Now, I don’t really think there was – or even would have been – any sinful activity associated with this guitar. And the fact that its design is based in part on a religious motif is purely coincidence. But it is a funny story how this rare 1978 Kawai KS-700 guitar was discovered, in SinCity, no less.
I’ve been earning a living with my guitars now for thirty odd years. I did a stint as a commercial artist for a couple of years when I finished high school — I say commercial artist, what I mean is I worked in a commercial art studio learning the ins and outs — but after a couple of guitar playing jobs I decided to focus on music as a career. I could earn more in a couple of nights playing than in a week of the day job.
Bigsby’s first “commercial” design for Magnatone was the Mark III, a neck-through-body semi-hollow guitar, Bigsby’s take on a Ricky Combo. We know some of these were built because one turned up a few years back at an L.A.-area yard sale (how often have you had that fantasy!). But it appears that Magnatone’s production folks made some changes and almost all that are found with solid bodies and a glued-in neck with a “tongue” extension that slips in under the neck pickup. The formica pickguard and Daka-Ware knobs are a little dated now, but back in ’56 they were strictly the cat’s pajamas!
There are a lot of guitar stories in the BigCity. A lot of them come with names like Gibson and Fender and a lot of people follow them around like mindless lemmings, genuflecting at the sound of the names. And pay out lots of money. But luckily for you and me, there are a lot of other stories down obscure alleys and behind underpasses. Providing encounters where you come face to face and you say, “I gotta have that guitar.” And even luckier for you and me, there’s a guy on the other side saying to himself, “Oh boy, have I got a sucker on the line now!” Then for a couple hundred instead of a couple thousand clams you walk away with another cool – and usually very good – axe like no one else’s. The BigCity is full of these stories. This 1985 Ibanez XV500 is one of them.
This month’s column focuses on my pet peeves and some very important and yet overlooked aspects of guitar playing and your enjoyment of your guitar: tuning and set-ups. Everybody deserves to have a guitar that plays well, stays in tune, and is in tune with itself. This is not just the privilege of globetrotting superstars, but everyone who owns a decent instrument.
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?