Some guitars combine fascinating stories about both their creation and acquisition, and this 1979 Gretsch TK 300 Model No. 7624 is one of those guitars! It was conceived during what many vintage Gretsch enthusiasts consider to be the low point in Gretsch history. It was purchased during one of the great guitar adventures of my career! But, is it any good?
By the later ‘60s—especially with the advent of transistor circuits—musical instrument designers began to come up with electronic methods for creating distortion and other special effects suitable for the psychedelic frame of mind of the guitar’s audience! Sometimes this was an external device, sometimes it was built into the amplifier, and sometimes, like on this 1967 Hofner 459TZ, it was put right into the guitar itself!
Anyhow, as wars recede their meanings change with each succeeding generation. Ask a young person today about the Viet Nam War and you might be lucky if he’d ever heard of it. For some older folks among us it seems to have happened only yesterday, transforming their lives so much that they live with it every day. For others of us, it has just become a murky bad dream that we’re only reminded of when a guitar like this ca. 1965 “Pinoy Jazzmaster” forgery comes around!
Cue the music. Duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH? Fin cuts water. Girl screams. The big Jaws open. That’s right, folks, we’re talking about sharks. Killer sharks with a taste for teens. Only this monster is a guitar! From Minnesota, no less! Well, I’m sure weirder things have floated down the Mississippi River! Yes, boys and girls, you are looking at a genuine 1981 O’Hagan Shark Custom!
Avanti guitars were probably made by the Polverini Brothers of Castelfidardo for European Crafts of Los Angeles beginning in late 1964. For this one, they chose a really cool rootbeer-barrel colored faux-rosewood plastic covering. Most early Italian guitars had either pushbutton or rocker controls adapted from accordions, but this is unusual with a fourway rotary select that let you choose each pickup individually or all at once. All in all a sensible arrangement. Whether the pickups are really humbuckers or single-coil is unknown, but they have that bright ’60s sound, and, anyhow, you really want an Avanti because it looks like rootbeer candy.