Rare is, of course, a relative term when you’re talking about anything made by Danelectro for Sears. This ain’t a hand carved arch-top by one of the D’Whoever’s in New York, or a prototype KOA wood, only ever seen by Ted McCarty and the 33rd-level Masons who know the secret Skull & Bones handshake and Vulcan death grips, after all.
Cue the music. Duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH? Fin cuts water. Girl screams. The big Jaws open. That’s right, folks, we’re talking about sharks. Killer sharks with a taste for teens. Only this monster is a guitar! From Minnesota, no less! Well, I’m sure weirder things have floated down the Mississippi River! Yes, boys and girls, you are looking at a genuine 1981 O’Hagan Shark Custom!
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?
Avanti guitars were probably made by the Polverini Brothers of Castelfidardo for European Crafts of Los Angeles beginning in late 1964. For this one, they chose a really cool rootbeer-barrel colored faux-rosewood plastic covering. Most early Italian guitars had either pushbutton or rocker controls adapted from accordions, but this is unusual with a fourway rotary select that let you choose each pickup individually or all at once. All in all a sensible arrangement. Whether the pickups are really humbuckers or single-coil is unknown, but they have that bright ’60s sound, and, anyhow, you really want an Avanti because it looks like rootbeer candy.
What I’d gotten in that dark, dusty Philadelphia guitar shop was a 1965 Framus Strato Deluxe, essentially a solidbody version of the hollowbody 1963 Framus Television 5/118 shown here.
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.
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!
Most of us probably know this longhorned guitar shape from the legendary Danelectro Guitarlin. Indeed, this Hondo guitar was intended to be a tribute to that ‘60s beauty. Danelectro bit the dust in 1969, yielding to the beginnings of international guitarmaking.
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.
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