No matter what you think of Ovation guitars, you have to hand it to them for trying, and I mean trying hard. Their application of helicopter technology to acoustic guitars is the stuff of legends. I’m always blown away by how good the synthetic materials sound when you just don’t expect them to compare to traditional timbers. I confess Ovation’s choice of aesthetics has often been baffling, but some of that is attributable to the times in which they emerged. All of the above certainly applies to Ovation’s Quixotic attempts to break open the solidbody guitar and bass market.
In keeping with the Domino theme this month, let’s take a look at the Domino Beatle Bass. Imported to New York by Maurice Lipsky Music Co., these Japanese guitars were part of a series of models branded “Domino” throughout the 1960’s.
Growing up outside Toronto in the early 1970’s, El Degas was a very popular brand in most guitar shops. Made in Japan, the quality was great, the price was right, but that is about all we know about them. The internet is surprisingly thin on threads to the origins of El Degas. I’ll take some educated guesses from owning a few.
Aria was formed in Japan in 1953 by Shiro Arai as Arai and Company. They began retailing acoustic guitars in 1960, although the company didn’t actually start manufacturing their own until 1964. Aria arranged for Matsumoku, the musical instrument maker, to build the guitars for them under contract. Arai and Matsumoku started building acoustic guitars in 1964, and then electric guitars in 1966, using Arai, Aria, Aria Diamond, Diamond, and much less frequently, Arita brand names.
Here is a rare bass from Italy. There is little information about the Espana brand, but it was most certainly created under the Crucianelli brand in the 1960’s Italy, likely the late 60’s. This bass was obviously targeted at the Fender crowd – check out the headstock – and the body too is quite reminiscent of the classic Fender style.
UNIVOX guitars were imported to North America from Japan in the late 1960’s to the late 1970’s. They had many different models – most popular of which is the Hi-Flyer – but also included an array of Les Paul copies, Hagstrom, Fender and others. UNIVOX guitars were built by the Matsumoko guitar factory in Japan, who also built guitars for Aria, Westbury, Westone, and several other brands at the time. This model, the Coily Bass is based on the Epiphone Casino.
Many Beatles fans are not aware that Paul McCartney played more than just his Hofner Bass, especially since that was his main instrument seen in their live performances and music videos. Paul in fact used other basses as well as guitars. This article will show you several instruments Paul used with the Beatles that you may not have known about.
Although better known for their monster SVT amps from the late 1960’s, Ampeg made a family of electric basses that were quite unusual and advanced for the time from 1966 through 1969. There were four basic models, each of which was available in fretted and fretless versions.
What’s the best bass for guitar players? What’s arguably the coolest bass ever made? What’s got bottom that’s so huge, warm, and round that Mr. “I like Big Butts” Sir Mix a Lot would pen a moving ode to it? If you guessed the Valco-made Supro and/or Airline Pocket bass, you guessed right.
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.