In the late 1970’s Swallens started offering a few musical instruments, mainly Gretsch guitars, for sale. This may have been because Cincinnati was home to the Baldwin Piano Company, which at the time owned the Gretsch Company.
I will also mention that Duke Kramer, who was running Baldwin’s guitar division, made his home in Cincinnati. Mr. Kramer had been Gretsch number one salesman.
|Duke Kramer of Gretsch|
Swallens was the first place I had encountered a Gretsch White Falcon. In addition to the Gretsch line, they also stocked a few brands made in Asia.
Telecaster style instrument that had an ash body surrounded by a dark tortoise-shell binding on its top and bottom. The plastic pickguard appeared to be tortoise-shell. There was also a thin strip of binding material down the center of the body, from the end of the bridge to the rear of the guitar. The headstock was very similar to that of a Fender Telecaster, except for the brand, which said Hohner.
The other feature distinguishing this instrument from a genuine Fender was its bridge. Instead of the typical Telecaster bridge, this guitar had a bridge similar to that found on a hard-tail Stratocaster. Surrounding the bridge was an oval of plastic that matched the pickguard. It was a very distinctive look.
Hohner is a German company well known for their excellent harmonicas, accordions, and reed based instruments.
During the 1960’s Hohner branched out into manufacturing the Pianet electric piano and the Clavinet, which was an electric version of the 17th century instrument called the clavichord, which simply described is a smaller version of a harpsichord. In the 1970’s, I was unaware they were manufacturing guitars.
It was in the early 1980’s when Hohner joined forces with the Sabian Cymbal Company and Sonor. Due to declining sales, the company underwent massive lay-offs in 1986 and the Kunz-Holding GmbH & Co acquired most of its assets.
By 1997, the assets became the property of K.H.S. Musical Instruments Co. Ltd., based in Taiwan. Most of the manufacturing moved to Asia, although some high-end products are manufactured in Europe.
Purple Rain, which featured Prince. I was astonished that someone who could afford to play an expensive, big-name instrument would be playing this knock-off by Hohner.
However, I have friends and know of pros that continue to stick with the instruments they started out playing.
I later learned Hohner designated this instrument the Hohner TE.
Telecaster. The bridge changed to a metal plate with a six adjustable bridge saddles. The colours changed and the binding on the rim disappeared.
Prince had changes made to his Hohner that included the installation of Kinman Broadcaster pickups, accomplished by changing the routing of the pickguard and bridge plate.
As his fame grew, Prince commissioned some custom guitars. The first being built in 1983. The builder, David Husain, was employed at the Knute Koupee music store in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He created The Cloud Guitar.
This includes a tune-o-matic style bridge and tailpiece and machine heads. All hardware is gold plated. The controls are simple; one volume, one tone and a 3-way pickup switch. The nut on the headstock is brass. The entire instrument, including the neck, is painted one colour.
The original instrument came in a white finish and featured spade symbol fret markers. It was seen at the end of Purple Rain. Unfortunately, it became a casualty during a concert.
Prince gave this away as a price. Prince later commissioned a blue Cloud guitar that he called Blue Angel. Like the peach version, this also has black dot markers. Another black Cloud produced, that had an entirely black finish with “bat” fret markers.
There is a White Cloud on exhibit at the Smithsonian. Others are at various Hard Rock Cafes. Prince named the four Cloud guitars, North, South, East, and West.
copies of the Cloud guitars for sale on Prince’s website. However, the website recently shut down. Some of the Schecter guitars have bolt-on necks, and some have through-the-body necks. The bolt-on instruments have a 25.5” scale. None of the Schecter instruments has the “Love” symbol.
Mr. Auerswald installed EMG pickups on this guitar similar to those on the Cloud guitar. The luthier custom built the bridge and installed Schaller machine heads, with custom-made buttons. The original guitar came with a gold finish.
the Symbol instruments. The tech accomplished this by taking measurements of the original instrument and sending them to Schecter. One guitar was white and the other was painted black over the mahogany bodies.
Due to Prince’s guitar acrobatics, the guitars did not last too long. He would throw the instruments in the air and let the guitars drop to the ground. Thus, the horns snapped off and the techs would patch them up.
Much like the Cloud guitars, the tech-made Symbol guitars underwent repainting. At times, the guitar were not only black and white, but also yellow, gold, orange and of course, purple.
Auerswald designed another guitar for Prince. This one is known as the Model C. It is a very unique instrument with two distinct features. The obvious is the stabilizer bar that runs from the body to the headstock. This is very reminiscent of the first Roland Synth guitar. If you look carefully you will notice no tuners on the headstock. The tuners are at the end of the bridge.
|Prince and Hamilton|
The buyer was race car driver Lewis Hamilton. The proceeds are benefiting the Harlem Children’s Zone, a non-profit organization that serves over 8,000 children and 6,000 adults.