The Origins of the Electric Guitar: Part Two


  Whenever you answer a question, it’s inevitable that more questions will be raised. In part one of this series, we talked about why the guitar needed to be electrified, and who it was that came up with the idea. That said, the technology that was used to transform an acoustic into an electric was […]

The Origins of The Electric Guitar: Part One


It may seem hypocritical, but in fact, the advancement of the human race would not be possible if it weren’t for laziness. We all have that burning desire to want to accomplish something, but along with that desire comes the inherent need to do it in the simplest, most efficient way possible. Of course it’s not easy […]

Ugly Mugs No. 3: Walk, Don’t Run (Vintage 1967 Guyatone LG-160T Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1967 Guyatone LG-160T Electric Guitar

For this last musing on ugly duckling guitars, let us turn our attention to this example from Japan, this Guyatone LG-160T. The Fenton-Weill Tux-master we contemplated was pretty much unrelentingly ugly, only redeemable if you fondly remember it from your youth. The Burns UK Flyte was more of a space oddity than especially ugly, but it sure didn’t grow on me, at least. However, some unusual guitars do eventually win your heart over the more you stare at them. I think that this is the case here.

Ugly Mugs No. 2: Under the Radar (Vintage 1976 Burns Flyte Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1976 Burns Flyte Electric Guitar

Last week I opined about my penchant for unusual, not to say, ugly guitars like the Fenton-Weill Tux-master from England. Now, I don’t mean to throw (rolling) stones—the States has produced its share of butt-ugly guitars—but Merry Old England has contributed mightily to the cause. And even though he’s revered in the U.K. as their very own Leo Fender, Jim Burns has had a hand in more than a few guitar models that might crack a mirror if they could see themselves. One case in point: the Burns Flyte.

Communist Guitars (Vintage 1983 Jolana Diamant I Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1983 Jolana Diamant I Electric Guitar

If you’re a young person, you probably don’t have much of a reaction to the adjective “Commie.” You might know that China is still officially “Communist,” but so fiercely Capitalistic that any associations with Mao are hard to parse out. Ditto Russia and Lenin and Stalin. You’ve got to find an old map to locate the “former Soviet Union.” But, if you’re an old fogey like me the term is full of “complex notes” as the vinophiles would say. What has this to do with guitars, you ask?

Ugly Mugs No. 1 (Vintage 1961 Fenton-Weill Tux-Master Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1961 Fenton-Weill Tux-Master Electric Guitar

If you’ve read even a little of my writing about guitars over the years, you know I’m fatally attracted to unusual guitars. There’s a reason I’m “The Different Strummer.” But even I have to admit some guitars are just plain ugly. A case in point: the Fenton-Weill Tux-master from England, a country (sorry, friends) that has more than its share of these birds.

Mirror Image Guitars (Vintage 1987 Dean Z Autograph Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1987 Dean Z Autograph Electric Guitar

If you’d have told me I was going to write an appreciation of a guitar like this Dean Z Autograph—let alone any Korean-made guitar—back in the ‘80s, I probably wouldn’t have laughed outright, but I certainly would have been skeptical. Then again, a good many of us probably couldn’t have imagined people writing books about or paying premium collectible prices for Japanese guitars back in the early ‘70s. Times change and reality and history intervene to challenge our preconceptions!

The Lure of the Wild Dog (Vintage 1965 Baldwin Burns Jazz Split-Sound Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1965 Baldwin Burns Jazz Split-Sound Electric Guitar

Go ahead, admit it. If someone told you there was a cool Sixties guitar with a factory setting called “Wild Dog” (or maybe even one called “Split-Sound”), you’d want one, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. That’s why, once I found out about the Burns Jazz Split-Sound, it went straight to the top of my wish list. But sometimes when you get what you wish for it doesn’t live up to the hype!

To The Stars – And Beyond! (Vintage 1968 Bunker Astral Sunstar Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1968 Bunker Astral Sunstar Electric Guitar

Jeopardy Quiz: When do you think this Bunker guitar was made? When I first laid eyes on it, I was pretty sure it was from the late 1970s. It just has that ‘70s “natural” kind of vibe. Well, the correct response would be, “What is 1968?” I was shocked. This matched none of my presuppositions about guitars from the Sixties. But then, Dave Bunker has made a career out of being ahead of his time with the unexpected.