No matter what you think of Ovation guitars, you have to hand it to them for trying, and I mean trying hard. Their application of helicopter technology to acoustic guitars is the stuff of legends. I’m always blown away by how good the synthetic materials sound when you just don’t expect them to compare to traditional timbers. I confess Ovation’s choice of aesthetics has often been baffling, but some of that is attributable to the times in which they emerged. All of the above certainly applies to Ovation’s Quixotic attempts to break open the solidbody guitar and bass market.
In keeping with the Domino theme this month, let’s take a look at the Domino Beatle Bass. Imported to New York by Maurice Lipsky Music Co., these Japanese guitars were part of a series of models branded “Domino” throughout the 1960’s.
Growing up outside Toronto in the early 1970’s, El Degas was a very popular brand in most guitar shops. Made in Japan, the quality was great, the price was right, but that is about all we know about them. The internet is surprisingly thin on threads to the origins of El Degas. I’ll take some educated guesses from owning a few.
Aria was formed in Japan in 1953 by Shiro Arai as Arai and Company. They began retailing acoustic guitars in 1960, although the company didn’t actually start manufacturing their own until 1964. Aria arranged for Matsumoku, the musical instrument maker, to build the guitars for them under contract. Arai and Matsumoku started building acoustic guitars in 1964, and then electric guitars in 1966, using Arai, Aria, Aria Diamond, Diamond, and much less frequently, Arita brand names.
Although better known for their monster SVT amps from the late 1960’s, Ampeg made a family of electric basses that were quite unusual and advanced for the time from 1966 through 1969. There were four basic models, each of which was available in fretted and fretless versions.
Devo have always taken an unconventional approach to their music, videos, and striking fashion sense so it’s no surprise that this attitude would also apply to their choice of guitars. While many think of them as a synthpop band with the occasional guitar thrown in, in their early years they were precisely the opposite – at times featuring three guitarists in their line up (guitarist Bob1 [Mothersbaugh], guitarist/keyboardist Bob2 [Casale], and singer/keyboardist/guitarist Mark Mothersbaugh). By the early 80s, however, Bob1 was the only member with strings on his instrument with Bob2 and bassist Jerry Casale having mostly switched over to playing their parts on synths. They seemed to have not only enjoyed unusual choices in guitars (shying away from the all too common Strats and Les Pauls) but rotating through many different models as well.
Friday March 18th – SXSW Austin, TX – I was in Austin for only one day of SXSW this year, but as luck would have it, so was Mike Watt. His is in the middle of a grueling 51 shows in 52 night tour.
Hello fans of all things strings, I hope you are all playing and learning and most of all enjoying your guitar experiences. The marriage of the electric guitar and electric bass has always been an integral part of the fabric that is rock and roll. I believe that the model and subsequent sound of the bass of choice for a group is actually more important then the guitar and its sound. Case in point could you picture James Jameson playing an Alembic bass, or Chris Squire playing an EB0? Me neither. So lets get into this, and I will give you my opinion on in what I believe to be the 10 most important basses in Rock & Roll history!
Hello fellow guitar nuts, I just returned from the Eastwood guitar complex in Toronto. While sunning myself in the Great North I performed some tasks for Eastwood, some of those tasks were the video clips of some of Eastwood’s basses. I actually was a bass player for many years before switching over to guitar. As I was playing the basses, I thought back to the guys that influenced me and some of my friends in the bass genre. So…this months column will focus on the electric bass and some of its most influential players.
Enter exhibit A: A late 60’s KENT short scale variation on the very popular (then and now) “Beatle” violin shaped bass. As you can see from the photos, this isn’t your average violin bass. While many, from the classic Hofner that Paul McCartney turned a few kids on to, to the Teisco and Black Jack Japanese models, didn’t stray far from the violin shape, this Kent takes a few attractive and stylish liberties with the standard template.
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