Other Guitars

Oh No Billy Bo!

26

I went down the rabbit hole of moral outrage over the appropriation of lapsed brandnames with Duesenberg guitars - clearly a little different because they "pay homage" to a car brand. But probably the same legal principle. I was also incensed on behalf of the Duesenberg family, and wondered if they got some kind of compensation - or at least a thank-you.

So I contacted a descendent of the family, still alive and well and running a speed business in Indianapolis. He was aware of the Duesenberg guitar, and, no, they got nothing from Dieter. But he pointed out the guitars were far from the worst profaners of the Duesenberg heritage, and in any case the family has no legal right to the brand name, because they let it lapse when it came up for renewal decades ago. There's no protection to be had. In fact, because someone else is using it somehow for something in the automotive field (having registered it legally), this linear descendent of Fred and Augie can't use "Duesenberg" in the name of his racing company.

Point is: if the brand name lapses, it's legally fair game. Is it ethically fair game? Morally? I don't think so, but what's legal doesn't have to be ethical or "moral."

I don't know the background situation with Airline (originally a brand of long-defunct Montgomery Wards), Mosrite, Kustom, or any of the international brands Eastwood has mined for reissues. But in most cases (Airline an exception, so I assume the company has legally acquired the name rights), Eastwood doesn't use the brand names - "just" designs and/or nod-and-a-wink model names that leave no doubt what it's about.

Again, when the company reissues long-defunct models from lapsed brands - quite apart from the fidelity or quality of those models - I don't get too bent. It perpetuates the image, the history, the mystique of those brands, raises their profiles. It might even boost the resale value of the real thing. And it does bring much-needed variety into the market, giving us a shot at something at least a bit like the original inspiration. (In some cases closer than others.)

And when the company partners with modern designers and builders to release original designs - however cheapened from the original concepts - I'm OK with that.

But to rip off current or historical models of established, current, and healthy brands - that's just going too far. I've never known how they get away with the Classic family of Gent-alikes, calling them "60s Beatles guitars" to be sure everyone knows what they're knocking off. I would expect that to be part of the conversation.

I guess we'll see what happens.

28

It is things like this that make me think that I never want to own an Eastwood guitar.

It's having played a number of Eastwood guitars that makes me think that I never want to own an Eastwood guitar.

29

I own an Eastwood Warren Ellis tenor guitar, and while pretty to look at from ten feet away it's a ragged mess close up.

30

Well, it was never an original Gretsch design to begin with. Does anyone know who owns the design patent? Bo Diddley's estate? Gretsch? If Eastwood is in violation, they'll probably get fined. Most of the time, they negotiate a licensing deal and pay royalties. In the case of Airline, they own it.

Here's another one:https://puresalem-guitars.myshopify.com/products/brave-ulysses

31

I have an Eastwood copy of the Ampeg scroll bass (fretless version) that I traded an old sampler for. I figured I'd never see (or be able to afford) the real thing. It's actually a fairly decent build, but the headstock was significantly simplified by Eastwood. I wanted a fretless electric bass, and the trade/price was right. Deal happily done with little care as to whether Ampeg's panties were getting twisted. Real AEB-1s just don't come up all that often, and I see Bilt is doing their version of the guitar now too. ...giving me something else to lust after...

I was actually tempted when Eastwood announced their remake of the "flying banana" from Yamaha. We all know Yamaha will never go near that one again. Since I have a pristine Yamaha SGV-800, the wife and wallet decided I didn't really need the banana. Like the Billy Bo, I'd be a bit surprised if Yamaha didn't have an opinion on the matter.

32

Regular viewers may or may not remember that, despite my numerous misgivings about parts of the Eastwood business model, I've been through a number of the guitars. The first (a Guyatone 200 [?] 4-pickup knockoff) was of indifferent build quality - and in the 4-pup universe it didn't hold a sonic candle to the DiPinto Galaxie I got later, so it went away.

Since that one, all the Eastwoods which have passed through have been at least competently and usually superbly put together. No complaint with quality. They aren't Reverend in sortedness and setup, but on a par with most Korean builds. My usual whine with Eastwood is that modern generic hardware and appointments take a lot of the quirky individuality out of the models being replicated - so they not only don't play like the old ones (often a good thing), but they don't sound much like them either. Which makes the Eastwood "reproductions" something like costume guitars.

But out of the several, I've kept two - because they do sound very distinctive. Like the originals? I don't know - but different enough from anything else in the stable to hold onto. For me, specifically, that includes the Airline Tuxedo (with some tweaks and a crucial mod) and the hideous Spectrum V - which sounds somewhere in a Stratlike neighborhood but somehow "bouncier", and which has a deliciously slippery and responsive vibrato. But it's ugly. Every bit as ugly as the original.

It's also not "stereo" in any meaningful way (as it's advertised), simply having two identical outputs - which I could do with a splitter box. And from what I can determine, the original Spectrum V was truly stereo, with 3 bass strings going to one output and the 3 trebles to the other. So that's disappointing.

But both these guitars have impeccable build quality, and play beautifully. No complaints in those departments.

Eastwood also has a few tenor guitars throughout the line, which is interesting.

I'm just being fair to Eastwood. And, again, no one else is making those guitars, which are from long-departed brands.

I can't defend the Classic series - and the Billy Bo is a complete No Go for me.

I do agree Gretsch should do an Electro Bo. That would kill the knockoff market for good.

33

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– Joe Carducci/Gretsch Guitars

"Hey Joe...

Where you goin' with that gun in your hand?"

34

@Proteus - I'm interested that you kept the Spectrum V, was looking at those once, I just wasn't sure how it played.

35

It's a dream to play. Case smells like candy, too.

If you can handle the appearance (I would never have been interested had it not been advertised as stereo), have no fear on playability or quality fronts.

36

So, where do y’all stand on my 1990s Tokai J-200 copy? This has become my number 1 acoustic. I usually like even better than my Gibson J-45, but only because the model is more my style. I would probably trade the Tokai for a real J-200, but I can’t spend $5000.

37

I think the Tokai should DEFinitely be your #1.

38

At least it’s not Alli Express. They are a distributor of some of the most flagrant copy violations. I’ve always been hung up on the Dave Grohl or Trini Lopezes-335 with the diamond f-holes and Firebird headstock. I still hope Epiphone comes out with a version I can afford someday. While searching for them I came across “custom shop” versions for 400 bones on the Alli Express website. I don’t even want to know...

39

At least it’s not Alli Express.

True enough, but as an all-Chinese operation, they're apparently beyond the reach of US IP laws. Importers and marketers based in the US shouldn't be.

40

Interesting - the Moderne I put a deposit down on is now called an Eastwood "Avante". They've been calling it an Eastwood Moderne since March. The URL is the same, but the guitar is now "named". I wonder if some of this IP discussion stirred up a few hornets.

https://eastwoodcustoms.com...

41

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– Joe Carducci/Gretsch Guitars

Zio of #gretschmafia!! love it! gonna put this on the facebook page of gretschmafia haha!

43

I would likely buy an Electromatic version of a Billy Bo. I say likely because such a thing does not exist.

I too am surprised that such a beast is not offered. I think it would also appeal to younger players as well.

In fact sign me up for one like this (hell yes) but with a pearloid o silver sparkle pick guard

45

One of the hardest things to do....design a shape for a solid guitar body. One that is unique, ergonomic and goddam cool. And can we drop the Billy bit? Love Billy gibbons but this belongs to Bo.

And while I'm ranting, could we have a single coil option? Not historically correct of course but if it's going to be reinvented, why not?

Plus we got the rectangular Electromatic, so why not the Bo...

47

One of the hardest things to do....design a shape for a solid guitar body. One that is unique, ergonomic and goddam cool. And can we drop the Billy bit? Love Billy gibbons but this belongs to Bo.

And while I'm ranting, could we have a single coil option? Not historically correct of course but if it's going to be reinvented, why not?

Plus we got the rectangular Electromatic, so why not the Bo...

– Vince_Ray

True that - all of it.

48

True that - all of it.

– Devil's Tool

+1

49

I, for one, will save all my paper route money for a Gretsch Chonny-Bo.

50

I, for one, will save all my paper route money for a Gretsch Chonny-Bo.

– crowbone

Brings back memories. I bought my first electric guitar and amp - Hagstrom II & Magnatone 431 - with my paper route money in '65. Had both of them till the early '90's.


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