This subject has been discussed many times in many places, so what do I do for my first column? I tackle a worn out subject with what I hope is a unique perspective. First, I will tell you that I have owned many vintage Fenders and Gibson’s over the years. I still own the vintage Gibson’s and do not own any more vintage Fenders (I guess that gives a preview of my take on Vintage Fender vs. Vintage Gibson). So let’s get started!!!
The minute I laid eyes on this c. 1965 Wandré Modele Karak – that is, once I was able to get beyond the knockout shape – I thought “motorcycle.” Take a gander at that vibrato. Look like a motorcycle chevron? And what’s up with that neck? It’s tooled from aluminum, which makes it weird enough. But just like motorcycles have all the works exposed on the outside, this aluminum neck stretches its whole length- head to vibrato – on the outside of the guitar! Even the head frame shouts motorbike. So, is there a two-wheel connection?
I was determined to find something that would allow for my inner bass player to come out – and then I discovered the wonderful world of baritone guitars. You know, those extended scale things with strings as thick as a bass that are an octave lower than a regular guitar. Yes, Nirvana was at hand!
Sure, you can rattle off scales and string riffs together and throw in the odd mode or two, but unless you’re thinking melody, you have not made music; you are not improvising. You may have confirmed that you know which building blocks fit, but you’ve created nothing new. Improvisation to me implies invention, and you don’t invent scales any more than an artist invents Cobalt Blue or Vermilion Red. Scales and modes are like the squirts of paint on a palette. You have to choose carefully which to use, which to blend. Start mixing too many colors and you wind up with mud.
I don’t remember exactly when I’d heard about Messenger guitars. But many years later, having a nice collection of guitars with aluminum necks seemed like just what I needed! I needed a Messenger.
Last month guitar legend Link Wray passed away at his Copenhagen home at the age of seventy-six. A master of raw tone and minimalist riffs, Link Wray was the great grandfather of the power chord.
Accordions. If you play guitar, you probably don’t think much about them. But from several perspectives they played an important role in giving the guitar a boost to prominence that it now enjoys. A role that is nicely evidenced by this very swell c. 1967 Galanti Grand Prix electric guitar.
In 1967 Lipsky introduced a line proto-copies carrying the Domino brand name. Most were inspired by European models such as the EKO Violin guitar. Among the offerings were two models sporting a California cache, the #502 Californian, an asymmetrical copy of a Vox Phantom, and the #CE82 Californian Rebel (wouldn’t California Rebel have made more sense?) shown here.
My solution was an easy to build, self-made amp stand. It’s made out of 3 wooden boards and 4 movable angles. Since I use this construction, I always can hear myself properly, which makes playing much easier of course. My engineer (on live gigs) does not have troubles anymore with the sometimes extreme highs, because the speakers look upwards now. And, most important, I can use any of the three amps I own, without changing the look or diminish the worth of my amps by drilling holes.
Now, these are known as Shaggs models because they’re what the Shaggs played, not because of some big corporate endorsement deal! No one knows who sold the Avalon brand. Mailorder? An area music store? An auto supply store? All possible. Nor who made them. Nothing like them shows up in the reference books. I’m not even sure when they were made, but 1967 or ’68 is a good guess. Japanese guitarmakers were competing with the Europeans early on in the 1960s and some of the earliest ‘copying’ was of European models.
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