Guitar history has yielded some very odd marriages, from a business perspective, at least. While these can be found at almost any time, perhaps the glory days of unusual conjunctions was the 1960s, when cascading demand for electric guitars among maturing Baby Boomers caused corporations, both with and without music industry experience, to realize that thar’s gold in them thar hills. Among the odder of these unions was that between Chicago’s Heads & Threads company and Norma, Noble, and even National guitars.
Recently in a television interview, Linda Ronstadt was asked what it was like on a tour bus with an all-guy band. She started to give a politic answer and then changed her mind, admitting that “they were a bunch of cowboys.” I think we all know what she meant. It was the kind of macho gestalt that led a company like Ampeg to name its immediately post-Dan-Armstrong line of guitars the, uh, Stud series. Stud, eh?! Geddit?! Har, har.
Back in the late 1960s, amplifiers were big. No, I don’t mean as in “popular.” I mean as in big! I had a giant 350-watt solid-state Mosrite that ran a whole band. It was so big, I had to buy a VW Bus to schlep it around. Back then, probably no big amp brand was bigger—as in more popular—than Standel out of California. Those were the amps to have (I suspect my Mosrite was really made by them). Standel got so big, the company introduced its own guitar lines. And, just as Mosrite probably didn’t make any amps, Standel didn’t make any of its guitars.
Imagine someone telling you about an old-time music store that had a huge stash of unsold guitars from the 1960s, plus some guitar effects from the ‘70s lying around in its upper floors in Newark, NJ. Well, you can bet it didn’t take long for me to beat a path to the door of Newark Music City (calm down; this was a long time ago and, while the company still exists, it’s long gone from Newark). Even though I was late in the game, there were still unmined treasures to be had. A real Temple of Doom!
Late 1960’s and early 1970’s Tokai guitars are very well crafted instruments. Eventually they drifted into the more profitable Les Paul copies and developed a great reputation – which probably sparked the lawsuits from that era. However, before that, they were making some crazy guitars, and perhaps the Hummingbird was one of the craziest.
Well, well, well. What have we here? On the surface, of course, it’s a 1968 Guyatone LG-350T Sharp 5. A sight little seen in North America, but not uncommon in Japan, at least once upon a time. And if it makes you think of a little bit of a Mosrite on drugs, well then you’re not too far off the mark! Welcome to a bit about the Ventures and the early world of copy guitars!
What is it about the Japanese and the Ventures? I mean, I cut my teeth with the Ventures. They were the perfect band to learn guitar from. The Ventures took songs with often complex harmonic structures—like the wonderful Johnny Smith classic—and stripped them down to their basic melodies, gave them a simple rock groove, and played them clean. I had the sheet music to Smith’s song, but there was no way in you know where I was gong to play off that. But follow along with the Ventures’ single? You bet!
I remember seeing my first Kustom amp around 1967. Blue sparkle vinyl. Even in an era of hippies, tuck and roll vinyl was groovy. For better or worse, when I needed an amp for a band I ended up with this humongous 350-watt Mosrite, but that’s another story.
I’ve been playing my ’72 Fender P bass since I was 14 and over the past few decades my collection of guitars and basses got to the point that I didn’t know how many I had. A common problem with musicians, as some were in cases, some on guitar stands, and some on hooks in the basement and others at practice rooms.
Thanks for dropping in. My name is Michael Robinson. I’ve been collecting vintage oddball guitars for most of my life. Perhaps the high prices of “non-oddball” guitars – 1958 Gibson Les Paul or a 1959 Fender Jazzmaster – kept me focused on the weird stuff, but after many years of buying/selling and restoring these babies, […]
- All about vintage guitars… and more
- Form page
- My account
- Register your guitar
- Thanks for Signing Up!
- Vintage Guitars for Sale
- Subscribe to News
- Vintage Guitar Pictures
Powered by WordPress. AwesomeOne theme by Flythemes