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April, 2009:

New Epiphone Roy Orbison Signature 12-string acoustic

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Epiphone Guitar Company of Nashville, Tennessee announces the release of the new limited edition Oh, Pretty Woman 12-string acoustic guitar. Produced in cooperation with the legendary singer/songwriter Roy Orbison’s estate, this signature guitar is based upon Roy’s own 1962 Epiphone ‘Bard’ 12-string acoustic guitar.

Epiphone Roy Orbison GuitarOrbison used his original Epiphone acoustic guitar to write and perform many of his most well-known songs including perhaps his biggest hit Oh, Pretty Woman.

“As a young brilliant guitar player growing up in West Texas, Roy would have never dreamt that he would one day have his own Epiphone signature guitar named after him. Roy wrote Oh, Pretty Woman on his Epiphone 12-string acoustic guitar which features one of the most instantly recognizable rock n’ roll guitar riffs and has remained iconic and fresh to this day.

“I hope the next generation of artists will feel inspired to write another great rock n’ roll song thanks to the Epiphone signature Roy Orbison 12 string acoustic guitar,” said Barbara Orbison, Roy’s widow.

The new Epiphone Oh, Pretty Woman is a faithful reproduction of the 1962 original and features a solid spruce top, a solid mahogany back, a rosewood 12-string bridge and vintage tuners.

For this limited edition release, the back of the guitar’s headstock includes a replica of Roy Orbison’s signature and the notation for the first measure of the world famous Oh, Pretty Woman introduction riff.

Also included in this limited edition offer is a hard case with Roy’s signature and sunglass icon on it, a certificate of authenticity hand-signed by Roy’s widow, Barbara Orbison and Roy’s son, Roy Orbison, Jr., a black & white photo of Roy with his original Epiphone Bard 12-string, a sunglass lapel pin and a copy of the Oh, Pretty Woman sheet music. The certificate and photo come in a leatherette presentation binder.

The Epiphone limited edition Oh, Pretty Woman 12-string Bard outfit will be officially unveiled on Roy’s birthday, 23rd April, at the Gibson Guitar Studio in London, England.

The Roy Orbison limited edition 12-string package has a US MSRP of $1332 and will be available at authorized Epiphone retailers in September 2009.

Collectable Guitars pt 25 – Charvel Spectrum


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Charvel Spectrum was a Superstrat type guitar made from 1989 to 1991 in a variety of wild colours.

The series was inspired by a custom model made for Jeff Beck.

The model was a part of Charvel’s Contemporary Series, and was possibly named after the veritable rainbow of bright colours it came in – including bright orange, dark blue, teal and magenta.

For the uninitiated, Superstrat guitars are so named because they take Fender’s classic Stratocaster design and update it, deepening the cutaways, putting in high-output pickups, often adding a Floyd Rose tremolo or one of its derivatives, usually having 24 frets as opposed to the 21 or 22 employed by the Fender.

Charvel Spectrum Guitar

More expensive Superstrats often have neck-through construction and seven-string versions are not uncommon.

This design of guitar is still made by Charvel, adding to the numerous models made by Ibanez, Jackson, BC Rich, ESP and Washburn. The whole genre of guitar was popularized by Eddie Van Halen with his famous “Frankenstrat” guitar.

The Spectrum differed to the usual Superstrat template in various ways, having 22 frets, occasionally a maple fretboard, and a scratchplate based on the old Fender Precision Bass design. They also employed bolt-on construction as opposed to the neck-thru designs of more expensive Charvels. Many sources I have seen state that the body wood is poplar, although there isn’t much concrete info on this.

The neck is maple and the fretboard usually rosewood, although some versions have maple fretboards. The three pickups appear to be single-coils, but are in fact “stacked” single-coil sized humbuckers with an active tone circuit with a wah function.

I have been fortunate to play a couple of examples of this very nice guitar, and I think that any fan of the Superstrat design would like the Spectrum. They are quite collectable now, as not many were made and there are a wide variety of different and unusual finishes.

They don’t tend to command prices out of reach of most players, however.

Gibson’s Eye Guitar – a future collectable?


twitterfacebook481The new Gibson Eye guitar has certainly caused a storm of controversy since its recent launch, but mainly for being so damned ugly.

The limited run, red and white, bastardised SG style guitar has bought a flood of negative comments in blogs and forums for its looks, and it’s not cheap either with a RRP of $2497.

Comments from the Gibson product page include;

“This is the ugliest ******* thing you guys have ever made. Stay off the LSD and start making affortable (sic.) great sounding guitars ”

“Uggggly! With a capital “U”! …and pointeless… ”

“PLEASE….SCRAP THE ENTIRE 2009 LIMITED RUN SERIES before one more innocent tree has to die needlessly. ”

“Hey, Gibson, are you trying to out-do yourselves here? First, the Reverse V, then the Reverse Explorer, then the Holy V and Holy Explorer, and now this? This “Eye” thing, hands-down, is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen (even more-so than the Pontiac Aztec). It’s not “retro;” it’s not “futuristic;” it’s just plain ugly. Gibson has made some of the most beautiful instruments ever created – the Les Paul, the SJ-200, the Lloyd Loar Mandolins, just to name a few. This new guitar is evidence that Gibson also makes the ugliest instruments. Do yourselves a favor and fire the people that designed this, then fire the people that approved its release. And stop needlessly killing innocent trees… ”

However, I think this guitar has potential. 

All Gibson guitars have a collectability factor to a certain extent, and this one, like the Gibson Corvus before it, is destined to be quitely consigned to history in a short space of time. A limited run, unpopular and a strong brand name all point to future collectability to me. 

Assuming dealers will have trouble selling them I predict some nice discounts will be offered, so maybe it would be prudent to pick one up and leave it in the cupboard for a few years. Looking at the values of the Corvus with dealers and on Ebay, surely the Eye will follow along this path of derision, wilderness years, curiosity and finally collectability?

gibson eye guitar

Still not sure I can bring myself to buy one though…

Collectable Guitars pt 24 – Yamaha SG2000

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Yamaha is now a huge corporation covering all aspects of musical instruments, and more products including motorbikes. However, in 1976, when the SG2000 was introduced they were very much still an upstart company trying to make a name for themselves.

Yamaha sg2000 guitar

In 1973 they had introduced a range of Gibson inspired SG models- equal cutaway designs with mahogany bodies and set necks- very much like a Gibson Les Paul with two cutaways. They were nice, high-quality guitars, however a classic model was what Yamaha needed to boost this new range, and in 1976 the SG2000 proved to be just what they were so badly in need of.

The SG2000 was thus far the most desirable model Yamaha had ever made. It included a through-neck instead of the set-neck construction used by previous SGs, meaning greater sustain and playability. It was, like the other SG models, met enthusiastically, especially given that the Japanese copy boom was at its peak in around 1976, whereas the SG, while influenced by Gibsons, was still an original enough design.

The SG2000 was based on an earlier Yamaha, the SG175, but had refinements over the original design. These included a contoured body to make playing more comfortable, a maple top, gold hardware and a fine-tuning bridge.

The SG2000 was met well, and became known as a serious alternative to Gibsons of the time. It is still held in high regard as possibly Yamaha’s highest-quality guitar ever, and the one that gave them a serious foothold in the guitar market.

As such many were sold, and they have been used by a handful of well-known artists, the most notable being Carlos Santana, Bill Nelson of Bebop Deluxe and Stuart Adamson of the Skids and Big Country.

The SG2000 is probably the biggest selling model in the SG range, and used examples are not uncommon.

Prices are still high for these desirable guitars, and usually reach between £600 and £1300.

New Guitar Collecting Facebook Group!

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-091facebook481I’ve just set up a group on facebook which will relate to this website, and will hopefully grow the content more quickly with posts from other readers. Please feel free to join the group, it is open membership, and add your comments, suggestions, photos or anything else you know about old and collectable guitars.

Guitar Collecting Facebook Group link

Rare guitars found after 50 years

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09A collection of rare British-made electric guitars has been discovered in the basement of a house in Cheltenham.

The Supersound instruments came out of a brief partnership between Jim Burns and Alan Wootton during 1958 and 1959.

Guy Mackenzie from West Cornwall, who bought the guitars, described them as “the holy grail” of his collection.

“I don’t actually play,” he said “but I just love them in the same way that people collect old paintings even though they can’t paint.”

supersound guitars

Mr Mackenzie heard about the find from a friend who knew he collected “weird and unusual” guitars.

“As soon as I tracked down these ultra-rare instruments – apparently some of the very first made by UK legend Jim Burns – I just had to meet the owner,” he said.

“I discovered he’d bought them from Alan Wootton’s son several years ago and had kept them virtually untouched ever since.”

Jim Burns’ guitars have been played by pop groups and stars including The Shadows, The Searchers, Slade and Queen’s Brian May.

“Musicians who play them now include Andy Bell of Oasis, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs and The Kooks,” said Mr Mackenzie.

Paul Day, guitar expert and author of “The Burns Book” on Jim Burns and his guitars said: “In nearly 50 years of playing, working on and writing about the electric guitar, this is the first time I have actually seen one Supersound instrument, let alone 12.

“These are among the earliest electric guitars and basses from any British builder and therefore comprise an important, but hitherto virtually unknown chapter in UK guitar-making history.” 

Visit Guy’s website here

from the BBC news website, 15/04/09

Michelle Obama gives Carla Bruni a Gibson Guitar

Much has been said about the Obama’s gift giving recently. An Ipod for the Queen, the DVDs given to Gordon Brown after his visit to the White House.

michelle obama and carla bruniBut Michelle Obama may have struck the right chord with her gift to her newest friend, Carla Bruni -Sarkozy.

After meeting the wife of French President Sarkozy, Mrs. Obama gave Carla Bruni an acoustic Gibson guitar.

Bruni, a former model, is also a singer/songwriter. and on each of her three CD’s, the last of which was released just this past June, she plays the guitar on many of the tracks.

The First lady presented Bruni with the gift  when the ladies visited the Cathedral de Norte Dame de Strasbourg with the rest of the NATO Summit spouses. 

The two first met the day before when Mr. and Mrs. Obama visited French Palace Rohan. The first lady’s office said that the two women really hit it off and enjoyed a private lunch together that lasted for over an hour together. 

The guitar is a Gibson “Legends” J-45 Acoustic.

Gibson J-45 GuitarGibson has painstakingly reproduced this knockout vintage acoustic down to the minute details. The Gibson J-45 is one of the most played and cherished acoustic guitars in history. This Legends version of the J-45 can handle music from the blues to bluegrass to folk to pop and everything in between.   Hand crafted by Gibson luthiers using techniques from the J-45 guitar’s heyday, the Legend J-45 boasts an Adirondack spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides to produce unmatched mellow, full-bodied tone.

Did you ever have one of the “what if” conversations? Like, “what if I won the lottery” kind of things.  Some three years ago the luthiers at Gibson’s acoustic guitar plant in Bozeman, Montana had one of those kind of conversations. It went sort of like this:  “What if we could go back in time and build a brand new guitar exactly the way they were built back then”. 

Well, nothing gets the juices flowing like a challenge like that, so the quest was on find the best sounding, original, mint condition Gibson acoustic guitar from the “vintage years,” and build a limited number of guitars today employing the same material, same types of tools, same specs, you name it. The plan was to build a new vintage guitar.

After a long search, a mint, 1942 J-45 was located. Owned by renowned acoustic guitar expert and author Eldon Whitford, the guitar was perfect. It was historically significant, as 1942 was the first year of production for the J-45. The fact that the J-45 is the number one selling acoustic guitar in Gibson’s history didn’t hurt either! Mr. Whitford was kind enough to loan the guitar to Gibson for a painstakingly thorough examination. The guitar went through both X-ray and cat scans  to accurately determine the bracing patterns, wood thickness. The glue and finish were chemically analyzed. To make a long story short, Gibson learned everything about that guitar. The result? The guitar you see here the “Legends Series” 1942 J-45.

Collectable Guitars pt 23 – Fender Coronado


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09The Coronado was a thinline hollow bodied guitar made by Fender from 1966 to 1972. It was designed by former Rickenbacker designer Roger Rossmeisl, who would later design other guitars for Fender.

The Coronado came in three models- the Coronado I with only one pickup at the neck, the II with two pickups and the XII, which was a 12 string variant. Pickups used were made by DeArmond.

Fender Coronado Guitar Wildwood FinishThe Coronado II and XII were also available in the desirable “Wildwood” finish, which was an attractively coloured patterned natural grain, made by injecting dyes into growing trees a few years before harvest. There were three shades of Wildwood available on the guitars- Rainbow Green, Rainbow Blue and Rainbow Gold. The bodies were made of maple, and unusually for a semi, the neck was bolted on.

The Coronado was unsuccessful, with the target audience, jazz players, rejecting it for the use of the traditional Fender headstock and the large amount of feedback from the hollow body and single coil pickups.

Traditional Fender players thought the Coronado wasn’t enough of a “real” Fender, and the guitar was a flop.

Examples now sell for upwards of £700 in most places.

You can read about the history of Fender guitars here

SUPER SWEDE- Hagström Guitars 50 Yrs

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09Great new hardbound 193 page book about the collectable Swedish Guitars, Hagström

Superswede: Hagstrom Guitars 50 Years

superswede hagstromHagström guitars hold a place in musicians´ hearts. Many of the world´s greatest played Hagström instruments, from ABBA to Zappa. Other international star users are Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley.

Musicians of a younger generation have also discovered these Swedish quality instruments, for example The Cardigans and Sahara Hotnights.

This richly illustrated book – more than 400 photos – displays not only the guitars and basses made in the Älvdalen main factory between 1958 and 1981, but also Hagström instruments sold under other brand names, and instruments built in the Falun and Oslo factories, and by Bjärton.

The close to 200,000 Hagström guitars made are a symbol of Swedish musical, cultural, and industrial history and a fine example of Swedish design.

Author Mikael Jansson is a journalist and musician, and in 2006 published a book (in Swedish) about the Hagstrom company history, “Musik for miljoner”.

Dwight Guitars


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09Dwight GuitarsDwight guitars were made by Epiphone as the house brand for Sonny Shields Music in East St Louis IL, which was owned by Mr Charles “Dwight” Shields.

Sonny Shields Music was a pretty big music shop back in the 50’s and 60’s and they also had several Dwight guitars made by Supro (and built by Valco), although the most well known was the rebranded Epiphone Coronet, marketed between 1963 and 1968.

The Epiphone built Dwight Coronet model has “Dwight” on the headstock and a “D” in the scratchplate, similar to the “E” in the Epiphone models.

Epiphone guitars of this period were built by Gibson at the Kalamazoo, Michigan, and were distributed by the Chicago Musical Instrument Company (CMI).

An ex-employee of Sonny Shields says that CMI sold the rebranded Dwights to Sonny Shields by the dozen, and that there are probably lots of old Dwights sitting in basements and attics throughout Southwestern Illinois!

These guitars, while rare and unusual are still around and tend to be cheaper that the Epiphone equivalent.

Many Coronets have the 6 on one side headstock as opposed to the 3 per side style of the Dwight, which is stronger in construction, and to my mind, looks better.

Epiphone guitars of this period were generally well made (American Epiphone production ran from 1961 -69) and the Dwights counted among some of the better ones.

These cool looking guitars are well worth picking up if you come across one.

Dwight Guitars

Vintage Guitars stolen in Florida

Tens of thousands of dollars worth of vintage, rare and top-of-the-line electric guitars, a $4,200 banjo, ukulele and other musical instruments, CDs and equipment were stolen Saturday or Sunday night from Grampa’s Music, 804-A Anastasia Blvd.

Store owners “Grampa Reece” Smith and his wife, C.J., from St. Augustine Beach, re-organized their remaining inventory Tuesday and worked with customers while also moving instruments into spaces left by the ones stolen.

“It could be worse,” Smith said. “There was no damage done to the store. It’s a shock, but we’re recovering well and will continue with business as usual.”

Three guitars — one of which was a red-orange Gretch owned by the Monkees in 1967 — were each worth in the $5,000 range.

St. Augustine Police reported that the thieves may have entered by opening a locking bolt on the steel back door, which the Smiths found open when they arrived Monday.

Police Officer Walter Makowski reported, “I could not see any signs of a forced entry on the door or steel frame.”

In addition to the inventory, the thieves found $150 and a spare key to a white 1996 Dodge Caravan from behind the counter, loaded the instruments in the van and drove away.

The vehicle, with Grampa’s Music logos on its back windows, is covered by insurance. The inventory isn’t.

A custom guitar builder, Paul Reed Smith, had his first production guitar for sale there on consignment. It, too, was missing. It is labeled “Custom 22” and is wine red.

Grandpa Reece remained optimistic, joking that one of the things that irritated him most was the loss of two expensive dark chocolate bars he left on the counter.

“They came in with a list. They knew what they wanted,” he said. “We’ve had many people come in due to the tough economic times, trying to sell instruments.”

But he said he didn’t want to become like the Big Box stores, suspicious of everybody and watching them all the time.

“We’ll improve security but will continue our mellow and pleasant ways,” he said. “Life goes on. I’m not going to change my attitude.”

The missing instruments include:

* Ome Banjo (bluegrass style)

* Martin D35 guitar, 1971

* Ibanez JEM white, Steve Vai model

* Gibson ES330 Red, 1960s

* Gretch Monkees red-orange guitar, 1967

* Compass Rose tenor ukulele, walnut with maple top

* Fender Stratocaster, Gator orange American Standard 1986

* Brian Moore Electric DC-1, cherry sunburst solid body, 1999

* Paul Reed Smith, Custom 22, wine red