If you’re old enough and like whacky guitars, like me, you probably remember the great Guitar Player “Off the Wall” columns by Teisco Del Rey, the nom de plume of journalist Dan Forte. His was the first, and sometimes the only, story I’d read for a long time. Dan was perhaps the first to celebrate guitars whose names didn’t begin with M, G, or F. Dan usually worked the humor angle, but for those of us with an aesthetic eye, the guitars he featured became Holy Grails. One of the holiest of those was the 1968 Teisco May Queen guitar, a rare red version of which you see here!
In many ways, the spectacular Japanese-made 1982 Daion Savage Power Mark XX shown here was the offspring of something intended to end, or at least seriously damage, Japanese guitar-making itself… In other words, this guitar shouldn’t exist.
The dragon is one of the most powerful images associated with East Asia. So, imagine my surprise when I first came upon a Cort Strat copy inlaid with a most spectacular mother-of-pearl and abalone dragon! What had I found?
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.
How would you feel if you got a gig playing on your local television station and your gear didn’t work? Well, in a way, that’s what happened to me and this 1965 Teisco TRG-2L guitar! Sort of.
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.
It was late 1969 early 1970. I was 13 years old and had been learning guitar for about a year when I was given what I considered to be the key to a world of freedom. Mum & Dad said it was ok for me to setup my room in a shed inside Dad’s garage. The shed was the size of a small bedroom, about eight by ten in the old measurements. It was originally built from scraps of recycled building material from a 100 year old house and was initially used as a tool shed.
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.
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.
While Mac and Joe ogled the frankly boring mid-’70s LP, I was ogling one of the most gorgeous guitars I’d ever seen. Later I found out it was a 1983 Electra Endorser X934CS. A set-in neck with no heel. Mahogany with a carved maple cap that had flame so deep you got high staring at it. Finished in cherry sunburst, my favorite.
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