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brianh

Rare (non mass market) guitars found after 50 years

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"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."

 

The difference is, asswipe, that a painting is INTENDED to be hung on a wall and looked at! The purpose of a musical instrument is to create MUSIC!

 

Besides, who is he kidding? Painting, guitar, old toy, grilled cheese sandwhich with a vison of the Virgin Mary on it ... it's all commodity to these guys ... how much is it worth???

 

Christ ... stories like this make me want to kick my cat! Time for a nice sit down ... with some MUSIC!

 

JIm

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50 yrs..big deal, they are just a bunch of solid bodies collecting in somebody's basement. Some don't

even have tuners or strings, so they haven't been even tested out yet. I got a laugh..out of the "holy

grail of my collection"..and the new owner doesn't even play! LOL!

 

now if those were guitars from the medieval days made around the date of the signing of the

Magna Carta, or a bunch of guitars played by Robin Hood or King John and the Sherriff of Nottingham....

you know the song "I shot the sherriff"..then he really would have something..even if pickups and

electrics weren't around in those days.

 

I've made 3 of my own and these are rare....one of a kind, I expect that in 50 yrs or so (unfortunately

I won't be around then), somebody will find them in someones basement and read the label inside...

then they will indeed have the crown jewels or holy grail or something to that effect ....

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50 yrs..big deal' date=' they are just a bunch of solid bodies collecting in somebody's basement. Some don't

even have tuners or strings, so they haven't been even tested out yet. I got a laugh..out of the "holy

grail of my collection"..and the new owner doesn't even play! LOL!

 

now if those were guitars from the medieval days made around the date of the signing of the

Magna Carta, or a bunch of guitars played by Robin Hood or King John and the Sherriff of Nottingham....

you know the song "I shot the sherriff"..then he really would have something..even if pickups and

electrics weren't around in those days.

 

I've made 3 of my own and these are rare....one of a kind, I expect that in 50 yrs or so (unfortunately

I won't be around then), somebody will find them in someones basement and read the label inside...

then they will indeed have the crown jewels or holy grail or something to that effect ....

[/quote']

 

I agree with you, Carvy. The wonder of it is lost on me. If they were '59 Les Pauls or 335's I might be impressed. The British were a big part of the development of rock and roll, but only a relative footnote in the development of electric guitars.

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Maybe we are "a relative footnote in the development of electric guitars", but let us not forget, an army marches on it's footnotes. So here are some british guitar makers and innovators:

 

Burns, Vox, Shergold, Eccleshall, Webber, Gordon Smith, Martyn Booth, Maverick, JJ, John Birch, Legra, Patrick Eggle, Dalmedo, Feline Guitars - to name some old and some new electric guitars to come out of Britain..... And then there's the acoustics - Toon, Chris Dean, Semple, Brook, Fylde, Shaw, Ambridge, Dave King, Pete Barton, Atkin, Toon, Northworthy.

 

And for those who don't recognise the names - that's because they are craftsman built in small numbers to high standards in Blighty rather than knocked out on a production line in the middle and far east.

 

Oh yes..... and Marshall amps - to make those electrics louder.....

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50 yrs..big deal' date=' they are just a bunch of solid bodies collecting in somebody's basement. Some don't even have tuners or strings, so they haven't been even tested out yet. [/quote']

Thing is, Jim Burns was considered the Leo Fender of England:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burns_London

http://vintageguitarpro.com/burns.shtml

 

It would be like finding a stash of late fifities Broadcasters, Nocasters and Teles.

 

And his namesake is still in business and they are used by many well-known musicians includiing Mark Knopfler, Steve Howe, Morrisey, Billy Bragg, and Brian May to name a few:

 

http://www.burnsguitars.com/

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And for those who don't recognise the names - that's because they are craftsman built in small numbers to high standards in Blighty rather than knocked out on a production line in the middle and far east.

 

And that's why they are a footnote.

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And that's why they are a footnote.

I disagree. Jim Burns gets way more than a foonote in every guitar history book I've ever read. He was one of the few people making high-quality solid body guitars in the 50s, and is right up there with Leo and Ted McCarty. Look it up.

 

Oh yeah, a guy by the name of Elvis Presly and some other dudes called Marc Bolan and Jimmy Page played them. But perhaps you don't recognize them either...

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For once a non-playing collector is taking guitars off the market that wouldn't ever be in the hands of players anyway.

 

I know a lot of Brits played Burns guitars, at least up until Fenders and Gibsons came available. My impression is that his instruments didn't measure up to American standards.

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For once a non-playing collector is taking guitars off the market that wouldn't ever be in the hands of players anyway. I know a lot of Brits played Burns guitars' date=' at least up until Fenders and Gibsons came available. My impression is that his instruments didn't measure up to American standards.[/quote']

 

You might be right, but it's hard to judge 40 years later and from this side of the pond. My impression was that they were just as good as other guitars from that era (don't forget that the first 3,000 LPs shipped were unplayable from what Lester himself says). In the UK, US guitars were so heavily laden with import taxes that they were out of reach for nearly any working musician. That's why John, George and Paul got some of the the first Epis and Gretsch imported into Britain even though the were widely availble in the US for years before.

 

Perhaps some of our senior UK members can comment?

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You might be right' date=' but it's hard to judge 40 years later and from this side of the pond. My impression was that they were just as good as other guitars from that era (don't forget that the first 3,000 LPs shipped were unplayable from what Lester himself says). [/quote']

 

Ok, I don't know who Jim Burns is, but he certainly deserves some of the credit for making

guitars in the 50s...but Gibson and Les Paul and Leo Fender were around then

and as history shows it, their guitars seem to be more popular.

 

As far as the first 3000 LPs being unplayable ...I have the book "the early years

of the Les Paul legacy" and it doesn't specifically say in that book.. that the first

3000 were "unplayable". ... Les signed the contract with Gibson to give the

the new Les Paul guitar (1952) some publicity, but insisted on using his trapieze style bridge

developed in 1945 in somebody's basement workshop. In it's advertising it was touted as

"the greatest step forward since the introduction of the electric guitar" and "miracle tailpiece

designed for you by Les Paul". Les insisted that the Les Paul solid body carrying his name have

his "miracle sustain" tailpiece fitted to it. Gibson (Ted McCarty) reluctantly agreed to it, even though

they had a working model with an ES-175 tailpiece and a separate adjustable bridge.

 

In reality the Les Paul combo tp was not as workable as the later style Gibson

designed studded combo stop bridge/tailpiece which was designed in '53 due to complaints

and it took off from there. Les also experimented with various bridges and tailpieces and pickups

as well on the early models, inspite of his claim to fame on the "miracle tailpiece.

 

For some reason, and more likely due to the early years neck set angle, Gibson decided to wrap the strings UNDER

the stop piece bar rather than over the top as Les had intended it. The neck set angle was

too shallow in the early production models and having the strings over the top would have

made the action too high. Some of the prototype LPs had ES-175 tailpieces and a metal compensated

movable bridge, so there was a fair amount of experimenting going on then.

 

The compensated combo bridge/tailpiece was patented by Gibson in '55 and the ABR-1 in '56.

 

Historically speaking, the LP design came out of the Gibson ES-140, a 3/4 size jazz guitar replica

of the famous ES-175 and the 1950 Gibson Ranger solid body, which was a non-cutaway version

with the carved top. This was the testing/developement prototype for the Les Paul.

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I disagree. Jim Burns gets way more than a foonote in every guitar history book I've ever read. He was one of the few people making high-quality solid body guitars in the 50s' date=' and is right up there with Leo and Ted McCarty. Look it up.

 

Oh yeah, a guy by the name of Elvis Presly and some other dudes called Marc Bolan and Jimmy Page played them. But perhaps you don't recognize them either...[/quote']

 

I may be wrong but I think insideman's point is that most British makers have not gained the success that many American companies have. It may be true that Burns and Vox (and according to thermionik marshall) have gained success in the guitar industry but most of the British companies listed by thermionik are footnotes compared to the bigger American (gibson, fender etc.) companies (and quite honestly I hadn't heard of any of the companies thermionik listed other than vox, burns, and marshall).

 

GC

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Theres a full item on these finds in this months(April) Guitar and Bass magazine.

 

Looks like the partnership fell apart when Jim decided he did,nt want to move the factory to Hastings on the South Coast of England.

 

I,d like to know how these ended up over 150 miles away in Cheltanham.

 

Strangley,Vox/JMI also moved production to Hastings at one time.

 

Can,t blame them for not wanting to stay there tho.

I used to live there and I hate the place.

 

Mind you,I should imagine it was a nice place in the 50s and 60s.

 

RALPH

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As far as the first 3000 LPs being unplayable ...I have the book "the early years

of the Les Paul legacy" and it doesn't specifically say in that book.. that the first

3000 were "unplayable". ... Les signed the contract with Gibson to give the

the new Les Paul guitar (1952) some publicity' date=' but insisted on using his trapieze style bridge

developed in 1945 in somebody's basement workshop. In it's advertising it was touted as

"the greatest step forward since the introduction of the electric guitar" and "miracle tailpiece

designed for you by Les Paul". Les insisted that the Les Paul solid body carrying his name have

his "miracle sustain" tailpiece fitted to it. Gibson (Ted McCarty) reluctantly agreed to it, even though

they had a working model with an ES-175 tailpiece and a separate adjustable bridge. [/quote']

 

I was paraphrasing Lester from the same book

 

LesPaulTheEarlyYears.gif

in which he says that Gibson shipped the first 3 or 4 thousand LPs (with his patented trapeze bridge) before he and Mary got theirs. It was at that point he realized that in order to accomodate his trapeze with a body/neck angle designed for a different bridge, the factory had set up the strings wound underneath which not only allowed the bridge to slide around, but made palm muting impossible, and didn't put enough pressure on the body for good tone. Many of the guitars of that period have modified bridges, or are essentially unplayable museum pieces.

 

My only point was that Gibson and Fender have made plenty of blunders in their histories. Just because they are the most successful mass-marketed stringed instruments doesn't make them infallable, a better company or necessairly producers of better instruments, just bigger and more well known. For example the Fender "Road Worn" series or these little beauties:

 

HolyExplorersmall.gif

 

Kind of reminds me of "New Coke". Anyways, just my opinon, I've owned good and bad examples from both Fender and Gibson, and never owned a Burns.

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You might be right' date=' but it's hard to judge 40 years later and from this side of the pond. My impression was that they were just as good as other guitars from that era (don't forget that the first 3,000 LPs shipped were unplayable from what Lester himself says). In the UK, US guitars were so heavily laden with import taxes that they were out of reach for nearly any working musician. That's why John, George and Paul got some of the the first Epis and Gretsch imported into Britain even though the were widely availble in the US for years before.[/quote']

 

From what I understand (having spent many years in Britain), Burns were good guitars. It's just conjecture based upon conversations with older musicians, but I would guess they were better than their British contemporaries (such as Vox), and probably equal to Fender products of the time (in terms of quality).

 

Their most famous exponent was probably Hank Marvin:

 

 

Interesting, because he started out with one of the first Strats in Britain and then switched to Burns (so I guess they can't have been all bad).

 

Burns have been relaunched. There are high-end models:

 

sonicblacklarge.jpg

 

and also Korean made guitars:

 

2003_Burns_Marquee_Club_Series_2070633.jpg

 

I have played one of these Korean-made Burns "Marquee" guitars. Excellent instruments, easily equal to a good Mexican Strat.

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I was paraphrasing Lester from the same book

 

LesPaulTheEarlyYears.gif

in which he says that Gibson shipped the first 3 or 4 thousand LPs (with his patented trapeze bridge) before he and Mary got theirs. It was at that point he realized that in order to accomodate his trapeze with a body/neck angle designed for a different bridge' date=' the factory had set up the strings wound underneath which not only allowed the bridge to slide around, but made palm muting impossible, and didn't put enough pressure on the body for good tone. Many of the guitars of that period have modified bridges, or are essentially unplayable museum pieces.

 

My only point was that [b']Gibson and Fender have made plenty of blunders in their histories[/b]. Just because they are the most successful mass-marketed stringed instruments doesn't make them infallable, a better company or necessairly producers of better instruments, just bigger and more well known. For example the Fender "Road Worn" series or these little beauties:

 

HolyExplorersmall.gif

 

Kind of reminds me of "New Coke". Anyways, just my opinon, I've owned good and bad examples from both Fender and Gibson, and never owned a Burns.

 

No, I understand that it's just your opinion..and it's a good topic for discussion. I also have the book

"Gibson Guitars..Ted McCarty's Golden Era 1948-1966" and in it Ted mentions (in italics) "then Les said..

I have one of my Epiphones with the round bar tailpiece..the strings come down and wrap around that.

I think it's better (than the LP with the ES-175 tp that Ted McCarty had Les demo at the retreat).

Ted then said "Ok, we'll put it (yours) on the guitar and replace that one".

We went along for a couple of years and decided that his trapieze tailpiece was stupid. We had the stoptail

which was much more functional, solid and better all around."

 

Larry Allers was the main contributer to the design of the early LP and according to Ted, he had a good

working model which was playable. The thing they needed was someone popular to endorse it and

hence the meeting with Les Paul and Mary Ford to sign on.

 

The biggest issue with Les' tailpiece was that because of the neck angle on the LP, the strings HAD to be passed

underneath the tp rather than on top of it, as Les had intended. This made it clumsy for palming although it

was playable, although I'm not sure what kind of intonation was possible with a round bar that was not

compensated for the individual strings..but obviously it worked on Les's modified Epiphone.

 

There was some controversy about who was right or wrong on the Goldtop (LP Standard) vs the Custom colours.

Les got Gibson to make him a gold coloured guitar for a friend then suggested that the Custom should be gold,

and claimed that Gibson "got it wrong" when the Custom came out black instead of gold.. there seems to be

a difference of opinion and a lot of guitar design was done verbally back then.

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Vintage Guitar magazine here in the states has run about a 6-part piece on the history of Burns guitars. Apparently they were about the best British-made electric guitars ever made.

 

My guess is that these guitars are worth big bucks on the collector's circuit. From what I understand Burns never made huge quantities of any of his guitars and original Bisons are selling for big bucks now.

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Vintage Guitar magazine here in the states has run about a 6-part piece on the history of Burns guitars. Apparently they were about the best British-made electric guitars ever made.

 

My guess is that these guitars are worth big bucks on the collector's circuit. From what I understand Burns never made huge quantities of any of his guitars and original Bisons are selling for big bucks now.

 

I believe that Burns were the best British guitars of their day.

 

Although Brian Jones was famous for his Vox teardrop (apparently he was a paid to endorse Vox) and used it for the Top of Pops type performances' date=' all the photos from early Stones gigs show that he kept a white Fender Telecaster close at hand (I wonder why!)

 

...and I'm convinced that you can hear that Tele on the lead guitar line in the [i']Last Time[/i].

 

Of course, once he was rich what did he buy...?

 

brian.jpg

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