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Collectable Guitars

Value of vintage guitars on the rise

People make noise with them in the basement and some even grow rich from travelling from town to town playing them. But guitars can be a good investment as well.

What are now referred to as vintage guitars were simply old guitars back in the 1980s. The 42 Guitar Index – which tracks the cumulative value of 42 vintage instruments from Gibson, Fender and Martin ­- has tracked steadily upward since 1991. You could have bought all of those axes listed for about $150,000 that year.

The index was just shy of $1 million in 2008, and then the recession hit, pulling prices down 30 percent from their high in recent years. That sounds a lot like the equity markets in 2008-09.

The index, published every year by Vintage Guitar magazine, is back on the upswing and tracking back toward $800,000. Meanwhile, equity markets are hot and there’s lots of cheap money out there. Vintage dealers say there are profits to be made with quality instruments from decades past. And the best part, while you own them you can play them – preferably loud.

Guitars Worth Leaving Behind

Gibson Don Felder Interesting article here by Jol Dantzig:

An interesting yet disturbing trend of late in the vintage-guitar market is perfectly correct instruments being parted out to meet the demand for rare hardware.

Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the kind of legacy we’ll leave behind. I’m not talking about big ideas like curing cancer or saving the planet from harm. What I am talking about are much more diminutive contributions, or actually, lack of action.

A few years ago, I awoke one morning to the sound of chainsaws drifting across my property. I live in a somewhat rural area surrounded by rough, hilly terrain and forest, and have a 600-foot driveway that winds past a section of a neighbor’s land. Following the sounds of trees being felled, I arrived at the point where my plot met his. Seeing me, my neighbor looked up, killed his smoking Stihl saw, and walked over to chat. He explained that his livestock hobby needed more grazing land, so he’d decided to level an acre of tall trees and shrubs.

I wanted to continue to enjoy the privacy that the foliage afforded when entering my driveway, so of course I was being selfish as I urged him to reconsider. But it also struck me as irresponsible to just trash an acre of old-growth trees. I’m an advocate of responsible wood harvesting and an avid fan of reclamation, so I reminded him that his deed would remain long after he moved on. Upon consideration, my neighbor compromised and merely thinned out some of his land. This column, however, isn’t directly about forests being decimated for musical instrument use. It’s about stewardship of what already exists.

Read the full article here

Don’t you wish this was you?

Mike Sharp knew he had something valuable. He just didn’t know exactly how valuable it was. His mother always told him, the old guitar in the closet that had belonged to his father was his. Just so happens that dirty old guitar was a 1953 Fender Esquire, a piece of music history.

This little piece of guitar history sat in a closet for 50 some years, gathering dust, but aging gracefully. Mike Sharp’s father bought the guitar new in 1953. Sharp says, “He died in an explosion in Bethlehem ship yard in 1956. my dad was a preacher and he loved music.”

So Sharp brought the 1953 Fender Esquire to another music lover, Caylan Daughrity at A and S Music in Nederland to begin the process of discovering how much this classic electric guitar was worth.

Daughrity told 12 News HD, “Judging by the case, we knew it was an old piece. He opened it up and I was like oh man look at this. This is something special”

But this special piece of music history didn’t give up all her secrets right away. Daughrity says they had to take the guitar apart to confirm it’s age, “On these older guitars like this, the serial numbers were not put on the back of the neck plate or the back of the head stock or the front like they are now. They were written in side the body cavity and it’s also signed and dated by the people who made them. It’s really neat to be holding a piece of history like this.”

Sharp says, “I knew it was gonna be worth some money as old as it is. It was built the year I was born.”

After a bit of research Daughrity determined that the guitar could be worth as much as 24-thousand dollars, but the trick would be striking the right chord in the right buyer.

Daughrity says, “You’ll see it in a museum or it’ll be on stage. Somebody big. So it’s going places.” And when it does, Sharp plans to retire on a high note.

He says he will, “Enjoy my motorcycles and enjoy life a little bit, not have to worry so much.”

Daughrity says that new the guitar would have cost around $200. So far they have reached out to collectors in the US and internationally and even Fender has shown some interest in the guitar for their museum. Anyone who is interested in buying the guitar, needs to contact Caylan Daughrity at A and S music in Nederland.

watch the video:

12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Part of Rory Gallagher’s guitar collection for sale

New Kings Road Vintage Guitar Emporium are very proud to offer a selection of guitars and amplifiers for sale from the collection of Ireland’s legendary guitarist, Rory Gallagher.

These instruments have never been offered for sale until now. There are some great pieces that have been used live and in the studio by Rory, and this a truly unique opportunity, to purchase some of his authentic equipment.

New Kings Road Vintage Guitar Emporium will be displaying the instruments for sale at their shop located at 65a New Kings Road, London, SW6 4SG.

see them here

GuitarTrader launches online gear marketplace

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481A new marketplace website,, aimed at helping shops and guitar buyers find second-hand, used and vintage items has launched.

Pitching itself as the AutoTrader of the guitar world (though not in any way affiliated with that brand), GuitarTrader is essentially an online classified ad service, which hopes to provide a forum for anyone wishing to buy or sell guitar gear.

The idea is that guitar players and retailers (particularly those that have little discernible online presence/catalogue) sign up to the service and list their available products, without having to setup their own e-commerce platform.

It’s no secret in the guitar world that there are a lot of second-hand instruments sat in shops, or the homes of collectors without websites, so fingers-crossed the service will make it easier for players to find their ideal guitars.

Richard Gere’s Guitar Collection Raises Nearly $1 Million at Auction

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481A collection of vintage guitars owned by the Hollywood actor Richard Gere has been sold at a Christie’s auction in New York. The sale featured 107 lots, including guitars and amplifiers, which Gere had amassed over a 20-year period. In all the sale raised $936,438, with all but 4% of the lots sold.

The sale’s top-selling lot was a classic 1960 Gibson Les Paul, which beat its pre-sale estimate of up to $90,000 to sell for $98,500 to an anonymous bidder. Other notable lots included a 1931 Martin D- 28 acoustic model which sold for $62,500, a 1958 Gibson Flying V which sold for $74,500 and a 1934 archtop built by John D’Angelico which sold for $20,000.

Gere, who is a well-known advocate for AIDS charities and a supporter of Tibet, will donate the proceeds of the sale to a number of charitable foundations.

Collectable Guitars 42 – Godin Acousticaster

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Electric guitarists often own an acoustic or two as well, but many who are used to electrics find the transition between slim, ergonomic electrics and big, bulky acoustics to mean that playing acoustic is much more difficult, especially when combined with the heavier strings and increased tension of an acoustic guitar.

However, a solution became available in 1989 when the French-Canadian company Godin (established since 1972) introduced a new line of guitars. They were acoustic and lacked magnetic pickups, but had slim, Telecaster-shaped bodies which were chambered but did not have any external soundholes.

From a distance the new guitar (christened the Acousticaster) looked like any other Fender Telecaster (it had a chambered maple body with a spruce top, bolt-on maple neck and maple or rosewood fingerboard) but had traditional acoustic wooden bridges with inbuilt piezo pickups provided by L.R. Baggs. Part of the Acousticaster’s surprising resonance for a small guitar came from the use of eighteen metal “tines” (prongs or forks) inside the body, which are similar to tuning forks and resonated in sympathy with the guitar.

The piezo system was controlled by an EQ on the top bout of the body, featuring four sliders (controlling gain, bass, mids and treble) for finer tonal adjustments. The guitar was different from normal acoustics in that it was slimmer and smaller, and used ordinary electric guitar strings to facilitate bends that were out of reach of traditional acoustic guitarists.

It also put a wider range of notes at the guitarist’s disposal. Where acoustics generally feature 20 or 21 frets, the Acousticaster was able to match the Gibson Les Paul with 22 frets.

A few different finishes were initially available, and according to a 1989 review in Guitarist magazine these included black, white, natural, turquoise and cherry sunburst. It appears that natural and black, however, were the two most popular colour choices.

While many of the guitars I have written about from this time period were unsuccessful and are largely quite rare now, the Acousticaster is a resounding success story. Godin continues to have an extensive range of guitars and the Acousticaster remains part of the line-up. It is still made using the same construction methods and woods. New Acousticasters sell for around the £1000 mark, and used examples for anywhere between £300 and £700.

Jeff Buckley’s Telecaster For Sale

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481My friend Nicolai over at Vintage and Rare has alerted me to the sale of one of Jeff Buckley’s most used guitars through Chelsea Guitars, one of the dealers who advertise through his website.

The 1983 Telecaster was used extensively for live work by Jeff and was given to a close female friend by his family after Jeff’s untimely death in 1997.

I am not sure on all the details of the guitar, (it obviously has a replacement pickup) but Chelsea or Vintage and Rare will be able to supply all information needed. The guitar comes with all the provenance needed to prove its importance and legitimacy.

Here’s the link to the full details; Jeff Buckley’s 1983 Telecaster for sale

1960 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst Tops $131,000 at Auction

A 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard Cherry Sunburst electric guitar, one of the most sought-after modern stringed instrumented ever made, proved its worth at $131,450 to lead Heritage Auctions’ $1,682,831 Signature Music & Entertainment Auction, Feb. 20. All prices include 19.5% Buyer’s Premium.

“The 1960 ‘burst is exceptional even by Les Paul’s standards,” said Jonas Aronson, Director of Vintage Guitars at Heritage. “It’s got everything a collector could want – name, style and a beautiful sound – and the price it realized is reflective of that quality.”

Acoustic guitars proved an important part of the stringed instruments section of the auction, and no one name more so than that of C.F. Martin, as a pair of vintage Martin acoustic guitars combined for almost $75,000, with a 1931 Martin OM-28 Natural acoustic orchestra model, #47403, in its original state, with a $46,306 price realized, followed by a striking 1937 Martin-D-18 Sunburst Acoustic, #68135, more than doubled its pre-auction estimate to finish the day at $28,680.

The name of Fender was well-represented in the auction, with two classic examples performing well beyond their pre-auction estimates. A 1957 Stratocaster Sunburst solid body electric guitar, #22744, in all original condition, brought $21,510 against a $5,000+ estimate, while a 1959 Fender Telecaster Blonde solid body electric guitar, #38272, brought $20,913, against a $6,000+ estimate.

In what was the sleeper of the guitar auction, a fantastic 1961 Rickenbacker 4001 Fireglo Solid Body Electric Bass Guitar, #AK685 – a gorgeous example of this famous model, that can be traced definitively back to the first month of the first year of Fireglo production, brought $19,120, almost five times its pre-auction estimate.


Norm’s Rare Guitars Interview

Nice video interview with Norm Harris of Norm’s Rare Guitars;

Vintage Guitar magazine Lists 10 Most Valuable Guitars

Vintage Guitar magazine has released a list of the 10 most valuable production-model electric and acoustic guitars. Using data accumulated in the research for The Official Vintage Guitar Price Guide 2011, the list includes only guitars that were originally offered in manufacturer product lines. It does not include custom-made and/or celebrity-owned instruments.

“Guitars are an American pop-culture icon,” said Alan Greenwood, publisher of both the magazine and the Price Guide. “And through the years, certain guitars have, thanks in part to players, songs, and the laws of supply and demand, become exceedingly valuable to collectors.

“There are few collectibles as cool as guitars,” Greenwood added. “They’re functional, tactile art that inspires players and music fans alike.”
The 10 most valuable guitars are:

  1. The 1936-’39 Martin D-45 ($320,000 to $400,000) – Vintage Martin dreadnoughts are considered the pinnacle of steel-string acoustics, and those given the Style 45 details are the top of the line.
  2. The 1958-’60 Gibson Les Paul Standard ($300,000 to $375,000) – The status of Gibson’s Les Paul changed dramatically with the 1966 release of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers featuring Eric Clapton. Then Michael Bloomfield started playing one, which influenced other top-tier guitarists of the late ’60s.
  3. The 1958-’59 Gibson Explorer ($250,000 to $310,000) – Part of an attempt to market “modernistic” guitars in the “space age,” it got little attention from buyers, so production numbers stayed very low.
  4. The 1958-’59 Gibson Flying V ($200,000 to $250,000) – Another of Gibson’s “modernistic” guitars, it was offered for only two years (1959 and ’60).
  5. The 1931-’36 Martin D-28 ($140,000 to $170,000) – Though not as fancy as the D-45, its $100 price tag was still high in the midst of the Great Depression.
  6. The 1938-’42 Gibson Super Jumbo/SJ-200 ($90,000 to $120,000) – Gibson’s answer to Martin’s D, it was larger, showier, and wound up in the hands of many a big-screen singing cowboy.
  7. The ’57 Gibson Les Paul model ($86,000 to $106,000) – Gibson’s original Les Paul, the “goldtop” was refined until it peaked in ’57, when it was used to launch the company’s new “humbucking” pickups.
  8. D’Aquisto archtops ($75,000 to $100,000) – Luthier James D’Aquisto mostly built to order, and his rarest models bring a premium.
  9. 1950 Fender Broadcaster ($68,000 to $86,000) – Leo Fender’s original single-cutaway design has a simple, workingman’s appeal. Known today as the Telecaster, it’s one of the “big three” collectible electrics.
  10. 1957-’60 Gibson Les Paul Custom ($66,000 to $81,000) – With a black finish and gold-colored hardware, it was the fanciest version of the original Les Paul guitar.

For more information, contact Ward Meeker, Editor, Vintage Guitar, at, or 800-844-1197. To view and/or download high-resolution images of guitars from this list, go to

Hendrix Fender Duo Sonic Sells for £164,000!

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481As posted the other day, the tan coloured Fender Duo Sonic, played by Hendrix before he was famous, fetched £164,675 at an auction today, over 400 times the price he originally paid.

The star’s early guitar sparked a bidding frenzy at the Cameo Auctioneers Records’ Music and Memorabilia auction in Midgham, Berkshire.

Hendrix had paid just £100 for the tan guitar when he was an unknown 21-year-old backing musician.

Going by the name Jimmy James, he used the 1959/60 model from March to November 1964 while performing with the Isley Brothers.

Two original pieces of Hendrix artwork from 1967 were also sold for a total of £17,400.

Another Hendrix Guitar Auction

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Another Hendrix guitar is up for auction next month, this time the it’s the Fender Duo-Sonic he owned and played before he was famous.

Jimi played on this guitar on tour with the Isley Brothers and it is expected to fetch around $180,000.

The blond Duo-Sonic is a 1959 or 1960 model, which the 21-year-old Hendrix paid $160 for before joining the Isley’s as a session man on their tour of 1964.

Of course, as a solo artist, Jimi was known primarily as a Strat man, which explains why this Fender went into storage before reappearing in Hendrix manager Chas Chandler’s studio.

Chandler sold the guitar in 1982 for £400 to music agent and manager Rod Weinberg.

The Duo-Sonic goes under the hammer at Cameo Auctioneers Records’ Music & Memorabilia Auction on November 2.

Peter Frampton, Brad Paisley Donate Flood Guitars to Charity

Peter Frampton's flood damaged Les Paul

Dozens of guitars, mandolins and other instruments – straight from the hands of artists including Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Kenny Chesney and Peter Frampton are headed for the online auction block through nonprofit organization NASH2O (Nash-H-2-0) to support flood relief efforts in Nashville.

Proceeds go to three beneficiaries: MusiCares Nashville Flood Relief Fund for music industry professionals, Nashville Musicians Association Flood Relief Fund for those musicians that were uninsured, and Middle Tennessee fire and rescue departments.

Organized shortly after the devastating May floodwaters receded, NASH2O was created by three longtime Music City mainstays: George Gruhn, widely-recognized as the leading authority on vintage stringed instruments; Joe Glaser, renowned luthier and fine instrument repairman; and steel guitarist/producer Bruce Bouton, a fixture on high-profile recordings and tours for decades (currently touring with Reba McEntire). Their goal was to collect flood-damaged instruments from top artists, which could then be sold as presentation/collector pieces. The group secured underwriting support from Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, a major insurer of many of the affected artists and exclusive insurance sponsor of NASH2O.

NASH2O’s official launch is slated for Tuesday, October 12 — with a VIP kickoff reception and press conference at the Hard Rock Café in downtown Nashville beginning at 4 p.m. The reception will feature appearances by some of the artists who have donated instruments, special guests, a silent auction, and some of the instruments which are headed for online auction on display.

The public will have a chance to bid via the online auction, which will open the same day at The NASH2O auction is unique in several ways, as the instruments offered for sale are historic musical artifacts from the Nashville flood that damanged several instrument storage facilities, as well as musicians’ homes and studios. But as Gruhn explains, the instruments themselves are unlike what is usually available to fans and followers:

“It’s fairly common to see instruments, signed by artists, for sale in charity efforts or given as contest prizes,” he says. “But those are almost always pieces donated by a manufacturer for that purpose. They’re handed to the artist, he signs them, and that’s really the only connection he has with them. The NASH2O pieces are the artists’ personal instruments. Peter Frampton’s Les Paul is, well, Peter Frampton’s Les Paul. Brad Paisley’s Tele-style guitar is Brad’s guitar. You hear that guitar on the records. You saw it in his hands in concert. These are very personal, cherished tools of the trade, and buyers can own a piece of that history, that pedigree.”

Beside the artist-owned instruments for auction, sweepstakes items of new instruments and/or premiums have been donated by Taylor Guitars, THD Amplifiers, Paul Reed Smith Guitars, Gibson Guitars, Martin Guitars and Yamaha Instruments.

Check for further information and updates at

Bobs Brownies 1970´s Fender Collection

Here’s a nice video by my buddy Nicolai from Vintage and Rare.

This is probably the largest collection of brown 1970’s Fender guitars in the world, including a tasty brown Starcaster in the back row..not a colour I have ever seen before on the Starcaster, which is rare in any colour!

The collection is for sale, but only as a collection..Bob won’t split out individual pieces.

The Holy Grail: I Buy A 1958 Sunburst Les Paul

Here’s a nice article by rock writer Binky Philips on the Huffington Post website. Lots of anecdotes about New York guitar buying and the stories of how old guitars get passed around.

Just a taster;

Anyway, one afternoon later that summer, Teddy Slatus, Edgar Winter’s road manager, came in with both of regular-customer Rick Derringer’s sunburst Les Pauls. Back in those days, years before reissues, that meant two of maybe 900 total Gibsons made between mid-1958 through the end of 1960 with that glorious fade-from-a-red-to-gold transparent lacquer finish over highly figured maple and the then new and powerful (Patent-Applied-For) Humbucker pickups. After several other guitar-obsessions amongst the Stars of Rock Guitar, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Michael Bloomfield, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman, and several other major cats had settled on this model Gibson as The One. And to this day, it rightly remains exalted.

Read the entire piece here

Schon Guitars

It isn’t very well known that Journey guitarist Neal Schon had a “blink and you missed it” guitar company in the 1980’s. The most famous model is a single cutaway that was seen in the later Journey and Bad English era.

Those models were made by the Jackson guitar company in 1986 and it’s estimated that about 200 were made. When disagreements between Schon and Jackson caused him to move on, Neal turned to Canadian guitar maker Larrivee.

We’ll be writing up the more common Schon guitars in another post, but in the meantime, here is an interesting article on Schon guitars from guitar luthier Phil Clark in Arizona;

Collectable Guitars pt 41 – Peavey T-60

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Peavey T-60 was the first electric guitar marketed by Peavey, who now sell a huge variety of guitars and amps, as well as PA equipment and more.

It lasted 10 years, from 1977 to 1987. It was also the first guitar ever made with CNC machines, which now form an integral part of mass-production of guitars.

It was designed by Peavey founder Hartley Peavey and Chip Todd.

The T-60 has an ash body and bolt-on maple neck and 21-fret maple or rosewood fingerboard, similar to Strats made by Fender around this time. It has two humbuckers, which on the T-60 usually have blade-shaped pole-pieces as opposed to the individual pole-pieces usually found on pickups.

According to reviews the maple neck is very thin, almost equivalent to that of the famed Ibanez Wizard profile. The bridge is similar to that of a Fender Telecaster, an “ashtray” bridge, although no pickup sits in it.

The body is a typical two-cutaway job, although it has roughly equal-sized cutaways as opposed to offset ones like on a Strat. It came in a variety of finishes, usually solid black or white, a transparent sunburst, or plain natural.

There was a large black scratchplate which housed four controls and an input socket. Sometimes this scratchplate would have the Peavey logo inlaid into it as well.

The T-60 was successful in the 70s and 80s.

Many people had one as a first guitar and their strength shows through in the fact that examples show up on eBay with barely a scratch on them.

Because they are not particularly rare or sought-after, prices are generally around £300.

Collectable Guitars pt 40 – Carvin V220T

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481Carvin is an American custom guitar brand. They are not particularly well-known but to those “in the know” they represent high quality and reasonable value for what they are. Many of Carvin’s designs in their 1980s heyday employed through-neck construction, which is now established and used often. When Carvin started using it, however, it was in its infancy, having only been used previously on the Gibson Firebird and early BC Rich guitars.

In the 1980s Carvin began to gain a serious reputation, and their guitars were used by Craig Chaquico of Starship, Jason Becker of Cacophony and Steve Vai before his endorsement from Ibanez. Their amps are also renowned, and Vai is a long-time user of his signature Legacy series.

Many of Carvin’s guitar designs are based on traditional shapes with their characteristic twists. However, in 1984 they introduced a very different shape to their line-up, which actually became one of their most popular designs. That guitar was the V220T.

The V220’s shape was unique and could perhaps be said to resemble the bottom half of an upside-down Jackson Rhoads crossed with the top half of an upside-down Gibson Explorer. It is a surprisingly elegant shape, and was available in black, white and red as well as a clear natural finish.

In terms of construction, the V220T consisted of a maple body and maple set neck, although quilted maple and koa bodies were options. The neck had 24 frets on an ebony fingerboard. The neck was topped off by an arrow-shaped headstock resembling that of a Gibson Flying V.

The hardware was high-quality. The pickups were an M22 humbucker at the neck and an M22SD at the bridge. The pickups had twice as many pole pieces as normal, for more sustain. The pickups came with white covers and could be said to resemble DiMarzios. There were two options for the bridge. The standard was a one-piece fixed bridge/tailpiece combination. The more common option was the then-new Kahler locking tremolo system, which ended up on most V220Ts. In terms of the controls, there was a master tone control, volume controls for each pickup, a three-way pickup selector and two coil-split mini toggle switches.

The V220 was a successful design which found favour with many significant rock players. It was discontinued in 1989 after a prosperous five-year run. It has since been reissued, however, and is in Carvin’s current product line albeit with some changes. The shape remains the same, although the tremolo is now a Floyd Rose model, and the construction is thru-neck.

The body is now alder and the controls have been simplified. The UK price of this new model, due to the higher-end features, is £1226 (quoted from Carvin’s website, and converted from dollars) but original 1980s models go for surprisingly little. A trawl on eBay suggests prices in the region of £300-£600.

Genuine Hendrix owned Strat for sale at Vintage and Rare!

My good friend Nicolai has a genuine Jimi Hendrix owned 1967 Fender Stratocaster for sale through one of his dealers (Rock Star Guitars) at his website, Vintage and Rare.

This sunburst guitar was given as a gift by Jimi in late 1968 to James “Tappy” Wright, who was a member of his management team along with Chas Chandler, of the Animals, who Tappy was also road manager for.

The guitar is currently on display in the Nashville Musicians Hall Of Fame and Museum and was the subject of various lawsuits over the years as the Hendrix estate tried to claim back ownership.

These lawsuits are now all settled, and the guitar is available for sale with full legal backing.

The historically interesting guitar is for sale for £260,000 and you can read more and see other photos on the vintage and Rare website.

Collectable Guitars pt 39 – Fender Lead 1, 2 and 3 Models

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481The Fender Lead series electric guitars were manufactured from 1979-1982.

They was produced in Fullerton, California factory under the direction of Greg Wilson and John Page.

They resemble Fender Stratocasters in appearance, but have a unique set of features. Steve Morse was one endorsee of the Fender Lead, and the whole series were probably designed to cash in the fashion for single pickup, Van Halen style superstrats  in the late ’70s and early ’80s

In 1979, Fender introduced the Lead I. The Lead I had a only one pickup, a humbucker in the bridge position. The Fender Lead series models all had the 25 1/2 inch scale length  of a Fender Stratocaster and  all Lead models were available with either maple or rosewood fretboards.

The Fender Lead I controls are unique. There is a 3 position pickup selector switch (Neck pickup, Neck & Bridge parallel mix, Bridge pickup) a phase switch, a master volume control, master tone control. The volume and tone potentimoters are 250k and the tone capacitor is 0.05 uf ceramic.

The Fender Lead I was manufactured until the end of the Lead series in 1982. The price of a Fender lead I in 1979 was $399.

Today a Fender Lead I in excellent condition sells for up to $1000.

The Lead II was also introduced in 1979.

It featured Two specially designed X-1 single coil pickups. The X-1 pickups were promoted as “wide range single coils” and are slightly hotter than a standard Strat of that era.

Both the Lead I and Lead II were normally finished in either black, wine red or brown.

Today a Fender Lead II in excellent condition sells for around the same price as the Lead 1.

The Lead III was manufactured in 1982 only. It had 2 humbuckers.

All of these guitars are becoming collectable now, as they are American made Fenders  and the youngest are at least 25 years old, which gives them an intrinsic value. They are quite rare, but still affordable, so it it worth tracking them down and snapping them up when available.

Collectable Guitars pt 38 – Ibanez RBM Voyager Reb Beach Model

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481

Reb Beach was the guitarist with hair metal band, Winger, who achieved a reasonable level of fame in the late 80’s and early 1990’s. More recently he has been a member of David Coverdale’s Whitesnake.

This is signature guitar produced by Ibanez in the early 90’s is probably the guitar Reb is most closely identified with, in particular in his Winger days. Designed by Reb “on the back of a napkin on a plane flight when I’d had quite a bit to drink!” the guitar’s design echoes design features of some of Reb’s favourite guitars of the time, in particular the Steinberger GM model with its rear cutout.

The RBM1 and RBM 2 were the original Japanese models and later came the RBM 10 and 400. All Designed by Reb himself, the Voyagers combine great looks with a good tone. They were made with a Hawaiian Koa top on a mahogany body and a 22 fret maple neck with Bolivian rosewood fingerboard (also known as Pau Koa) and round clay dot markers.

Early models were fitted with EMG pickups; and 85 humbucker and two single coil SAs. Later models had Ibanez single coil SB10 pickups on the neck and middle positions and an Ibanez HB10 humbucker on the bridge. Early original models had a locking Floyd Rose tremolo system while later cheaper models were fitted with Ibanez’s own floating Lo-Pro trem. Most models came with gold hardware. Top of the line models were the Japanese made RBM2NT down to the Korean made RM10 model

The RBM model was Made in Korea at the Cort factory, and is pretty rare today. Quality is good, (being an Ibanez guitar) and the body shape is unusual without being too outlandish.

These days Reb has an endorsement deal and signature model with Suhr guitars, but still plays an RBM live ocasionally

Kirk Hammett’s ESP Guitar for sale at $35,000

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481A ten year old guitar played by Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett is on sale online for $35,000. Hammett used the ESP Flying V guitar live on stage prior to August 1998.

Seller Neals Vintage Guitars is offering up the instrument on for the fixed price.

A statement from the seller reveals, “Kirk played this guitar in concert quite a bit! Just after that, he gave me a backstage pass for a show at Irvine Meadows in Orange County, California on the Load tour, I went backstage and had everyone in Metallica sign the guitar, I also had them sign the Load CD. I then had the pickguard sprayed with a clear coat to protect the signatures.

“Then, in 2007, I was lucky enough to go the studio where Metallica was recording their most recent album, Death Magnetic.

At that time I had Kirk sign the back of the headstock and sign the letter of authenticity. I am including a photo of Kirk signing the guitar! This guitar has lots of road wear from Kirk playing it, but it is in good solid condition and plays great!”

Auction details here

Collectable Guitars pt 37 – Jackson Roswell Rhoads

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481The Jackson Roswell Rhoads was a very rare, limited edition guitar made in 1997. It was a limited run of 123 guitars, and was a twist on the classic Jackson Randy Rhoads shape, with a UFO theme running through it.

The body, instead of being made from wood, was made of 6061-T6 aluminium, an aircraft-grade metal which was hand-carved and polished in the Jackson Custom Shop. The guitar featured a single humbucker and a fixed bridge.

It also had a set maple neck with a satin grey finish, and the tuners were unusual LSR gearless types.

The Roswell’s body shape was based on the popular Randy Rhoads shape drawn up by the late guitarist in 1980, but the famously angular, pointy shape of the regular RR model was ditched in favour of a much more curvy design, which kept the basic shape but warped the body into an asymmetrical “U” shape as opposed to the regular model’s offset V shape.

The inlays were crop circle designs, befitting the alien/jet age theme of the guitar.

The name was taken from the location of a supposed alien space craft crash in the 1947, Roswell, New Mexico.

The original Roswell Rhoads was only built for a short time, in incredibly limited numbers, but has gained a cult following.

The shape is still available, although only through Jackson’s custom shop, and if you want one you’ll have to settle for wood instead of aluminium.

The Roswell was priced at a truly huge £3,999 when it was launched 13 years ago, and original, aluminium-bodied examples fetch even more than that today; Gbase currently have one for sale at $5000.

There is, however, a more mainstream guitar which retains the same kind of shape as the Roswell and comes at a much less extravagant cost, in the form of Gary Kramer Guitars’ Kramertorium model.

This is a newer model featuring a Floyd Rose tremolo and EMG pickups, for a price of around £500.

If you can’t find a Roswell Rhoads or don’t have the money, this new guitar could be a very realistic alternative.

Gary Moore’s 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard For Sale

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481A snip at $275,000! Here’s the specifications;

This guitar is considered to be the Holy Grail to many guitar enthusiasts, collectors and musicians. Sunburst Les Pauls were and are played by the most iconic rock stars of any era.

Billy Gibbons, Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Duane Allman, Ace Frehley, Jeff Beck, Paul Kossoff, Joe Walsh, Gary Richrath, Steve Lukather, Gary Moore, James Hetfield, Michael Bloomfield, Peter Green, Gary Rossington, Ed King, Slash, Edward Van Halen, Eric Clapton, Rick Nielsen and many many others. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a vintage Les Paul that has a history that is traceable back to the 1960’s AND was owned by Gary Moore.

This guitar is in spectacular condition and has made appearances in numerous magazines and books. The color is fantastic and the top has a very pleasant mild flame. Guitar plays and sounds fabulous. I personally dealt with Gary Moore’s management and tech to acquire this guitar for a collector in 1994 and the experience of working with Mr. Moore’s staff was a great pleasure.

History This Les Paul was used for Gary Moore’s “After Hours” CD photo shoots. It was used for Gary’s 810 B&W glossy photos. It was used in two Gary Moore videos: “Cold Day in Hell.” and Since I Met You Baby.” This guitar has been featured in NUMEROUS books and magazines. (ie: “The Electric Guitar, an illustrated history.” Pages 93 and 147.)

Notable Provenance circa 1965-1990 owned by a guitarist who is also a vintage guitar dealer. 1990-1991 owned by English author Richard Chapman. 1991-1994 owned by guitarist Gary Moore of Thin Lizzy. Condition Guitar is in exceptional condition with exception to the following issues.

  • 1. Replacement (formerly gold) correct era pickup covers.
  • 2. Replacement switchring.
  • 3. Refret and replacement nut made of correct era Nylon.
  • 4. Grovers removed and correct era tuners reinstalled.
  • 5. Small headstock tip repair and headstock over-sprayed. (Circa 1978.)
  • 6. Guitar is in a flight case.

Link to ebay auction

Charvel Spectrum Epidemic!

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481I thought you may be interested to see this. A high end guitar collecting friend of mine has a guilty pleasure. Collecting Charvel Spectrums! His addiction has been satisfied for the time being, with the arrival of a black model from Australia, although he is making noises about the lack of maple necked models. He has also persuaded a few collecting friends of his to indulge too, and between them the Spectrum collection is now in double figures. So what's all the fuss about? The reason is, these are great guitars... versatile, with an extra tone eq pot and great for gigging with. They have an 80's vibe about them (don't get too near that pointy headstock!), and the quality of the construction is undeniable.

Seven Charvel Spectrum Guitars

The sparkle finish model (top left) is a special order, but the rest are all original.

These are still pretty cheap guitars, in the £300-500 price range, but prices are steadily climbing, probably due to my mates hoovering them up at a rate of knots!

If this style of guitar is of interest to you I'd start looking soon. As always, I'd recommend going for originality and  good condition to help safeguard future values, but I'd be quick, because as soon as funds allow I'll be out there looking for an orange one too!

In the meantime, here's a little bit more information about Charvel Spectrums.

Collectable Guitars pt 36 – Fender Electric XII

The Fender Electric XII was a purpose-built 12-string electric guitar, designed for folk rockers. Instead of using a Stratocaster-body style, it used one with a Jaguar/Jazzmaster body style.

It was also a departure from the typical “Stratocaster”-style headstock, instead featuring a long headstock nicknamed the “hockey-stick” headstock. The Electric XII used a unique split pickup design and had a 4 way pickup selector allowing for neck, neck & bridge in series, neck & bridge in parallel and bridge only options. It also used a string-through-body design similar to a Telecaster to help increase sustain.

Designed by Leo Fender, the Fender Electric XII was introduced in late 1965 with the bulk of the production taking place in 1966 before it was discontinued around 1970.

Unlike its competitors’ electric 12-string models which were simply existing 6-string guitars with six extra strings, the Fender Electric XII was a purpose-built 12-string designed to capture a part of the folk-rock market.

The headstock was a departure from Fender’s usual Stratocaster-style shape and is sometimes referred to as the “hockey stick” headstock.

Leo Fender’s bridge design for this model is elegantly simple, works extremely well, and is regarded by many as one of his best designs of the 1960s. The bridge has an individual saddle for each string making precise intonation possible. The design is also string-through-body which helps to increase sustain.

Perhaps the most famous user of the Fender Electric XII was Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page who used one to record “Stairway to Heaven.”

Other notable users of the Electric XII were Pete Townshend, who used it extensively on the album Tommy, and folk-rocker Tim Buckley. Johnny Winter also used one briefly (strung as a regular six-string) during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

1960’s models currently sell for around £2000-2500.

Collectable Guitars pt 35 – Fender Duosonic

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Fender DuoSonic guitar was first produced by in 1956.

It was meant to be a student guitar. It featured a short, 22.5 inch, scale length that was considerably shorter than the 25.5 inch scale used on standard Fender guitars.

Fender Duosonic Guitar

The DuoSonic, which is sometimes spelled as Duo-Sonic or Duosonic, has two, single coil, pickups and a vertical pickup selector switch that is placed on the lower horn of the body.

Duo-Sonic II

Fender released a new guitar called the Mustang in August 1964. This guitar was an economy model and was designed for student guitarists. This guitar featured a new design of tremolo arm that many guitarists found impractical. At the same time Fender also release the Duosonic II which had the same offset waist body but did not have the tremolo arm.

Fender discontinued the Duo-Sonic II in 1969.

This model was only in production for 5 five years. It has become Fender guitar that has a growing collector value due to its rarity and player demand.

Many guitar players prefer the Duo-Sonic II to the similar Fender Mustang. This is because they prefer the more practical fixed bridge to the Duosonic II as compared to the troublesome tremolo bridge of the Mustang.

The Duo-Sonic is closely identified with Liz Phair though it was used by David Byrne of the Talking Heads early in their career as well as Jimi Hendrix (when he toured the under the name Jimmy James with The Isley Brothers).

Johnny Winter also used a modified Duo-Sonic during the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly on his first few albums.

Patti Smith also plays a Duo-Sonic and has featured her guitar in song lyrics, for example in “Radio Ethiopia/Abyssinia” from the Radio Ethiopia LP.

Tom Cummings from Human Condition uses the late 90’s remake Duo-Sonic.

The Duo-Sonic I and II are both considered rare and have displayed growing collector value. The Duo-Sonic II in particular is often seen as a desirable alternative to the more popular Mustang, since it negates the difficult-to-maintain tremolo bridge.

Fender have recently re-issued very cheap “Squier” version of the duosonic, but original 60’s ones are still available for under $2000. Well worth a look at that price!

Steve Lukather sells his surplus gear on Ebay

Ex Toto guitarist and all round session superstar Steve Lukather has listed a whole bunch of instruments and gear on Ebay through L.A. Vintage Gear.

Steve Lukather Ibanez Prototype GuitarIncluded are a very cool looking Rickenbacker 6/12 string double neck and a unique 26 year old Ibanez prototype of a potential Lukather signature model that never made it into production. Bidding starts at $18,000 so start raiding your piggy banks!

Here are the links to some of the more interesting auctions:

Ibanez Prototype

Rickenbacker 362 /12 Double Neck Guitar

Valley Arts guitar

1966 Fender Electric XII

Gibson Chet Atkins

Fender Blackface Princeton Reverb amp

Collectable Guitars pt 34 – Gibson Nighthawk

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Gibson’s radical Hawk series was another shortlived attempt to modernise Gibson’s image in the 1990s. It lasted from 1993 to 1998 and the series comprised 5 models.

In the mid 1980s Gibson released new models that were nothing like previous ones to try and compete with new companies in the market.

Gibson Nighthawk guitarThe Corvus (radical new shape, covered elsewhere on the site), Victory (Strat shaped), RD Artist (Firebird shape with complex active electronics) and M-III (superstrat, also on the site) were launched and all three were shortlived and relatively unsuccessful.

Ten years later another such attempt to crack a new market was planned. This time Gibson played it slightly safer by using an updated version of the Les Paul shape, an iconic Gibson trademark.

However, this body was less well-proportioned than Gibson’s original, and as such looked vaguely like a squashed Les Paul.

This did the model no favours.

The pickups were two stacked P-90s on the semi-acoustic Blueshawk, two standard humbuckers on the Hawk model, one standard and one slanted humbucker on the Nighthawk Standard, and the same on the Special and Custom Nighthawks, but with a single-coil in the middle position.

The Nighthawk Custom had a flamed maple top and a Floyd Rose tremolo. All the Nighthawks had a maple top and a mahogany body, the basic Hawk did not have this luxury, and the Blueshawk had a maple top and a chambered poplar body with f-holes.

The guitars were unsuccessful and were unceremoniously dropped in 1999, apart from the Blueshawk which continued until 2006.

Values now are available on the very good website, from which I found that Blueshawks retailed for £792 new (price taken from 2002 catalogue) and are now worth about £550 for a good example. Nighthawks are similar in value but because of all the different models used prices vary.

Collectable Guitars pt 33 – Ibanez Musician

Ibanez Musician MC-550WNThe Ibanez Musician was born out of the Japanese copy boom of the 1970s, which also helped spawn the Ibanez Destroyer and Iceman.

After Ibanez were sued for copying Gibson designs they branched out into original designs. Their first original models were the aforementioned two guitars, as well as the Performer, a Les Paul-type with a small curve cut into the bass side of the neck joint.This design has been more famously used by another Japanese company, Aria, on the iconic PE series.

Around 1978 the Performer was followed by the new Studio and Musician series.

The Musician was a more conservative piece of design than the wild stylings of the Iceman and the “Explorer-on-steroids” look utilised on the Destroyer.

It had a body shape halfway between a Stratocaster and a Les Paul, the same overall shape as a double cutaway PRS, although of course those guitars came about five years later. The most basic model was the MC100, with a bolt-on neck, although all the others, up to the custom order MC550WN model (of which only 465 were made), were neck-through.

The Studio series is less well-known, and less upscale than the Musicians. The Studio series all had set necks, although this was the only main difference to the Musician.

This new series of guitars were known for their excellent sustaining properties, although this did lead to extra unwanted weight. The woods used were usually walnut and maple (for the through-neck), plus ash or walnut “wings” which formed the actual body.

Pickups were Ibanez Super 88 humbuckers, and the high-end MC500 had an onboard three-band EQ activated by a toggle switch. This gave the player free rein to create a properly unique sound, for when the other two toggle switches activating phase reversal and coil splitting of the pickups just weren’t enough.

The MC500 had controls for the passive pickup mode, and three more knobs for when the EQ switch was on. The passive controls were a master volume, master tone, three-way pickup selector and the coil split and phase reversal switches. When the third toggle switch was activated the active controls (a different knob type to avoid confusion between the passive and active controls) controlled Bass boost, Midrange boost and Treble boost. The control layout for the Musician MC500, while vast, was quite simple and easy to use.

The EQ allowed for a vast spectrum of sounds, and the beautiful woods, through-neck, carved top and huge sustain made the MC500 one of the more desirable guitars of the late 1970s. There are also many good reviews of the other guitars in the series, and the models have a cult following among players.

The guitars aren’t too rare, but can be fairly hard to find sometimes. A recent search on eBay uprooted a few guitars, mostly in America.

An MC500 is going for just under £1100, while another MC200 looks to be going for significantly less.

Every review I have read of these guitars praises them, particularly the MC500, and they are worth quite a lot now.

Below is a picture of a beautiful MC500 (albeit with no strings attached), and I will attempt to explain the control layout.

musician Controls

Collectable Guitars pt 32 – Washburn A-20V Stage Series

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Washburn A10-A20V Stage series of guitars were produced between 1979 and 1985.

Washburn A-20V Stage GuitarShaped like a truncated Gibson Explorer with a chunky slanted headstock, the high quality Stage series found homes with a fair number of rock guitarists in the early 1980’s. They were produced in Japan in the highly regarded Matsumoku factory, which also built guitars for Ibanez, Westone, and a host of other manufacturers.

The lower model A10 has a bolt on neck, while the higher priced A15 had a set neck, leading up to the top of the range A20s which had through necks.

Washburn also made a bass version, the B20 which sells for around the same prices as the guitars.

  • Features included dual humbuckers with independent tone and volume
  • Push/pull coil splits
  • A three-piece 22 fret v-shaped maple neck,
  • Ash body wings with flamed two-piece maple top
  • Ebony fretboard with brass washer-shaped inlays
  • Strat-style tremelo with string-thru-body
  • Sealed tuners
  • Brass nut
  • Full binding

Washburn released them again as a re-issue in 1995. Prices are fairly low for such a well made guitar, but I guess the shape is an acquired taste, not suitable for everyone.

I have recently seen a couple of A10s for sale on GBase for $5-700, so I have to assume that the A20 will be a little higher, probably $800-1000, which I think makes them pretty decent value.

Collectable Guitars pt 31 – Tokai Talbo

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481This guitar was originally made from 1982 to 1984 in Japan by Tokai, who at this point were looking to expand away from the copies they specialised in.

Tokai Talbo GuitarIt was very unusual in that the body was not made of wood, as you might expect, but aluminium instead. As such the name was actually an acronym for Tokai ALuminium BOdy. The benefits of using aluminium were sustainability- no trees get chopped down to make enough aluminium for a Talbo body, and a different sound.

Made of cast aluminum alloy AC-4B, which is commonly used in racing car engines, the Talbo’s design is simple and elegant, combining new and traditional elements. Basically, it’s like two superimposed teardrops with the tips pointing right and left to yield a bi-level, sculptured double cutaway. Its headstock decal reads “The New Legend Of The Guitar History.”

The aluminium body was mostly solid, but with a large hollow chamber for the controls and for weight reduction. It had Blazing Fire pickups, usually a bridge humbucker and two single coils although two humbucker versions are not uncommon. The neck is made of maple and is bolted to the body.

The Talbo Blazing Fire is a quality guitar, comfortable, easy to play, with a great sound. If there’s a limitation, it’s that the three-way select limits the tonal potential, although this is mitigated somewhat with the two volumes. Perhaps the most famous appearance of the Tokai Talbo in the 1980s was in the hands of the band Devo.

Tokai Talbos were promoted briefly in American and European markets for perhaps a couple years, but after 1984 seemed to disappear from the radar. They didn’t disappear  though. The Talbo appears to have continued in production in Japan since its ’82 debut. And what’s more, it continued to evolve. What had been called the Blazing Fire became simply the Talbo, in its present state offered with twin humbuckers. In 1999, Tokai introduced the Talbo Woody, an all-wood version made of two hollowed-out pieces of maple.

A more interesting variant was the Talbo Junior that debuted in 2000. It takes the teardrop-shaped sound chamber and encapsulates it in cast aluminum, then hollows the top of the body and cutaway horns, making them just a frame. Then, to spice things up, it adds a built-in amplifier under the strings. That same year, the Talbo’s body was extended and turned into the Talbo Bass. And finally, Tokai brought back the Blazing Fire moniker on a fantastic blue-tinted transparent plexiglass version, still with the 3-D Talbo shape, but with no aluminum. These are produced in Korea.

So what of the original Talbo? Well, prices probably are about £700-£1000 for the guitars and basses, while the new Woody models are probably significantly less.

Collectable Guitars pt 30 – Fender Elite Telecaster

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Fender’s iconic Telecaster has many submodels to its name, which have their own distinct set of players. These include the Thinline semi-hollow model, the Custom with a humbucker at the neck and a different scratchplate, and the Deluxe, with two humbuckers and a wide headstock reminiscent of the 1970s Stratocasters.

But that isn’t the full list of submodels offered as part of this iconic range…

Fender Elite TelecasterThe Elite concept was an ambitious project to combine tradition with modern (at the time) technologies with more user-friendly hardware, upgraded electronics and better neck adjustment. The intention was to produce an upgraded version of a classic with a more modern look and feel, and to hopefully entice some Gibson players into the Fender family.

It was designed as a loud rock-orientated instrument, with 2 humbuckers, four knobs as opposed to the usual two,a three way toggle switch and white binding on the top body edge. The Elite had new pickups and active circuitry, with MDX and TBX controls, a biflex truss rod and a new heavy duty cast bridge, not usually seen on Telecasters. According to several reviews on Harmony the guitar has a heavy ash body and the usual bolt-on maple neck.

The Telecaster Elite is truly “the one that got away”- it was introduced in 1983 in 3 different versions;

  • The Elite, with chrome hardware,
  • The Gold Elite with gold-plated hardware and pearloid button tuners
  • The Walnut Elite, made with American black Walnut body and neck., an ebony fretboard, gold-plated hardware and pearloid button tuners.

A tremolo and 22 fret neck version were also considered, but CBS’s decision in 1984 to divest from Fender put paid to these variations.

Fender Elite Telecaster

It was, as was the case with the Performer and Katana released around the same time, just too different for traditional Fender players to accept as a guitar truly worth their attention and was dropped with little or no fanfare in 1985.

However, if we assess it on its own merits the story could have been quite different.

The guitars weren’t generally accepted by Fender fans, and as such are rare. However, examples occasionally come up for sale, usually in the £750-1200 range. I myself saw one on a recent trip to that haven for all things guitar, Denmark Street in London. The price tag said £ask, however, so prices remain unclear.

Collectable Guitars pt 29 – Ampeg Dan Armstrong Plexiglass

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Dan Armstrong Plexiglass was a very odd guitar originally made from 1969 to 1971 as an effort by popular amplification company Ampeg to draw in some more sales than their then-ailing amp lines were. The guitars came about from legendary guitar builder and repairer Dan Armstrong posing Ampeg the question:

“Since you make guitar and bass amplifiers, why not also make guitars and basses?”

Dan Armstrong Plexiglass GuitarAmpeg then asked Armstrong to design some guitars and basses for them to market. The design he came up with resides somewhere between a Strat and an SG, but with a surreal twist: the body was made entirely of a solid slab of Plexiglas (the trade name for a type of rigid, clear plastic) and the scratchplate of a piece of the wood-grain replica pattern Formica, popular on furniture in the 1960s and 70s.

The other very novel and inventive feature of the Dan Armstrong was the electrics arrangement. There was only one pickup “slot”, at the bridge position. There was no pickup actually installed, but specially designed self-contained pickups were available, a twin blade humbucker or a blade single-coil. All the pickups were contained in the same size casing, but the upside was that the two types of pickups could be slotted in very easily and with no complex modification required. There was also an inbuilt volume boost circuit.

There were a couple of clear upsides of the Plexiglas Ampeg, which was available as a guitar or bass. The solid Plexiglas body had a lot more sustain than most other guitars available at the time, new pickups could be slotted in easily with the radical circuitry, and the Plexi body just looked refreshingly different. However, it was also very heavy, and more difficult to make than wooden guitars. Ampeg and Dan Armstrong parted ways in 1971, and the guitar was no more. However, the model has been reissued and is currently available. Ampeg also do cheaper versions made of mahogany or swamp ash.

The guitars have been most famously used by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

Current prices for originals are high, and the 1970s models are rare. The armies of 1970s Ampeg copies by Ibanez and Shaftesbury are also rare and collectable, but prices for the reissue start at £450-ish for the wooden ones, and the Plexi reissues are about £1000.

Collectable Guitars pt 28 – Daion Guitars

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Now here’s one you might not have heard of.

Daion were an old Japanese company operating from the famed Matsumoku factory for a short period in the early 1980s. The Daions were very high quality, and full of innovative features.

They had a range of electrics, basses and acoustics which were often very different to the usual guitars available from the bigger companies.

Daion GuitarsOne of the better known (and I use that term loosely) Daion models was the semi-solid ES-335-alike 555 Headhunter, which featured an innovative third cutaway on the bottom of the body.

The central solid block was a sandwich of maple and spruce, with ten grooves cut into each end for increased resonance. It also included a coil split function for each pickup and through-body stringing, a first for semi-hollow guitars.

The company also made two lines of solid-body twin cutaway guitars. The Savage utilised a bolt-on neck and two humbuckers, or three in the case of the Barbarian from the same line.

There was also a bass, similar in looks to a Gibson Ripper. The other run was the through-neck Power series.

This had the SG-alike Power Mk.X and the Mk.XX, which looked similar to a Westone or Ibanez Musician. These also had two humbuckers.

Daion also made acoustic guitars, some, in the Caribou and Gazelle series, with a similar bottom cutaway to the 555 Headhunter. There were even 12 string models.

Daion Power Solid Body Guitars

The Caribou and Gazelle were Daion’s response to the upcoming amplified acoustics market, while the Legacy and Year series were standard high quality acoustics.

Daion, for whatever reason, was a shortlived brand which never really took off.

Very few people have ever even heard of this underrated company, which is why, in the rare event of a Daion of any type coming up for sale, it never generates as much interest as it probably should.

Daions sell infrequently, so prices are unclear. I found a Daion Acoustic which sold for $850 a couple of years back, but Ebay searches didn’t bring up any guitars at all. I would guess the 555 semis would be worth between £500-1000 and  if the trickle of enthusiastic players is to be believed they are worth every penny of whatever figure they sell for.

Collectable Guitars pt 27 – Fender Robben Ford Model

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Blues/Jazz guitarist Robben Ford merges styles to redefine the term “fusion” music. His sound, delivery and conception are all his own – as unmistakable and personal as a fingerprint. He chose a deliberate reinterpretation of the unusual Fender Esprit Ultra as the basis for his signature instrument (the Fender Robben Ford Signature model), which reflects Robben’s discriminating and diverse as both a soloist and rhythm player.

Fender Robben Ford Signature GuitarDesigned in the mid-1980’s, the Esprit effectively reconciled the differences between a blues, jazz and rock guitar, making it ideal for Robben’s varied musical tangents. He was originally drawn to the smaller body size, double-cutaway comfort and remarkable playability of the Esprit as an alternative to the larger, honky-sounding semi-hollow-body he had been playing. Though the Esprit was discontinued by the late 1980’s, Robben remained an ardent user.

The History of the “Master Series”  (by Gary Koehler) is as follows;

Approximately 25 years ago, Dan Smith had an idea. He conceptualized a solidbody guitar with routed chambers. These chambers would, in theory, provide a more resonant tonal characteristic. He also formulated and designed a basic shape for the guitar.

Then, in the early 1980s, Fender became interested in producing and marketing instruments which would be viewed as alternatives to those offered by Gibson. These guitars would not be copies, of course, but highly playable guitars with versatile electronics and other features previously unavailable on instruments manufactured by Fender. The company asked Smith to submit a concept, and what followed was an adventurous effort to produce a new line of guitars unique to the Fender’s catalog. The line was called the Master Series.

Two of Smith’s designs were solidified – the Flame and the Esprit (pronounced espree). Both featured alder bodies with routed tone chambers, maple tops, and set-in necks.

The Flame’s body is slightly larger than a Gibson Les Paul, and features two slightly offset cutaways, similar to Gibson’s SG. Two special-design humbucking pickups were developed via Schaller, as was a tailpiece with fine-tuners. The intention was to offer an electronically versatile alternative to the Gibson Les Paul.

The Esprit’s body is slightly larger than the Flame’s, and features two symmetrical cutaways. As with the Flame, two special-design Schaller humbuckers were employed in conjunction with the fine-tuning tailpiece. This instrument was intended as an alternative to the Gibson ES-335.

A third model was an archtop designed by the late James D’Aquisto. His design included some imaginative, versatile features and stands as a testament to D’Aquisto’s creativity as a luthier. 

These three designs were marketed together as the Fender Master Series.

Once designs were approved, the company turned its attention to issues of manufacturing and production. Fender decided that, at that time, it did not possess the technology to build the instruments. The Japanese company Fujigen Gakki (which served as an Ibanez facility) was contracted by Fender to manufacture the line.

Fender ultimately decided to produce three models of both types. The suffixes Standard, Elite, and Ultra were added under the headings Flame and Esprit. Standards featured dot inlays and chrome tuners. The Elites featured diamond-flake inlays and pearloid-button tuners. And the Ultras had split-block shell inlays, ebony-button tuners and gold hardware. Finish options on the Standards were limited to black, autumn sunburst, and cherry sunburst. The Elite and Ultra were also available in white or pink frost, and candy red or candy green metallic burst.

Smith said Fender offered the Kahler tremolo bridge as an option on these guitars. He recalls Fender made the modification post-production, and relatively few were shipped.

He was unable to find records indicating quantities made, but estimated that between late 1983 and 1985, a few thousand were manufactured. In retrospect, Smith feels the guitars were successful in regard to quality and public perception. The line’s downfall was the sale and subsequent transitional period experienced by Fender. In 1986, Robben Ford was brought on as an endorser of the Esprit model, then Fender reworked the production concept and dubbed the guitar the Robben Ford signature model.

In its incarnation as the Robben Ford signature model, it has retained many of the Ultra’s significant features and deluxe appointments, as specified by Robben, including the Ebony fingerboard with fancy Mother-of-Pearl split-block inlays, Ebony tuning key pegs, multiple binding on the headstock, neck and body and gold-plated hardware. The solid Alder body with a carved Spruce top and built-in acoustical tone chambers is a clever variation on the classic solid-body construction theme of mahogany and maple and is a vital component in producing the rich and consistent sustaining Robben Ford solo guitar voice.

Another is the two-humbucker pickup configuration which yields both a mellow, neck-pickup jazz sound as well as a robust, bridge-pickup blues-rock tone. The coil-splitting switch provides interesting thinner and twangier single-coil timbres ideal for rootsy rock and roll, R&B and funky rhythm comping.

Current values of these rare and collectable guitars are in the £1500-2000 range.

Collectable Guitars pt 26 – Fender Starcaster

The Starcaster was a short lived semi-hollow guitar made in the mid-1970s and early 1980s as competition to Gibson’s ES335 model. It is uncertain whether it was made from 1976 to 1977 or 1980 to 1982.

The guitar featured the Gibson traditional semi-hollow body and humbuckers, but with a new 6-on-1-side headstock and Fender’s trademark bolt-on neck. 

Fender Starcaster guitar

It also had a maple fretboard and an offset twin-cutaway body, somewhere between a Gibson ES-335 and a Fender Stratocaster. The pickups were Fender’s own Wide Range humbuckers, designed by Seth Lover, known for working with Gibson on their original PAF humbuckers, and allegedly naming their iconic Flying V guitar.

The Wide Range pickups were also used on 1970s Telecaster Custom models. This guitar was therefore a bit of a weird compromise between the two major guitar brands at the time.

Because of this fact, the Starcaster was never really accepted by fans of either of the big names. It found few takers, and was discontinued soon after its launch.

However, it has become collectible as a curiosity guitar, and has been used by Dave Keuning of the Killers and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. Starcasters rarely come up for sale, so it’s hard to pinpoint prices, but on Ebay they are in the £1200-1500 region.

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.

Collectable Guitars pt 24 – Yamaha SG2000


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.

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

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

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

Neil Schon Signature Les Paul

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-091After my post about the Gibson Les Paul Axcess, I thought I should follow up my mention of the Neal Schon Signature Les Paul. I believe only about 80 of these guitars were made by the Gibson Custom Shop, so they certainly fit under the collectable category.

Here is a video of Neal discussing and demonstrating the Les Paul, and below that is a bit of sales copy about theguitar’s unique features.

Rock guitar icon Neal Schon, best known as Journey’s lead guitarist and famous in his own right, has put his personal touches on the new Neal Schon Signature Les Paul guitar from Gibson Custom. The new model features such personal Schon touches as a Floyd Rose tremolo unit, a dramatically sculpted neck/body joint for easier upper fret access, and a Fernandes Sustainer pickup for the screaming lead parts he is famous for.

The Neal Schon Signature Les Paul model has a carved mahogany top, mahogany back, multi-ply black/white binding on top, chrome-plated hardware and a Floyd Rose tremolo. The one-piece mahogany neck has a scarfed heel joint a “Schon custom” slim-taper neck profile. The 22-fret ebony fingerboard features pearl split-diamond inlays and single-ply white binding. The pickups are a DiMarzio Fast Track/Fernandes Sustainer in the neck position and a Gibson BurstBucker® Pro in the bridge position. In addition to the standard Les Paul electronics (individual pickup volume and tone controls, plus three-way selector switch), the Schon Signature features two mini-toggles – an on/off for the Sustainer and an octave effect – along with a push/pull pot for midrange cut.

Collectable Guitars pt 22 – Shergold Guitars

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-091Shergold was a little-known guitar company started in 1967 by Jack Golder and Norman Houlder, who had both previously worked for Burns.

They were located in Harold Wood, East London for most of their professional career.

Shergold Modulator Guitar

Shergold Modulator Guitar

Some models introduced by Shergold were the Masquerader, the Modulator (with active electronics), and the Custom Double, a twin neck guitar available in several different neck combinations. The Masquerader is the best known and most numerous of Shergold’s models, but is still very rare.

Also made was a budget series, the Meteor and Nu Meteor.

Some other models which have been sighted but were made either as prototype models or in very limited runs include the Activator, (suspected to have exceeded no more than 20 units) the Trojan and the Triumph – a rebadged Les Paul style model originally made by Rosetti.

Shergolds were never successful, chiefly because of the weird styling of many of their models, and would be very collectible today as interest grows in unusual old British guitars. I’m not sure how much the different models would be worth, but my guess is at around £500 upwards for a nice one.

Own a piece of Clapton History!

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-091Vintage Guitar Gems, an established Vintage/Used Guitar & Amp store in the Conejo Valley was contacted by Yvonne Elliman (EC’s backup singer for many years as well as a songwriter, recording artist and actor) to sell the guitar that was used to record ‘Let it Grow’ during the famous 461 Ocean Blvd recording sessions at Criteria Studios in Florida in 1974.

Martin D12-20 GuitarMark Lane, the man behind Vintage Guitar Gems is thrilled that Yvonne, a great friend, thought of him and his company when she finally decided to part with this rare beauty.

“I know Yvonne loved and treasured that Martin but her son Ben is starting his dream restaurant with his fine culinary talents and the investment with the proceeds of the Rare Martin sale will jump start Ben’s business and help ‘Let it Grow’ as well.”

Estimates on the final sale price are between $200K & 400K! It is on eBay now and will run for 7 more days.

Ebay link to Clapton’s Martin acoustic

Collectable Guitars pt 21 – The Hamer Phantom

The Hamer Phantom is a very rare and collectable guitar, built in limited numbers in the 1980s. It started out as a prototype, called simply the Hamer Prototype. It was special in that it had a very unusual three-coil pickup at the bridge. Some also had one single-coil at the neck.

Hamer Phantom Guitar
It was based on a good-looking Superstrat shape, with the bass side horn being elongated and the treble-side shortened. It resembled a coupling of a Fender Jaguar and a Jackson Soloist.

The guitars usually had a scratchplate and Kahler tremolo. Some rare models had an ordinary humbucker at the bridge.

All the reviews I have read of this guitar praise it highly, and it is known as a very nice guitar.

One notable Phantom user was/is Andy Summers from The Police.

Phantoms are rare, but surprisingly inexpensive used considering the looks and quality of the build.

I saw two in Denmark Street recently for around £800-900, and I am sure they would sell on eBay for much less, in the rare event of one coming up.


Collectable Guitars pt 20 – The Gibson MIII

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Gibson M-III was one of the company’s rare attempts to muscle in on the popular Superstrat movement of the late 1980s, led by Jackson and Ibanez. It was not as successful as other Gibsons and was withdrawn after only a few years in production.

Gibson MIII GuitarThe guitar featured an updated Stratocaster shape with a reverse headstock, and had a set-neck when the trend in Superstrat design was to have a thru-neck, or a bolt-on for the cheaper models.

All guitars had Floyd Rose style tremolos and two humbuckers plus a central single-coil pickup. Also, where most superstrats had rosewood or ebony fingerboards, the M-III’s frets were set into a slab of maple.

The guitars looked and felt too different from Gibson’s classic models, and are no longer made, although there is an M-III shaped model called the EM-2 in Epiphone’s metal-oriented Prophecy range.

The Gibsons are rare and collectable, but are another example of a 10-20 year-old guitar which offers a lot for not very much money used.

They are worth between £500-800.

Collectable Guitars pt 19 – The Ovation Breadwinner / Deacon

The Ovation company is best known for its acoustic guitars, although they had a very good crack at the solid electric market in the early 1970s (1972 to be precise) with the UKII, the Preacher, the Viper, and the subjects of this article, the Deacon and Breadwinner.

Ovation Breadwinner guitarWhile the former three were fairly normal in design, albeit with traditional Ovation touches in the shapes, the Deacon and Breadwinner seemed almost mutated in comparison, with their bodies shaped somewhat like axes. They also had active mini-humbuckers, rare in the 1970s.

The difference between the Deacon and Breadwinner was not immediately obvious to the casual viewer.

The Breadwinner was the more basic of the two, with dot inlays, no binding on the fingerboard and a larger scratchplate. The Deacon had diamond inlays, binding, a smaller scratchplate, and was only available in natural finishes.

The Breadwinner and Deacon were often seen in the hands of  Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra, Steve Marriott and occasionally Ace Frehley of KISS.

On a recent trip to Denmark Street I found a white Breadwinner for sale for around £800.

They are rare and quite collectable even though sales never took off originally.


Collectable Guitars pt 18 – The Gibson Barney Kessel

Barney Kessel was a very respected jazz guitarist in the 1950s and 60s, and gained his own Gibson signature model in 1961.

Gibson Barney Kessel guitarThe guitar was unusual in shape, with a 25 1/2″ scale length similar to an ES-335, but with much sharper double florentine cutaways, resembling an SG.

However, the body was much wider than an SG, and looked unbalanced. 

The guitar was very normal apart from this, with four main controls, a wide body as opposed to the thinline design of the ES models, two humbuckers and a Bigsby vibrato.

The model described thus far is the original Barney Kessel Regular. There was another model, the Barney Kessel maple-necked Custom, which didn’t sell as well, with a tune-o-matic bridge instead of the Bigsby. Both were available from 1961 until 1973

The Custom was a deluxe instrument; ornate inlays and gold plating throughout – it launched at a significantly higher price than the Regular, $560 and $395 respetively (1/9/61 Gibson price list)

Barney Kessels were discontinued around 1974 and have not been made since. They are rare now, and would probably command a price upwards of £5000.