1987 Casio DG-20 Digital Guitar

1987 Casio DG-20

By Michael Wright The Different Strummer Blame it on disco.  I remember it well…as an observer, of course!  The excesses of early ‘70s hard rock inspired a vapid dance craze reaction toward the end of the decade with mirror balls and platform shoes and, well, you know, Studio 54, glitter spandex, and Donna Summer and […]

Vintage Surf n’ Turf

1964 Montclair Model No 3904

In the good old days, guitar cognoscenti used to snicker at ‘60s Japanese guitar styles because they looked as if they just couldn’t get it right.  As in make a guitar as clean and cool as a Fender Strat or Jazzmaster.  The joke was on the experts.  If the Japanese guitar designers did anything, they got […]

Don’t Ask Me, I Don’t Know!

1983 Aria Pro II XX Series XX Deluxe

Rhetorical question: What do getting fit through exercise and liking solidbody electric guitars have in common? And, no, I don’t mean Sweatin’ to the Oldies with Richard Simmons or any workout program designed to dance your way to 6-pack abs. I mean discovering Heavy Metal and the guitars that were made for it, like this […]

The Origins of the Electric Guitar: Part 3


    The first wheel ever invented to be used for transportation would be obsolete by todays standards. It was probably made out of a chunk of heavy stone, and while it may have made life easier thousands of years ago, to use one today would make you that much more thankful for rubber and spokes. Inventions go […]

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.