Other Guitars

RC Allen & the second Bigsby

1

Been posting a lot of stuff from last weekend...not in the same league as Proteus though..but here's a final batch.

This is El Monte luthier and guitar picker RC Allen pictured in 1954 with his brand new custom built Gretsch Country Club (at least I think it's a Club..)in the book "The Story of Paul Bigsby: Father of the Modern Electric Solidbody Guitar" by Andy Babiuk. Fantastic book by the way, with a nice message from Fred Gretsch and among the contributors was Deke Dickerson.

...and this is a scan from the same book of the second ever Bigsby solidbody built in 1948. Merle Travis had the first one of course.

...and the connection between these two pictures and last weekend is...

That's RC last weekend at the LA Vintage Guitar Show and RC is the owner of that same Bigsby which he bought in 1948.

And the connection to me...

RC was kind enough to hand me that almost priceless Bigsby, plugged it into an old tweed amp he had there and let me play! What a treat! I picked out a few bars of Cannonball Rag and then handed it back to RC before I embarrassed myself more with my playing or dropped the guitar...

RC then showed me this guitar which he built back in 1964 for himself and which his good friend Merle Travis took on the road with him for several months in the Sixties. RC also let me play this one.

RC pickin' Thumbs Carlisle style

I met RC at the Duane Eddy headlining Deke Fest when he came up to me to complement me on my Merle Travis shirt. Little did I know that I was talking to a living link to the glory days of Western Swing and to some of the giants of guitar picking. He invited me to come chat with him at his booth the following day. I went down there and he treated me like an old friend.

RC made guitars for Merle Travis...this one on Merle's "Strictly Guitar" album...

...and he was also a very good friend of Paul Bigsby, played rhythm guitar with Jimmy Bryant, knew Chet and was there when it all happened on the LA scene in the late 40s and the 50s.

RC is still making beautiful guitars, some of which you can see over his shoulder in the pics. It was an honor to meet this wonderful guy. I know that some of you guys already know RC but those that don't, if you ever get a chance to drop by any of the vintage guitar shows in the LA area you'll probably run into RC. I highly recommend stopping and visiting with him.

2

poster Jfume has an RC Allen Bigsby and speaks well of it (I have one of the newer Gretsch-made copies). Do you know if he has a web presence anywhere? I would love to see his instruments for sale.

3

RC doesn't have a website. There are a few articles about him online when you do a search for RC Allen Guitars, and a NAMM video interview...but that's about it.

4

The formatting on my post is a bit screwy...but it's all there in the pictures

5

I met Mr. Allen a few years back at the Arlington, TX guitar show. As you mentioned, he is a very nice gentleman. He is one that doesn't have to brag. He's got the goods to prove it. I sort of became an impromptu clinician for him that day. I played some Merle Travis and Chet tunes while he talked to the visitors about his guitars. Very charming man. His charming personality and just the sound of the fingerstyle guitar drew quite a crowd for him. It was a memorable day for me and I hope for him also. Old school, nice guy with talent; that's R.C. Allen.

6

NitroG(reg), I am filled with great jealousy over your trip to LA! Looks like you hit just about every guitar highlight you possibly could. Thanks for sharing all the pics and stories.

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Hey Mikey...yeah it was a pretty special trip alright. It's funny how these things work out. I never expected to have so much going on over a two day trip.

I'd be a selfish SOB if I didn't share!

8

Hey Richard...sounds like the same type of vibe as at RC's booth last week.

As I approached the booth I could hear a lovely rendition of "Windy and Warm" from down the aisle. There was a gentleman there playing RC's 1964 guitar and he was a fabulous Chet picker. Very modest of course when I complimented him on his playing. But quite a crowd gathered 'round to listen.

It's fabulous to spend a few minutes with guys like these.

9

Funny,

I met the same guy at the LA Vintage show last year. He didn't much act like he liked me - or anyone else for that matter. Must have been having a bad day...

10

I got the Bigsby book for Xmas. Very cool.

11

He's very much alive and was honored at Deke Dickerson's Guitar Geek Festival last January. You can see a small article with photos in the new Vintage Guitar magazine. Among his friends are/were Merle Travis, Joe Maphis, Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant, Leo Fender, George Fullerton, Seymour Duncan, Thom Bresh, Chris Martin IV, Del Casher, Nashville wiz Bob Saxton, and Grandpa Jones. He used to stay with Grandpa in Tennessee. Going back for what was called "Fan Fair", he was asked to squire a new artist around town...her name was...Bobbi Gentry.


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