Guitar Collecting Rotating Header Image

New Guitars

The Gibson Moderne Returns!

Gibson’s Moderne is back in production. Here’s the story in the company’s own words…

A musical chimera, shrouded in the silvered mists of myth and legend, the Gibson Moderne has long been known as the enigmatic “guitar that never was”… or, was it? Designed as the third member of a trio of guitars in the new Modernist Series, prototypes of which were displayed at the 1957 NAMM show, the Moderne was originally intended to be the sibling of the Flying V and the Explorer, but never made it off the launch pad the way the other two then-futuristic classics did. Although they are iconic symbols of rock guitar today, even the Flying V and Explorer were too far ahead of their time in the late ’50s, and fewer than 200 units of both types were made in their original three-year run before deletion from the catalog in 1960. Perhaps Gibson foresaw that a third Modernist was pushing it just too far? Or did a poor early reaction to the guitar lead to its demise? Ted McCarty, president of Gibson at the time, has said a number of Modernes were made; other tales tell of prototypes and raw bodies being burned in a bonfire at Kalamazoo after early showings failed to set the guitar world alight. Whatever the real story–and perhaps it is lost forever to the mists of time–the Moderne is perhaps rarest and most elusive Gibson guitar ever created. Or was, until now. “New” from Gibson USA, the Moderne captures the look, feel and sound of the original, and puts it in the hands of players today.

The Moderne is made to the precise “pre-space-aged-retro” shape that made the original so eye-catchingly hip, with elements of the Flying V’s look, but with an asymmetrical lower bout that makes the guitar much easier to play sitting down. Gibson USA dresses it in your choice of two outstanding finishes, Trans Amber and Ebony, both in genuine nitrocellulose lacquer, with the gold-plated hardware that helped the Modernist series stand out in the late ’50s. The body is crafted from solid mahogany (Grade-A beneath the Trans Amber guitars), with a solid quarter-sawn Grade-A mahogany neck glued in with Gibson’s acclaimed deep-set neck joint. The neck is carved to a slim, fast profile that measures .800″ at the 1st fret and .850″ at the 12th, and topped with a fingerboard made from exotic granadillo. The Moderne’s headstock follows the rare split-top design, as also seen on the extremely scarce Explorer models from the first year of production.

A pair of ’57 Classics captures the sound of the original PAF humbuckers loaded on Modernist Series guitars of the late ’50s. These popular pickups feature Alnico II magnets, vintage enamel-coated wire, nickel-plated pole pieces, nickel slugs, maple spacers and vintage-style, two-conductor, and braided wiring, just like the greatest humbuckers of all time. In a variation from the majority of original PAFs, however, the ’57 Classics’ coils are wax potted to combat microphony and feedback squeal at high volumes so, while vintage voiced, they are suited to high-gain playing, too. The timeless pairing of Tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece, both in gold, anchors the strings at the body end for solid sustain and precise intonation adjustment. A set of gold-plated, vintage-style tuners with pearloid buttons retains the accurate look and performance up at the headstock.

Read our article on the Moderne here

Each guitar comes protected in a plush-lined hardshell case with black exterior, and includes owner’s manual and adjustment literature, along with Gibson’s Limited Lifetime Warranty and 24/7/365 customer service.

Features

  • Solid Mahogany body available in Trans Amber and Ebony finishes
  • Mahogany neck with slim, fast neck profile
  • Granadillo fingerboard with acrylic dot inlays
  • Features a pair of powerful ’57 Classic humbucking pickups
  • Vintage-style, pearloid-button tuners with 14:1 tuning ratio

Pricing and Availability:
$2,599

Martin Unveils Recycled Wood Guitar

If you heard the words “guitar” and “environment” in the same sentence in the last few months you were probably hearing about the raid on Gibson Guitar. While the August raid on Gibson’s factories continues to draw a lot of attention and still gets conservatives and Tea Party supporters angry, another guitar company is coming up this week with an innovative effort to connect the dots between guitars and the environment in a positive way.

On Tuesday, C.F. Martin announced that it will utilize FSC-certified recycled Sitka spruce in one of its new cutaway guitars in the company’s Performing Artist series – the GPCPA4 Sapele. Now, here comes the good part – the wood, which will be used on the tops of the new guitar, is coming from none other than dismantled Canadian bridges where it had been used in construction.

“Martin Guitar has long been committed to research and innovation to find alternatives to rare woods,” explained Chris Martin, the company’s chairman and CEO. “The use of this recycled traditional tonewood will complement the Sapele wood that this guitar utilizes, allowing us to achieve the same structural integrity and traditional Martin sound,” he added.

The search for such innovative solutions is not accidental, especially for a guitar maker with sustainability in mind like C.F. Martin. “In order for a musical instrument manufacturing company to become more sustainable, they have to look at the primary resources from the planet that they’re using and get those resources in the most environmentally sustainable way,” explains Scott Paul, director of the forest campaign for Greenpeace.

Full story here

Ernie Ball Music Man Unveils “Game Changer” Guitar

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Coachella, CA (January 12th, 2011) — Ernie Ball Music Man today announced that it will unveil The Game Changer, a ground-breaking, all analog pickup switching system that unlocks an extensive library of natural guitar tones previously unavailable in traditional pickup technology. Available in select Reflex guitar and bass models in 2011, this progressive innovation leads a host of new and exciting products Ernie Ball is set to launch at the 2011 Winter NAMM Show.

The Game Changer
The Game Changer fundamentally changes the guitar player’s experience. Rather than relying on pre-set pickup configurations traditionally provided by instrument manufacturers, The Game Changer gives guitarists unrestricted access to a vast library of tones via a true analog pickup switching system. Available on select Music Man Reflex models, this patent-pending system electronically rewires a guitar or bass instantly, combining any order of pickup coils in series, parallel, and in or out of phase to create tones unique to the individual creating them. Imagine having complete tonal control of your instrument with more than 250,000 pickup configurations*, without rewiring anything. With The Game Changer, the audio signal is never digitized or modeled in any way, providing a transparent analog signal path for the absolute purist. In conjunction with The Game Changer website (www.gamechanger.music-man.com), musicians can also create, save and share their tonal selections with other players from around the world.

“The Game Changer is the most significant innovation our company has developed,” said Sterling Ball, CEO of Ernie Ball Music Man. “I’m truly proud of this technology and am looking forward to sharing and creating new and unique tones with musicians and artists alike. This really paves the way for musicians to personalize their tonal options like never before.”

The Game Changer is currently offered in Music Man H-H, H-S-H Reflex guitar models, as well as the Music Man H-H Reflex bass model.

*More than 250,000 with a 5-coil instrument

Gibson Acoustic Releases Three Limited Edition John Lennon Models

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Seventy years after his birth and three decades after his untimely passing, John Lennon’s message of peace continues to touch the masses, and his songs still resonate in the hearts and minds of fans around the world. At the request of Yoko Ono, Gibson Acoustic is very proud to offer three 70th Anniversary John Lennon J-160E acoustic guitars to celebrate the legacy of this extraordinary artist. Accordingly, only a very limited number of these handmade acoustics will ever be available.

Born on October 9th 1940, John Lennon still remains one of the most significant voices in the music of our times. In 1962, John Lennon was still an up-and-coming artist, and though one of two main singer/songwriters at the heart of The Beatles, was scraping by on the little money the band was bringing in at that time. For his first quality American acoustic/electric guitar, Lennon had his sights set on a new Gibson J-160E – the problem was, he didn’t have the money to buy it. With the aid of a co-signed purchase from Beatles manager Brian Epstein (who also co-signed for band mate George Harrison’s J-160E), Lennon made the guitar his own, and put it straight to the business of making rock and roll history.

Recreated by the luthiers at Gibson’s Montana acoustic guitar facility in period-perfect detail, the 70th Anniversary John Lennon models are available in three distinct versions to represent the instrument at three periods in Lennon’s life and career.

Each version is an accurate rendition of the J-160E of 1962, a guitar originally released in 1954 as one of the world’s first successful “electro-acoustic” guitars, with built-in pickup and electronics and ready to hit the stage for the professional performing musician. Beloved by Lennon, and kept close throughout his too-short life, the 70th Anniversary John Lennon J-160E is a guitar every Beatles fan will want to make their own.

70th Anniversary John Lennon J-160VS

The first, finished in Vintage Sunburst and limited to 500 guitars, represents the guitar as it was when Lennon first acquired it and used it on several famous Beatles recordings from 1963 to ’64, including Please Please Me, With The Beatles, and A Hard Day’s Night. Additional specs of the 70th Anniversary John Lennon J-160VS include a 70th Anniversary John Lennon MOP signature on the headstock, 1960s laminated Sitka Spruce top, mahogany back and sides, the classic vintage sunburst lacquer finish, Jumbo 1960s frets, Gibson authentic P-90 pickups, a historic adjustable bridge, and a 70th Anniversary mother-of-pearl engraved 12th fret birthdate of John Lennon. MSRP is $4728.

70th Anniversary John Lennon Imagine Model

The second is a stunning Custom Shop “Imagine” model in a Soft White finish personally requested by Yoko Ono to reflect the sentiment of John’s life and music during the recording of Imagine.

The white Gibson Acoustic “Imagine” model includes an anniversary John Lennon Abalone headstock signature, 70th Anniversary MOP engraved 12th fret birthdate of Lennon, 1960s laminated Sitka Spruce top, historic Gibson ladder bracing pattern, mahogany back and sides, Jumbo 1960s frets, historic adjustable bridge, Gibson authentic P-90 pickups and a custom hardshell case. MSRP on the Imagine model is $10,748.

70th Anniversary John Lennon Museum J-160E Model

The third is the model as it is today, on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, with a thin, natural finish and Lennon’s famous “John and Yoko” caricature sketches, representing the appearance of the guitar during the famous Lennon-Ono “Bed-In” peace protests of 1969.

The guitar specs of the Gibson Acoustic Lennon Museum J-160E model includes a Gibson Custom Shop label personally signed by Yoko Ono, authentic recreation of John Lennon’s Bed?In Caricature Sketch, 70th Anniversary John Lennon mother-of-pearl headstock signature, 70th Anniversary mother-of-pearl engraved 12th fret birth date of John Lennon, label personally signed by Yoko Ono, 1960s laminated Sitka spruce top, historic Gibson ladder bracing pattern, mahogany back & sides, custom thin lacquer finish, Jumbo 1960s frets, historic adjustable bridge, Gibson authentic P?90 pickup and a Gibson Custom Shop hardshell case. MSRP on the Museum model is $15,048.

The custom shop’s second and third renditions are limited to 70 guitars each, one for every year since John’s birth in 1940, and both include a special 70th Anniversary Certificate personally signed by Yoko Ono and sent to the final purchaser by Certified Mail.

Yoko One herself has been quoted as saying , “Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world. Just start thinking peace and the message will spread quicker than you think.” The Gibson Lennon acoustic models celebrate the peace that has lived on for years through John Lennon’s music and Yoko Ono’s staunch devotion to his memory and legacy.

“To say how proud I am of these new John Lennon Anniversary guitars is a huge understatement. The legacy that John Lennon has given music fans around the world is unprecedented and the friendship Gibson continues with Yoko Ono is demonstrated in these remarkable instruments that are in tribute to arguably one of the world’s greatest musicians,” said Henry Juszkiewicz Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar.

For more information:
Gibson

More on building relic guitars

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481I found a great article today about the guys (John Page and Vince Cunetto) who built the first Fender Custom Shop relics back in the ’90’s and some of the techniques they use. Here are some interesting points;

Cunetto has spent countless hours doing R&D to find the right techniques.

To make the finger-wear marks on the fret board, he uses a architect’s powered drafting eraser. A few select screwdrivers and metal tools put chips in the guitar’s paint and dings in the wood.

“Every guy has his own little toolbox,” Cunetto says. “It’s like two painters using different brushes for the same thing.”

The colorful finishes on the guitars are done with old-school lacquers. Page says he always uses nitrocellulose instead of modern polyurethane. He says nitro is “more spiritual” to him.

To accelerate the aging of the finish, you speed up the cycles of hot and cold the instrument would naturally go through. Cunetto keeps freezers in the shop, and after a few rounds of cooling and warming, the nitrocellulose lacquer begins to disintegrate. The effect is a beautiful spider web of tiny checkered cracks in the finish that make a new guitar look like it’s 50 years old.

But there’s more to making a relic than screwdrivers, ovens, erasers and sandpaper. It has as much to do with art as it does with science.

“It’s not just about making it look beat-up,” says Page. “The thing I always admired about Vince is that he aged it in the right way, in the right wear patterns. If this was a country player or a blues player, what specific parts of the neck would be more worn? Where would the chips be?”

Cunetto says he tells his aging apprentices to dream up a back story for every guitar they work on, and to apply that story to the instrument. Every guitar ends up with its own personality, its own emotional resonance.

“Was this guy a country player? He’s going to have a lot of wear in the first position on the neck,” Cunetto says. “There’s probably a burn mark between the pegs from where he always sticks his cigarette. And he’s going to have a lot of buckle wear, because he’s wearing a big rodeo buckle.”

The full article can be read here

Inside the Trussart Guitar Workshop

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481Most guitar collectors will be aware of James Trussart’s wonderful metal bodied creations.

The expensive hand-produced Telecaster, Jazzmaster and Les Paul shaped works of art are all individual; some are painted, some are bare metal, some are rusty, some a re a combination of all of these.

The article below is a fascinating look behind the scenes of the Trussart LA workshop.

Inside the Trussart Guitar Workshop

Gibson Announce New Jimmy Page Les Paul


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481Gibson Les Paul Jimmy Page Number TwoThe Gibson Custom Shop has announced the Gibson Custom Jimmy Page Number Two Les Paul Limited Edition guitar, modified by the legendary Jimmy Page himself.

Here’s their press release…

Every musician knows that late ’50s Sunburst Les Paul Standards are hard enough to come by as it is. Obtaining a pristine and exemplary ’59 ‘Burst and modifying it for heightened performance and vastly expanded tonal options? Unheard of… unless, of course, you’re Jimmy Page.

That’s exactly what the legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist, perhaps the world’s most iconic Les Paul player, did with his own ’59 Les Paul Standard, and now, thanks to the extreme efforts of Gibson’s Custom Shop and the intimate cooperation of Jimmy Page himself–the artist’s hallowed “Number Two” Les Paul is available to mere mortals, in the form of the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul.

Produced in strictly limited numbers, with two levels of aging, this guitar captures the look, feel, sound, and versatility of one of the greatest artist-owned Les Pauls of all time, and it is likely to disappear from authorized Gibson dealers in record time.
The 1959 Les Paul that has come to be known as “Number Two” was purchased by Page in 1973 after trying for some time to acquire an exceptional second Les Paul.

This was several years after having acquired his other legendary Les Paul–“Number One”, a ’59 ‘Burst with shaved-down neck profile and no serial number–from Joe Walsh. “Number Two” was essentially all original when he acquired it. Jimmy did have some modifications done to the neck shape so that it would more nearly match the feel of his “Number One”. The neck is certainly slim but not to such extremes as the now-ultra-slim neck on “Number One”. It had a strong, beautiful sunburst finish with a red element that had faded to a dusky amber-brown, along with a clear serial number dating it to 1959. Page played this Les Paul frequently through his days with Led Zeppelin, and in the early ’80s decided to make it an even more versatile instrument.

Page also added that he wanted to “explore the full range of what the two humbuckers have to offer”. He designed a switching system for coil splitting, series/parallel, and phase-reverse options for both pickups, and employed a skilled electronics technician to devise a working schematic and make his sonic vision a reality.

The result comprised a push/pull pot on each of the guitar’s four standard controls, plus two push-button switches hidden beneath the pickguard, all mounted on a ’59 Les Paul Standard that is otherwise a superb example of the breed, both in tone and playability.

The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul was recreated with intense, inch-by-inch examination of Page’s original guitar, inside and out. The process of getting it right involved the production of a number of hand-built prototypes, each of which was checked and critiqued in detail by Page himself. Approval of the final iteration was only offered after the legendary artist had intricately examined and extensively played this last prototype in his London home, after which it was given the thumbs-up, worthy of being the template for the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul.

Only 325 examples will be produced in total: The first 25 instruments are to be aged by vintage-reproduction master Tom Murphy then inspected, played and hand signed and numbered by Jimmy Page personally. An additional 100 guitars will be given the extensive aging treatment and 200 will be finished to Gibson’s VOS specs.

Paul Smith And Vintage Collaborate on Designer Guitar


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481Not Paul Reed Smith!

Paul Smith, the well known British clothing designer, has collaborated with Vintage Guitars in order to produce the Paul Smith acoustic guitar.

It’s a 3/4-sized acoustic that Paul Smith is refers to in most of his marketing as a ‘children’s guitar’ but could really serve as a travel guitar for the fashionistas who wants to strum as cooly as they dress.

paul smith guitar

The guitar has a spruce top and mahogany body with a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. Specifications list a mahogany bridge but the image makes it look rosewood (which would be more usual) – I suppose it may be dyed.

Finish is black gloss only and it has a blue binding. The soundhole rosette features the Paul Smith ’signature stripes’ and the headstock bears the Paul Smith signature.

It comes with a gig back sporting a small Paul Smith tag and another ’signature stripe’ on another small tag.

It is for sale at Paul Smith website (or in his stores) for £180 or $330.

amazon banner ad

First Chanel, now the Ferrari Guitar


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481This is interesting. The Blackbird Rider travel guitar is now available in a special Ferrari version. The body is a one piece carbon fibre monocoque, just like an F1 car and the design is unique to say the least. I have never seen or heard of these guitars before but they seem pretty good, (watch the video below) and Felipe Massa certainly looks pleased!

Blackbird Rider Ferrari Guitar

The Blackbird Rider Ferrari Guitar costs $1,500 and has a red A string and a  Maranello red interior, which is cute.

For further information their website is here

New Taylor Swift Signature Guitar

Taylor Swift now has her own signature model guitar to be built and distributed by Taylor Guitars, the renowned acoustic and electric guitar company founded in 1974.

She joins Leo Kottke, Doyle Dykes and Dan Crary as artists who have a signature model built by the company. The Taylor Swift Baby Taylor guitar is based on the best-selling Baby Taylor guitar and is ideal for both promising players and accomplished pickers.

Taylor Swift Signature Acoustic GuitarAt three-quarters the size of a standard dreadnought, with a slim 1 11/16-inch neck and a comfortably compact shape, the guitar is just right for both the littlest player’s hands and anyone who likes to pick up and play on the go.

The top of the special-edition instrument is decorated with a screen-printed rosette design and the word “love” three times within a vine motif.

It also includes the title of her latest album, Fearless, and her signature near the bridge.

“For a beginner, finding the right guitar can be intimidating, but this guitar, it’s the perfect size,” she said. “Even if you’ve been playing for years, it’s a great size to travel with.”

The guitar’s list price is $398, but it is expected to be sold for around $299 when it becomes available later this month.

Epiphone 1966 “worn” Wilshire


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481

A year or so after Epiphone’s lovely but hugely expensive 1962 Wilshire reissue, they have now announced a much cheaper, but just as tempting 1966 model, in the nicely faded “worn” range. The following is directly from the press release;

Epiphone brings back the Wilshire with a faithful reproduction of the 1966 model. Like an SG guitar, the Wilshire’s double cutaway Mahogany body with a glued-in Mahogany neck that joins the body at the 22nd fret gives you ultimate upper fret access.

Epiphone 1966 Lightweight and comfortable, the Wilshire has excellent resonance and natural acoustic tone – even unplugged! Featuring Epiphone’s LockTone tune-o-matic/stopbar combination, the transfer of string vibration is improved even more giving this guitar excellent sustain and clarity. But here’s what separates the Wilshire from the SG. Most early Epiphone guitars including the Wilshire were equipped with mini-humbucking pickups and Epiphone carries on this tradition.

With its smaller size, narrow magnetic field and unique design combination, the mini-humbucker produces bright and focused output while retaining famous humbucker “hum-free” performance. A replica of the originals, they feature adjustable pole pieces, enamel wire, bar ceramic magnets and rounded nickel plated covers set in an original style black mounting ring with height adjustment screws.

Cool Retro-Looks! Also unique, the Wilshire features Epiphone’s own “batwing” headstock. A classic design that improves tuning ease and accuracy by offering a straight string-pull design, the headstock is adorned like the original with the vintage “Epiphone” logo in gold. Other features include a 1960’s SlimTaper neck profile with Rosewood fingerboard, premium 14:1 die-cast tuners and individual Volume and Tone controls for each pickup. And to give it that worn-in look and feel, Epiphone tops it all off with a thin satin finish.

No word on prices that I can find, but the other “worn” guitars aren’t too expensive, so I think these guitars will offer great value and a nice retro/vintage vibe. I’ll be getting one!

Daddy Mojo Cigar Box Guitars


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481

These are so cool..

Daddy Mojo builds handcrafted guitars from cedar and mahogany cigar boxes.

Daddy Mojo Dolorosa Cigar Box GuitarThe instruments, which are smaller and lighter than standard guitars, sell for between $265 and $735 and have found a following among blues aficionados who can’t get enough of the warm sound they provide.

“It has a very unique tone that you can’t find in most other instruments,” said Toronto musician Arthur Renwick, who owns two. “Most people can’t believe just how great it sounds coming from a homemade cigar box.”

The guitars originated as a form of “do-it-yourself” instrument and were used by soldiers during the American Civil War. The practice carried through to the 20th century with poor blues musicians in the Deep South making their own guitars out of discarded cigar boxes and fish wire because they couldn’t afford any other kind.

Daddy Mojo’s present-day incarnation is of better quality than its bare-bones forerunner, but company co-founder Lenny Piroth-Robert says the irony of making an instrument that was born in hard times isn’t lost on him.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s something that makes its mark these days, because it’s really something that came out of a time when people didn’t have much money and had to be creative,” Piroth-Robert said.

“Theoretically the movement would be to make your own (cigar box guitar) in a recession. Mind you, I think we offer a nice, cheaper alternative to most of the guitars out there.”

“(Piroth-Robert) is specifically going against that trend which isn’t about music; it’s about collecting and hoarding and driving the price up.”

Since its inception in 2006, Daddy Mojo has made more than 1,000 cigar box guitars which have been shipped all over the world or sold through retailers in Canada and the United States.

www.daddy-mojo.com

Gibson Holy Explorer

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Gibson Explorer is a guitar most readers may be familiar with, and it is a well-designed, well-loved shape used by several distinguished rock and metal players. So what in the name of all that is holy (see what I did there?) have they done to this one, many will ask.

Gibson Holy Explorer GuitarThe Holy Explorer is a standard, natural finish Explorer with seven gaping holes cut through the body. There is also a Flying V which has had a similar makeover. The guitars feature the usual attributes of the Flying V and Explorer designs- mahogany bodies and necks, 496R and 500T pickups, and the usual 22-fret rosewood fingerboard. But, those holes…

The bad sides of the gaping holes would be the obvious deficits in the sustain. Less wood means less vibration can travel through the body, so the notes can’t last as long. Explorers are famed for the colossal sustain of the large body, so this sort of defeats the objective in that sense.

Maybe the pickups make up for it, but I can’t see that happening without use of a Fernandes Sustainer or an E-Bow. As well as that potential problem, the holes probably won’t be to everyone’s taste. I don’t think it looks too bad, I just can’t see the point.

On the other hand, the original Explorer’s considerable weight would be very much reduced, and the design is quite original, although they could have made a better job of the placing of the holes.  The classic Explorer’s well proven sustain and feel would inevitably be compromised, but answer me this- the Holy Explorer or that utterly repellent Eye Guitar? Gibson are making a whole run of 2009 Limited Run ultra-low production guitars, which, beside the hideous Tribal V and Explorer, also has some very nicely executed guitars- a reissue of the famed 1970s Grabber bass, and a stunning SG with a carved maple top.

So, the Holy Explorer. I think it’s nicely done, but a bit pointless.

An Explorer with less sustain?

And while the design is neat, it’s far from perfectly executed. And, the price is a bit steep- $2775 against $2399 for the standard Explorer, but it will be a limited run of only 350 guitars, making it quite collectable.  Gibson have gone very much overboard on limited run special editions of late, and it’s wearing a bit thin. We’ve had the slightly overcooked Dark Fire, the new all-maple Raw Power Les Paul and SG, which defeats the objective of those two guitars completely, the  Eye (sore) Guitar, and now the Holy V and Explorer.

Are any of these a match for Gibson’s classic designs such as the Les Paul, SG, ES-335, Firebird, Explorer and Flying V? No. Gibson never used to muck around with expensive and ultimately pointless limited edition models, so why do they feel the need now? They have always stuck to what they’re good at, which has produced some absolutely inspired pieces of guitar design, which is why it’s so infuriating when they don’t do what they’re good at, and play around with decidedly uninspired limited editions such as this.

We need less of this from Gibson, and more inspired designs like the aforementioned classics above.

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.

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…

Epiphone Wilshire 1962 Reissue


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Epiphone Wilshire was a solid-body guitar made in the 1960s as an alternative to a Gibson SG. It sported two P-90 pickups and a hardtail bridge, and was put into the Epiphone line in 1960.

Epiphone Wilshire GuitarA long-time sleeper of this Epiphone range, the solid-body Wilshire model represented amazing quality and value throughout the ’60s. Originally intended as something of a rival to Fender’s Stratocaster, offering similar upper-fret access and curvaceous body lines, the Wilshire actually provided similar features and tones to that of Gibson’s own Les Paul Special, at a price closer to that of the more affordable Les Paul Junior.

The Wilshire featured two P-90 pickups, a three-on-a-side headstock, and a solid mahogany body and one-piece neck. It benefited, however, from Gibson’s fully intonable ABR-1 bridge and stop tailpiece, all in all offering a straightforward instrument with up-market features, at a relatively affordable price.

The guitar, like all Epiphone’s solid body guitars, was met with little success and was discontinued in the mid-1960s.

However, there is now a very nice authentic USA-made reissue for a shade under £2000. Unlike most other Epiphones it is not a Far Eastern-made cheaper alternative to a Gibson, but a range-topping American model made in the Gibson Custom Shop.

It is a faithful replica of the 1962 Wilshire model, with the two P-90s, tune-o-matic bridge and classic cherry finish remaining intact.

The bonus features include a certificate of authenticity, a commemorative T-shirt, guitar picks and leather strap. The guitar is close to $5,000 in list price, ironic for a guitar originally sold at $210 and looked upon as a “poor man’s Gibson”.

Gibson have stated that this guitar is limited to only 100 instruments, which will no doubt make it a collectable guitar for the future.

I also saw while browsing around a guitar site, some other Epiphone reissues. This one was a less painstaking reproduction of a Wilshire, looking more like an Epiphone Crestwood in fact, with two mini-humbuckers and an aged finish- however, this one was around £250. I have yet to see it on the official Epiphone website, however, so at the minute I’m not sure.

UPDATE: Gibson have announced a white version, again limited to 100 guitars, and I am assuming at the same price. I have to say it looks even nicer in white…

Epihone Wilshire Reissue in white

RKS Guitars

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-091RKS Guitars are an American-based company who make very unusual guitars to bespoke specifications for a high cost.

The only vaguely conventional feature of these astounding guitars is the silhouette. My first encounter with an RKS was in the High Wycombe shop called BBZ Guitars.

The shape commonly used by the company is an equal cutaway style, made usually of ash. The body has a central part which houses the pickups and bridge, and then there is an external part on each side with a pickup selector between the two pieces.

RKS GuitarsThese guitars were designed by Ravi Sahwney, an industrial designer, in conjunction with   Dave Mason, of Traffic and later Fleetwood Mac, and also a renowned solo and session guitarist.

They are known for bespoke craftsmanship, often wild colour schemes, and of course the unique design. Also available is a differently-shaped model, the Wave, built on the same design principle, and the Uluru Boomerang V-shaped model available to custom order.

Prices are usually from £800 or so onwards. Most models retail new for around £1,500. RKS also make basses and baritone models of their guitars.

The neck felt great when we played the RKS, but the shape takes a lot of getting used to, mainly just because of what you traditionally expect, not for any problems playing the instrument.

These guitars are always going to be rare I think, so I would definitely mark them down as a collectable guitar for the future.

The Chanel Guitar (yes, really…)

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-091“Coco Chanel had an affair with Stravinsky, mine was with a guitar.”  
Karl Lagerfield

Chanel Guitar

One of the more interesting things seen at the Paris Spring 2009 Fashion shows was the Chanel guitar and guitar bag.

It was a simple black guitar, but it discreetly spells Chanel on the headstock and has the Chanel logo in the soundhole.

It comes with a wide guitar strap in brown, black and white stripe, again with the Chanel logo on the leather detail and a white, quilted leather guitar case.

We’re not sure what the origin of manufacture is, but one notable feature is the unusual forearm contour, (see pic)

So would any real musician buy and use this thing? It will undoubtedly be grossly overpriced, so it seems more like a showpiece than something anyone would actually use, but we may see it turn up in some music videos in the future…

The nylon strung acoustic guitar retails for a mere £2800, including the bag and strap.

chanel guitar bag

Gibson Les Paul Axcess at the Wembley Guitar Centre


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481We made a road trip this morning to visit the Wembley Guitar Centre in North London, sitting almost in the shadow of the new Wembley Stadium.

Gibson Les Paul Axcess guitarMark (the manager) and Matt couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful, allowing us to grab whatever guitars we fancied and wailing away with Boogie and Engl amps in their nice  (soundproof!) testing rooms.

Wembley Guitar Centre have recently become Gibson dealers and one model that caught our eye was the new custom shop Les Paul Axcess.

This new model has a re-sculpted “heel-less” neck joint, making the upper fret access much more comfortable compared to a regular Les Paul. The other main change is a Floyd Rose tremolo. Considered to be sacrilege in the Les Paul playing community adding a Floyd Rose does widen the appeal and options for new, more metal based players I guess but more traditional Les Paul fans will be knashing their teeth!

The body has also had a “belly cut” added on the rear, and is chambered inside, making it considerably lighter than the other Les Pauls on display.

It sounded great, with two “burstbucker” pickups and the playability was excellent, although I personally I find the painted neck not to my tastes.

These guitars are only (apparently) going to be custom shop models, so will be pretty rare and I am predicting, collectible in the future. I think the ideas for this model have come from the very exclusive Neil Schon custom shop model, which has many of the same features, albeit for an even higher price.

The Axcess isn’t cheap, at £2400 but it may well hold it’s value in the future as an unusual take on a Les Paul.

UPDATE: Now is appears that the Axcess is available without the Floyd Rose, which I assume, will have a lower price point than the tremelo version.

The Wembley Guitar Centre website has the full spec for the guitar here