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My first home-made Solid-body.    c1959.

  My first attempt at making a guitar was this solid-body sometime around 1959.    Apart from my first flat-top, I had been playing only archtops at that time and, looking back,  I can see just how much this guitar was influenced by my experience of jazz guitars.     Although a solid-body,  the top was hand carved (by me) into an archtop shape by laying a piece of solid Spruce over the solid body and then shaping it.     So, the pickup I used was an archtop pickup and the fingerboard had quite a heavy radius.    I was learning as I went along

I played it on and off through the 60's but eventually it went into the loft;  in fact it was in 1981 when we moved to our present home and it was only recently that I thought I would just see how it was managing up there in the cold and the heat.   Not the best of conditions.

Amazingly, I found that it still looked really good and in the same condition as when I put it aside, and it still plays really well too, except that the electrics  seem to have broken down rather terminally.    Nothing that can't easily be fixed!

Then, quite by chance, when I was clearing out my loft just before Christmas 2013,  I found all my original sketches and drawings for the guitar so it seemed only right to put together this feature.

Quite a nostalgic trip for me ...............


  As always,  with me,  it began with a sketch book and a cup of tea:

  Lots of ideas,  six string,  twelve string,  archtop,  western,  slide and bass guitars!
  But I decided to make this double cut, solid-body electric.   Can it really be,  even in '59, that I was thinking of chambering the body!
  A little bigger than a Les Paul but influenced by the shape of an ES 335, it was finished in a hand painted metallic Gold Valspar.   What else in 1959!


   Oh, and I made the amp too:

   a Mullard 3 Watt valve self assembly Kit Amp and my own design cabinet with 10" Goodman's speaker. 


The neck was solid, one piece Maple (no truss rod - not in 1959) glued into the body which was solid Obeche.     Obeche is very strong but lightweight and the body was a composite of solid blocks all bonded like bricks with Cascamite with the neck running through.    The fretboard was French Walnut.    I remember it had a wonderful purple colour when it was newly sanded and was very silky to touch!

The single pickup was from Cyril Proctor of Leeds who hand made them for professional jazz guitarists at the time.   Most of the other hardware was from Hofner's parts catalogue,  all courtesy of Selmer.

  It looked good but the gold soon started turning black where my hand rubbed against it and the electrics didn't sound great.    Archtop pickups and big flatwound strings (I had got used to using Framus Black Rose strings on my President so naturally put some on the solid) were perhaps not the best choice!

So I soon decided to upgrade the pickup (which then went onto my President) in favour of two '61 Vox pickups.     It meant modifying the body to take the new arrangement.     You can see in the following pics that I wasn't aware of the concept of pickup rings back then so I made my own in wood and built them into the body using a Bakelite top to facilitate height adjustment.

This is how I wanted the upgrade to look.

  With twin pickups,  a stop tail and Master Volume and Tone controls it was transformed.   I refinished it in a solid cherry Valspar.   It still looks good today.
  Here we are, some time around 1960 with a very powerful Beam Echo Hi-fi amp and Selmer Tremolo.     I still have that Tremolo!
  Some 55 years later, and just a little dusty,  here it is as it came out of its adapted Hofner Verithin case in January 2014.

  ......................    and the case still smelled of Evo Stick when I first opened it.
  A little bigger than a Les Paul it is significantly smaller than my ES 335.    Do you know of any other 335 shaped solids from the early 60's.    Was it perhaps a first?
  Dusted and cleaned and ready to rock -  but very quietly!!
  My wife was quite impressed when she saw it for the first time.
  Toggle switches weren't available in '59 so I had to use these push-push table-lamp switches.
  Very sculpured neckflow into the body.    Quite ahead of its time.
  .....   and from the back.
  The twin Vox pickups were good.   Remember those Framus Black Rose flatwounds with the gold finish?
  Very narrow neck.   I thought it would be easier to play.    I have learned better!
  Couldn't get MoP in '59 so the motif is pearloid, cut with an X-acto modelling knife.
  Tuners are pure Hofner President.

  Most of the hardware had to be made from sheet brass and chromed.
  Finally  ..........  the Calendar Girl pic for February 2014.

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