grover tuner at the headstock.

Lalloguitars Diddley Bow

2.The competition increases with this stunner from Lalloguitars. This instrument has a gorgeous mahogany body with a hand rubbed tru-oil finish. It is topped with a rosewood fretboard. On board is one special design Italian handcrafted MAMA pickup.

Lalloguitars Diddley Bow

The string is secured at one end with a Kluson MG33N Grover button. (Wait a minute. Is it a Kluson or a Grover?) and at the other end it has through-the-body stringing. The nut is genuine bone. At the opposite end the flask saddle is secured between two maple strips.

This baby has built in tone and volume controls.

DaShtick Diddley Bow

3.Our next model comes courtesy of an Irish company called DaShtick.. This is their three string Celtic model made from a hurley stick. This handmade instrument utilizes ash, ebony, and mahogany. The bridge and saddle are genuine bone. The saddle rests upon a guard of leather, that come with a single volume control for the built-in piezo pickup. A Fender stratocaster jack is at the end of the hand polished body.

DaShtick headstock

Three open Grover style tuners with pearl buttons adorn the offset headstock. It even comes with a leather strap.

C.B. Gritty Crafter Supply Diddley Bow

4.C.B Gritty Crafter Supply brings us our forth nominee.

This do-it-yourself model includes all the parts you need including a Montesino cigar box body with a sound port, imported from the Dominican Republic.

C.B. Gritty Crafter Diddley Bow body

The wooden dowl is topped with 17 Home Depot supplied staples that are useful as frets. The string attaches to a single un-named tuning peg at one end of the dowl and attaches at the other.

A piezo pickup is built into the body to give this bad boy it’s bang-your-head-against-the-wall, funky, get-down-with-your-bad-self, heavy metal, Saint Louie Blues character.

Helldorado Diddley Bow

5.Our final entry comes is the Helldorado single coil pickup, single string model. This unusually shaped model is made of finest-kind pine wood with a nice red stain and the instruments logo running down the center of the body. The satin finish sets this instrument apart.

Helldorado Diddley Bow

It comes with a single Grover style tuner at one end and a trapeze style guitar tailpiece at the opposite end. The bridge is a cast metal cylinder. The built in controls feature a single volume potentiometer.

The judges have rendered their decision and it was a tough call between the Lalloguitars Didley Bow and the Irish DaShtick model.

DaShtick – Da Winner!

The 2017 winner is DaShtick. Who can argue with a hurley stick!

By the way, did I mention this was April Fools Day?

Enjoy yesterdays Guitar article and next week we will get back to profiling Unique Guitars.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)





Dream Guitars

Chuck Berry – Live At The Toronto Rock And Roll Revival 1969

I know everyone and his brother has written something about Chuck Berry’s passing recently at the age of 90. Chuck Berry was truly the architect of rock and roll. As Jim Derogatis and Greg Kott put it on Sound Opinions,…

Dream Guitars

The Rogue Aluminator and Able Axe Guitars

The Rogue Aluminator was featured for a few years in the late 1990’s in Musician’s Friend catalogues.  It was truly a unique instrument.  The slotted body was made from billets of aircraft grade aluminum. 

The history of this guitar is somewhat fuzzy, however here are the facts as I have researched them.

The body shape of the Aluminator is reminiscent of a Fender Stratocaster. As mentioned already the guitar’s body was made entirely of aluminum.

The 25.5″ scale, 22 fret, bolt-on neck was made of maple with a rosewood fretboard with dot markers.  The six on a side headstock pointed and painted featuring the Rogue logo.

Rogue has been the house brand featured by Musician’s Friend for years. The instruments are made by other companies for Musicians Friend.

The perimeter of the Aluminator body is slotted, thus allowing a decrease in the guitar’s weight.  The center section of the body contains the pickups controls and wiring harness.

This guitar had a single volume and tone control. The potentiometer knobs were similar in appearance to those on a Telecaster.  The Aluminator also came with 3 mini-throw switches; one for each pickup.  This allows any combination of pickups to be off or on and gives 11 different sounds.

The end of the body featured a non-trem Strat-style bridge with six adjustable saddles.

Although it did not allow for the Kahler style, dive bomb sounds that were popular with the shredders of the day, the fixed bridge did help with sustain. 

It was offered in different MF catalogs from $549 to $699.  The catalog I recall was asking $599 for the guitar. 

The guitar came in silver, purple, red or black.

The Rogue Aluminator is sometimes confused with guitars manufactured by Able Axe.  This is probably since it was Able Axe guitars that manufactured the Aluminator for Musicians Friend to sell under the Rogue Brand.

Able Axe was a guitar manufacturer started by Jeff Able. He selling guitars he built out of aluminum between 1994 through 1996. He started up again in 2001.

Abel Axe guitars bodies are made of solid 6061-T6 aluminum billets and are only one inch thick. Less than 250 of the original Swiss cheese body style were made from ~1994-1996. The bodies had holes drilled into them. The holes were there to reduce the body weight.

The bodies on these instruments were approximately 9.5 lbs or 4.3 kilograms

All of the guitars were designed and manufactured by Jeff were made at his shop in Bitteroot Valley,Wyoming. The original run, like the guitar pictured her featured holes drilled in the body. When hee started building again in 2001, the guitars featured slots instead of holes, as those on the Aluminator. 

All the bodies were coloured with anodized aluminum finishes. Most were finished in red, black, blue, violet, gold, teal, and some even multicolor. There rarest would be 3 with a green grass finish and 20 with a clear (aluminum) finish.

These guitars featured a small Strat-type body and were equipped with either a trem or fixed bridge. Since they were made one at a time by Jeff there are subtle differences in hole beveling, spacing, and drilling depth. There was a small original run of single humbucker Abel Axe guitars made with slots instead of holes. 

The very first batch (a dozen or so less) were released withDiMarzio humbuckers: PAF Pro in the neck position and Tone Zone in the bridge position. These were replaced by Kent Armstrong pickups (which at one point were manufactured by Sky pickups) which were HRE-1 in the neck position and HSDE-1 in the bridge position.

The original guitar necks were made by Musickraft Inc. and were rosewood or maple fret boards on quarter- sawn hard rock maple. All guitars made after 2000 featured Warmothnecks were used. From 2007-present, necks are made by Delaney Guitars. Scale length on all necks: 25.5″.

These pickups are now called are sold through www.wdmusic.com.

In 2010 there was an article that Jeff Able was going to sell his guitars in partnership with Mike Delaney of Delaney guitars.  There is no mention of this on the Delaney website.

According to recent posts by Jeff Able’s daughter Jenna, Able Guitars will be back in business. There is a Facebook page for Able Axes.

.The retail cost in 1994-96 for an Able Axe was $1395 to $1495.  A variety of colours were offered, including plain stainless aluminum.

©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

This is mostly about Mike Delaney Guitars, but around 5:53 he talks about the Able Axe

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Who is Mel Bay?

Dodd’s Music was in the white building

I started taking guitar lessons when I was 13 years old; first at the YMCA in a group setting and then at Dodd’s Music Store, in Covington, Kentucky.

One of the acts on WLW radio

My teacher at Dodd’s was an old guy named George Olinger. George made a living playing guitar in Country groups around town as well as being a staff guitarist on WLW radio, back in the days when the station played live music.

George taught me the basic chord patterns mainly from the books he had me purchase, which seemed to all be written by one man; Mel Bay.

Tommy Flint

Last week I learned that a fairly well-known guitarist named Tommy Flint had passed away. It seems that Mr. Flint was not only an excellent finger-style guitarist, in the style of Chet Atkins, but also an author of guitar instruction books that were published by Mel Bay.

This got me to wondering, who was Mel Bay?

Mel 1928 with National Triolian

Mel grew up in a small Missouri town in the Ozark Mountains. He bought his first guitar at the age of 13 from a Sears and Roebuck catalog. Within months of acquiring the guitar, he was playing in front of people. Mel Bay never had a guitar teacher.  He watched other guitar player perform and memorized their fingering on the fretboard.

That is the way I learned to play guitar.  I stood in front of bands and watched the lead guitar player and copied his fingerings. I am certain many of you reading this article honed your skills in much the same manner.

Bay was not satisfied to just learn the guitar. No sir. He went on to learn fingerings on the tenor banjo, mandolin, ukulele and Hawaiian slide guitar. This was all back in the 1920’s when he was still a young man.

D’Angelico with “Melbourne Bay”
engraved on the pickguard

Mel Bay became hooked on playing in front of audiences and decided to make a career out of being a professional musician. So he moved to St. Louis in 1933 and joined numerous local and traveling bands. He also was hired by several radio stations as a staff guitarist.

He put together The Mel Bay Trio, which consisted of him, a bass player and a drummer. And this became his steady gig for the next 25 years. His career was briefly interrupted by a stint in the US Army during WWII.

His custom D’Angelico New Yorker

As a working musician he had extra time and was able to teach guitar to others. In fact Mel Bay taught as many as 100 students a week. During those years he found out there was not a lot of instructional material available at the time.

He determined some of the material availabe was flawed. It only offered students chord patterns; not the ability to learn notes on the guitar.

So Mel began writing his own instruction books. These books became the basis for the Mel Bay Publication House.

Mel Bay’s 1st Book

After getting out of the Army, he published his first instruction book in 1947 and called it The Orchestral Chord System for Guitar. This book was the first of many to be published it under his own business; Mel Bay Publishing Incorporated. Amazingly this the book is still in print, but now it is titled The Rhythm Guitar Chord System. This book has been used by countless students to learn how to play guitar.

Mel Bay’s 2nd Book

By 1948 another book was published called Modern Guitar Method. Through the years Modern Guitar Method has sold more than 20 million copies in its original version.

Mel teaching guitar to
high school students

By the mid 1950’s Elvis Presley’s career was the talk of the nation, and this caused the guitar to experience a surge in popularity. During these years Mel Bay traveled around the country talking to guitar teachers and their students about his publications with the goal of selling them as texts.

In doing this he came to know most every guitar teacher in the United States on a first name basis. Guitar Player Magazine dubbed him as The George Washington of Guitar.

Mel Bay playing a mandolin

Since first publishing guitar instruction books, his company has branched off into publishing method books for violin, banjo, mandolin, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, harmonica, folk instruments, and accordion. His books for guitar include methods for differing styles, including folk, jazz, classical, rock, blues and jazz.

Mel Bay Book by Tommy Flint

Getting back to Tommy Flint, who I mentioned early on; Mr. Flint was the author of Mel Bay’s books on Finger Style guitar, Chet Atkins style picking, as well as Bluegrass Guitar and Christmas Songs for Fingerstyle Guitar.  In all, Tommy Flint wrote over 40 books for Mel Bay Publishing

Mel Bay received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guitar Foundation of America from the Retail Print Music Dealers Association and he also received the Owen Miller Award from the American Federation of Musicians.

Bay received a Certificate of Merit from the St. Louis Music Educators Association, as well as a resolution from the Missouri House of Representatives honoring his achievements. He ever was sent a letter of commendation from President Bill Clinton, and was honored by St. Louis mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. Making October 25, 1996 “Mel Bay Day” for citizens of that fair city.

Mel’s D’Angelico New Yorker 

I often wondered about the image of a D’Angelico guitar on the cover of the Mel Bay instruction book that I purchased so many years ago. A similar guitar image also shows up on the cover of other Mel Bay guitar instruction books. It seem that Mel used to sell D’Angelico guitars and kept a half a dozen D’Angelico guitars at his home that were for sale to perspective students.

One of Mel’s personal guitars was a New Yorker model with a cutaway and a slightly thinner neck custom made for him.

Mel Bay

Mel Bay kept playing guitar every day until his death at age 84 in 1997.

From St. Louis WOF Inductees

On June 30 of 2011, the city of St. Louis, Missouri honored him one more time by inducting him into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. There is also a Mel Bay Jazz Festival held annually in DeSoto, Missouri; the town where he grew up. The music center at the town’s high school is named in his honor.

Ode To Mel Bay

A song was written by Michael “Supe” Granda of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils called “Ode to Mel Bay”. It is featured on the album by Tommy Emmanuel and Chet Atkins called The Day Finger Pickers Took Over the World. It sort of makes fun of Mel’s instruction books.

Mel Bay Books

Today Mel Bay Publications offers hundreds of books for a variety of instruments that were written by many different authors including Mel’s son, William Bay, who is a very proficient guitarist as well as an author and runs Mel Bay Publications.

The links under the pictures will take you to the source. The links in the text will take you to more interesting information.

.

Dream Guitars

Kurt Cobain Guitar and Jerry Garcia Guitar to be Auctioned

1958 Hagstrom Deluxe 90

One of Kurt Cobain’s guitars is to be auctioned on eBay with the proceeds going to charity. The proceeds will benefit Transition Projects, a Portland, Oregon based organization that benefits homeless veterans and their families.

This auction marks what would have been Cobain’s 50th birthday had he not taken his own life at age 27. A cardigan sweater once owned by the musician brought in $137,000 USD some years ago. This auction will run from February 16 starting at 11:00 am EST to February 26, 11:00 am EST,

Owner Nathan Fasold displays the Hagstrom

The guitar is a vintage 1958 Hagstrom Sparkle Deluxe guitar that is currently owned by Nathan Fasold of Black Book Guitars in Portland.

It has been authenticated by Earnie Bailey, who was formerly Nirvana’s primary guitar tech who personally delivered it to Cobain in 1992. At that time it was converted to a left-handed model. 

Click here for the link to the auction.

Jerry Garcia with Wolf Guitar

Jerry Garcia’s “Wolf” guitar is to be auctioned off this May with proceeds to benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This gorgeous guitar is a 1973 creation of Grateful Dead builder Doug Irwin and was given the name “Wolf” after Garcia affixed a sticker of a cartoon wolf to its lower bout.

Through the years, the guitar went through many updates with pickup combinations.

Body of Wolf guitar

Garcia used this guitar for over 20 years before retiring it in 1993.

After Garcia’s death in 1995, a dispute occurred regarding ownership of Garcia’s instruments. As a part of a settlement, Doug Irwin reclaimed this guitar.

Jerry play Wolf in later years

He later sold it auction to its current owner for over $700,000. The anonymous owner will auction the Wolf guitar at an event to be held at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bowl.

The back of the Wolf guitar

The Wolf guitar is an exceptionally gorgeous instrument as was hand-made with book-matched curly western maple for it’s body and the builder also used amaranth wood, also known as purple heart and African ivory. The inlay work on the neck is superb.

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Steve Jones’ Lonely Boy – The Ultimate Rock Biog

Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols recently published his long-awaited autobiography "Lonely Boy." I’ve read lots of rock bios over the years, and this is certainly the funniest, but also the starkest. Jones pulls no punches as he tells of…

Dream Guitars

The Gibson ES-335

Mark Knopfler’s ’58 ES-335

The 1950’s were essential years in perfecting the design of the electric guitar. For Gibson Guitars, under the leadership of Ted McCarty, 1958 was a magical year. He and his team had come up with a series of futuristic solid body guitar designs, which included the Flying Vee, the Explorer and the elusive Moderne, but they also created one of the most original and iconic electric guitars of all time; The ES-335TD, or Electric Spanish model 335 Thin – Double Pickups. Or as it is more commonly known; the Gibson ES-335.

1958 ES-335

McCarty felt the ES-335 was right behind the Les Paul solid body as the companies most important body design. He stated, “I came up with the idea of putting a solid block of maple in an acoustic model. It would get some of the same tone as a regular solidbody, plus the instrument’s hollow wings would vibrate and we’d get a combination of an electric solidbody and a hollow body guitar.”

In 1952 Gibson had taken a chance on production of Les Paul’s concept of a solid body guitar which would eliminate the electronic feedback that was common to hollow body electric guitars when they were amplified loudly.

Les Paul with The Log

To prove this point, in 1941 Les Paul had created “The Log” which was a solid piece of 4 x 4 pine wood on to which he had attached an Epiphone Broadway guitar neck. Two single coil pickups were mounted to the wooden frame, along with a tailpiece to attach the strings. To make it appear to be a guitar, Paul had sawed the body of an Epiphone guitar in half and bolted the “wings” on either side of the pine plank. And that instrument did not feed back.

A modern ES 335 with maple block

This concept was essentially repeated with the Gibson ES-335. Its body had wings that were hollow shells of maple with F-holes over those chambers, but a significant maple block  separated the two sides and it was routed out to contain the pickups and anchor the neck.

’48 L-5

In the 1950’s Gibson had its feet staunchly planted in the hollow body guitar market manufacturing some of the finest electric and acoustic instruments. Up until the production of the ES-335, all the Gibson guitars with cutaways had only been manufactured with one either Venetian or Florentine cutaway, but never with two cutaways.

’49 Bigsby Guitar

Fender had been making its double cutaway Stratocaster since 1954. Surprisingly enough Paul Bigsby had built double cutaway guitars as early as 1949. And Bigsby’s guitars, though solid in appearance were actually hollow body instruments.

’55 Mousegetar

Now this may sound far fetched, but in the year 1958 one of the most popular television shows was The Mickey Mouse Club. Host Jimmy Dodd played a tenor guitar that Walt Disney commissioned to be produced by Candeles Guitars of East Los Angeles. Walt wanted that guitar to appear as if it had “mouse ears”. So the Mousegetar was built with double cutaways in 1955, three years before the ES-335. I have to wonder if this particular guitar inspired anyone in the Gibson design department.

By 1958 Gibson had latched on to the double cutaway concept.

An original 1958 Gibson ES-335 was given a suggested retail price of $335. Although in 1958 most were selling at around $267.50. By the way, in today’s money $267.50 is equivalent to around $4,000 USD.

1958 Gibson ES-335

In 1958 the ES-335 body was 1 3/4” deep and had the usual Gibson scale of 24 3/4”. The top and back on the double cutaway body were made of laminated maple as was the center block. The body had single white binding around its perimeter. The neck was also made of laminated maple, for added strength and on original models, it was not bound and had a rather large feel to it. The fretboard was made of rosewood with pearl dot inlays.

1958 ES-335 Neck view

The original ES-335 guitars came with either a stop tail piece or a Bigsby B7 vibrato tail piece, which sometimes came with a sticker that said “CustomMade” to hide the routing holes for the stop bar. The bridge/saddle was a tune-o-matic model with adjustable nickel saddles.

PAF Stricker from 1958 humbuckers

This guitar came with twin PAF humbucking pickups and each had an individual volume and tone control in a gold finish with gold tops. Nearby was a three-way selector switch with an amber plastic top. The original models came with the long beveled pickguard. The strap button was made of plastic.

This year the ES-335 was only available with a sunburst or natural finish.

1959 ES-335 Cherry finish

A year later the familiar cherry red finish was added as an option. This year binding was added to the neck. Some of the 1958 models had irregularities in the shape of the neck. By 1959, these issue were resolved. A 1959 ES-335 is considered to be a very desirable guitar to collectors.

1960 ES-335

A few changes occurred in 1960. This year the neck was given a thinner feel to the back shape. The volume/tone knobs have a chrome reflector top. The pickguard was shortened this year and does not extend past the bridge.

1961 ES-335

In 1961, Gibson discontinued the ES-335 with a natural finish. This year the strap button were changed to metal. The selector switch tip colour was gradually changed to white. Most notably the serial number was stamped into the back side of the head stock.

1962 ES-335

Big changes occurred in 1962. Instead of pearl dot inlaid fret markers, the markers were now small block inlays. The shape of the cutaways have a slight change in that they are now rounder instead of being more pointed. The saddles in the tune-o-matic bridge are now made of white nylon. Most of us will never see this, but the PAF sticker on the back of the humbucking pickups now shows the patent number.

By 1963 the neck shape gradually got larger again.

1965 Gibson ES-335 

In 1965 Gibson changed the stop tailpiece to a chrome trapeze model. This may have been the most visible change. However the most dramatic change was the width of the neck at the nut. It changed from 1 11/16th” to 1 9/16th”.

1966 ES-335

By 1966 the Brazilian rosewood on the fretboard was changed to Indian rosewood. The neck angle decreased from 17 degrees to 14 degrees. The bevel of the pickguard was also changed making the black/white/black layers less noticeable.

1968 Gibson ES-335

By 1968 Gibson resumed making the nut and neck slightly wider by going back to the 1 11/16th” spacing.

1969 ES-335 Walnut Finish

It was not until 1969 that any more changes occurred. That year the guitar was offered with a walnut finish.

1977 ES-335 with coil tap switch


In 1977 Gibson, now owned by Norlin added a coil tap switch on the upper treble cutaway to keep up with the trends of the day.

1981 ES-335DOT

In 1981 the ES-335TDC was discontinued, but replaced with the ES-335DOT. These were made through 1985 and were very good guitars.

1990 Gibson ES-335

By 1990 the Gibson ES-335DOT was discontinued and replaced with the Gibson ES-335 reissue which remains in production.

ES-335 Artist

Through the years Gibson issued some variants on the ES-335 model including a 1981 model called the ES-335 Artist, or more properly, ES Artist, which came with a large headstock logo, no F-holes, a metal truss rod cover, gold hardware, and 3 knobs. The circuit inside the guitar was developed by Moog.

1987 ES-335 CMT

From 1983-1987 the ES-335 CMT was available. A very similar guitar to the ES-335DOT, but with a curly maple top and back and with gold hardware.

1990 ES-335 Studio

I recall the music store I used to spend time at had a Gibson ES-335 Studio model. It was Gibson’s effort to update and offer a lower price point. This guitar had no F-Holes, and came with twin Dirty Finger humbucking pickups. These were made from the mid 1980’s through 1991.

1988 ES-335 Showcase Edition

The Gibson ES-335 Showcase Edition lasted only a year. The hardware was black. It came with two EMG pickups. The guitar was either white or beige. Only 200 units were made in 1988.

’94 ES-335 Centennial

1994 gave us the Gibson ES-335 Centennial model to celebrate the company’s founding. This also was a limited edition of only 100 units. This guitar came with a gold medallion on the headstock and the tailpiece had diamond inlays.

1998 ES-335 Historic ’59

Four years later Gibson came out with the ES-335 Historic Collection, which was a replica of their original 1959 ES-335.

’85 ES-335 Nashville made

By 1984 Gibson had moved all electric guitar production our of Kalamazoo, Michigan to Nashville, Tennessee. The ES-335 was then being made at the Nashville factory.

However in 2000 Gibson opened a facility in Memphis, Tennessee. This is where ES-335’s are built today.

Through the years following 1958, Gibson made other models that were either based on the model ES-335, such as ES-330, which was a hollow body guitar, or the ES-345 and ES-355, which had a broader tonal palette and were fancier guitars, and even the Trini Lopez Standard, which had a similar body, but different sound holes, inlays, and headstock, the ES-335 is the original starting point for all similar models.

Click on the links in the photographs for their source. Click on links in the text for further information.

© UniqueGuitar Publishing (for text only)

Dream Guitars

New Guitars from C.F. Martin

C.F. Martin Guitars made a hit at this years winter NAMM show with their D-200 Limited Edition guitar that has a suggested retail price of $149,999.

Martin D-200 

The 2017 Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention not only attracts musical instrument retailers, but also artists and lovers of musical merchandise, especially guitars. The D-200 is a collaboration with the RGM Watch Company and celebrates the fact that Martin Guitars has built 2 million guitars. Only fifty D-200’s will be made. C.F. Martin & Company and RGM Watches both are based in Pennsylvania.

Martin D-200 back side

The company’s press release states“This unprecedented instrument is symbolic of the passage of time with a unique watch theme displayed throughout the many highly decorative aspects of the model. A classic 14-fret Style 45 Dreadnought is the basis for this work of art. The top is crafted from highly-figured bearclaw Engelmann spruce that features an aluminum rosette with guilloche engraving – a refined process of cutting geometric patterns into metal that also appears on the stainless steel tuning machine buttons of the edition. 

Martin D-200



The guitar’s back of rare pre-CITES Brazilian rosewood, is inlaid with spectacular watch gears cut from reconstituted stone, mother-of-pearl, bloodwood, Hawaiian koa and ebony. The equally spectacular soundboard inlays feature a minute track in mother-of-pearl, birdseye maple, flamed Hawaiian koa and ebony, and a pickguard with pearl inlaid watch gears. 




D-200 Side view

Yet another unique decorative detail is the triple-strand abalone pearl striping that bisects the length of each side, referencing the early Spanish-inspired instruments of C. F. Martin Sr. The maple bound ebony fingerboard showcases watch gear mechanisms with the highest level of delicate inlay art. 


Martin D-200 with RGM Watch


Each guitar is furnished with a newly-designed wearable edition watch from RGM that references details from the D-200 guitar design and bears a matching serial number with each edition instrument. 





Martin D-200 with aluminum case


Lastly, each guitar comes in a premium aluminum Zero Manufacturing attache case with a built-in hygrometer that allows the interior environment of the case to be seen without the need to open the case.

DD-28 Dwight Yoakam

C.F. Martin unveiled two other models that are more affordable. These include the Dwight Yoakam DD-28 model with a suggested retail price of $5,999.

DD-28 Dwight Yoakam

This gorgeous dreadnought style guitar features a solid sitka spruce top with East Indian rosewood back and sides. Thre fretboard is ebony with three mother-of-pearl spade, diamond, and club fret markers and a mother-of-pearl inlay of playing cards made of reconstituted stone that cover the 11th through the 13th frets. The pickguard is in Martin’s “bull horn” style. The highly flamed headstock veneer of Indian rosewood features the deluxe C.F. Martin vertical logo.

John Prine D-28 LTD

Martin has also come out with a limited edition of 70 John Prine D-28 guitars to honor one of the world’s great songwriters and singers. This beautiful guitar features an Engleman spruce top that features an antique toner finish along with antique white binding. The bridge saddle is made of ebony with a bone saddle. Wood used on the back and side is Madagascar rosewood. The headstock veneer, also made of Madagascar rosewood features pearl angel wing inlays to commemorate Prine’s popular song, “Angel from Montgomery.”

Head and neck detail

The neck comes with an ebony fretboard with abalone pearl snowflake inlays. The case is also unique. It features a cream tweed exterior and plush bright red inner lining. The John Prine D-28 has a suggested retail price of $5999.

Martin CEO-8.2

When does a Martin guitar not look like a Martin guitar? When it is designed by Martin CEO C.F. Martin IV. Chris Martin came up with this exquisite grand jumbo guitar deemed the CEO 8.2, and topped it off with unique Bourbon Sunset Burst shading. The guitar is made entirely with Forestry Stewardship Council certified wood. Martin has done a great job with conservation over recent years. The headstock has a unique design taken from very old Martin archtop models and has an ornate design, and an unusual slanted logo.

Headstock and neck detail

The fret markers are unique and match the headstock inlay. It is priced at $3999 or if you prefer a Fishman soundhole pickup it will cost an extra grand. It comes with grained ivoroid binding and heelcap, a bone nut and saddle. The bridge is ebony and the bridge pins are called liquid metal, which is a special design made by Martin that promises to increase volume by at least 3 decibels. The case for this guitar is also unique and is a TKL Alumin-X case with a precise fit for this guitar.

C-1 amd C-3 Ukes

To celebrate 100 years of uke production, Martin unveiled three new ukuleles. These include the Style 3 Centennial Ukulele, with a suggested retail price of $2999, the Style 1 Centennial Ukulele, with a suggested retail price of $599, and the new Bamboo Natural Uke with a retail price of $449.

Dream Guitars

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Dream Guitars

Guild Electric Guitars

Guild Electric Guitars

One of my favorite guitar companies is Guild. But during the guitar boom of the 1960, when it came to electric guitars, most performers preferred Fender, Gibson, and even Gretsch. Of the electric guitars players that were known for their use of a Guild electric guitar, only a few come to mind.

1976 Guild S100 Carved

Guild acoustic guitars seemed to enjoy better name recognition than the companies electric brands. However in my opinion, Guild electric guitars were every bit as good and in some cases superior to the products being put out by their competition.

Al Dronge on the right

The Guild Guitar Company was founded in 1952 by Avram “Alfred” Dronge, a guitarist and music-store owner, and George Mann, a former executive with the Epiphone Guitar Company.

Dronge immigrated with his family to the United States in 1916 and grew up in Manhattan, near the Music Row district, around West 48th street.

He was an accomplished banjo player and guitarist. He eventually opened a music store in the same part of town back he grew up in. This was in the mid-1930’s and Dronge successfully ran it until 1948. He then amassed a fortune by importing accordions and distributing them in the early 1950’s when the accordion was a very popular musical instrument.

Al Dronge – George Mann

In 1952 his friend George Mann suggested they team up as partners in a guitar business. Mann was in management with Epiphone Guitars. Around this time period the company was facing upheavals by employees who wanted to unionize. To put a halt this the Stathopoli Brothers left their manufacturing facility in New York City and set up shop in Philadelphia leaving many craftsmen without work. George Mann saw the potential in hiring these out-of-work craftsmen.

Another friend of both men, Gene Detgen, suggested the name “Guild”. So in 1952 the company was founded with Mann as president and Dronge as vice-president and former Epiphone employees were hired. A year after forming the company Mann departed leaving Al Dronge in charge.

Guild Guitar Factory Manhattan

By 1956 the company set up shop in Manhattan, but soon moved to Hoboken, New Jersey due to expansion. The men were fortunate to hire seasoned people to run the operation such as Bob Bromberg, who was the plant manager, Carlo Greco, who was an exceptional luthier, Gilbert Diaz, who was in charge of final assembly, and Fred Augusto, a finishing specialist.

Guild F-5212

During the “Folk Era” of the 1960’s the company thrived due to its acoustic guitar production and reputation. Especially popular was the amazing Guild F5212 that sounded like a canon.

Carl Kress & George Barnes

Because of Al Dronge’s ties with the New York Jazz scene, where he played guitar at clubs during his younger days, he was able to get a lot of input from players like Johnny Smith, Son Armone, Carl Kress, and Barry Galbraith on the needs of a jazz player for an electric guitar.

’58 Johnny Smith Award

In fact Johnny Smith worked with the factory to develop a signature guitar which became the Artist Award. Another jazz giant, George Barnes, helped develop another signature guitar. Both of these models were in high demand among studio performers. A signature hollow-body guitar designed for Duane Eddy became a rockabilly classic.

1962 Guild X-175

It was during this era that Guild created some of their classic electric models such as the X-175 and the M-75 Aristocrat.

1957 M-75 Aristocrat

The M-75 Aristocrat may have looked like a Les Paul, but it was far from that guitar. The M-75 was introduced in 1954. Although it had no f-holes, it was a hollowbody guitar with a spruce top. In fact Guild fouder Al Dronge was not looking to copy the Les Paul, as his attention was bent towards Jazz guitarists and their needs.

’58 Guild Aristocrat

The pickups on this guitar looked like P-90 soap bar models, but were made by the Franz company of Astoria New York and were of a lower output. It looked like a slightly smaller version of the George Barnes model.

1967 Guild BluesBird

This model was produced through 1963, but was revived in 1967 with the name BluesBird. At this time the body was routed instead of being hollow and the pickups were replaced with humbuckers.

’70 Guld M-75

By 1970 the designation changed to the M-75 and hardward was downgraded from gold-plated to chrome plated. The body on this guitar was solid beginning around 1971.

Guild S-200 “Thunderbird”, S-100 “Polara”, S-50 “Jet Star”

It was during the 1960’s that Guild produced their finest electric guitars.

These included the Thunderbird series, the S-100 Polara, and the Starfire series.

Jerry Garcia with Guild Starfire III

Guitarists Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh, all of the Grateful Dead had their Guild Starfire guitars and basses modified by the Alembic company as did bass player Jack Cassady of Jefferson Airplane. 

Guild Starfire

In fact one of the most iconic group of guitars produced by Guild was the Starfire series. These guitars hit the scene as early as 1960 and consisted of five guitars and two bass guitars.

The Gibson company had first offered the ES-225 guitar in 1955. The Guild Starfire II and Starfire III bore a similar body shape to this instrument with its thin body, single Florentine cutaway, and twin pickups.

Guild Starfire II

The Starfire II, much like the ES-225, was a completely hollow body guitar. The body was 1 7/8” thick and bound on the front and back. The early models came with twin DeArmond single coil pickups, which were updated to Guild humbucking pickups in 1963. A pickup selector was on the top side of the upper bout. Each pickup had its own volume and tone controls. The set-in 20 fret neck was bound and topped with a rosewood fretboard with dot position markers. The scale was 24 3/4”. The Guild logo was inlaid at the top of the headstock and below it was Guild’s Chesterfield crest.

Starfire II with DeArmond pickups

The black pickguard was tiered on the lower side and marked with the Guild logo. The strings passed over a Guild adjustable saddle that was mounted on a rosewood bridge and were secured to a Guild harp trapeze tailpiece.

The Kingsmen “Louie, Louie”

One little known fact is that Mike Mitchell, the guitarist for The Kingsmen, used a Guild Starfire II to record the solo on the groups one big hit, Louie, Louie.

1965 Guild Starfire III

The Guild Starfire III was the same guitar, but with the addition of a Bigsby B7 tailpiece. These guitars were originally available with a cherry finish.

’64 Starfire III w DeArmonds

Later sunburst was added and available until 1967. In 1962 Guild added Ebony Grain, Emerald Green, Black, White and Amber custom finishes. The original models were offered through 1973.

1968 Guild Starfire IV

In 1959 Gibson Guitars first produced their double cutaway hollowbody model known as the ES-330. In 1963 Guild took the Starfire a step further producing the hollowbody Gulld Starfire IV double cutaway model. This guitar had a slightly different shape than Gibson’s ES double cutaway guitars.

1961 Starfire IV with Natural finish

The Starfire IV usually sported twin Guild humbucking pickups on its body, but some came with DeArmond single coil models that were mounted with rings to mask the fact that the guitar was routed for humbuckers. The body was bound on the top and bottom.

Once again the Starfire IV had individual controls for tone and volume for each pickup. The selector switch was mounted on the guitars lower cutaway. The set-in neck was bound and topped with a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets and dot position markers. The body joined at the 16th fret, then after 1967 this was changed to the 18th fret, Once again the distinctive Guild logo was inlaid on the black headstock veneer, and below it was the Guild Chesterfield crest. The tuners were either Grover Sta-tites or Rotomatics. Interestingly it was available with stereo wiring as an option.

Originally this guitar was offered in cherry and sunburst. Later custom colours were added including white, black, blonde, brown and natural finish. The strings passed over a tuneable saddles mounted on a rosewood bridge and were secured to a Guild harp tailpiece.

’63 Starfire V

The Starfire V was Guild’s best selling model from this series. This was a step up from the IV model. Once again it had a 1 7/8” thick body with double cutaways that was bound on the top and bottom. It came with twin Guild humbucking pickups, although some models were produced with DeArmond single coil models. Each pickup had its own volume and tone control, with the addition of a master volume control on the lower cutaway, right below the pickup selector switch. This guitar had the familiar Guild tiered design on the lower portion of the pickguard.

’67 Starfire V

One of the biggest changes was the addition of a 3 piece laminated neck. This was topped with a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets and block inlays as position markers. As before the Guild logo was inlaid in the headstock veneer above the Chesterfield design. The tuners were first made by Kolb, the were Grover Rotomatics beginning in 1965. The other addition was the Bigsby B7 vibrato tailpiece. This guitar was also available with stereo wiring. This guitar first was offered only in cherry or sunburst, but later in custom colours.

1967 Starfire VI

The top of the line model was the Guild Starfire VI. This gorgeous instrument had all the accouterments found on the Starfire V, but with the addition of gold plated hardware, including pickup covers, selector switch, bridge saddles, pickguard mounting strap and tuning buttons. Additionally not only the body and neck were bound, but the f-holes and also the headstock.

Instead of a rosewood fretboard, the Starfire VI came with an ebony fretboard and inlaid block markers. The headstock veneer had the Guild name inlaid, and inlaid under it was a Guild “G” logo.

’67 Starfire XII

Guild produced one more version of the Starfire guitar. This was a 12 string model known as the Starfire XII. It was similar to the Guild Starfire IV in its design, which included the harp tailpiece, but came with a 12 string headstock. Some models came with metalic adjustable saddles mounted on the bridge, while other guitars were produced with just a rosewood non-tunable bridge. Few models were produced with DeArmond single coil pickups, but the majority of these guitars came with Guild humbucking pickups.

’65 Starfire bass

The Guild Starfire bass was most interesting. Player such as Jack Cassidy and Phil Lesh played this instrument (albeit that their instruments were modified by Alembic). This was a double cutaway hollow body bass, somewhat similar in shape to the 1958 version of Gibson’s EB-2 bass. However the Starfire bass was a hollow instrument that hit the scene in 1965.

1966 Starfire bass

This bass came with one Hagstrom Bisonic pickup. Originally this was mounted just above the bridge, but by 1966 was moved to the neck position. The bridge unit was also made by Hagstrom and was a metallic plate with an angled and staggered rosewood bridge. This was a short scale bass; 30 3/4”. Originally the neck was a one piece unit, but later models were three piece laminate. The neck was topped with a rosewood fretboard. There was no pickguard on the Starfire bass.

The headstock, like other Starfire models, had the Guild logo inlaid on the veneer and the Chesterfield crest. The earliest models came with only a volume and tone control, but by 1968 a push-button bass boost switch was added.

1967 Starfire II bass

In 1967 Guild came out with a double pickup version; the Guild Starfire II Bass. This model came with two Hagstrom BS-1 Bisonic pickups, each with individual volume and tone controls. The selector switch was on the lower horn and beneath it was a master volume control.

’67 Starfire II bass in emerald green

This bass included the same Hagstrom bridge/saddle unit, but no bass boost button. In fact, by 1970 this was replaced with a tone control on the single pickup model. The Starfire and Starfire II basses were available with stereo wiring or with a fretless neck. The model was discontinued by 1977.

Zal Yanovsky with Guild S-200

Guitarist Zal Yanovsky of The Lovin’ Spoonful and Bluesman Muddy Waters used Guild Thunderbird S-200 guitars.

’63 S-200 Thunderbird

The S-200 Thunderbird was possibly one of the more unique guitar ever created. Sometimes it is referred to as the Gumby Guitar since it’s body bears resemblance to the green claymation character.

This guitar was equipped with twin humbucking pickups, each with separate volume controls and tone controls. It also had a faceplate on the lower side of the upper bout that housed 3 slider switches in a similar manner to the Fender Jaguar.

The 2 lower switches were on/off controls for each pickup. The upper switch was an on/off mode switch. Housed between the switching faceplate and the volume potentiometers was another mode switch. Switched upward it effected only the neck pickup and downward effected both pickups. When the mode switch was on it activated capacitors that produced a single coil type of tone, while maintaining the humbucking capability of the pickups giving the guitar a sparkling clean sound.

Hagstrom Tremolo

The strings attached to a tremolo unit that was made by the Hagstrom Guitar company. The guitars neck was bound and had mother-of-pearl block inlays. The headstock was made with a very unique carve on it’s top and the Guild logo was inlaid above a “thunderbird” inlay.

S-200 Built-in stand

Due to the inward carve on the bottom of this guitar, some ingenious designer at Guild decided the finishing touch would be to add a metal bar to the back of the guitar that acted like a built-in guitar stand.

S-100 and S-200

The S-200 Thunderbird guitar was also produced with twin single coil pickups. The S-100 was another guitar in the series that had less switching features and  a less fancy headstock but retained the built-in guitar stand.

In 1966, the Guild Musical Instruments Corporation, as it was now known, was bought out by electronics giant Avnet Inc. This was right at the end of the guitar boom, but corporations were still hoping to profit from the popularity of the guitar.

Guild’s Westerly, Rhode Island factory

The company had outgrown it’s facility in Hoboken and the new owners decided, to move manufacturing to Westerly Rhode Island. Al Dronge was still in charge.

Sadly he was piloting a small aircraft and commuting to Westerly when his plane crashed in May of 1972. He was a popular and respected man and his employees, and the industry felt his loss.

’79 Guild D-40C

In 1972, under Guild’s new president Leon Tell, noteworthy guitarist/designer Richard “Rick” Excellente conceptualized and initiated the first dreadnought guitar with a “cut-away” with the Guild D40-C. By the 1970’s and 80’s, the Folk Era, and the Guitar Boom were history.

’84 X-79, ’87 Detonator, ’88 Liberator

To keep afloat and survive the competition Guild introduced a series of Superstrat style solid body guitars including models such as the Flyer, Aviator, Liberator and Detonator, the Tele-style T-200 and T-250 and the Pilot Bass, available in fretted, fretless, and 4- and 5-string versions.

These guitars were the first Guild instruments to bear slim pointed headstocks.

Guitars drying at Westerly plant

In 2001 Fender Musical Instruments Corporation was on an acquisition spree and purchased many of their competitors leaving them in name only. FMIC (Fender) purchased Guild this same year. Production had been great in Westerly for over 30 years and Guild had employed many fine craftsmen.

But Fender had plans to move production to their facility in Corona, California.

The last job the good folks in Westerly did for Guild was to put together archtop and acoustic guitar “kits” that were to be shipped to California where they would be finished and assembled. Although Corona does have a wonderful plant, production of Guild guitars was not to be continued there. Later on there were rumors that FMIC may move production back to Westerly, but nothing ever happened.

The Tacoma Guitar Factory

In 2004 FMIC purchased the assets of the Tacoma, Washington based Tacoma Guitar Company with the thought of having workers there build Guild Guitars.

Sadly Tacoma Guitars, which were unique and excellent instruments, were never built again. Guild guitars were built in Tacoma for only a few years.

Kaman Music Corp, New Hartford

In 2008 Fender acquired Kaman Music Corporation aka Ovation Guitars and moved production of Guild Guitars to that facility in New Hartford, Connecticut where production of US made Guild guitars resumed the following year.

By then FMIC was also outsourcing production. To be fair, as far back as when Guild was in Westerly, Rhode Island, the company had outsourced some of its products, but not under the Guild brand name.

1979 Madeira Guitar Ad

In the early 1970’s Guild was importing Madeira acoustic and electric guitars from Japan. Later on these were made in Korea. The pickguard shapes and headstock shapes on these instruments are different than USA made Guild guitars.

Burnside Electric

Another line imported in the 1990’s was called Burnside Electric Guitars. These were Superstrat style guitars manufactured outside of the United States. The headstocks bore the logo “Burnside by Guild”. This line up lasted only a few years.

DeArmond Rhythm Chief pickup

As I have already indicated the Fender Musical Instrument Company was busy acquiring brands made by other companies. One of these was DeArmond, which was well known as the guitar pickup manufacturer, Rowe-DeArmond of Toledo, Ohio.

DeArmond M-77T

In the late 1990’s Fender made some reissues of Guild electric guitars that were manufactured in Korea and in Indonesia and marketed under the brandname DeArmond. These guitars and basses were variations on the Gulld Starfire, the X-155, the T400, the M-75 Bluesbird, and the pilot series bass. The headstock bore the DeArmond logo and some included a modified version of Guild’s Chesterfield inlay. Some even had the word Guild etched into the truss rod cover.

DeArmond Starfire IV

The best models came from Korea, while the less fancy guitars and bass examples were made in Indonesia. The DeArmond brand was first offered in Europe and then in the United States and was discontinued in the early 2000’s.

New Hartford F-412

The Guild guitars produced in Connecticut at the New Hartford facility were of very high quality. These were mostly acoustic guitars.The New Hartford facility had also created a new line of specialty, limited edition guitars, referred to as the GSR Series. The GSR designation stands for “Guild Special Run.” This series was first revealed to Guild dealers at Guild’s dealer-only factory tour in mid-2009 called the “Guild Summit Retreat”.

Guild F-30 GSR

These models featured unique takes on classic Guild Traditional Series models.

2012 Starfire VI

In fact only one electric model was built at this facility and that was the Guild Starfire VI. Only 20 examples of this guitar were produced.

In the summer of 2014 Fender sold off the Guild brand to Cordoba guitars. Most Ovation production had already been moved to Asia and the Kaman Corporation was entirely out of the music manufacturing business.

Oxnard, CA Guild plant

Though it has taken them nearly two years to get fully back into business, Cordoba has built a new facility in Oxnard, California and placed master luthier Ren Ferguson is in charge.

Ren Ferguson

Ren Ferguson has worked for Gibson Guitars since they acquired the Flatiron Mandolin company in 1986 and is a well known figure in the music industry.

Guild GAD series

In 2015 the GAD (Guild Acoustic Design Series) was replaced by the Westerly Collection, which included the models such as the T-50 Slim, the Starfire IV, and the Chris Hillman Bass.

Later that year the first M-20 and D-20 guitars were built in the Oxnard factory and in the spring of 2016 shipped to the Chicago Music Exchange.

A Few New Guild Electric Guitar Models

Based on the website and checking online store, Guild electric guitars and basses are back in full production and selling in the $1,000 USD range.

©UniqueGuitar Publishing (text only)

Dream Guitars

Dick Dale – His Guitar and Amplifier and His Contributions to Music

Dick Dale

One of the men that has done more than most to shape the world of modern rock guitar, and even the world of heavy metal music gets very little respect or recognition these days.

King of the Surf Guitar

I am of an age where I can recall Surf Guitar being played on the radio. I am not certain how players learn songs anymore, but I grew up listening to The Ventures, The Surfaris and Dick Dale. I learned to play guitar by listening to those songs over and over until I could duplicate them.

Dick Dale and the Del-Tones

In those days, Dick Dale was just a name of the guy playing lead guitar on some popular songs that I wanted to play with my garage band. I knew he was from California and his bands name was The Del-Tones, but had no idea that his persistence in seeking a better, bigger and louder sound from his guitar would eventually turn into the industry standard and change live guitar music and concerts. 

Dick Dale

Dick Dale was born Richard Anthony Monsour on May 4th, 1937 in Boston Massachusetts. His father was Lebanese and his mother’s family came from Poland. Due to his Lebanese heritage Dale developed an interest in Arabic music. I mention this because the song everyone associates him with is Miserlou. When he was very young his uncle taught him how to play the tarabaki, while the uncle played the oud.  Because of this Dale developed his rapid and alternating picking technique. He states the music had a sense of pulsating.

Misilou 45 RPM

One can certainly hear the Arabic influence in Misirlou. Much of this song is played on a single string, up and down the neck. In reading about the song, it was first popularized by a Greek recording in 1927 and called Misirli which roughly translates to The Egyptian. Dale would have learned this song as a kid.

The Fender Discussion Page

In the late 1990’s, when I first got on the internet I used to visit The Fender Forum aka The Fender Discussion Page. Early on this site was not just a discussion page for fans of Fender guitars, but also received visits and comments from Fender employees, including Bill Schultz, the CEO at the time.

Fender Facts Newsletter


Fender had a newsletter back then and one issue featured an interview with Dick Dale. We thought it humorous that Dick Dale spoke in the third person throughout the interview and we poked fun of that.

Mr. Dale

I took the initiative of email Mr. Dale, hoping that he might join in the discussion. Boy was I mistaken. I received a terse reply. I wrote him again and apologized for remarks like, Dick Dale uses bridge cables to string his guitar. (Which is almost true. His choice of Ernie Ball strings at the time ran from .60 to .16 gauge.)  (Note: After rereading an article I wrote about Jazz and Session player Howard Roberts, I discovered that Roberts choice of string sizes was similar; .58 to .16.)

Dick Dale with his cats

Dale took the time to email me back and was very gracious. I have nothing but respect for this man. In his text he related some similar experiences that I could relate to. We both took care of our elderly parents. And we both loved animals, Dick Dale more-so than I, because he raised a menagerie of around 40 assorted lions, tigers, leopards, hawks, eagles, ravens, a baby elephant and other non-domestic critters that had been rescued from poachers.

Quotes

He also elaborated to me about the nights that he spent with  Leo Fender discussing his amplification needs; such as why the current Fender amps kept burning out during his shows. The men also discussed his guitar.

Dick Dale and the Del-Tones

Dick Dale was one of the first to receive a Fender Stratocaster.

Indeed there are a number of Fender innovations that although Dale did not create, he was the impetus and drive behind them. For instance, most amplifiers in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s were putting out 12 to 15 watts. There were a handful, including the Fender Bassman that pumped out 40 watts RMS.

With the Del-Tones

When Dick Dale first started playing music, he says he was in a 17 piece band, with horns and a drummer. He was playing Big Band Music and the guitar could not be heard.

Town Hall Party cast in the 1950’s

Later he attempted to be a Country singer for a while and even got a gig on a popular west coast TV show called Town Hall Party where he played with a number of famous Country Music stars.

Then Rock and Roll came along and the band became a combo, but the still the guitar was pretty much a background rhythm instrument.

When guitar based Surf Music hit the scene around 1962 he needed to do something. Leo Fender was a generous man and provided amplifiers and guitars to California musicians as a form of not just advertising but to see what worked well and what needed improvement.

Leo Fender in the 1950’s

When Dick Dale first met Leo Fender he told him that he was a surfer and a guitar player and did not have money for a decent instrument. Leo recognized the drive and determination and gave him a Stratocaster and right on the spot asked him what he thought about this Fender guitar. Dale, being left-handed, turned the right handed instrument over and began playing, which made Mr. Fender laugh.

Here was a guy playing his guitar upside-down and backwards, meaning the 6th string was on the top and the 1st string was on the bottom. So Leo Fender made a left-handed Stratocaster for him.

Late 1950’s Fender Pro – 18 to 25 watts

Dick Dale’s amps would all burn out from his intense and loud playing. He says that he blew out almost 50 amplifiers and speakers. I’m told that when Fender and Freddie Tavares came to see him play. Leo Fender went home and thought about this situation. This prompted Fender to make a larger and better output transformer.

Dale’s Original Showman Prototype

Dale relates, “ I get a phone call one time, it was 2:30 in the morning and Leo said, “Dick, I got it, I got it, I found it! I got it! You gotta come down.” He says “I made an 85 watt output transformer, peaking 100 watts because using 5881 tubes would give it that WhOOm sound, ya gotta try it, ya, ya gotta try it.”

Vintage 15″ JBL Lansing D130F

The trouble was they didn’t have a speaker that could handle this much power. Fender had been routinely using Altec Lansing speakers in some of their amplifiers, but Dale wanted something much stronger. So they approached another company called JBL Lansing and asked for a 15” speaker with a 10 to 11 and a half pound magnet.

15″ JBL Lansing D130F speakers

The speaker needed to have an aluminum dust cover. So JBL Lansing went about creating this speaker which was not just sturdier, but came with a rubberized coating around the edge of the speaker which was connected to a metal frame. The JBL Lansing D130F was born.

Early 1960’s Fender Dual Showman

The speakers were housed in a separate cabinet than the amplifier. This cabinet had what Fender called a “tone ring” that encircled the edge of the speaker and let more of the natural bass sounds come through.

The output transformer that Mr. Fender created emphasized the lows, mids and high sounds, something that had not been accomplished until then. The 100 watt amp and the cabinet were dubbed The Showman Amp.

The next step that Dale suggested was to place two of these speakers in a cabinet. The Showman Amp was born. When twin 8 ohm 15” JBL Lansing speakers were added to the cabinet to run in series it came to be known as The Dual Showman. Leo Fender had to upgrade the transformer to accommodate the 4 ohm load.

The version that Dick Dale uses is the one with cream coloured Tolex. Later the amp was rated at 100 watts and peaked at 180 watts. When the black Tolex models came out they were once again rated at 85 watts.

Dick Dale never set the amplifier on top of the speaker cabinet, since his intense style of playing guitar causes too much vibration in the speakers which can affect the tubes in the amplifier.

Fender Reverb Unit & Controls

The Fender Reverb unit was another invention that Dick Dale did not invent, but certainly pushed forward. The Showman and the Dual Showman amplifiers were self contained amplifiers with a separate cabinet for the speakers and the only effect that was built into them was vibrato.

By 1961, only a handful of amplifier manufacturers had installed reverberation units in combo amps, most notably Ampeg, with their Reverb Rocket. Though none of these amplifiers had been rated at 100 watts up until now.

Dick Dale state he took apart his Hammond organ and discovered the reverb unit had 9 springs, which the signal traveled through. He took this to Leo, who made a chassis with a small amplifier that contained a 6K6 power tube, a 7025 and a 12AX7, which are both preamp tubes. Dale plugged a mic into this and loved the sound.

Inside the Reverb Unit

Leo then went on to create the Fender Reverb Unit, which was used by Dick Dale, the Beach Boys, and many other Surf band to get that exceptional reverberation sound. Dale also utilized an Echoplex.

Getting back to the Dick Dale guitar. Even early photos show that Dale stripped that guitar down to the bare essentials. He took out all the parts that he did not need on that guitar.

Dick Dale with his original Fender Stratocaster

For instance, Dale’s Strat does not have any tone potentiometers. He removed both of them and replaced them with metal plugs. The guitar has only a 250k master volume pot. On Dale’s personal guitar, there is not even a volume knob, just has the end of the potentiometer sticking out.

Dick Dale Stratocaster

Dales guitar has a 3-way pickup selector switch, just like on the original Stratocasters and he prefers it that way. Fender offered to update it with a five-way switch but Dick Dale declined. Instead he added a mini-toggle switch that turns the middle pickup off and on, so it can be used in combination with either of the other two pickups.

One would think that a Surf player would utilize the vibrato, but not Dick Dale. Though his guitar still has 5 springs on the back side holding the vibrato block (5 springs were standard on original Stratocasters) there is a wooden block wedged between the block and the guitars routed area to keep the block from moving.

Dick Dale’s Fender Stratocaster is a mid 1950’s model, which is odd as it has a rosewood slab fretboard. The body is finished in sparkle gold paint

Dick Dale’s Stratocaster

The only other modifications include the addition of an America Flag sticker on the upper bout, a pick-holder/dispenser on the lower bout and a Kenpo karate sticker placed on the guitars body. This sticker is from the same organization that Elvis Presley was a part of and was founded by Senior Grand Master Ed Parker. Dick Dale has been a student of Karate for over 30 years.

Late 1960’s Fender Rhodes electric piano

Around 1959 Leo Fender was interesting in adding a piano to his company’s inventory. He struck a deal with Harold Rhodes, who was a musician and inventor.

Rhodes had come up with a piano-type instrument that employed tuned metal bars called tines being struck by a hammer instead the usual piano action of a hammer striking of strings. The sound was then amplified. This instrument eventually came to be known as the Fender Rhodes piano.

By now Leo Fender considered Dick Dale to be not just a guitarist, but the ultimate test machine.  If he could give Dale a piece of equipment and let him use it in concerts, then Fender could see if it was worthy. Apparently, the Fender Rhodes Piano passed the test and though it never became a substitute for an acoustic piano, it became a studio and concert mainstay.

Fender Contempo Organ

Another device that was tested by Dick Dale and his band was the Fender Contempo Organ. In the early and mid 1960’s, many bands were utilizing portable organs such as those manufactured by Farfisa, Vox, Maestro (Gibson), and a number of other companies.

A company called Pratt Read, was manufacturing parts for the Fender Rhodes piano and was asked by Fender if they could put together a combo organ.

Dick Dale’s Prototype Contempo organ

The Fender Contempo was one of the sturdier of the portable organs of that era. This was another product that Fender gave to Dick Dale to test for road-worthiness.

Dick Dale Acoustic

Some time before 2010, Dick Dale ask Fender if they could build a signature acoustic guitar for him. He complained that most acoustic guitars are too deep and too wide, which causes cramps in his abdomen. In 2010 Fender came up with a full size acoustic-electric guitar that was only 3″ deep and based on the Fender Malibu series guitar of the 1960’s. This instrument had a solid mahogany top, back and sides. The neck was a reverse Stratocaster style with a rosewood fretboard that was set in to the heel and the guitar was painted cherry red. It had two pickguard for Mr. Dale’s aggressive style playing.

Jimmy Dale Acoustic

Since Dick’s son, Jimmy, often travels with him and is a part of his act playing guitar and drums, Fender also built a Jimmy Dale Kingman SCE model. This guitar is a full sized with an all mahogany body. The set-in maple Stratocaster-style neck without the reverse headstock. Both guitars are no longer offered.

Dick Dale and the Del-Tones from Beach Party

Dick Dale’s fame rose when he was featured, along with his band, The Del-Tones, in the 1963 movie Beach Party, with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

Dick Dale in the movie Muscle Beach

A year later Dick and the band were featured in another movie called Muscle Beach. From the picture it appears that Dick Dale either had his Stratocaster painted gold sparkle and changed the pickguard from tortoise shell to white or perhaps he got a new Stratocaster.

This is the guitar that he is still using today.

Dick Dale in recent years

Dick Dale has survived numerous health issues. He has recovered from rectal cancer and almost lost a leg to a terrible infection. He has endured radiation and chemotherapy and has come out on top.

Dick Dale at 78 – same equipment

In 1987 he appeared in the movie Back to the Beach, once again playing Surf guitar. In 1993 he recorded the song Pipeline with Stevie Ray Vaughn and the following year Quentin Taratino used Dale’s version of the song Miserlou in the movie Pulp Fiction, which revived interest in Dick Dale’s career. At age 78 despite all his health issues Dick Dale is still playing concerts and putting on energetic live shows.

Like I said before, I really admire Dick Dale. Dick is a viable part of the history of the electric guitar and all the equipment that changed the face of rock music and he deserves recognition.

Click on the links beneath the pictures to see the source and click on the links in the text for more information.

©UniqueGuitar Publishing

Dream Guitars

Al Caiola, One of New York Cities Most Prominent Session Players Has Passed Away.

Al Caiola with his Gretsch model G6210DSW

One of the greatest guitarists and most prolific recording session players passed away last week. Al Caiola was 96 years old when he died on November 9th of this year.

In addition to being an influential guitarist, he was a composer and arranger. His work spanned a diverse array of styles.

Caiola worked with many, many famous artists including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Mitch Miller, Tony Bennett, Buddy Holly, Percy Faith, Steve Lawrence, Bob Crosby, Tony Mottola, Bobby Darin, and others.

One of Al’s albums

The list of recordings that feature his guitar are almost too numerous to mention. If you have heard Darin’s recording of Mack The Knife, you’ve heard Caiola’s guitar. If you’ve heard Buddy Holly’s True Love Ways, you have heard Caiola. If you’ve heard Petula Clark’s Don’t Sleep in the Subway, yes, that was Caiola on guitar.

He has played guitar backing King Curtis, Perry Como, Glen Campbell, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Paul Anka, Petula Clark, Burt Bacharach, Louis Armstrong, Benny King, Rosemary Clooney, Dion, Mary Robbins, Del Shannon, Barbara Streisand, Jackie Gleason, Neil Sedaka, Connie Francis, Andy Williams, Joe Williams, Tom and Jerry (Simon and Garfunkle before they were famous), Julie London, Solomon Burke, and so many others.

In the Marine Corps Band

During WWII he played in the Marine Corps 5th Divsion Band. During the 1950’s he became a studio player and arranger in New York City.

Squeeze Play

Early in his career, Al recording on Dot Records on an album called Squeeze Play that featured John Serry. Caiola moved on to the United Artists label where he recorded the theme to The Magnificent Seven and the Bonanza theme.

Early recording with Tony Bennett

Caiola teamed up with arranger Don Costa and made at least 36 albums featuring his guitar playing with a large and lush orchestra. He also released singles that received air play back in the 1960’s. Other albums were based on the Western TV themes that were popular at that time, including Wagon Train (Wagons Ho), The Ballad of Paladin, The Rebel, The Gunslinger, Bonanza, and others.

James Bond Themes – Al Caiola

He also performed on albums based on movies such as From Russia With Love.

Al and fellow guitarists

He was a member of The Manhattan Guitar Club, which was a collaborative of New York City studio musicians that paid dues into this organization for use of Ampeg amplifiers that were kept in various recording studios. This amplifier had a lock on it in place of an of/off switch. Each member was given a key to the amp to use it when the played in that studio.

’65 Caiola Custom

In 1963 Epiphone guitars, which was then owned by Gibson/CMI introduced the Al Caiol guitar. It was designed in the Gibson ES double-cutaway shape and called the Al Caiola Custom.

Although this instrument was semi-hollow, there were no f-holes. The 7-ply bound maple body was 16” wide and slightly less than 2” deep. The instrument came with a deluxe 5-ply pickguard. The bound neck was of a 25 ½” scale and the rosewood fretboard came with pearl block markers.

The open-book headstock was inlaid with an “column” design done in pearl and elongated, as are Epiphone headstocks. It came with a zero fret.

This guitar had two mini humbuckers, with volume controls for each pickup.  It also came with an unusual feature; 5 “Tonexpressor” switches. The pickups were turned off and on with two slide pickup selector switches.

Al Caiola Custom 

The guitar was offered with 3 different finishes; shaded, walnut or cherry. The strings were attached to a trapeze tailpiece with a walnut block that said “Al Caiola.”

Al Caiola Standard

Three years later Epiphone introduced the less fancy Al Caiola Standard model. This came with twin dog-ear P-90 pickups.

With Epiphone Archtop

Earlier in his career Caiola can be seen playing Epiphone archtop electrics.

Al with Gold Gretsch Guitar

He  was also well known for using a gold-coloured Gretsch guitar.

Al Caiola with Epi model gold finish

He did use his Epiphone signature model during the sixties.

Al Caiola with Heritage Guitar

Most recently he played a large bodied single cutaway Heritage guitar.

Though many modern readers may not know about Caiola, he was an integral part of modern guitar history.

Click on the titles under the pictures to view sources. Click on the links in the text for more information about Al Caiola.





Dream Guitars

Phil Keaggy’s Guitars

Glass Harp circa 1972

I saw Glass Harp in concert 1972 at the University of Cincinnati. As a group they were an amazing trio, but the guitarist was the one that really stood out. During that concert Phil Keaggy played his Gibson Les Paul for most of the night.

Glass Harp

At some point he put that guitar down and announced that he had just become a Christian and was going to play some songs that he had just written. He then picked up a Ramirez classical guitar and sat down in a chair and sang a couple of beautiful songs.

As I recall one of the songs he sung was called The Answer. This tune ended with a classical-style riff that he used in at least one other song.

Glass Harp LP – Synergy

I went out a few days later and purchased their album Synergy.

In 1975 a large church in my home town decided to open a “Christian Nightclub”. It was a nice idea from an evangelic point, but a bad business move. The club only lasted a few months. For their grand opening they hired Phil Keaggy as the entertainment. I was fortunate enough to have attended this concert.

Phil had left Glass Harp in 1972 to pursue a solo career that is still ongoing.

During dinner we listened to a traditional big band playing some standards. Then after dinner, the stage was cleared and Phil and his band took the stage.

Phil Keaggy circa 1975

I was seated at a table right in front of the stage and got to meet Phil. He was still playing his 1971 Les Paul Deluxe that had mini-humbucking pickups. He played this through a black faced Fender Twin Reverb amplifier and only had just a few pedals in front of him.

I was in awe just watching him play. To my surprise his singing voice, was quite small, though it certainly sounded big threw the house system. Keaggy also brought along an Ovation classical electric guitar, model 1613, and used it on a few songs that night.

Keaggy and his band played a 90 minute set. The keyboard player was in charge of the band, which allowed Phil to concentrate on playing guitar and singing.

Paul and Phil – 1991

Phil Keaggy has been embraced by the public not just as a Christian recording and touring artist, but because of his incredible guitar skills and style, he has been accepted as one of the World’s great guitarist.

He has been featured in many mainstream guitar publications and has played alongside guitarists such as Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton. Keaggy has nearly 50 recordings featuring him on electric and acoustic guitar covering not just Christian music, but rock and new age jazz.

Phil Keaggy with modified Les Paul


Keaggy’s technique includes volume swells done on his Les Paul by using a finger on the volume knob, harmonics and glissandos and incredible looping.

Keaggy talks about looping

Keaggy certainly has his own signature way of playing and he has taken looping to another level to make his songs sound like a band is backing him up. I’ve even seen him sing into the guitars sound-hole microphone to achieve background vocals, by looping his voice.

Keaggy’s pedal board

In an interview with Guitar Player Magazine, Keaggy states that he runs his guitars signal through a Boss volume pedal and then into a Visual Sound Route 66 compressor/overdrive. After that it goes to his Boss tremolo unit, and to Boss Dimension C, and Octave pedals.

Lexicon JamMan

The signal then goes to a Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler, and  into channel one of a Peavey Deltafex set for chorus.

He then sends the chorused signal to a Lexicon Jam Man, which has 32 seconds of loop time, and route its output back into channel two of the Deltafex for reverb, then the signal goes to the P.A. mixer.   In 2000 Keaggy began using a Rolls RFX MIDIWizard foot controller to control his Lexicon JamMan.

Phil’s Les Paul

Keaggy states that his main electric guitar is still the 1971 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. The original mini-humbuckers aka New York humbuckers were replaced with a PAF and a PRS pickup.

Phil’s Strat from his website

Phil also owns a 1964 Fender Stratocaster that he uses for recording. In addition to his Les Paul,

Phil Keaggy’s original Zion Guitar

Phil tours with a Zion Strat-style guitar that was made for him in 1986. It has twin Seymour Duncan humbucking pickups and a vibrato tailpiece.

Keaggy’s 1960 Gretsch Anniversary

His brother gave him a 1959 Gretsch Anniversary guitar that his brother purchased new in 1960.

Flatline Vistaglide

Keaggy also owns two Flatline guitars. One is a Flatline Vistaglide. The body on this guitar sort of resembles a Stratocaster.. Keaggy’s model has twin Gretsch-style pickups.

Flatline Delta 90

His other Flatline guitar is a Delta 90. This guitar resembles a Telecaster, but has a tele-style pickup in the neck position and a P-90 style pickup in the bridge position.

Ovation model 1613-4

As I already mentioned, early in his career, Phil originally played a nylon string classical guitar and then switched to a 1970’s Ovation Classical electric, model 1613.

In the early 1970’s Phil received a Mark Whitrock acoustic guitar as a gift. Whitrock briefly made some wonderful guitars from 1969 through 1974 before shutting down his shop for financial reasons.

During the 1990’s Keaggy also used a Del Lanjejans guitar and a Charis acoustic guitar.

Keaggy playing Yamaha SA-2000

Throughout his career, Phil Keaggy has made use of a number of other instruments that included a Yamaha SA-2000 semi-hollowbody electric guitar that he used in the mid 1980’s.

Keaggy with Parker Fly

In 1995 he briefly used a Parker Fly guitar.

Phil Keaggy with Olson Guitar

Currently Keaggy’s main acoustic guitar is is his 2004 Olsen SJ Cutaway. He uses this in his solo concerts. In fact Phil Keaggy was the first professional musician to use a James Olsen guitar and he even had a hand in designing this cedar topped guitar.

Keaggy’s Olson Guitar

Since then many others have chosen Olsen guitars including James Taylor. Keaggy’s guitar is equipped with L.R. Baggs piezo pickups and an internal microphone. At one point it had a sound-hole pickup.

Vox AC 30


In live concerts Phil uses a mid 1960’s Vox AC30 amplifier sometimes in combination with a modified 1960’s Fender Deluxe. Occasionally he uses a Peavey Classic 30 with the Vox. If Keaggy is on the road he will borrow amplifiers.

Keaggy’s Pedal Board

His effects are on his Pedaltrain board and include the aforementioned Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler, a custom made compressor and a Visual Sound Route 66 overdrive/compressor, a Swell G-TOD over- drive, a Tone Freak Abunai overdrive.

Phil’s JamMan Looper

Keaggy also incorporates several old Boss pedals, including a CH-1 Super Chorus, a TR-2 Tremolo, a DC-2 Dimension C, an OC-2 Octave pedal, and a FV-60 volume pedal. He states that he uses  both the DL-4 and the rack-mounted Lexicon JamMan for looping. Keaggy also useds a Heet Sound EBow.

As a reminder, links below the pictures lead to the sources. Links below the text reveal interesting facts.





Dream Guitars

The Ladies Who Make Guitars

Author – Dr. John Thomas

Dr. John Thomas, a Connecticut law professor and music journalist, wrote a book called “Kalamazoo Gals: A Story of Extraordinary Women and Gibson’s Banner Guitars of World War Two”. This book was published in 2013.. This publication got less than a cherry reception from the Gibson Guitar Corporation before and after it was released.

The Kalamazoo Gals

It may be difficult for some younger folks to fathom the huge effort undertaken by United States citizens during the 1940’s war years. Able bodied men enlisted in the military.

Those that did not were drafted. The fact that we were fighting against fellow human beings was not met with the empathy that the media presents to us these days. The enemy was evil and the United States and Allies were out to defeat them from usurping our freedom.

Manufacturing Industry During WWII Years

All United States manufacturers converted their machinery to build equipment for the military, which was considered essential production. And this included Gibson Guitars.

Rosie the Riviter

Due to the shortage of men, Gibson management recruited women. This was not an uncommon practice for factories during these war years. Rosie the Riveter was a public relations painting that encouraged women to leave their lives as house keepers and enter the job market.

Women Workers at Gibson 1942–1945

For years after the war, Gibson denied they ever employed women. In Dr. Thomas’ opinion perhaps Gibson did not want people to know that they were diverting workers to nonessential production during the war.

WWII Manufacturing

The other part was uncertainty over whether consumers would buy guitars made by women. So between 1942 to 1945 although Gibson was building guitars, they denied this fact.

Instead they established the rumor that these guitars produced during this three year period were made by “seasoned craftsmen” who were too old for war and were stockpiled until after the war was over to be sold as “new old stockR