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Dodds Music Store


I started playing guitar when I was 13 years old, and took lessons at Dodd’s Music Store in Covington, Kentucky. That is where I fell in love with the guitar. I would hang out at that place before, and after my guitar lesson, and even go there after school, just to check out the guitars.



Vintage Hagstrom Guitars

On a section of one wall was a display of six unusual guitars made by Hagstrom. Some of them looked like guitars made by Fender.


The six-on-a-side headstock, had the brand “Hagstrom” written in script similar to Fender’s spaghetti-style font. In smaller letters you could read Albin Hagstrom.

Aside from the lesser price, the big difference between Hagstrom and Fender was that Hagstrom guitars had thinner bodies, and a lot of slider switches. At that age, I did not know that the vibrato was a much different system than the one on a Fender Stratocaster, or even a Jazzmaster. But all those switches were mighty impressive to someone learning basic guitar chords.

Hagstrom King Neck Decal

One of the selling features, which was printed on a metallic decal on the back of the Hagstrom guitar headstock, was their “King Neck”.




Hagstrom Expander-Stretcher H-Rod
This feature refers to the unique “H Expander-Stretcher” truss rod. Hagstrom advertised that they were the "Fastest necks in the World". I don’t know about fast, but the necks on those old Hagstrom guitars were certainly among the thinnest.

Albin Hagstrom


Mr. Albin Hagström began importing accordions from Germany and Italy to Sweden in 1925 and founded Firma Albin Hagström. Albin expanded his business with shops in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

Hagstrom Store Drottninggatan Stockholm
In fact most of his business was devoted to music stores, that sold his accordions.


An Early Hagstrom Accordion

In 1932 he started manufacturing accordions himself in Älvdalen, Sweden. By 1936, Hagström hired two Italian accordion builders who helped to update and streamline the manufacturing process.



Then in 1939 Hagström started to establish themselves in USA by opening Hagstrom Music Company Inc in Rockefeller Center in New York as well as Albin Hagstrom Inc in Jamestown, New York.

Late 1940's and Early 1950's Guitars
The company had offered guitars as early as the late 1940's, but primarily was known as an accordion manufacturer, and distributor.

However, in 1940 the launch in Jamestown was canceled due to World War II and the people hired to run the company disappeared with the company's funds.

After the war ended,  Sven Hillring was sent over from Sweden to oversee a new launch of the new accordion factory in Jamestown,  New York. This was in 1946. Men serving in WWII were coming home with accordions, and in a few years the "stomach Steinway" would become a brief fad. The Hagstrom U.S branch stayed in business until 1949. To take advantage of America's  accordion craze, Hagstrom was there to provide the instruments.

But in 1958 Albin Hagström's oldest son Karl Erik Hagström came back to Sweden stating that the accordion era was coming towards an end and that the future was rock´n´roll . Rock music demanded electric guitars instead of accordions!

A 1958 Pre-production
P46 Deluxe - #P007
After some research, that included taking a Gibson Les Paul "Goldtop" apart (Hagstrom was the Scandinavian Gibson distributor at that time), the head designer Holger Berglund and his right hand man Arne Hårdén started to design the first Hagstrom electric guitar. A pre-production batch of guitars were built towards the end of 1958.

Those instruments have their serial numbers stamped in their perloid covered bodies starting from P-001. The first "official" batch of Hagstrom electric guitars is batch 449.

The first part of this batch is called the Hagstrom De Luxe "small model" and the last part is the "large model" witch later became the Hagstrom De Luxe 90.

1959 P-24 Smal Model Deluxe



The first batch included 200 guitars that were built from 1958 to 1959.






1959 Standard Sweetone Models



The last batch of these Sparkle & Pearloid guitars included 540 guitars that were built in 1963.




1960 & 61 Goya 80 Hagstrom Guitars

Many of these guitars were sold under the Goya brand name in the United States. This was because importer Jerome Hershman, who had been the sole importer of Levin guitars from Sweden, under the Goya brand, inked a deal to import and distribute Hagstrom guitars in the United States.

The original models were known as the De Luxe “Smal Model” (that is not a typo, It is called Smal) ,which was the first guitar and manufactured from 1958-59.

1959 Hagstrom
4 pickup P-46 Sweetone
These original guitars were covered with perloid plastic on the front and back of the body, the sides, the body, the neck, the fretboard, and the front and back of the headstock. While the guitar’s front was generally done in a sparkle colour, the rest of the body used the pearloid material.

This guitar had two single coil pickup that are surrounded by a metal frame. On the top of the frame were four push button tone controls, as well as two rotary potentionmeters.

In the center of the metal frame, between the two pickups, was a piece of gold or silver foil with diamond shaped patterns.

1959 Goya 90 - P-46
When I was young, I was told the feature was to enhance the sound, if the instrument was played un-amplified. I doubt if this explanation is credible. It was just further adornment.

Below the metal frame that housed the pickups and electronics, was a clear plastic pickguard.

A stamped chrome metal Hagstrom logo was adhered to the upper bout. There was no logo on the headstock.

The tuning machines were of the open backed variety and had ivoroid buttons. The side of the instrument featured a strip of binding in the center. The bridge/saddle was in-distinctive, and not tunable.  The strings attached to a small metal tailpiece. The input jack is on the instruments lower side.

'59 Hagstrom
Sweetone
The updated model known as the Standard “Sweetone”, was introduced in 1959. The features were similar, but the bridge was now made of metal, and on most models it was compensated. This model also was available with a mahogany top.

Next came the Standard 80 and Standard 90 were developed in 1959 and sold through 1962. These mostly came in sparkle models, But the Standard 90 was also available with the Mahogany front. These included similar electronics, but some models included the Hagstrom Tremar system.


1960 Hagstrom Batman P-90
Another very unique, and very rare guitar is the Hagstrom De Luxe Batman guitar. It is also known as the Hagstrom Ducks Foot guitar. This guitar had two pointed cutaway horns, a set neck, and a headstock with points on either end. The electronics were similar to the Standard models, The Batman was available with twin single coil pickups, or with four single coil pickups, It was also offered with a stop tailpiece, or the Hagstrom Tremar system.

This is the only guitar that Karl Erik Hagstrom designed. It was available in varying sparkle finishes, or in a mahogany finish.

1959 Goya 90 - P-24 Deluxe


There were two imported versions of the the Hagstrom Standard 80 and 90 guitars that were called the Goya 80, and Goya 90. These instruments were offered from 1960 to 1962.





1960 Goya 80
The Goya 80 had the same features as the Hagstrom Standard 80, as did the Goya 90. However this is a unique instrument. It had four pickups, instead of two.

Importer/distributor Jerry Hershman considered this instrument to be hard to sell in the United States under the Hagstrom name, so he insisted it be sold with the Goya logo, which, in his opinion, was more familiar to U.S. buyers.

Goya 80 without electronics

Also, because the custom fees were less expensive on acoustic guitars, the Goya 80, and Goya 90 were sold without the electronics, although they were said to have an acoustic pickup. The guitar did have an eighth inch plug running from the input jack to a routed area on the guitar, but since it had no electronics it was considered to be an acoustic instrument.



Goya 80 - P-24 Pickup Unit
Once in the USA, the electronic units were assembled on the instruments. There were four different electronic units available. Some had two pickups, while others had four pickups. The units included the roller knobs for pickup volume, and either four or six tone switches.

From 1962 to 1966 Hagstrom offered some guitars branded under the Kent logo, known as the Kent model PB-24G.

1962 Kent PB-24G and 1963 Kent PG-24G

The reason the guitar was not sold under the Hagstrom brand was that Karl Hagstrom was worried that the acrylic top - pickguard/electronic assembly may crack, and he did not want the Hagstrom name on this product.


This guitars body was shaped like a Fender Stratocaster. Kent guitars were meant for distribution throughout Europe, and the U.K. at a time when guitars imported from the USA had high tariffs.

Hagstrom Kent PB-24G
The top was made of an acrylic material that was dyed either light blue or red so no paint was necessary on the body. The sparkles, and pearl were not to be seen again.

I am told this guitar also came in purple/lavender and orange/brown, but I have never seen this model in those colours.

The center portion of this instrument was raised and was cream coloured. It generally held two single coil pickups with an indented area for the gold or silver foil insert. Though it looked like a scratch plate, it was actually a molded part of the top.

On the bottom were four slider switches which turned the pickups off or on, and changed the tone. The guitar included one master volume knob. Below the volume control is a raised section for the input jack. It resembles an inverted Stratocaster jack.

Hagstrom Kent PB-24 G back


The back of this guitars body was a vinyl covered shell which allowed the body to line up with it, and six bolts and washers around the top's perimeter secured the top in place.


This guitar came with a wooden bridge, that is embedded with eight sections of fretwire as saddles. The strings attach the a Hagstrom Tremar unit. The neck was painted glossy black, as was the six-on-a-side "dolphin" shaped head stork.

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Dodds Music Store


I started playing guitar when I was 13 years old, and took lessons at Dodd’s Music Store in Covington, Kentucky. That is where I fell in love with the guitar. I would hang out at that place before, and after my guitar lesson, and even go there after school, just to check out the guitars.



Vintage Hagstrom Guitars

On a section of one wall was a display of six unusual guitars made by Hagstrom. Some of them looked like guitars made by Fender.


The six-on-a-side headstock, had the brand “Hagstrom” written in script similar to Fender’s spaghetti-style font. In smaller letters you could read Albin Hagstrom.

Aside from the lesser price, the big difference between Hagstrom and Fender was that Hagstrom guitars had thinner bodies, and a lot of slider switches. At that age, I did not know that the vibrato was a much different system than the one on a Fender Stratocaster, or even a Jazzmaster. But all those switches were mighty impressive to someone learning basic guitar chords.

Hagstrom King Neck Decal

One of the selling features, which was printed on a metallic decal on the back of the Hagstrom guitar headstock, was their “King Neck”.




Hagstrom Expander-Stretcher H-Rod
This feature refers to the unique “H Expander-Stretcher” truss rod. Hagstrom advertised that they were the "Fastest necks in the World". I don’t know about fast, but the necks on those old Hagstrom guitars were certainly among the thinnest.

Albin Hagstrom


Mr. Albin Hagström began importing accordions from Germany and Italy to Sweden in 1925 and founded Firma Albin Hagström. Albin expanded his business with shops in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

Hagstrom Store Drottninggatan Stockholm
In fact most of his business was devoted to music stores, that sold his accordions.


An Early Hagstrom Accordion

In 1932 he started manufacturing accordions himself in Älvdalen, Sweden. By 1936, Hagström hired two Italian accordion builders who helped to update and streamline the manufacturing process.



Then in 1939 Hagström started to establish themselves in USA by opening Hagstrom Music Company Inc in Rockefeller Center in New York as well as Albin Hagstrom Inc in Jamestown, New York.

Late 1940's and Early 1950's Guitars
The company had offered guitars as early as the late 1940's, but primarily was known as an accordion manufacturer, and distributor.

However, in 1940 the launch in Jamestown was canceled due to World War II and the people hired to run the company disappeared with the company's funds.

After the war ended,  Sven Hillring was sent over from Sweden to oversee a new launch of the new accordion factory in Jamestown,  New York. This was in 1946. Men serving in WWII were coming home with accordions, and in a few years the "stomach Steinway" would become a brief fad. The Hagstrom U.S branch stayed in business until 1949. To take advantage of America's  accordion craze, Hagstrom was there to provide the instruments.

But in 1958 Albin Hagström's oldest son Karl Erik Hagström came back to Sweden stating that the accordion era was coming towards an end and that the future was rock´n´roll . Rock music demanded electric guitars instead of accordions!

A 1958 Pre-production
P46 Deluxe - #P007
After some research, that included taking a Gibson Les Paul "Goldtop" apart (Hagstrom was the Scandinavian Gibson distributor at that time), the head designer Holger Berglund and his right hand man Arne Hårdén started to design the first Hagstrom electric guitar. A pre-production batch of guitars were built towards the end of 1958.

Those instruments have their serial numbers stamped in their perloid covered bodies starting from P-001. The first "official" batch of Hagstrom electric guitars is batch 449.

The first part of this batch is called the Hagstrom De Luxe "small model" and the last part is the "large model" witch later became the Hagstrom De Luxe 90.

1959 P-24 Smal Model Deluxe



The first batch included 200 guitars that were built from 1958 to 1959.






1959 Standard Sweetone Models



The last batch of these Sparkle & Pearloid guitars included 540 guitars that were built in 1963.




1960 & 61 Goya 80 Hagstrom Guitars

Many of these guitars were sold under the Goya brand name in the United States. This was because importer Jerome Hershman, who had been the sole importer of Levin guitars from Sweden, under the Goya brand, inked a deal to import and distribute Hagstrom guitars in the United States.

The original models were known as the De Luxe “Smal Model” (that is not a typo, It is called Smal) ,which was the first guitar and manufactured from 1958-59.

1959 Hagstrom
4 pickup P-46 Sweetone
These original guitars were covered with perloid plastic on the front and back of the body, the sides, the body, the neck, the fretboard, and the front and back of the headstock. While the guitar’s front was generally done in a sparkle colour, the rest of the body used the pearloid material.

This guitar had two single coil pickup that are surrounded by a metal frame. On the top of the frame were four push button tone controls, as well as two rotary potentionmeters.

In the center of the metal frame, between the two pickups, was a piece of gold or silver foil with diamond shaped patterns.

1959 Goya 90 - P-46
When I was young, I was told the feature was to enhance the sound, if the instrument was played un-amplified. I doubt if this explanation is credible. It was just further adornment.

Below the metal frame that housed the pickups and electronics, was a clear plastic pickguard.

A stamped chrome metal Hagstrom logo was adhered to the upper bout. There was no logo on the headstock.

The tuning machines were of the open backed variety and had ivoroid buttons. The side of the instrument featured a strip of binding in the center. The bridge/saddle was in-distinctive, and not tunable.  The strings attached to a small metal tailpiece. The input jack is on the instruments lower side.

'59 Hagstrom
Sweetone
The updated model known as the Standard “Sweetone”, was introduced in 1959. The features were similar, but the bridge was now made of metal, and on most models it was compensated. This model also was available with a mahogany top.

Next came the Standard 80 and Standard 90 were developed in 1959 and sold through 1962. These mostly came in sparkle models, But the Standard 90 was also available with the Mahogany front. These included similar electronics, but some models included the Hagstrom Tremar system.


1960 Hagstrom Batman P-90
Another very unique, and very rare guitar is the Hagstrom De Luxe Batman guitar. It is also known as the Hagstrom Ducks Foot guitar. This guitar had two pointed cutaway horns, a set neck, and a headstock with points on either end. The electronics were similar to the Standard models, The Batman was available with twin single coil pickups, or with four single coil pickups, It was also offered with a stop tailpiece, or the Hagstrom Tremar system.

This is the only guitar that Karl Erik Hagstrom designed. It was available in varying sparkle finishes, or in a mahogany finish.

1959 Goya 90 - P-24 Deluxe


There were two imported versions of the the Hagstrom Standard 80 and 90 guitars that were called the Goya 80, and Goya 90. These instruments were offered from 1960 to 1962.





1960 Goya 80
The Goya 80 had the same features as the Hagstrom Standard 80, as did the Goya 90. However this is a unique instrument. It had four pickups, instead of two.

Importer/distributor Jerry Hershman considered this instrument to be hard to sell in the United States under the Hagstrom name, so he insisted it be sold with the Goya logo, which, in his opinion, was more familiar to U.S. buyers.

Goya 80 without electronics

Also, because the custom fees were less expensive on acoustic guitars, the Goya 80, and Goya 90 were sold without the electronics, although they were said to have an acoustic pickup. The guitar did have an eighth inch plug running from the input jack to a routed area on the guitar, but since it had no electronics it was considered to be an acoustic instrument.



Goya 80 - P-24 Pickup Unit
Once in the USA, the electronic units were assembled on the instruments. There were four different electronic units available. Some had two pickups, while others had four pickups. The units included the roller knobs for pickup volume, and either four or six tone switches.

From 1962 to 1966 Hagstrom offered some guitars branded under the Kent logo, known as the Kent model PB-24G.

1962 Kent PB-24G and 1963 Kent PG-24G

The reason the guitar was not sold under the Hagstrom brand was that Karl Hagstrom was worried that the acrylic top - pickguard/electronic assembly may crack, and he did not want the Hagstrom name on this product.


This guitars body was shaped like a Fender Stratocaster. Kent guitars were meant for distribution throughout Europe, and the U.K. at a time when guitars imported from the USA had high tariffs.

Hagstrom Kent PB-24G
The top was made of an acrylic material that was dyed either light blue or red so no paint was necessary on the body. The sparkles, and pearl were not to be seen again.

I am told this guitar also came in purple/lavender and orange/brown, but I have never seen this model in those colours.

The center portion of this instrument was raised and was cream coloured. It generally held two single coil pickups with an indented area for the gold or silver foil insert. Though it looked like a scratch plate, it was actually a molded part of the top.

On the bottom were four slider switches which turned the pickups off or on, and changed the tone. The guitar included one master volume knob. Below the volume control is a raised section for the input jack. It resembles an inverted Stratocaster jack.

Hagstrom Kent PB-24 G back


The back of this guitars body was a vinyl covered shell which allowed the body to line up with it, and six bolts and washers around the top's perimeter secured the top in place.


This guitar came with a wooden bridge, that is embedded with eight sections of fretwire as saddles. The strings attach the a Hagstrom Tremar unit. The neck was painted glossy black, as was the six-on-a-side "dolphin" shaped head stork.

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Aristides model 070
There are some very interesting and innovative guitars coming out of Northern Europe. Last year I wrote about Aristides Guitars that are built in the Netherlands.




Versoul Raya 6



I also did an article on Versoul guitars that are manufactured in Finland.








Relish Guitars
Now I have encountered some exquisite and unique guitars being built in Lucerne, Switzerland with the unusual name of Relish Guitars.



Relish Guitars - Jane and Mary



There are two versions of these unique instruments; Jane and Mary. Both are manufactured with a similar body shape, but out of different materials.






Relish Guitar Founders
Relish Guitars are a venture that was started by partners Pirmin Giger and Silvan Kung who are living their dream of designing and building an exceptional and unusual guitar, by taking a similar approach that artisans took with historical Swiss watchmaking technology.

The Jane Model
Jane’s body (the guitar) is based on a milled aluminum frame which serves several functions. The strings attach directly to this frame which enhances their sustain.


The maple neck is bolted directly to the aluminum frame and center bar. The bridge is also attached to the bar. This further adds to the guitars sustain. So although the guitar body is essentially hollow the way the frame and neck are engineered, it provides the resonating factor of a solid body instrument.

The frame also acts has a stable housing for the components, which allows easy access to the guitars inner-workings including swapping out the pickups and changing the battery.

The pickups are connect to a circuit board by means of gold plated connectors that simply unscrew in the event you want to change pickups. Relish Guitars will add the connectors and cables to any aftermarket pickup you send to them.

Magnetic LED touch switch 
The circuit board operates the unique LED switching system, which is powered by the battery. Instead of the usual Switchcraft style toggle switch, this guitar comes with two LED’s on the front of the body. By merely touching one or both the pickups go off or on.

The guitars interior work is pristine.

The Jane guitar comes with standard and passive volume and tone potentiometers and twin passive Relish Bucker XV pickups, which are designed and made in-house.

Jane's aluminum frame
Sandwiched above and below the frame are two sheets of 7 layer wood veneer, that are available in walnut, ash, or cherry. The front and sides attach directly to the aluminum frame.


Back cover with guitar pick wedged in


The veneer cover on the back is routed out and has a second “door” that has a parallel shape to the body.


Magnets 

This door is held in place by magnets and is easily removed with a guitar pick.


The neck is made of solid maple and the headstock comes with Schaller machine heads.




Woven Bamboo fretboard
The fretboard is constructed of woven dark bamboo. This material is harder than most fretboard woods and is a sustainable product. It is topped with stainless steel fretwire and has 24 frets. There are no fret markers.


Schaller tuners - resin nut

This guitar is slightly over the 25 1/2” for its scale (650mm) and has a 10” radius. The nut is made of resin. The neck has a two-way adjustable truss rod.



A Hipshot adjustable bridge/saddle assembly that allows the strings to attach directly to the guitars frame.

I have to hand it to Relish Guitars for coming up with such a unique body shape. This double cutaway guitar is not a copy of anything else on the market. The Jane model comes in walnut, ash, cherry, blond flamed, white, gray/black and Bordeaux.

Mary
Mary is much different from Jane, as Mary comes with a solid alder frame that is milled on a CNC machine.

The top and back are made of milled plywood that attaches to the alder frame by use of bolts that utilize large o-rings to prevent any vibration.



Mary's frame


Unlike the Jane model, the entire back side of the Mary guitar is removable to access the pickup connectors if there is a need to change them out and also to attach the strings to the tone block on the underside of the Hipshot bridge/saddle.


The maple neck is bolted to the alder or ash frame by means of 4 bolts and a metal plate and is hidden away beneath the instruments back veneer.



This guitars neck is topped with a fretboard made of dark woven bamboo  with stainless steel frets. There are no position markers on the fretboard.

The Relish Mary guitar
Mary comes with twin Relish Bucker XV pickups that are made by the company. The pickups are controlled with a 3-way blade switch.  There is a single volume and a single tone potentiomers with chromed and knurled knobs. The headstock has a veneer that matches the colour of the body.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)
"Steve Vai" Tech Thomas Nordegg talks about Relish Guitars - YouTube

Relish Guitars Walnut Jane - YouTube

Review Demo - Relish Guitars Jane - YouTube

Relish Guitars Mary at winter Gear Preview 2016 - YouTube

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1955 Gibson Byrdland
The Byrdland is a stunning looking electric guitar that is made by Gibson. Its name derives from the names of guitarists Billy Byrd and Hank Garland for whom Gibson originally custom built the guitar.

At the time Gibson's president, Ted McCarty, sought opinions and ideas about new products. So in 1955, in collaboration with two of the best Nashville guitars on the scene, Billy Byrd and Hank Garland, Gibson developed the Byrdland guitar.



The Byrdland was the first of Gibson's Thinline series. Many guitarists did not desire the bulk of a traditional archtop guitar such as Gibson's L-5 CES, one of Gibson’s top models. The Byrdland was built with its overall depth of 2¼ inches which,was over one inch shallower the Gibson's L-5 CES model.


It was later during the design process, Byrd and Garland specified a shorter scale neck.which would help facilitate intricate single-note patterns and unusual stretched chord voicings.







Billy Byrd
Only three were produced in 1955.. Billy got number one and Hank got number two and then he ordered and purchased a third that had a custom cherry finish. At this time the two prototypes both had natural finishes and Venetian cutaways.

The original instruments were to come with twin Gibson P90 single coil pickups. Although Hank ordered his with a single P90 and a Charlie Christian pickup in the neck position.


1957 Byrdland


This guitar was designed with jazz players in mind. It featured the same 17” wide, 21” long spruce top and body as was on the single cutaway L-5 CES, but the body was shallow. In comparison, the Byrdlands body was only 2 1/4” deep as opposed to the full 3 3/8” body of an L-5.





1957 Byrdland Gary's Guitars
The headstock was also similar, but narrower to correspond with this guitars short scale neck. The Byrdlands neck was a two full inches shorter than the L-5 CES, based on the Byrdlands scale of 23 1/2 inches.

The production models were equipped with Alnico V pickups. One interesting feature of this guitar is the fact that the two pickups are spaced closer together, because of the shorter scale and the 22 fret neck.

This gives the the Byrdland it’s distinctive sound. In later years the Alnicos were replaced with humbucking pickups.

The headstock and the neck were both bound. The ebony fretboard came with block mother-of-pearl position markers which started at the first fret. The headstock featured the traditional Gibson flower pot inlay.


The Byrdland came with a fancy gold-plated trapeze tail piece that was engraved with Byrdland and the rosewood bridge with topped with a Gibson tune-o-matic saddle. The body was bound as were the guitars F holes.

Hank's #2
Hank Garland’s number two and number three Byrdlands both had fancy three loop trapeze tailpieces that were gold plated. Number two had the Charile Christian pickup with a white top plate, which matched the guitars while pearloid pickguard, while number 3 had a black top plate on the pickup. In the following year,

By 1956, Gibson sold 60 units, which was more than the combined sales of L-5’s and Super 400’s. Electric guitarists seemed to appreciate the feel of the narrow body.



The number 3 Byrdland was the guitar that Hank played at the famous Elvis concert in Tuepelo Mississippi in 1957. This was during a period when Scotty Moore and Bill Black had quit the band.






Hank's number 3


Hanks number three was given back to Gibson in 1957 and was supposed to be archived, however someone mistakenly sold it to a music store in Chattanooga Tennessee. A music teacher there purchased it and had it autographed by Hank Garland.






1956 Gibson ES-350T
The Byrdland then became a regular production instrument. Later Gibson developed the ES-350T from the Byrdland using less-costly hardware and detailing, and offered it as a less expensive model.

From 1955 to 1960, Gibson made the Byrdland with a Venetian, or rounded, cutaway.


1961 Byrdland


From 1961 to 1968, it used the sharp, pointed, Florentine cutaway.

It returned to the Venetian in 1969. The model was in production from 1955 through 1969.






1978 Byrdland



Gibson reintroduced it as a limited run in 1977, 1978 and 1992.



In the late 1960s, guitarist Ted Nugent began using a Byrdland, which was unusual considering Nugent's style of music.However, in an interview Nugent states that he first saw Detroit guitarist Jimmy McCarty playing a Byrdland back in the early 1960's.

Nugent was amazed at McCarty's ability as a player. At the time Nugent was in a rock band and was the opening act for McCarty's band. McCarty was playing a Byrdland through a Fender Twin amp. Nugent finally saw a Byrdland for sale at a local music store he frequented and was able to trade his Epiphone Casino and a few hundred bucks for that guitar. He has been collecting and playing Byrdlands ever since then.


Nugent's Great White Buffalo Model
The hollow-bodied nature of the guitar created feedback issues at higher levels of gain and volume, making it impractical for hard rock and similar styles. Nugent incorporated the controlled feedback of the Byrdland into his playing and continues to use it today. Nugent gives his Byrdlands, and other Gibsons, a custom touch by removing the stock selector switch knobs, and installing Gretsch strap-lock knobs.

2015 Gibson Custom Byrdland
The guitar is currently available as part of Gibson's Custom series and is made with the Florentine cutaway. In 1976 only, Gibson offered a twelve-string version, but made fewer than 20.


When the instrument was first introduced in the Gibson Guitar catalog, the famous jazz club, Birdland, filed a lawsuit against Gibson over the name. The court dismissed the suit when Gibson showed that the name was made up from the names of two people.

Click on the links for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)



Hank Garland Cool Guitar Players Volume Two - YouTube

Top Shelf Guitars - Gibson Byrdland Archtop - Serial No 11245002 - YouTube

Gibson Custom Gibson Byrdland Guitar - YouTube

Gibson Byrdland & Deluxe Reverb - Henry M Johnson - YouTube


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Today, my friends, I will show you how you can take a vintage 1956 Fender Stratocaster and update it to the more contemporary 21st Century look of a Hello Kitty® Strat.  It's much easier than it sounds. Just follow along.

1956 Fender Stratocaster

First you will need to procure a vintage 1956 Fender Strat complete with original tweed case.  They are available, just check out eBay.

Sand the body to remove sunburst finish

Remove the neck, then sand the body and neck down to the bare wood.  Nice lookin' wood, huh?  Don't forget to sand the headstock and neck to get out those darn aged-in finger marks. To heck with patina. It is overrated.

I suggest routing out the bridge pickup area to accommodate the Hello Kitty® humbucking pickup. You may want to get some wood filler or Bondo™ fiberglass filler to fill in those routed sections of the body. Then sand it again until the surface is smooth.


1956 Fender Stratocaster Neck

Now this might be the hardest part. The 1956 Fender Stratocaster neck came with black dot inlays that were made of baked clay buttons. These were then glued into routed out spaces in the neck.  You will have to get a knife, or some kind of tool to pry those pesky buttons out.

Then get some #0000 sand paper and scrape out the remnants.  Fortunately in our modern times there is a readily available substance called polymer clay, which is available at hobby shops.  Get some that is already colored pink. You can even get it at most Walmart stores, Michaels, or Hobby Lobby stores.


There Are Your Pink Fret Markers.

Shape the pink polymer clay into tiny flat buttons. You can air-dry these, or put them in an oven and bake them for 15 minutes. Once cooled, put a dab of glue on the back of your pink buttons and place them in the routed area of the neck. You will have to do some further sanding, but it will look great.


Mambo Pink Kryon Spray Paint.

Next, get a couple cans of Mambo Pink acryllic spray paint. Krylon® glossy ought to do the trick. Hang the body up and spray it until it looks good. Repeat this step eight, or nine times until you have a shell-like look on the body of your Hello Kitty® guitar.


Pre-assembled Hello Kitty pickguard, pickup, and adjustable bridge/saddle

There are a number of companies that supply guitar parts, such as Musician's Pal, and Guitar Parts-R-Us where you can get a pre-wired Hello Kitty® pickguard.  Buy one. But, don't ditch those old original parts. Some folks love the sound of vintage pickups hand wound by Abigail Ybarra, so you can sell them on eBay, along with the old wiring harness, and potentiometers for a lot of money.

Back of Your Hello Kitty Stratocaster

Now for the final touch, get a Shocking Pink Sharpie permanent marker and in your best cursive hand, write Hello Kitty on the back of the body. Better yet, get your girlfriend or wife to do this step. Girls seem to be able to do that flowery cursive script, better than guys. And if you are a lady, then you got this step!


Your Finished Hello Kitty Stratocaster

Put it together and what have you got?  Hello Kitty®!  And it sure looks great!

Making a Vintage Martin D-28 into a Hello Kitty Acoustic Guitar

Next week, we will learn how to take a Pre-war Martin D-28 and turn it into a Hello Kitty® acoustic guitar.



By the way, it's April Fools Day!


Squier Hello Kitty Stratocaster - YouTube


Hello Kitty Squier Stratocaster Demo Review - YouTube


Pink Hello Kitty Fender Squier Strat Under The Hood By Scott Grove - YouTube





Porky Pig Cartoon Ending "That's All Folks!" - YouTube
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Nokie Edwards    1935 - 2018
Nokie Edwards, best know as lead guitarist with The Ventures passed away on March 12, 2018 at the age of 82.

Born  Nole Floyd Edwards on May 9, 1935 in Lahoma, Oklahoma, and nicknamed Nokie, Edwards was a native American Cherokee. He came from a family of accomplished musicians, and by age five he began playing a variety of string instruments including the steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, and bass. He became an excellent guitar player.

Later in life, his family relocated from Oklahoma to Puyallup, Washington. At age 18 he joined the Army Reserves and traveled to California and Texas for training. After his stint was over, he returned to Tacoma, and his family.

Nokie with his trio
In January 1958, country songwriter and guitarist Buck Owens relocated from California to Tacoma, Washington, as owner of radio station KAYE. Prior to the formation of The Buckaroos with Don Rich, Edwards played guitar with Owens in the new band he formed in the area, and also played in the house band of television station KTNT, located in the same building as KAYE.

That same year found Edwards playing at a local club.

Don Wilson and Bob Bogle had a chance meeting in 1958 where they discovered they both played guitar. These guys bought a couple of used guitars from a pawn shop and started playing at bars and small clubs.

Nokie with the Original Ventures

They went to see guitarist Nokie Edwards, who was playing at a nightclub and asked if he would join them as a bass player.  He took them up on the offer.  They originally called their band The Marksmen, but soon changed the name to The Ventures.

The drummer that originally played on the recording of Walk, Don’t Run, was Skip Moore. He left the group to work at his families gas station.

General George Babbit with The Ventures
Next George Babbitt joined the group, but had to leave, because he was too young to play in nightclubs. Years later he joined the US Army and went on to become a 4 Star General.

The Ventures then hired Howie Johnson as their drummer, and he played with the group until he was injured in an automobile accident. He was replaced by Mel Taylor. Taylor stayed with the group throughout the band's tenure until he became to ill to continue, and was replaced by his son, Leon.

Johnny Smith


Back when Wilson and Bogle met Nokie Edward, he was already performing a Chet Atkins song called in his nightclub set called Walk, Don’t Run. This song was actually written and recorded by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith.



The Ventures
The Ventures took their version of this song to a recording studio and laid down a track, along with a B-side called Home, and had the company press some 45 rpm records, which they shipped to record companies and radio stations. The tune was eventually picked up by Dolton Records and went on to become #2 on the charts.


Walk Don't Run '64

It was later redone by The Ventures with an updated surf guitar arrangement and released again as Walk, Don’t Run ‘64. This song became one of only a handful of recordings that charted twice on the Billboard Hot 100. Walk, Don’t Run became required playing for all garage bands in the mid 1960’s.


It’s theme was slightly more complex than other surf songs, as it went from a minor to a major mode. The Ventures went on to produce many more albums, and even TV themes, however the early recordings were generally surf based music.

Night Run - The Marksmen


But in 1960, the first song Edwards and The Marksmen recorded was a single, "Night Run" with a song called "Scratch" on the B side, on Blue Horizon Records.



The Ventures 1960 Nokie on bass guitar



Edwards originally played bass for the group, but he took over the lead guitar position.




The Ventures in Japan 1965

The Ventures released a series of best-selling albums through 1968.  It was that same year that Edwards left the group, although he would occasionally reunite with the band.

The Venture Japan 2011
Nokie is seated


Nokie Edwards continued to tour Japan annually with The Ventures, primarily in winter, until 2012. It is amazing that the popularity of The Ventures never waned in Japan.




Edwards began a solo career in 1969 and released several albums through 1972.  Unfortunately Edward's solo career was never successful in America.

The Ventures 1984


Nokie returned to the Ventures as lead guitarist in 1973. Edwards performed with the band until 1984, when he left again to pursue a music career in Nashville, Tennessee.



Nokie with The Ventures 1984


By the later 1980's Edwards re-joined The Ventures once again. The group began another short stint of recording and touring before returning to Nashville.




Nokie Edwards on TNN 1996

During the 1990's Edward's was involved with numerous country-influenced recording projects. He became known and respected among many musicians and people in the recording industry.

These included Mark Moseley, who is the nephew of Semie Moseley, and owns a successful recording studio in Nashville that was started by his father, Andy Moseley.

Another friend of Nokie Edwards was Bob Shade, the current owner of Hallmark Guitars. Dana Moseley, Semi's daughter, who still makes and sells Mosrite guitars in the United States can be counted among Nokie's friends.

Deke Dickerson, who carries on the tradition of guitar music from the 1950's and 1960's was also one of Nokie's friends.

Joe and Rose Lee Maphis were both friends of Edwards. There are also many more folks that worked with and respected Nokie Edwards.

The Ventures Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


Finally in 2008, Edwards and The Ventures were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.




The Ventures 1959
 Nokie Edwards and The Ventures used quite a few guitars during their careers. During their early years, The Ventures played late 1950 era Fender guitars; a Jazzmaster, a Stratocaster, and a Precision Bass. But probably the best known Ventures' model was made by Semie Moseley's company, Mosrite guitars.

Gene Moles on the left

One evening California session player, Gene Moles, was displaying his Mosrite guitar to Nokie Edwards of The Ventures. Edwards feel in love with that guitar. He asked Moles to take him out to visit that guy that builds these wonderful guitars and the men went to visit Semie Moseley.  That evening Edwards came home his own Mosrite.

Soon after the encounter, The Ventures hooked up with Moseley to build custom made Ventures guitars and basses.

Original Mosrite
Ventures model
“It was a beautiful guitar,” said Gene Moles, the Bakersfield session guitarist, and member of Jimmy Thomason’s TV band.

Moles was and assembly-line inspector for Mosrite guitars. Mole's is quoted as saying  “It was a well-designed instrument. It felt good to a guitar player when he grabbed it. It had a narrow neck and a low profile, so you didn’t have to push down as hard on the strings to play it. And it had what we called ‘speed frets,’ where you could slide up and down the neck without getting held up on high-profile frets.”

Later Side
Jack Model
The client who turned Mosrite into a household name, at least among guitar enthusiasts, was Nokie Edwards, lead guitarist for the kings of ‘60s surf-rock, the Ventures. Edwards fell in love with the Mosrite guitar, and by 1962, the entire Seattle-based band set their trademark Fender guitars aside and were playing Mosrites on songs like “Walk, Don’t Run” and the theme from “Hawaii 5-0.”Before long, Edwards struck up a deal with Moseley to build guitars under The Ventures logo.

The Ventures signed a special distribution agreement with Mosrite, featured their guitars on their album covers.

This arrangement lasted from 1963 to 1965, when the model name was changed to the Mark I. However The Ventures continued to tour with Mosrite guitars from 1963 to 1968.

Briefly Mosrite had attempted to build and market an all transistor amplifier under The Ventures banner. However it failed, due to design problems. Mosrite made at least 4 versions of The Venture's model that included a budget version and a six string/12 string double neck.

After the agreement between Mosrite and the Ventures ended, The Ventures returned to playing Fender instruments.

Wilson Brothers Model




Later in life, the group had arrangements with Aria Guitars, and Wilson Brothers Guitars to produce Ventures model guitars.




 Hitchhiker Guitar

Bob Shade of Hallmark Guitars, created a special model for Nokie called The Hitchhiker. This is an exquisite neck-through body guitar, with a hard maple neck, ebony fret board and highly figured body. The twin Seymour Duncan humbucking pickups are controlled by master volume and tone potentiometers, with a five-way pickup selector switch, a two mini-toggles that yield a tonal palette of 15 different sounds.

Hallmark Hitchhker 1




Shade also built Nokie an exquisite gold sparkle version of the Hitchhiker called The Hitchhiker 1. Nokie loved his Hitchhiker and it was the last guitar that he played in his concerts.



Nokie with an Aria guitar at
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction


Though Nokie Edwards was known for his single note picking on The Ventures records, he was also a devotee and friend of Chet Atkins, and Nokie was an excellent finger picking guitarist.




He claims that the longevity of The Ventures was due to the songs they choose to record. They would look at the Billboard Top Hits, and the guitar styles played on those songs, and copy those styles to stay current with the times.

For all of us that learned guitar back in the mid-1960's, we owe a debt of gratitude to Nokie Edwards, and Bob Bogle. We learned to play single note guitar, by listening to Walk, Don't Run, and the other hit song by The Ventures.

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)


The Ventures "Walk Don't Run" - YouTube

The Ventures - Wipeout live in Japan 1966 - YouTube

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I am curious about the least known brands of guitars, and one brand I had not really explored were Levin Guitars. I had read they were built in Sweden, but that was the extent of my knowledge.

Herman Carlson Levin
Herman Carlson Levin was born and raised in Asaka, Sweden. In the evenings he attended carpentry school in his home town with the intent of becoming a furniture maker. By 1887, he immigrated to the United States and the following year he got a job at a guitar factory, where he spent three years learning the trade.

Levin along two other employees left their jobs and started out on their own forming a small company to manufactured guitars, and other stringed instruments.

On a visit back to Sweden in 1895, Mr. Levin discovered that there was quite a demand for guitars, mandolins, banjos, and lutes.  Levin had a small savings, and opened his own shop, in the town of Gothenburg, calling it "Herman Carlssons Instrumentfabrik". He hired two other woodworkers and began manufacturing guitars and mandolins.

Levin Facility early 1900's
By 1901 his logs show that 473 instruments were built and sold. Two years later, with an addition of three more employees, the company had more than doubled the number of instruments manufactured.

His company's name and reputation spread throughout Europe, and Mr. Levin received many awards including a gold medal in Madrid for best guitar, and the Grand Prix award and an exhibition in Spain.

Levin Facility
By the mid 1920’s his factory grew, and production topped 50,000 instruments. A line of banjos were added.

In 1936, the company had built it’s 100,000 instrument. Levin had added a line of archtop guitars.

Four years later, in 1940 Mr. Levin had a staff of 45 professional builders, and expanded his facility to 1000 square meters.

1950 Levin Model 10 Tarragona
Ten years later, Levin launched a line-up of inexpensive student grade instruments. Although these were of lower quality, they caught the eye of importer Jerome Hershman, an American guitar distributor.



(Hershman will later surface as the sole importer of Swedish made Hagstrom Guitars. But that is another story.)

In 1952 Levin guitars were featured at a trade show in Germany, and Hershman convinced the company that he could market their brand in the United States. But, because the name was “Levin”, Mr. Hershman, who was Jewish, felt the "Levin" would be hard to market in the United States, due to its Jewish connotation. So he suggested that the guitars sold in the USA under the name Goya. It sounded Spanish, and the artist, Francisco Goya, was known for depicting guitars in his paintings.

1950's Goya Classical



The Goya guitars imported to the US had high quality finishes, and were usually classical, nylon strung instruments, and they became quite popular among the folk musicians of the day.



1950's Goya M-22




In the late 1950’s a line of steel string flat top guitars were offered. These instruments had adjustable truss rods, and bolt-on necks.






1960's Goya TS-4 12 string guitar


Later in the 1960’s, Goya offered a line of “Folk”guitars based on the wider neck folk instruments, but fitted with steel strings. Two 12 string models were also offered under the Goya brand.



1960's Goya Classical
By 1967 Levin inked a deal with Goya Music, which was owned by Mr. Herschman, for a shipment of 120,000 instruments over a 10 year period. At that time Herschman/Goya was importing 70% of the companies production at this time.

However in 1968 the contract was broken when Herschman/Goya Music was acquired by Avnet Incorporated, which owned Guild Guitars. (Guild was sold to Avnet following the death of its founder Al Dronge.)

1960's Goya Catalog
By 1970 Avent Incorporated sold Goya Music to Kustom Electric, the Chanute Kansas company that made Kustom Amplifiers. Two years later, Bud Ross, and Kustom Amplifiers filed for bankruptcy, and their assists were taken over by a Chanute company called Dude Incorporated.

It is assumed that Levin never delivered any stock to Dude, and this company probably sold off the remaining assets of Goya guitars. Perhaps some of the guitars were sold under a different label.

1967 Levin  (Martin) LN26
Around 1967 Martin was considering a line of imported guitars that would be less expensive than the company’s flagship brand. They contacted Levin to build some prototypes of a Martin D-18 around 1967.

Martin Guitar purchased Levin Guitars in 1973, with the intent of an imported line up. They had already launched Sigma Guitars as early as 1970 to import parts from Japan.

It was not until 1976 when Dude Inc sold their remaining stock of Goya instruments to C.F. Martin.

Martin was already importing Japanese and Korean made instruments under the Goya name, which had an adverse effect on a well known European manufacturer. This ended in 1990 when Martin quit selling Goya guitars.

Martin LD-18


As stated already, 1973 was also the year that Martin purchased the Levin facility to be used as their European headquarters. Their intent was to have guitars built under the name Sigma. According to Goran Levin, the last surviving family member, there were approximately 200 Sigma guitars labeled “LD-18 Made in Gothenburg, Sweden” produced at this facility. This lasted until 1981.



Martin and Levin

At that time, the remaining instruments, parts, facility, and Levin brand were purchased by Svensk Musik AB, which started producing Levin classical guitars in a factory owned by former guitar neck supplier Hans Persson. Hans’ son Lennart is still producing guitars for "Svenska Levin AB" in his father's workshop outside Mariestad, Sweden.



1941 Levin Royal



During its best years Levin produced some very fine instruments, that were worthy competitors of most American made instruments.




Django Reinhardt with a Levin guitar



During a trip to the United States, Django Reinhardt was photographed playing Fred Guys' 1938 Levin Deluxe Archtop guitar. Fred Guy played guitar in Duke Ellington's band.




Julie Andrews with a Goya guitar
Even its Goya line up were excellent classical instruments. If you look closely at the movie The Sound of Music, you will see Julie Andrews playing a Goya guitar.

1927 Levin parlor, 1951 Levin Deluxe
and a 1952 Levin Royal



Here are few very fine Levin guitars.




Levin 315/M2





This is a later model. A beautiful 1962 Levin 315/M2.




1914 Levin Model 3


And finally a gorgeous 1914 Levin Model 3, with an Alpine Spruce top. C.F. Martin became attracted to Levin, not just because this company was making excellent instruments, but because they used Alpine Spruce in the builds.



Click on the links under the pictures for sources.  Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)



Open D slide blues on a 1930s Levin parlor guitar - YouTube

Martin D 28 (USA) vs Levin LN 26 (Sweden) vs Ibanez Artist 2605 (Japan) - YouTube

Levin Guitars Documentary Trailer - New film!!! - YouTube

Django Reinhardt & The Levin Deluxe - YouTube

Rogerthomas playing our Goya Classical Guitar | Norman's Rare Guitars - YouTube

Levin Goya N-21 Acoustic Guitar Demo - YouTube

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Dick Dale
One of the men that has done more than most to shape the world of modern rock guitar, and even the world of heavy metal music gets very little respect or recognition these days.

King of the Surf Guitar

I am of an age where I can recall Surf Guitar being played on the radio. I am not certain how players learn songs anymore, but I grew up listening to The Ventures, The Surfaris and Dick Dale. I learned to play guitar by listening to those songs over and over until I could duplicate them.



Dick Dale and the Del-Tones
In those days, Dick Dale was just a name of the guy playing lead guitar on some popular songs that I wanted to play with my garage band. I knew he was from California and his bands name was The Del-Tones, but had no idea that his persistence in seeking a better, bigger and louder sound from his guitar would eventually turn into the industry standard and change live guitar music and concerts. 

Dick Dale
Dick Dale was born Richard Anthony Monsour on May 4th, 1937 in Boston Massachusetts. His father was Lebanese and his mother’s family came from Poland. Due to his Lebanese heritage Dale developed an interest in Arabic music. I mention this because the song everyone associates him with is Miserlou. When he was very young his uncle taught him how to play the tarabaki, while the uncle played the oud.  Because of this Dale developed his rapid and alternating picking technique. He states the music had a sense of pulsating.

Misilou 45 RPM
One can certainly hear the Arabic influence in Misirlou. Much of this song is played on a single string, up and down the neck. In reading about the song, it was first popularized by a Greek recording in 1927 and called Misirli which roughly translates to The Egyptian. Dale would have learned this song as a kid.


The Fender Discussion Page

In the late 1990’s, when I first got on the internet I used to visit The Fender Forum aka The Fender Discussion Page. Early on this site was not just a discussion page for fans of Fender guitars, but also received visits and comments from Fender employees, including Bill Schultz, the CEO at the time.

Fender Facts Newsletter


Fender had a newsletter back then and one issue featured an interview with Dick Dale. We thought it humorous that Dick Dale spoke in the third person throughout the interview and we poked fun of that.





Mr. Dale
I took the initiative of emailing Mr. Dale, hoping that he might join in the discussion. Boy was I mistaken. I received a terse reply. I wrote him again and apologized for remarks like, Dick Dale uses bridge cables to string his guitar. (Which is almost true. His choice of Ernie Ball strings at the time ran from .60 to .16 gauge.)  (Note: After rereading an article I wrote about Jazz and Session player Howard Roberts, I discovered that Roberts choice of string sizes was similar; .58 to .16.)

Dick Dale with his cats
Dale took the time to email me back and was very gracious. I have nothing but respect for this man. In his text he related some similar experiences that I could relate to. We both took care of our elderly parents. And we both loved animals, Dick Dale more-so than I, because he raised a menagerie of around 40 assorted lions, tigers, leopards, hawks, eagles, ravens, a baby elephant and other non-domestic critters that had been rescued from poachers.

Quotes
He also elaborated to me about the nights that he spent with  Leo Fender discussing his amplification needs; such as why the current Fender amps kept burning out during his shows. The men also discussed his guitar.

Dick Dale and the Del-Tones
Dick Dale was one of the first to receive a Fender Stratocaster.

Indeed there are a number of Fender innovations that although Dale did not create, he was the impetus and drive behind them. For instance, most amplifiers in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s were putting out 12 to 15 watts. There were a handful, including the Fender Bassman that pumped out 40 watts RMS.

With the Del-Tones

When Dick Dale first started playing music, he says he was in a 17 piece band, with horns and a drummer. He was playing Big Band Music and the guitar could not be heard.



Town Hall Party cast in the 1950's

Later he attempted to be a Country singer for a while and even got a gig on a popular west coast TV show called Town Hall Party where he played with a number of famous Country Music stars.

Then Rock and Roll came along and the band became a combo, but the still the guitar was pretty much a background rhythm instrument.

When guitar based Surf Music hit the scene around 1962 he needed to do something. Leo Fender was a generous man and provided amplifiers and guitars to California musicians as a form of not just advertising but to see what worked well and what needed improvement.

Leo Fender in the 1950's
When Dick Dale first met Leo Fender he told him that he was a surfer and a guitar player and did not have money for a decent instrument. Leo recognized the drive and determination and gave him a Stratocaster and right on the spot asked him what he thought about this Fender guitar. Dale, being left-handed, turned the right handed instrument over and began playing, which made Mr. Fender laugh.

Here was a guy playing his guitar upside-down and backwards, meaning the 6th string was on the top and the 1st string was on the bottom. So Leo Fender made a left-handed Stratocaster for him.

Late 1950's Fender Pro - 18 to 25 watts
Dick Dale’s amps would all burn out from his intense and loud playing. He says that he blew out almost 50 amplifiers and speakers. I’m told that when Fender and Freddie Tavares came to see him play. Leo Fender went home and thought about this situation. This prompted Fender to make a larger and better output transformer.

Dale's Original Showman Prototype
Dale relates, “ I get a phone call one time, it was 2:30 in the morning and Leo said, “Dick, I got it, I got it, I found it! I got it! You gotta come down.” He says “I made an 85 watt output transformer, peaking 100 watts because using 5881 tubes would give it that WhOOm sound, ya gotta try it, ya, ya gotta try it.”

Vintage 15" JBL Lansing D130F
The trouble was they didn’t have a speaker that could handle this much power. Fender had been routinely using Altec Lansing speakers in some of their amplifiers, but Dale wanted something much stronger. So they approached another company called JBL Lansing and asked for a 15” speaker with a 10 to 11 and a half pound magnet with and aluminum dust cover.

15" JBL Lansing D130F speakers
 So JBL Lansing went about creating this speaker which was not just sturdier, but came with a rubberized coating around the edge of the speaker which was connected to a metal frame. The JBL Lansing D130F was born.

Early 1960's Fender Dual Showman

The speakers were housed in a separate cabinet than the amplifier. This cabinet had what Fender called a "tone ring" that encircled the edge of the speaker and let more of the natural bass sounds come through.



The output transformer that Mr. Fender created emphasized the lows, mids and high sounds, something that had not been accomplished until then. The 100 watt amp and the cabinet were dubbed The Showman Amp.

The next step that Dale suggested was to place two of these speakers in a cabinet. The Showman Amp was born. When twin 8 ohm 15” JBL Lansing speakers were added to the cabinet to run in series it came to be known as The Dual Showman. Leo Fender had to upgrade the transformer to accommodate the 4 ohm load.

The version that Dick Dale uses is the one with cream coloured Tolex. Later the amp was rated at 100 watts and peaked at 180 watts. When the black Tolex models came out they were once again rated at 85 watts.

Dick Dale never set the amplifier on top of the speaker cabinet, since his intense style of playing guitar causes too much vibration in the speakers which can affect the tubes in the amplifier.

Fender Reverb Unit & Controls
The Fender Reverb unit was another invention that Dick Dale did not invent, but certainly pushed forward. The Showman and the Dual Showman amplifiers were self contained amplifiers with a separate cabinet for the speakers and the only effect that was built into them was vibrato.

By 1961, only a handful of amplifier manufacturers had installed reverberation units in combo amps, most notably Ampeg, with their Reverb Rocket. Though none of these amplifiers had been rated at 100 watts up until now.

Dick Dale state he took apart his Hammond organ and discovered the reverb unit had 9 springs, which the signal traveled through. He took this to Leo, who made a chassis with a small amplifier that contained a 6K6 power tube, a 7025 and a 12AX7, which are both preamp tubes. Dale plugged a mic into this and loved the sound.

Inside the Reverb Unit
Leo then went on to create the Fender Reverb Unit, which was used by Dick Dale, the Beach Boys, and many other Surf band to get that exceptional reverberation sound. Dale also utilized an Echoplex.

Getting back to the Dick Dale guitar. Even early photos show that Dale stripped that guitar down to the bare essentials. He took out all the parts that he did not need on that guitar.

Dick Dale with his original Fender Stratocaster
For instance, Dale’s Strat does not have any tone potentiometers. He removed both of them and replaced them with metal plugs. The guitar has only a 250k master volume pot. On Dale’s personal guitar, there is not even a volume knob, just has the end of the potentiometer sticking out.

Dick Dale Stratocaster
Dales guitar has a 3-way pickup selector switch, just like on the original Stratocasters and he prefers it that way. Fender offered to update it with a five-way switch but Dick Dale declined. Instead he added a mini-toggle switch that turns the middle pickup off and on, so it can be used in combination with either of the other two pickups.

One would think that a Surf player would utilize the vibrato, but not Dick Dale. Though his guitar still has 5 springs on the back side holding the vibrato block (5 springs were standard on original Stratocasters) there is a wooden block wedged between the block and the guitars routed area to keep the block from moving.


Dick Dale’s Fender Stratocaster is a mid 1950’s model, which is odd as it has a rosewood slab fretboard. The body is finished in sparkle gold paint


Dick Dale's Stratocaster
The only other modifications include the addition of an America Flag sticker..
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Wills Pawn Shop Cincinnati Ohio
At around 13 years of age, the Guitar Bug bit me, and bit me hard. I started off practicing on a $20 pawn shop guitar, and decided not just to learn how to play the darn thing, but I wanted to know everything I could about guitars.

I lurked around music stores in my area, and bothered the salesmen. I called up music stores, and asked what they had in stock and how much their guitars cost. And I went to pawn shops.

Glittery Italian Guitars
made at accordion factories

At the time, most stores carried Fender, Gibson, Guild, Martin. A few sold Gretsch, and one store in town even carried Rickenbacker guitars. But none of the retail music stores carried those gorgeous sparkly, glittery, eye-catching guitars made from celluloid material. These were sold in pawn shops.


Those curious guitars had brand names like Crucianelli, Bartolini, Gemelli, Zerosette, Beltone, and…Welson(?).

By that name, Welson, you may have thought that brand of guitar was made in the USA, or the U.K; but you would be wrong.

Early 1960's Welson Guitar
Welson certainly sounds like a British name, but the trade name actually belonged to an Italian accordion manufacturing firm founded by Signore Orlando Quagliardi back in the early 1920’s. Before the name Welson was used on guitars, it was used on accordions. Welson and Quagliardi accordions were manufactured by that company. Their accordions are no longer being manufactured, but used ones are available.

Quagliardi Accordion
Quagliardi was one of a handful of Italian manufacturers based out of the town of Castelfidardo in Marches region of central eastern Italy, which is considered to be the international capital of accordion manufacturers. Quagliardi has the distinction of being one of the first accordion makers to enter the guitar market. They began building acoustic archtop guitars under the Welson brand in the mid 1950’s.

Around 1962, the guitar boom first started. There was going to be be a high demand for guitars, especially electric guitars, and the company was there to offer their products.

Welson, and other Italian builders, applied accordion manufacturing techniques to the electric guitars.

Mid 1960's Welson Guitars
The 1962 through 1965, Welson solid body guitars came with four to six rocker switches similar to those found on an accordion. On an accordion the switches modified the reeds, and the color of the sound. On these  Italian made electric guitars, the switches determined which pickups were on or off to color the sound. Many of these guitars came with four pickups.

1964 and 1962 Welson Guitars
Much like accordion casings, the wooden bodies of Welson electric guitars of this era were covered in celluloid material. Some had a wood-grain finish, but many had a glitter finish.

The controls for volume and tone were roller type potentiometers. The switches and pots were usually mounted on the pickguard.

Many of these instruments came with fixed bridges, and a vibrato tailpiece.

1964-65 Welson Guitar


On Welson guitars, the upper edge of the pickguard was bedecked with a metal Welson badge logo; a five point crown with the name Welson beneath it. These guitars had a bolt-on necks with a six-in-a-line headstock.





1963 Welson Beltone



On early models the neck was painted black. Later models had bare necks. The neck and headstock were usually bound. There was no logo on the earlier headstocks.






1964 Welson neck pocket

Instead of leaving the end of the neck flat, as on Fender guitars, Welson luthiers carved out an elliptical pocket at the top of the body for the neck to fit into. It was then bolted in place. These guitars generally  used open back machine heads with plastic buttons. Some of these were sold in the United States under the Beltone brand name.



1964 Welson Vedette

Around 1964 the design changed to mostly sunburst finishes on their solid body guitars. The necks were no longer painted, and the machine heads were of a better quality. The badge logos were now only the five pointed crown, or sometimes were no longer added. At other times they were embedded into the metal section of the scratch guard.




Early 1960's Welson bass
Welson also offered bass guitars, beginning in the early 1960's.

During the latter part of the 1960's, the company also began to offer some hollow body instruments, both for guitar and bass guitars. These instruments featured rotary potentiometers for volume and tone, and Switchcraft-style single or double throw switches to control the pickup selection, instead of the rocker style on/off switches.

In the latter part of the 1960’s Welson began building guitars that  were copies of Gibson’s ES-335 style body, but in a modified  shape.

Welson DS-2
These instruments were known as the DS series, and included the DS-2. This guitar came with twin single coil pickups, a vibrato tailpiece, two volume, and two tone controls, and a three way pickup selector. The bolt-on neck was maple, with two mahogany stripes, along with a volute. The neck was topped with an ebony fretboard with box mother of pearl position markers. The bound headstock was a three-on-a-side style with the logo Welson inlaid at it’s top.



Welson DS-3
Later models had more features such as the DS-3, with three single coil pickups, and some further controls. One on the upper bout was a two way rotary knob that allowed for “All” or “Jazz Tones”. Beneath this were two more potentiomers, reminiscent of a Fender Jaguar. On the lower section, another rotary knob was labeled “Wild” or “Solo”. The rotary knob pickup selector appears to be a three way dial and was located on the lower cutaway.


Welson DS-12
These Welson models also included the DC-12, 12 string, non-vibrato double cutaway model based on the ES-335. This guitar featured a bound neck with an ebony fretboard, an adjustable bridge saddle, and a trapeze tailpiece.

During these days, some American companies looking to cash in on the guitar boon took note. The Wurlitzer Piano and Organ Company contracted with Welson to build a couple of models to be sold under the Wurlitzer brand. These included the Wurlitzer model 7741 guitar, in the 335 style.

Wurlitzer model 7741



The Wurlitzer 7741 was a Welson model D2, re-badged with Wurlitzer’s logo. The guitar had two double coil pickups, a three position switch that went from Solo to Sharp to Wild, and a vibrato tailpiece.





Wurlitzer 7780 bass and
7730 guitar made by Welson



The Wurlitzer model 7780 was a bass version of this instrument, with double coil pickups, and a large metal cover with an embossed “W” that went over the tail piece. Both of these Wurlitzer models come with bolted on necks.




Dynacord DC3

A German audio company, Dynacord, sold re-branded Welson guitars from 1966 through 1967. They sold several models including the three pickup Dynacord DC3. This was another 335 style body, which had 3 single throw switches on its upper cutaway horn. Each pickup had a volume, and tone control. The guitar came with a vibrato tailpiece.



Dynacord "The Cora"

But the most unusual Welson model that Dynacord offered was called The Cora. This was a three pickup guitar, with not much of a body at all. In fact it was called an “open body” guitar. The center of the guitar was the body, and it had metal bars jutting from it, that formed a guitar shape. A most interesting instrument indeed, and ahead of its time.

Welson made Vox guitars
The Tornado, The Wildcat, The Typoon and The Bossman
The Vox Company, better known for its amplifiers, got into the guitar business around 1964. Very few of their guitars were manufactured in the U,K., and those were built by a furniture manufacturer.

Most Vox guitars were built in Italy. Welson supplied a few single cutaway electric jazz guitars for Vox.

The Vox solid body guitars were mostly built by EKO, another Italian guitar factory. Most of the other electric acoustic, and semi-acoustic guitars were built by another Italian manufacturer called Crucianelli.


A double and triple pickup Welson, a Vox triple pickup, and a Kinton four pickup
Welson built a rather odd series of guitars that combined the older push button and roller potentiometer controls, but this time on a semi-hollow electric guitar. These were sold under the Welson brand, but they produced one to be sold by Vox, and another that was sold under the Kinton brand name.

Playboy Guitars made by Welson


They also produced a couple of single pickup budget models with this body style that were re-badged under the Playboy brand.




Playboy Guitar headstock


The "Playboy" logo was printed on a piece of laminate and attached by screws to the headstock.




1969 Welson Golden Arrow
The top of the line Welson thinline acoutic electric model was called the Golden Arrow. This was advertised as a stereo guitar, but came with a monaural output. It was loaded with features, and gold plated hardware.



Welson Florentine Cutaway



Welson also made a few semi-acoustic electric guitars and a bass with Florentine cutaways. These are quite rare instruments. The were made during 1967-1968.




Welson Asymetrical Florentine cutaway,
 with..
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Glenn Snoddy at Quonset Hut Studio

Glenn Snoddy made a career as a recording engineer. He learned this trade during WWII when he was in the Army, and stationed in the South Pacific. He was a radio and recording tech during the war, earning three bronze stars before he was discharged.

When his service ended, he moved to Nashville Tennessee and began working for the Brown Brothers Transcription Company, which was located in Nashville at Fourth and Union. During the 1940's, and 1950's, this company did a lot of radio shows.

Glenn Snoddy as an engineer at WGNS Radio

To make extra money, he moonlighted at Castle Studios, which was located in Nashville's Tulane Hotel. While working there, Snoddy was the engineer on Hank Williams final recording session. 


Grand Ole Opry cast in the 1950's

He also moonlighted  as an engineer at WSM, and ran sound for the Grand Ole Opry on the weekend.



Glenn Snoddy and Owen Bradley
Mr. Snoddy later took a job at Owen Bradley’s Quonset Hut studio, and by 1960 he became the chief engineer.

Glenn Snoddy worked with many of Nashville’s stars, and was the recording engineer on Johnny Cash’s smash hit, “Ring of Fire”.


Marty Robbins


While recording a song for Marty Robbin called “Don’t Worry”, an unusual thing happened. The sessions bass player was Grady Martin, who was one of Nashville’s most prolific guitar players.





Grady Martin
Snoddy believed that the primary transformer on the studio's Langevin 116 tube amplifier, which had a built-in amplifier malfunctioned, and though the notes could be heard, they sounded fuzzy and strange. Grady Martin wanted to do another take,  but Mr. Snoddy, and the session producer, Don Law, thought the sound was unique and decided to keep the take.  Martin later recorded a tune with the same faulty preamp, which he called "The Fuzz".

Don Law and Glenn Snoddy
on the right
“Don’t Worry” went on to reach the Country Top 10 on the Billboard Chart for that year.

Glenn Snoddy went on to design a device that could reproduce this sound. He called it The Fuzz Box. This was an outboard preamp circuit, that utilized a germanium transistor circuits.  This device could override the clean sound on a guitar amplifier.

Maestro Fuzz Tone FZ-1A
In 1962 he sold the rights to his invention to the Gibson Guitar Company, for which Mr. Snoddy received royalties. This floor pedal allowed guitarists and electric bass players to change the tone of their instrument from a clean sound to a dirty sound. Gibson called the device, The Maestro Fuzztone.

The Rolling Stones - Richards
has a Maetro Fuzz Tone on the floor.

Though this was available in 1962, most music stores did not carry it until 1965 when the Rolling Stone’s guitarist, Keith Richards, used one on their hit “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.



After hearing the effect, every rock guitarist and garage band player wanted that sound, and could get it for less than $30.00 USD.

Other companies began producing similar fuzztones, some sounded worse and some sounded better. But the Maestro Fuzztone was perhaps the granddaddy of all outboard guitar pedals. Back in the late 1960's I owned a couple of them. I was frustrated that I could never emulate that Keith Richard's sound. I later realized it wasn't just the fuzztone, but also some great engineering work that produced that wonderful noise.

Maestro Fuzz Tone FZ-1A
The biggest problem with the original Maestro Fuzztone FZ-1A was the cheap cable that attached to your guitars jack. It easily shorted out, and most of us were not savvy enough to replace the cord with an input jack. Guitar cables in the 1960's were not that well made.

After the Quonset Hut was purchased by Columbia Records, Glenn Snoddy stayed on as one of their engineers, and worked with many other notable artists.

Will The Circle Be Unbroken
He was the engineer on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s epic album, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”, which featured not just the band, but some of Country’s most prominent legends, such as Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, and Doc Watson.

Snoddy also hired an aspiring songwriter named Kris Kristofferson, who began working as the studio janitor.

Glenn Snoddy


Later, Snoddy was instrumental in founding Woodland Sound Studios. Glenn Snoddy passed away on May 21st of 2018 at age 96.



He left not just a legacy of engineer records for some of County Music’s most famous stars, but set the stage for an entire new industry: Guitar pedals.

Click on the links below the pictures for source information. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)



Don't Worry - Marty Robbins - 1961 - YouTube

The Rolling Stones - I Can't Get No Satisfaction - At The Ed Sullivan Show February 13th,1966 - YouTube

Maestro Fuzz-Tone FZ-1. Demonstration Record 1962. - YouTube

1960s Maestro Fuzz-Tone FZ1-A Demo - YouTube

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