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The Guitars of Roger McGuinn

Sat, 08/05/2017 - 19:09
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 Brill Building 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.
 

Click on the links below the pictures for the sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications




Categories: General Interest

Emerald Guitars

Sun, 07/30/2017 - 16:45
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 mad
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.

Hay 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.


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






Categories: General Interest

Eric Johnson's 1957 Fender Stratocaster

Sat, 07/22/2017 - 10:34
Eric Johnson's 1957 Fender Stratocaster
I was recently made aware that Eric Johnson sold one of his favourite guitars. This was his 1957 sunburst Fender Stratocaster. The guitar was offered through Gruhn Guitars of Nashville.

There are probably very few Stratocasters of that era left in such pristine condition.

1957 Fender Stratocaster

Johnson purchased this guitar in 2001 to use mainly in his home.

The original bridge and middle pickup were replaced, as were the tuners, and frets.

The original tuning machines, frets, pickup, and back plate were placed in the guitar case and included in the sale.



Eric Johnson Stratocaster



Johnson eventually took this guitar on the road, and used it for the past nine years.  This strat became his touring guitar of choice.






1957 Strat serial number


The guitars serial number is 17882. Fender guitars made in 1957 have five digit serial numbers starting at 17000 and ending in 25000. The guitar has the original spaghetti logo. 






Eric Johnson's 1957 Stratocaster
It is a lovely instrument and has been sold for $60,000 USD.

 All information from the Gruhn Guitars website.

(Unfortunately I am unable to find a video of Johnson playing this guitar.)



Categories: General Interest

Doctor Who's Guitar

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 17:43
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, 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

Categories: General Interest

Collings Guitars - The Passing of Bill Collings

Sun, 07/16/2017 - 15:46
Bill Collings
Collings guitars got its start in Houston Texas, when Bill Collings began working in a machine shop back in 1970. He began building his first guitar in 1973.

Bill Collings in the 1970's

By 1975 he was working as an engineer with a pipeline
and oil field company. At night he continued building guitars.

Lyle Lovett with a Collings Guitar
He developed a reputation among local musicians and caught the attention of Lyle Lovett, who asked Collings to build a guitar for him



By the early 1980’s Bill decided to move to California, but he never got farther than Austin Texas.

It was there he met fellow luthiers, Mike Stevens, and Tom Ellis. Ellis built handcrafted mandolins. Collings began working with them, but after a few years before he moved into his own shop which was in his garage.

Bill Collings in his shop

It was in 1987 when Nashville based vintage guitar collector/seller George Gruhn hired Bill Collings to make 25 guitars for his shop. This had a wonderful impact on Collings reputation.


1989 Collings made for Gruhn
Shortly after his products were soon requested by music stores and featured in magazines.

By 1989 Bill Collings was able to hire his first employee. Since then Collings guitars have become one of the most recognized and respected instrument manufacturers in the business.




Collings Acoustics

Their forte is acoustic guitars, but they also build  archtop guitars, mandolins, and ukuleles.



2006 Collings City Limit



In 2006 the company moved into the electric guitar market and were featured at that years Summer NAMM, National Association of Music Merchants convention.




2006 Collings OM


As of 2012 the company employees 85 people and manufactures six acoustic guitar, three electric guitars, two mandolins, and two ukuleles per day. In fact Collings Mandolins are highly regarded in the Bluegrass community.





2014 Waterloo WL-14L

By 2014 it was announced that the company would be making a guitar based on a currently popular Depression-era design and resemble Kalamazoo guitars of that era.  These guitars are sold under the "Waterloo" brand and are based on an old guitar that Collings had sitting in his office.




Colling WL -14 -  Kalamazoo Sport

He decided to repair the instrument by removing the back and put new bracing in it. After reassembling it, he realized these old guitars had a much different sound than that of today’s instruments due to their construction and size. The brand has become a success with Blues and Country players looking for that old tyme sound.


Bill Collings 1948-2017
Sadly the following statement was just issued on the Waterloo Guitars website:

”We lost our dear friend and mentor Bill Collings yesterday. He was the amazingly creative force behind Collings Guitars for over 40 years. Through his unique and innate understanding of how things work, and how to make things work better, he set the bar in our industry and touched many lives in the process. His skill and incredible sense of design were not just limited to working with wood, but were also obvious in his passion for building hot rods. 

To Bill, the design and execution of elegant form and function were what mattered most. Perhaps even more exceptional than his ability to craft some of the finest instruments in the world, was his ability to teach and inspire. He created a quality-centered culture that will carry on to honor his life's work and legacy. He was loved by many and will be sadly missed. Our hearts are with his family.”

William R. Collings  8/9/1948 – 7/14/2017.

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





Categories: General Interest

Eastman Guitars

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 08:22
The Seldom Scene on Jubilee
One of the best quality Chinese made guitar are now being used by some major industry guitarists. I’m referring to Eastwood guitars. I don’t watch a lot of television, but when I do I find myself gravitating to music shows. And in my part of the world, there are a lot of shows about Bluegrass music.

'53 Martin D-28 - '23 Gibson F5


Traditionally Bluegrass music is played on an old Gibson F-5 mandolin and a Martin guitar, preferably a D-28 or a D-18. But in the past few years I’ve noticed a change. Players are now using Asian made guitars and mandolins.




Perhaps it is because the price of Martin and Gibson instruments are beyond the reach of many working class players, or possibly it is because the value of a well made instrument is not worth the risk of taking on the road only to have it stolen. In any event the quality of some of these guitars currently being made in Asia is excellent.

1957 Guyatone LG-50H

Going back historically we know Japanese musical instrument builders that began building guitars back in the 1920’s and 1930’s for domestic use. In the late 1950’s some of these companies started building electric guitars, not just for domestic use but for import.


1960 Teisco


By the 1960’s, due to the popularity of Folk music, then the music of the British Invasion, importation of cheaply made, Asian imported guitars skyrocketed. In doing so they gained a negative reputation, since the quality of those instruments were inferior to the Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, Guild guitars, and even Harmony and Kay guitars that were produced at the time.




1978 Ibanez Iceman JC 210
But by the mid 1970’s the quality of Japanese and Korean made guitars had greatly improved. Some of these companies, such as Ibanez and Takamine were building acoustic and electric guitars of superior quality that rivaled the USA made instruments that these guitars copied.

In 1977 a lawsuit ensued that was instigated by Gibson guitars against a company called Elger Music, who was the US agent of Ibanez guitars. The suit was brought about partly due to the much improved quality of these copy guitars. The parties settled the suit before it went to trial and the results caused a great change in the way Asian made guitars were to be made in the future. Though these instruments now had similar features to Martin, Gibson, and/or Fender guitars, there needed to be some originality added.

Gibson v Elger Co.
At first the results of the lawsuit may have meant just a change to the headstock design.  However through the years Asian engineers and designers have come up with original ideas and improvements to their guitars.

The results have ostensibly put their instruments on par with guitars made in Western countries.

Qian Ni
Founder Easman Music Company

As stated at the onset Eastman Musical Instruments are building high quality musical instruments. The company is a relative newcomer to the musical instrument manufacturing business. They began in 1992, when a man named Qian Ni visited to the United States to study violin making. At that time, the Chinese were using the factory line way method of manufacturing musical instruments. Ni discovered that a different approach was needed to build violins.

He implemented a handcrafting method of building violins and bows in a manner similar to that of 19th century European violin workshops. This change resulted in a much improved tonal quality.

After this Mr. Ni established workshops to further this art. He states that early on, “I would load up his car with instruments that his workers made and drive from city to city selling them to violin shops and music stores. Those shops that did not buy his instruments gave me excellent advice.” This is almost verbatim the same story I have read about Robert Godin during his early days of building his instruments.

Eastman Strings
Now Eastman Strings is a world class company building stringed and bowed instrument for players of all ranges and abilities.

By the early 2000’s, Mr. Ni applied similar principles to crafting the guitar, and by 2004 his company, Eastman, had started a line of archtop electric guitars.


Eastman E20D guitar
and MD515 mandolin
A few years later his craftsmen applied this same approach to building flat top guitars and mandolins. I have seen several Bluegrass and Country player using an Eastman acoustic guitar. Like the Eastman Strings bowed instrument line, their acoustic flat top models come in models for intermediate players and pro's.




Eastman Guitars
Most of the wood used on Eastman guitars is grown in the United States. This has lead to a controversy since the State of California does not require guitars assembled offshore to be labeled with the country of origin, as long as the wood used is domestically grown.

Eastman guitars and other Eastman musical instruments are made in China.

Eastman AC-DR1
Unlike most guitar companies the wood used on even Eastman's less expensive models is solid. Though there are several models with a suggested retail price of $250 to $350 that have laminate back and sides.

Some of the intermediate models with a suggested price in the $650 ranges are made using a solid Sitka spruce top and solid sapele back and sides, while others have laminated rosewood back and sides. I find that outstanding since most

These models come in Dreadnought, Orchestra, Grand Auditorium, Grand Concert, Double O, and Parlor guitar sizes.

Where Eastman Guitars really excels is in their Archtop Jazz line of guitars.

Eastman solid carved archtop guitars

There fifteen electric models to choose from and one acoustic archtop guitar. They all have a solid hand carved top and back. Most feature a Kent Armstrong floating pickup. These guitars have a suggested retail price of $2050 to $3750 USD which includes a hard shell case.



Eastman solid carved top archtop guitars

There is also a line of six "Solid Carved Top" guitars, that have laminate back and sides that sell in the range of $1450 to $2300 USD. Most come with Kent Armstrong pickups, however two models have TV Jones Filtertron pickups.

Eastman Guitars also makes ten all laminate models. All laminate sounds bad, but consider the Gibson ES-175 has always been a guitar made of maple/poplar/maple laminate.

Eastman laminate models

Six Eastman models are based on the Gibson ES-175. Three models have a similar body shape to the Gibson ES-350, but have a single Kent Armstrong pickup. Two models are similar to the Gibson ES-125 and have a single Kent Armstrong P-90 pickup.



Eastman also offers a line of four unique archtops designed by two of the world's cutting edge luthiers and one series of guitars designed by jazz guitarist John Pisano.

John Pisano Line-up

Pisano's line includes four models ranging in price from $1600 to $3750 USD.



Eastman Pagelli models

Eastman also has two models designed by luthiers Claudio and Claudia Pagelli. The Pagelli's have been building amazing guitars in their own unique style since 1982. Eastman offers two models that were designed by the couple.



Otto D'Ambrosio began working at the Mandolin Brothers music store located on Staten Island New York when he was only 13 years old.  He learned the craft of repairing and restoring fine musical instruments, and then began building his own guitars.

Eastman El Rey models
Around 2004, he designed a new model that he called The El Rey. This was a hollow body electric guitar with no sound holes. A year later he traveled to Beijing, China and licensed the design to Eastman guitars. Two of the Eastman El Rey models do have F-holes. The El Rey models have retail prices range from $1925 to $2350 USD.

Frank Vignola model
The last signature archtop model that Eastman makes in the Fank Vignola signature guitar, This guitar was based on Vignola's guitar that was designed by Utah based luthier, Ryan Thorell and based on Thorell's FV Studio model, which has a base price of $8500. However the Eastman version is about one-third the price, at $2995. The difference between the Eastman Frank Vignola models and the Thorell version is the pickup. The Eastman version includes a Seymour Duncan Johnny Smith floating pickup.

Other features include an ebony fretboard with no position markers, a very unusual sound hole on the lower bout, a sound port on the guitars upper side, and a slotted headstock. This guitar also features a beautiful ebony pickguard.

Ryan Thorell FV Studio guitar
These are all the same features found on the original Thorell verion, but the Eastman guitar is manufactured in China.

You can order the Eastman FV guitar direct from Frank Vignola and Ryan Thorell, for $2495 and Ryan will set it up for free. Click on this link for the phone number.

Most all Eastman guitars come with either a hard-shell case or a gig bag.

There are currently only a handful of stores in the United States that stock Eastman guitars

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






Categories: General Interest

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

Sat, 07/01/2017 - 08:38
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.



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)





Categories: General Interest

The Steve Miller Guitar Collection - For Sale at the Music Zoo.

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:32
Some people call him the space cowboy yeah, 
Some call him the gangster of love, 
Some people call him Maurice, 
'Cause he speaks of the pompitous of love. 

Steve Miller
Over the years, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Steve Miller has amassed a collection of more than 450 guitars. The Music Zoo in Long Island, New York is selling about 25 instruments from his collection. Most notably are his Les Paul guitars.

Miller with Les Paul

Steve Miller gets his affection for Les Paul honestly since Les was his godfather.

Miller’s father was a jazz aficionado who met Les in 1948 when Les Paul and Mary Ford were playing at a Milwaukee jazz club. Dr. George Miller aka Sonny asked Les Paul if he would mind if he recorded his show on his tape recorder. (In addition to being a pathologist, Dr. Miller was a recording engineer).

Afterward, Les listened to the recording with Sonny and Bertha Miller and a friendship developed. It is worth noting that Steve's mother, Bertha, was a gifted jazz singer.) In fact Les and Mary spent the night at the Miller’s house.

As early as age 4, Les Paul encouraged Steve Miller to play guitar. The two men maintained contact with each other up though Les' passing.

Miller LP Recording
One of the first items to be sold was Miller’s 1976 Les Paul Recording guitar. Though this guitar never became a hit with players, it was an instrument that Les Paul personally designed and was one of his favourites.

This guitar featured low impedance pickups for recording that could changed to high impedance with the flip of a switch. These low impedance pickups were Les’ ticket to getting all those guitar overdubs back in the early days of multi-track recording.


By bouncing from track to track, the original signal dissipates with each successive pass. This does not happen with a low impedance signal.

The guitar could get a sound like a Rickenbacker, or back it off and it sounded like Wes Montgomery’s Gibson L-5.

Les Paul's personal
Recording Model
Les’ own Gibson Recording guitar sold at auction for $180,000 after his death. The buyer must have known it was Les’ favourite guitar.

In addition to Steve Miller's Les Paul Recording guitar, the Music Zoo is offering twenty-five of Miller’s personal instruments for sale to the public, and some are being sold at a very reasonable price.



Miller's 3 Eric Clapton Beano Les Pauls
Miller is parting with several replicas from the 2010 limited run of Eric Clapton’s famous 1959 Gibson “Beano” Les Paul. Clapton used this guitar when he played with The Blues Breakers.

Blues  Breaker cover -Clapton with Beano comic
The cover photo of LP, Blues Breakers With John Mayall, features a young Clapton reading The Beano comic book. The Beano was a popular collection of comic strips that was available in the U.K. and is still in publication. Guitarists knew about the Les Paul that Clapton used during this era, hence the name. Unfortunately the original Beano guitar was stolen in 1966.

Les Paul Beano



Since then Gibson’s custom shop has made some replicas. Miller’s four Gibson Beano Les Pauls range from an asking price of $10,000 to $30,000 USD.



The Joker





There are also two Miller “Joker” Standard black Stratocasters for sale at $5,000





The Joker

Each guitar has a harlequin-like representation of The Joker on their bodies.

Four other Fender Stratocasters are offered.





Children of the Future



One is called Children of the Future. This was a guitar has a unique design on the front that is based on the cover of Miller’s Children of the Future LP.





Museum Stratocaster



The other strat is a Fender Museum American Standard model in Olympic White with a maple neck and is autographed by other guitarists. Etched in the top of the body is the Fender Museum logo.




Miller Stratocaster


The third strat is a black Fender of unspecified vintage. It has a maple neck and the body is tastefully bedecked with a white/black emblem from the end of the bridge unit to the back of the guitar, and an orange Fender sticker that says “I’m a Champion” with Steve Miller’s autograph.





Bolin Stratocaster
The fourth Stratocaster style guitar that was made by John Bolin guitars of Boise Idaho. The body one this instrument is finished in white, and the neck is made of birdseye maple. There is no logo on the headstock.

There are only two acoustic instruments being offered. Both guitars are 12 string models made by Martin.

Martin J-12 40e


One is a Martin Grand J-12 40E, that has a bound neck, and headstock, and lovely rosette work. The top is made of solid Sitka spruce, while the bookmatched back, and sides are solid east indian rosewood. The Martin logo is inlaid in abalone in the headstock. At $5,000 it is a bargain.




Martin J-12SO
The other Martin is a 12 string Martin Sing J-12SO 60th Anniversary Pete Seeger model baritone guitar meant to be tuned from low to high C. This guitar was based on Pete’s personal 12 string guitar made by luthier G. Stanley Francis of Liverpool, UK, that had unusual pickguards. The top is solid Sitka spruce, while the back and sides are east Indian rosewood. The 27.5” scale neck is made of mahogany with an ebony fretboard. The headstock veneer appears to be made of polished ebony with Seeger’s signature and his sketch of a banjo. It is also selling at $5,000.

Vallee electric
Mandolin
The most unusual instrument being offered is Miller’s 5-string electric mandolin that was made by Joe Vallee. This electric mandolin has a unique shape and comes with a single lipstick pickup and a tune-o-matic bridge. The instruments top is a lovely red-orange burst, while the back shows the natural wood patina. The fitted neck is made of three pieces. Because of the mandolins unusual shape, instead of a case, it comes with a padded “Wilson” brand tennis racket soft case.

Bolin Pegasus
Miller’s collection includes one archtop, jazz style model, which was made by Bolin guitars. It is called The Pegasus. The top appears to be spruce, with maple used for the sides, back, and neck. The “F” holes are done in an unusual Pegasus design. This guitar has twin EMG pickups with one volume and two tone controls. The bound maple neck is topped with a rosewood fretboard with unique position markers. The headstock shape is also quite unique and topped with birdseye maple veneer. The strings go over and ebony bridge with adjustable saddles and are attached to an ebony violin style tailpiece.

Bolin
Semi-Hollowbody

Miller's collection includes two other Bolin model. This one is in the shape of a Gibson ES-335. The bound top is flamed maple that is book matched with a sunburst style. The guitar includes two humbucking pickups, with only a single volume and tone control, plus a selector switch. The bound back is equally impressive with book matched flamed maple. The flamed maple neck has a single skunk stripe. It is offered at $5,000.

Bolin Les Paul Style Guitar
The other is a gorgeous Les Paul style guitar in a cherry sunburst finish with Seymour Duncan 50th Anniversary pickups. It is priced at $5,000.

2011 Lou Pallo



Another one of Miller's Gibson Les Paul is available for $5,000. This is a 2011 Lou Pallo Signature model. It has a beautiful black top and a natural back. Lou Pallo was the guitarist that played in the Les Paul Trio.




Gibson EDS-1275

The Miller collection includes not one, but two Gibson EDS-1275’s, The first custom shop double six 12 string has an all white finish. It is wired in the same manner as Don Felder of the Eagles had his guitar wired, and is even autographed by Felder on the back of the headstock and numbered. It comes with a certificate and a copy of sheet music for Hotel California that is signed by Felder.



Gibson EDS-1275


The other EDS-1275 is a 2008 custom shop version of the famous double neck used by Jimmy Page on Stairway to Heaven. It comes with a certificate of authenticity and is one of 250 instruments produced. Both double necks come with the original hard-shell cases.



Gibson Les Paul Jr.



Steve Miller is also offering his White Les Paul Jr that was made by Gibson’s custom shop.

Aside from the Clapton Beano replica Les Paul’s, Miller has three other excellent Les Paul guitars.





Pearly Gates LP



Two of them are Gibson Billy Gibbons Pearly Gates Les Paul guitars with VOS (vintage original spec) nitrocellulose finishes.







Pearly Gates LP


Both are 2009 models that were produced in limited editions from Gibson’s custom shop and are replicas of the Reverend Gibbons famous 1959 Les Paul right down to the exact neck profile. Both guitars contain twin Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates pickups with vintage hardware.





Haynes LP
The final Les Paul is a Gibson custom shop recreation of Warren Hayne’s 1958 Les Paul in what is described as “Haynes-burst”, which is a faded out cherry sunburst finish that has been faithfully  recreated on this instrument. The guitar is autographed by Haynes on the back of the headstock.

It features all the changes that Warren Haynes included on his own instrument. The frets come over the binding, which most professional luthiers and guitar techs would frown upon, but this is Haynes’ preference.

The pointer under the controls lay flat against the body, and this instrument is equipped with Gibson’s CAE sound-unity gain buffer, which keeps the levels consistent on both pickups when raising or lowering volume. The Haynes Les Paul is equipped with twin Burstbucker pickups.

Asher Tele style

The final guitar offered from the MIller collection is a black 2010 Asher Telecaster style guitar. This is a custom made guitar from Los Angeles luthier Bill Asher. The body is made of alder and the 22 fret neck is Birdseye maple, with a six on a side headstock. The pickups are hand wound Asher T-blade models. It features a Glendale bridge and chrome hardware. It is offered at $3,500 USD.

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click the links in the text for additional information.

©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)





Categories: General Interest

Double Neck Guitars

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 18:25
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 Bakersfield Californiagarage, 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 Springfield Missourithat 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.


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.

Categories: General Interest

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

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 21:49
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)





Categories: General Interest

Greg Allman; His Life and Guitars

Sun, 05/28/2017 - 19:38
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.

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.

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)







Categories: General Interest

James Jamerson's 1961 Fender Precision Bass Auction

Sat, 05/27/2017 - 10:21
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.





Categories: General Interest

B.C Rich Guitars

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 16:50
Bernardo C. Rico
One of the most unusual guitars that I ever played was also one of the best guitars I’ve ever played. This was an original B.C. Rich Seagull built back in the mid 1970’s when Bernie Rico and his staff were making them in his Los Angeles shop. That guitar was expensive, but it played and sounded like a dream.

Bernardo Chavez Rico aka Bernie learned about guitars from his father. Bernardo, or Bernie, was an accomplished Flamenco guitarist.

His father, Bernardo Mason Rico had purchased the store from Candelas Brothers guitar shop. The Candelas Guitar store is a legend all to itself. The store was re-christened Bernardo’s Guitar Shop.

Although Bernardo Senior was not a luthier, he was a business man. And he hired luthiers and craftsmen to do the work. It was from these men that Bernie learned his craft. The shop offered Flamenco and Classical guitars along with other stringed instruments.

'71 Rico acoustic
Many of their original guitars were made of bodies imported from Mexico which the workers sanded, finished, stained, and painted before offering them for sale. As the years rolled on, The Folk Music Craze of the early 1960’s changed the focus of the shop from nylon string instruments to steel string acoustic guitars. These were handmade using choice materials such as Brazilian rosewood, Sitka spruce, Honduran mahogany, and ebony.

Around 1968 Bernie made his first electric solid body guitar and topped it with a Fender neck.

1974 Rico Bass
This guitar and subsequent attempts had Les Paul shaped bodies. He also made bass guitars with a design based on the Gibson EB-3.

1974 B.C. Rich Seagull

Within four years Rico and a fellow employee named Bob Hall came up with the original Seagull design. By 1974 this became their first offering. Another employee named Mal Stich, inadvertently answered the phone one day by saying, “B.C. Rich”, instead of “Bernardo’s Guitar Shop”. The name stuck. Bernie Rich’s goal was to make a production line guitar with custom shop quality.


By 1977 the retail price was just under $1000 USD. But they were scarce.

The music store I frequented back in those days had 2 B.C. Rich guitars; the Seagull and the Mockingbird. Both guitars were excellent.

'74 Seagull
Oddly enough the Seagull was based on a wooden toilet seat. The body and neck were made of mahogany with neck-thru construction. The body had an exaggerated cutaway that ended in a sharp point. On the top side of the body between the upper and lower bouts was a sharp point. Rich used a Badass bridge/saddle unit. The guitar had twin humbucking pickups and the electronics were designed by Neal Moser. These included an active preamp, a Varitone control, a phase switch, coil taps, and master volume and tone controls.

'74 Seagull with Gibson pickups

At first the pickups were made by Gibson. This is because B.C. Rich guitars were originally distributed by L.D. Heater, which was a subsidiary of Gibson. This allowed them to obtain Gibson parts. However due the fact that Rich was utilizing coil taps and phase reversal on each model each Gibson pickup needed to be dissembled to be reconfigured to use four wires then put back together.

Eventually Gibson realized their pickups were being used by a competitor and put a halt to the practice.

Later models used Guild pickups, until Rich contacted Larry DiMarzio and asked if his company could produce a four wire model. From that point on B.C. Rich guitars and basses used DiMarzio pickups.

1976 B.C. Rich Eagle
The next instrument was the Eagle, which also had the neck-through-body construction and was made entirely of mahogany.. Early models included the three-on-a-side headstock, an unbound neck with rosewood fret board and inlaid position markers. The Eagle included an onboard preamp with a separate volume control and all the bells and whistles that were to be found on the Seagull. The body was more Strat-like with a double cutaway. Later models were stripped down, with a single humbucking pickup, a six-in-line headstock, and a vibrato unit.

'77 B.C. Rich Advertisement
On some instruments the body was painted with a custom colours. By this time, electric players were simplifying the guitars and relying more on pedal boards. Although the newer Eagle had the same shape, the only built-in effect was the on-board preamp, a switch to activate it, and a separate volume control.

1977 Mockingbird
The BC Rich Mockingbird was based on a shape by a guy named Johnny “Go-Go” Kessel and named by Neal Moser. The double-cutaway shape is like nothing else out there. The guitar was popularized by Joe Perry of Aerosmith. The original models were, once again, neck-through-body, and made of mahogany. The original models were gorgeous and featured twin humbucking pickups with coil tapping capability, and a built-in preamp. The six-on-a-side headstock topped the unbound neck, which had a rosewood fret board with mother of pearl inlays.

1982 Rich Bich
The Rich Bich, was another guitar based on a drawing by Johnny “Go-Go” Kessel and designed by Neal Moser. This guitar was originally offered in 1978 and like the Mockingbird, it was a truly original design. The upper bout featured twin offset pointy cutaways on the instruments neck-through-body. What set the guitar apart was the large V-shaped wedge cut out of the lower section of the guitars bottom nearest the player, The remaining section after this house the larger control section which had a small ovular cutout..

Rich Bich Electronics
Once again the guitar housed an active pre-amp and all the features found on the previously mentioned guitars. Like most of the vintage B.C. Rich guitars, this featured the three-on-a-side tuners, a rosewood neck with mother-of-pearl inlay, a Leo Quan Bad Ass bridge.

1978 Rich Bich 10 string

The reason for the large V shaped cutaway was due to the fact that this guitar was offered as a 10-string model. The wedge was designed to hold four Grover tuning pegs so that the upper four strings had double courses. These four strings had their end pieces strung into 4 metal grommets in the center of the headstock that were then attached to the pegs on the bottom of the guitar.


Bottom view of '78 Rich Bich

This upside-down concept was copied in later years by Steinberger (although his design was much different) and other manufacturers.




Trey Azagthoth Ironbird

The B.C. Rich Ironbird was designed by Joey Rico in 1983. It was in-my-opinion, a heavy metal version of the B.C. Rich Mockingbird. This instrument had a small cutaway on the upper bout and an exagerated, and pointy cutaway on the lower bout. The bottom of the guitar had two offset and pointy terminal points. The headstock was made rosewood. This guitar was popular endorsed by Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel.


Trey Azagthoth's
personal Ironbird
His personal instrument included a Dimarzio X2N in the bridge position, which was the company’s highest output pickup and a Dimarzio twin blade minihumbucker in the neck position. The strings attached to a Floyd Rose tremolo. The original Ironbird had a reverse headstock. The guitar was available with a variety of pickup configurations.





B.C. Rich Acrylic
The B.C. Rich Acrylic guitar was based on the Ampeg Dan Armstrong Lucite guitar concept. B.C. Rich took a number of their models, including the Mockingbird and the Warlock and used acrylic material for the bodies instead of wood. While the Dan Armstrong model only came in a clear transparent model, the B.C. Rich transparent models had different colours for their guitars. These guitars were manufactured in Korea and did not have all the features of the earlier B.C. Rich models.

An interesting feature of the Acrylic guitars is the neck joint. This was called IT (invisibolt technology) which allowed the neck to be bolted inside the body, to give it the appearance of a neck-through, however the neck was actually a bolt-on type.

BC Rich Warlock prototype
The B.C. Rich Warlock was designed by Bernie Rico in 1981 and based on the Bich. The original model came with a mahogany body and neck, which was topped with a three-on-a-side headstock.

1988 BC Rich Warlock
Some models did have a six-on-a-side reverse headstock. This was later changed to a unique headstock design. The neck was bound on the rosewood fretboard and topped with mother-of-pearl inlays. Some models came with a Floyd Rose Trem system. All came with twin Dimarzio humbuckers.

Warlock II


The Warlock II came out the following year.




BC Rich Wave




The BC Rich Wave guitar was designed by Martin Evans and made for only a brief period of time. It was reminiscent of the Mockingbird, but with exaggerated features such as a small wave-like cutaway on the instruments bottom.




BC Rich Stealth 7


The unique B.C, Rich Stealth guitar was designed by Rick Derringer. It featured twin Dimarzio pickups, a reverse headstock and the usual features found on earlier models. Subsequent production Stealth guitars deleted most of these features and came with only a bridge humbucking pickup.




Widow Bass


The B.C. Rich Widow bass was designed by Blackie Warless. It resembled an insect with its twin symmetrical upper and lower horns. The bottom section of the body needed an additional block section to hold the bridge saddle unit.

Some significant events for the company occurred in 1984.



1984 BC Rich US Series Mockingbird

The Korean connection led to the introduction of the U.S. Series. These were essentially Korean manufactured guitar kits, with bolt-on necks, that were shipped to California for assembly.



Condor



This was the year that the Condor was also introduced. This was a lovely guitar with a flamed maple top on a mahogany body. It was made in Japan.







BC Rich Fat Bob bass and guitar
The bizarre Fat Bob guitar and bass were introduced this same year. This guitar may have been a product of Bernie Rico’s love of motorcycles and motorcycle embellishments, as it resembled the flamed design decals found on hot-rodded motorcycles.

This guitar had an odd triangular shape, with a single Dimarzio pickup, a six-on-a-side headstock, and a Floyd-Rose tremolo.

Mel Stich
It was in 1984 that Mel Stich left the company. The following year Neal Moser left.

In 1987 Bernie Rich entered into an agreement with Randy Watuch’s company called Class Axe. This allowed Class Axe to market and distribute some of Rich’s guitar lines, thus leading to some foreign made models.

By 1989 Rich had turned over all of the licensing rights.

That year B.C. Rich guitars moved from California to New Jersey. The guys that were working at the L.A. shop continued to make handmade guitars under the logo LPC Guitars. This venture failed.

BC Rich Virgin Guitars and Basses
Though the majority of Class Axe made B.C. Rich guitars were outsourced, the company did produce The Virgin, which was handmade. Dealers and customers were begging for handmade products.

In 1993 Bernie Rico returned to making handmade guitars when the licensing agreement ran out. Ed Roman of Roman Guitars of Las Vegas purchased the left over stock from Class Axe.

He relocated the shop to Hesperia California.

By 1995 Bernie returned to making acoustic guitars, including the B-41C.

The Ignitor




In 1995 the Ignitor and the V were added to the line up.







1998 Victor Smith Commemoritive

In 1998 the Exclusive, the Victor Smith Commemorative Model, and the Beast were added.

The following year, B.C, Rich added a seven string version of the Warlock.

On December 3rd of 1999, Bernie Rico died of a heart attack.

The company was taken over  to his son Bernie Jr. Under his direction control of the company, B.C. Rich, was sold given to the Hanser Music Group in 2001. They began making guitars under the Rico Jr. name.

Bernie Rico Jr.
Bernie Rico Jr is still involved with some current B.C. Rich custom-shop guitars. In 2014, JAM Industries of Quebec Canada took over Hanser Incorporated, aka Davitt and Hanser.

Asian manufactured B.C. Rich guitars are still being distributed by Davitt and Hanser, as a subsidiary of JAM Industries.






Categories: General Interest

Allan Holdsworth; Jazz Fusion Guitarist Passes Away at Age 70

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 19:54
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.





Categories: General Interest