Other Guitars

50s/60s US guitar geeks help me ID this guitar

1

I was too young in the 60s and it didnt help that I was born in the outskirts of Tatooine, so I didnt get to know all the weird and wonderful funky guitar brands that was floating around here in the US.

Anyone recognize this as some funky early 60s or late 50s brand ? It is just too well made to be a DIY. It was not hand routed. The routing in pickup cavity etc was clearly done with a large overhead template and table router. No-one would manufacture the templates and tooling for a DIY. The plate at the top doesnt say anything that corresponds to any known guitar brand and is irrelevant. Its ooold. It has a 50s-63 feel. It has a Gibson P13 pickup in it which was common to do back then.

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2

My first impression is that is homemade but no maker comes to mind. We've seen that tailpiece on older Gretsches but that's it for me. Looks well made though.

3

The case padding looks pretty form-fitting too. The body shape reminds me of a Travis Bean.

4

Thanks Windsordave The neck is a stump like an old gibson junior or special. I love huge necks. The neck is through body one-piece.

5

Jeff H

I heard about Travis Bean, but never had one in my hands or even seen one, I see from this photo what you mean about lookalike link

Looks like an early Kramer.

You should not have sent me that information ... they look like really interesting guitars. Like Juniors with a beat... Last thing I need is another avenue of interest... oh well done. I am interested. Incurable I am.

This guitar pickguard route and all was definitely made for a P13 Pickup and the pickguard seems to be Bakelite ! so it seems harking from way before 70s. The tuner plastic tulips are crumbling, it is definitely pre 70s. I can bet. The case profile is a tight custom fit.

The headstock has two letters on a very delicate plate. The plate has concentric squares very finely made that raises the flat sections where the letter appear. this is not hand made for sure. Link

Anyone know a funky brand associated with this ?

6

I've got catalog scans from over 240 guitar manufacturers from around the world, many with catalogs spanning multiple years.

I've been looking through them for the last 2 hours.

I've come up with absolutely nothing. I have to concur with WindsorDave-- a well-built DIY. Even the case looks DIY, with hinges running the full length. This guitar was special to someone.

7

Thanks Tartan Phantom
The piano hinges is a bit of a giveaway. I apologize to have caused you 2 hours of searches, but i appreciate it.

I looked through my Blue Books and found nothing either. I guess it is hand made then.

Here are some more photos Link1 Link 2 Link 3 Link 4

I think you are right that it must have meant a lot to someone if it was DIY'd warts and all. I just hate to destroy someones handywork. I have this waco idea (my entire life) that guitars tell stories almost like magic wands. I pick up an unknown guitar and I immediately play music that I never before heard or attempted. I always found it peculiar how different guitars completely influence me so radically differently.

So, I wont rip out the P13 (which is what I would have done if this was a really cheepo thing) , give it a refret, and bring it to 100% playability, and then we will see what it has to say. I can promise at least it will be new things .. as it always are if it is a good guitar.

Some guitars I picked up are just dead wood even if they are custom shop and perfectly set up. They give me nothing and I find it really intriguing. I have e.g. an expensive Fender Custom shop with flame top etc, and I could not get any new ideas from that expensive perfectly set up guitar. I never play it.

On the other hand I once picked up a lowly Squier 94 NC-serial model and immediately completely new ideas just poured out. I kept that squier till this day for exactly that reason as it inspires me for some reason when I play it. I dont know what that effect is, but it sure is real to me and baffles me to this day.

All that tin-foil hat stuff said; I will see what this one says once i set it up after a refret.

It is a strange relationship I have with guitars.

8

I've seen that guitar before, or one very much like it. I remember thinking how much it reminded me of Brian May's Red Special.

It's difficult to tell from the pics, but are those letters SR or SB?

9

Retnev I know what you mean. Some guitars are just too perfect and bland and uninspiring for whatever reason. It's the character of rough edges or something that bring out the stories - or tunes at least.

Maybe it's because a perfect shiny new thing looks as if it hasn't seen a human hand near it so hasn't lived long enough to have a few stories. It's all quite fallacious as I have some guitars I have had since new and they are very inspiring - but they don't look too perfect, shiny and new.

10

That guitar looks really cool! How did you acquire it? It looks like a nice piece of mahogany.

11

Jeff H

I heard about Travis Bean, but never had one in my hands or even seen one, I see from this photo what you mean about lookalike link

Looks like an early Kramer.

You should not have sent me that information ... they look like really interesting guitars. Like Juniors with a beat... Last thing I need is another avenue of interest... oh well done. I am interested. Incurable I am.

This guitar pickguard route and all was definitely made for a P13 Pickup and the pickguard seems to be Bakelite ! so it seems harking from way before 70s. The tuner plastic tulips are crumbling, it is definitely pre 70s. I can bet. The case profile is a tight custom fit.

The headstock has two letters on a very delicate plate. The plate has concentric squares very finely made that raises the flat sections where the letter appear. this is not hand made for sure. Link

Anyone know a funky brand associated with this ?

– retnev

Those letters were commonly available from some hardware stores and luggage shops, just basically made for monograms, so, it's far more likely that they're the owner/builder's initials.

Interesting guitar, tho. P13 on a slab ought to be a good combination.

12

Deke, -- It is SB.

Wabash Slim --
Well I learn something every day. Must come from a pretty fancy era. The lettering is not cheaply done.

13

Retnev I know what you mean. Some guitars are just too perfect and bland and uninspiring for whatever reason. It's the character of rough edges or something that bring out the stories - or tunes at least.

Maybe it's because a perfect shiny new thing looks as if it hasn't seen a human hand near it so hasn't lived long enough to have a few stories. It's all quite fallacious as I have some guitars I have had since new and they are very inspiring - but they don't look too perfect, shiny and new.

– JimmyR

JimmyR

It is the strangest thing isn't it. It is the "whatever thing" you mention that intrigues me. I am very good at guitar setup etc and I could not find the reason to this day.

I have given up on the price/brand thing long long ago and dont regret it. If it is good it is good. I dont care if it is a Dano or a squier or a Gibson Super 400. I have two Danos which are exceptional cardboard top and all. Then I have an "expensive" done-right Dano that sounds and feels like crap.

I dont mind paying a lot for a good guitar. I do mind paying any dollar for a "stiff" which is about the best I can explain the feeling.

14

Is that entire guitar a single chunk of wood?

15

Is that entire guitar a single chunk of wood?

– Afire

That's what I'm thinking too...

16

I have a beautiful CS Strat which is a decent Strat - but doesn't really inspire me. And it's not too shiny either. I have three Gibsons which are all great guitars and all VOS which I love, and the one I play the most is the cheapest, the ES-225. It has the least sophisticated neck shape and while still not exactly a cheap guitar it's not shiny and perfect either. But it's one of the best sounding guitars I've had the pleasure of playing. It's a bit clunky feeling and very primitive to set up, but the sound has a bunch of songs in it. Every time I play it I find something new to play.

17

Is that entire guitar a single chunk of wood?

– Afire

Good observation you two.

The neck is one piece with the entire 7 inch wide center part of the body, and the rest are then minimal wings added.

Lower bout 13 3/4". Scale length a gibson 24 3/4". Neck Huuuuge - i like it.

Reminds me of an SG Junior I played in the 80s.

You can bend to hell and back on it which is quite amazing. It really likes pulloffs and the pulloffs sound naturally very organic and defined which is unusual, tongue-like. Just initial observations about what it says. Its going to like vibrato bends and pulloffs for sure when the small errors are corrected. So it probably will make me play in that direction.

Neck is unfortunately not wide enough for me.

The bridge is an angled fret, but solid as heck you can bend and stretch it stays in tune like a brick.

Neck

  • 1" at first fret :
  • 1.25" at 12th fret.
  • 1.52" at 19th fret

Intonation issue, I will lower the bridge for slightly better action and then reset the fret if the intonation warrants it. If not I need to look at a stagger, but I will keep it as close as it was intended.

What always intrigues me is where the sound is created acoustically on an electric.

Of some of my very good guitars which are indispensable to me, the sound is clearly coming out the back loudest (lol !) another equally at the bridge and the zero fret at the nut, and lot of crazy variations. This one has the sound slap bang at the pickup as the loudest. It is actually expected as it is a through body neck and the only cavity is at the pickup and controls, and there are no joints like a strat or glued in neck.

The volume and tone knobs has "B-D" factory stamped on the flat face. What is that about. Anyone know the origin of those knobs?

These small volume tone control knobs are unexpectedly nice. They work absolutely great above my expectation being used to large Gibson knobs. It doesnt mean much, but I will look at the potentiometer codes. They were probably lifted with the pickup from another guitar so no indication when this was made.

18

Deke, -- It is SB.

Wabash Slim --
Well I learn something every day. Must come from a pretty fancy era. The lettering is not cheaply done.

– retnev

They're appliques---stick on. I remember seeing them on luggage and brief cases.

19

They're appliques---stick on. I remember seeing them on luggage and brief cases.

– wabash slim

The ones on the guitar is yellow-copper with corner pin mounting holes The letters are beveled out about 3mm.

20

Potentiometers etc are old as heck. Too corroded to try and find codes. Definitely what came with the P13, so i can look at old P13 based guitar photos to find similar. and get an idea. Tone Capacitor is old and brittle.

Link

Link

Link

I will post back to the thread once I finished fixing up the guitar. I really like P13's and other Old P90-likes. Cant wait to see what it sounds like once fixed up. It sure is a time machine from another era.

Thanks to all that helped with this. I really appreciate it. I have a few more curious 6-string objects I picked up over the decades that I couldnt figure out. I might post some of them after this one is done and fixed up. If its good it will stay for sure.

21

That pickguard and wiring look well-done. It doesn't look like a hack job of a home brew.

22

That pickguard and wiring look well-done. It doesn't look like a hack job of a home brew.

– Jeff H

It is rather good work, I must say. It has been played a heck of a lot, which is a good sign. Just need to get some vintage tuner buttons and lower and intonate the bridge.

23

I have a beautiful CS Strat which is a decent Strat - but doesn't really inspire me. And it's not too shiny either. I have three Gibsons which are all great guitars and all VOS which I love, and the one I play the most is the cheapest, the ES-225. It has the least sophisticated neck shape and while still not exactly a cheap guitar it's not shiny and perfect either. But it's one of the best sounding guitars I've had the pleasure of playing. It's a bit clunky feeling and very primitive to set up, but the sound has a bunch of songs in it. Every time I play it I find something new to play.

– JimmyR

JimmyR

ES225's are generally enormously nice guitars. I only played the single pickup P90 version. You probably have the 2-pickup, which I never had the honor to try. The single pickup version is a slide monster. It just lives for that. Surely one of the most interesting guitars I ever played. Since I finger pick the pickup positioned at the center is a bit of a challenge, but it has a huge tone. It is one of those overlooked Gibsons and if you can get one get it. You're blessed to have an ES225.

This strange association lead me to many strange paths. I played a 74 Factory Humbucker Deluxe back then gigging hard with it. Even if it was a lowly Norlin, that guiitar was like an extra arm. It would just disappear and become part of my body when I pick it up and literally play itself. I was approached by someone that was in the audience after a show that he wants to trade his 58 or so Les Paul Standard for my 74. He just wanted my Norlin after hearing it for some reason. I went to his place and it was a nice Vintage Les Paul. I couldnt bond with it and called it off, even back then knowing I am walking away from something I might regret later - go figure. I was just not willing to part with my 74 for NO money. I would have done exactly the same today most likely. I said "would have" as the guitar was stolen later during my move to the USA. I was so distraught I stopped dead playing for about 10 years not touching a guitar even though I brought several vintage guitars with me. Didnt touch them. I am still distraught, and that about what most people would call a useless Norlin. It was pure magic.

I wrote a long response with several other examples as above, but I deleted it. This must be too Tin-Foil to most people and I agree. But the strangest weirdest and unbelievably wonderful things happened top me in my life with guitars. I will be marched off to the Looney Bin if I talk about that too much.

I have qualifications in mathematics and physics and dont like bullshit, but guitars and music showed me that there is way more to the human consciousness/soul and it's interactions than we even expect in our wildest dreams. There is something big we dont yet grasp, but just see glimpses of. I see it through music.

That is why I dont ever take even this clunker I posted about in this thread lightly. You never know what it can come up with to change your life, and good guitars always change my life.

I hear sirens outside, one of you called the ambulance ?

24

The tailpiece,bridge,pickup,and headstock shape puts me in mind of a friend's late Fifties Vega. I'd seen Vega acoustics,but only that one solidbody electric, and I haven't seen it or him since about 1960.

25

Thanks for the input. Vega did make solid bodies that are similar and I will search for other solid bodies they made. I know them reasonably well but actually forgot. Vega sold guitars made by a myriad of Luthiers and companies rebranded under Vega name, therefore the stark range of variable quality. Here is one solid body Link. Mine however has a classic Gibson open book headstock. I think the entire line of Vega models sold is so vast that it is not cataloged as they are generally regarded as insignificant, especially the solid bodies.

The nicest Vega I ever saw and still look for is this 30's one Link (Owned by Steve Howe)

Back to mine. The changes to the factory route in the pickup cavity is Definitely 2nd generation. The guitar originally had a different pickup in it and was clearly neatly template routed with a large expensive overhead template router and then the original factory route was clearly altered to accommodate the P13 it seems. I only noticed this after my initial post. There is clear evidence of factory route and later tampering. this fact still makes me believe it was from some commercial venture.

So

  • It was something else with another pickup.
  • It was created on large guitar making factory overhead router. Bit size was about 1 1/2" ! That is not going to be hand held and will send you to hospital probably if you try.

I toggle between very good DIY and a factory model, but inspecting it first hand shouts factory to me. Must be from some obscure company like one of the manufacturers for rebranders like Vega.

There was another below the radar company I cannot remember the name of. St James or Saint George or something I want to check examples of solid bodies. Most of these companies dont have representation in catalogs or very minimal.

I dont think I mentioned it yet, but the Guitar is definitely made out of Solid Walnut. That throws the spanner into the works being a factory guitar. the combination of open gear tuners and Walnut is a bit too much as a production guitar.


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