Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Fender Bullet

1981 Fender Bullet
The Fender Bullet guitar was designed in 1981 as a low cost student instrument to take the place of the Duo Sonic and Music Master.

1981 Ad For Bullet  Guitar
with 20 watt Harvard amp

Fender designer John Page put together the original instrument design for these guitars. The first models were to be made in Korea and shipped un-assembled to the US.

But Fender did not think the Asian work was up to par, so Fender U.S.A. produced the original 1981 guitars in the US by putting to use left over parts from other guitars.

1981 Bullet
The original bodies were designed to resemble a smaller and thinner version of the Telecaster. In fact the necks on the first models were Telecaster necks. The dual pickups were Mustang pickups which were positioned like those on the Duo Sonic.

That is the neck pickup was angled on the treble side and the bridge pickup was parallel to the bridge. The switch was a three position Stratocaster Switchcraft version. The two potentiometer knobs for volume and tone were black Stratocaster knobs.

Advertisement for Fender Bullet
The guitars came in two colors and two versions. The colors were either red or cream. Pickguards were either white or black. The Bullet Standard had an anodized steel pickguard with the distal lip behind the bridge raised at a 90% angle to anchor the strings.

Fender Bullet Deluxe
The Bullet Deluxe had a plastic pickguard and the strings went through the body. The bridge assembly was a barrel type and was adjusted by screws for intonation and an Allen wrench for height. The headstock decal had a 5 point star with a number 1 in the center.

I've seen them with both rosewood and maple necks.

By 1982 through 1983 the American made Bullet guitar was redesigned to look like a slightly smaller version of the Stratocaster. The guitar came in several versions. These were made in the U.S.A through 1983. Subsequent models were made by Fender Japan.

The S-3 had 3 Mustang type pickups with white covers positioned in the normal Strat fashion and a five way blade switch.  It had a single volume and a single tone control. Fender now offered four colours; black, sunburst, red, and cream. The pickguard on these was plastic, and the bridge/saddle with nickel chrome.

Fender also produced the American made S-2, which was very similar to the original Bullet, but this time with a Stratocaster style body. This guitar came with the anodized metal pickguard with the bridge/saddles attached to a lip at the end of the body. It had volume and tone controls and a three way selector switch. Fender came out with two other model Bullet guitars. 

Bullet H-1

The Bullet H-1 featured a single Humbucking pickup in the bridge position. This guitar came with a volume and tone control and a pushbutton switch to change from humbucking to single coil mode. It too came with the anodized aircraft metal pickguard, with the lip on the end where  the strings attached.

The Bullet H-2 had 2 Fender humbuckers (that were actually Mustang pickups side to side. Alongside the 3 way blade switch were two pushbutton switches that enable coil tapping. 

1982 Bullet Bass

An American made  Fender Bullet Bass was also produced from 1981 through 1983. It was a smaller bodied version of a Precision bass with Mustang bass pickups.

1982 Fender Bullet S-3

All of the original 1982-83 Bullet guitars came in black, white, red or cream. The controls were volume and tone. The input was on the top where the second tone control would be found on a Stratocaster. These were hard tail instruments.

1981 Fender Bullet with case

The price for the instruments in 1981 was $199 which included a molded Fender case. During this time there was also a set sold at a slightly higher price that included a Fender Bullet guitar and a Fender Harvard Reverb solid state amplifier.

Fender Squier Bullets - MIJ
By 1984 Fender Bullets were produced in Japan under the Squire Bullet label. These came in several versions including style similar to the late 1981- 83. 

This change came at a time when Fender management was changing from CBS to FMIC. These instruments came with plastic pickguards, and chromed metal bridges. The anodized aluminum pickguard were no longer offered.  Fender contracted with the Fujigen company.

1984 Squier Bullet with tremolo 

Some of the key differences were these were no longer labeled as Fender guitars, but now known as Squier Bullet guitars. The pickups on most had enclosed covers, and most were bridge saddle assemblies were hardtails. However some came with tremolos. The MIJ Bullet Series maintained the Telecaster style headstock. Tuners were stamped "Fender Japan".


MIJ Squier Bullet Neckplate

The serial number on the Squier Bullet neck plate began with "SQ", though the first models were stamped "JV".  While the neckplates on the 1981 - 1983 American made Fender Bullet guitars were just stamped with the stylized Fender "F" and no serial number. Although they were originally made as student instruments, in my opinion they are still great players. I owned one for a few years and I hated to part with it. The resale prices for these guitars are skyrocketing.

Junior Brown had his original Guit-Steel made from Fender Bullet parts.
Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further reading.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only) 2021

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Remembering Larry Goshorn


Larry Goshorn

Many readers may not be familiar with Larry Goshorn. But I am quite certain that you are familiar with the band Pure Prairie League. Larry Goshorn along with his brother Tim were both members of this group. 

Sadly Larry passed away on September 15th of this year. 

In addition to being guitarist and songwriter for Pure Prairie League, Larry was a beloved member of the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky music community and will forever be remembered for his wonderful songs, amazing voice, his work in Pure Prairie League, his contributions to The Goshorn Brother's Band, and for bringing great music to the Greater Cincinnati area.

Though I personally did not know Larry, many of my friends were very close to him, and in some cases they played music in groups along with him. 

I started playing guitar in the mid-1960’s, when I was just a 13 year old kid, and I learned more about playing guitar by going to dances and shows just to watch the guitar players and study their fingering patterns, than I did from any guitar teacher.

The Sacred Mushroom
It was around this era that Larry, Tim, and their brother Danny Goshorn were members in a local blues and psychedelic rock band called The Sacred Mushroom. Though I didn’t know the members, I saw them play many times at different venues and recall that they were very, very good. I even picked up a few blues licks from watching Larry. 

The Sacred Mushroom and Tribe
I had no idea that at the time the band and their friends, whom they referred to as “the tribe”,  lived together in a residence they called The Mushroom House.  That sounds idyllic, but as someone who lived in a community for a time, I found the element of privacy was missed.

The Sacred Mushroom Band went on to release a 45 rpm single called “Break Away Girl", and an album that consisted of original material as well as covers of T-Bone Walker's "Mean Old World" and Ray Davies' "I'm Not Like Everybody Else". The Sacred Mushroom band dissolved due to unknown circumstances in 1969. 

Larry would later join Pure Prairie League along with his brother Tim Goshorn. Both guys were active in the group in from around 1975 through 1978, and then again at a reunion concert in the mid 1980's. After leaving, Larry and Tim went on to form The Goshorn Brother's Band.  Although they Larry and Tim were not founding members of Pure Prairie League, they were an integral part of the band's history.

Pure Prairie League originated in 1970 when singer/guitarist Craig Fuller and his friends from Columbus Ohio put together one of the first bands that combined Rock with Country music. By 1972 the group was recording music. 

Their song “Amie” became a major hit song. During the band's career they scored six Top 40 LP’s. 

Pure Prairie League went through a lot of personal changes through the years. Founding member Craig Fuller had to leave the group just before “Amie” hit the airwaves to face trial for charges of draft evasion in Kentucky. Y'all remember The Draft?  Before conscientious objector (C.O.) status could be arranged for Craig, he was sentenced to six months in jail which forced him to leave Pure Prairie League in February of 1973. 

By August of that year, the band members had moved their base to the Cincinnati area.  The group had a hit record at the time, but the band was somewhat in disarray. The remaining members managed to persuade steel guitarist John David Call to return. 

Craig Fuller
Craig Fuller, though out of prison later in 1973, was registered as a conscientious objector.  He was required to perform alternate service for two years, to fulfill the military's two year obligation for conscription. He worked the late shift in a community hospital to satisfy those requirements and was not inclined to rejoin at that time. Thankfully Craig was eventually given a full pardon by President Gerald Ford.

Pure Prairie League 1973
Mike Reilly, the groups bass player during this era, took over as the band's leader and front man. He brought in his friend Larry Goshorn to replace Fuller.  Pure Prairie League then hit the road and began playing gigs constantly as "Amie" grew in popularity as radio stations began receiving requests to play the song.

Bustin' Out
As a result, RCA re-released the album Bustin' Out and issued "Amie" as a single. The song peaked at No. 27 on April 26, 1975, just as a minor bluegrass revival was underway on mid-western college campuses. Larry Goshorn became the group’s main songwriter during this time. He was featured on Pure Prairie League's third album; Two Lane Highway. 

In 1977 John David Call left because of increasing back troubles. Larry Goshorn's brother, Tim, joined in time to record Just Fly (March 1978) taking over the duties as the group's steel guitar player. 

By 1978 more changes occurred and there was a mass exodus from the group.  

This was when both Goshorns left to form their own group, The Goshorn Brothers. The duo of Larry and Tim were constantly performing at clubs in the Ohio and Northern Kentucky area. I expect after years of touring this was a welcome change. 

Both guys also appeared with other Blues bands in the area. The brothers released an album in 2012 simply titled The Goshorn Brothers; Life. In 2015 they released another album called Custom Bootleg. 

Larry and Tim Goshorn
Both Larry and Tim, as well as other members of Pure Prairie League were recognized as members in The Northern Kentucky Music Legends Hall of Fame. Larry and Tim were featured almost every Friday in the Blues Segment of Gary Burbank's afternoon radio show on WLW radio. 

Larry and Tim Goshorn

After a lengthy illness, Larry underwent heart surgery.

Tim Goshorn  died at his home in Williamstown, Kentucky after a bout with cancer on April 15, 2017, at age 62. 

Recently Larry Goshorn became quite ill and was hospitalized with Acute leukemia & Pneumonia. His wife, Kim, kept his friends posted about his condition. 

Larry Goshorn
Then on this past September 15th, she wrote these heartwrenching words; “My angel, Larry Goshorn... He took his last breath in my presence… He left this world the same way he lived in it, with humility and kindness for those around him...Larry G. Died September 14 (2021) at 5:20pm. I must add that I was married to the coolest guy on the planet…” 

On November 7th, 2021 a memorial and benefit concert put on by The Play It Forward Foundation will be held at The Madison Theater in Covington Kentucky, 730 Madison Avenue. 

If you are in the area, please come to celebrate Larry Goshorn’s life.  They event starts at noon.

Through his career Larry owned and played quite a few electric and acoustic guitars,  There are no video or photos of The Sacred Mushroom from the mid to late 1960's. I can only image that most bands of the time were playing Fender Stratocasters, Telecasters, and Gibson ES-335's mostly through Fender amplifiers.  

Larry playing a Gibson
L6-S Custom Deluxe
By the Pure Prairie League years I ran across a video of Larry playing a Gibson L6-S Custom Deluxe solid body guitar.  This guitar was a very interesting instrument whose electronics and pickups were designed by Bill Lawrence.  The finish was natural and looked like a wide Les Paul. 

Larry with PPL playing
his Guild Nightbird

In a 1986 video Larry can be seen in a video playing Guild Nightbird GC, which resembled a Les Paul.  That guitar came with Kent Armstrong pickups. Larry and the band are playing through Ampeg amplifiers. 

During Larry's Goshorn Brother's years, he is playing an unidentified guitar.  Larry seemed to favor this guitar in later years.  In a 1995 video he can be seen playing this instrument. The guitar's neck had a reverse headstock. The body has a modified Telecaster shape. 

The neck pickup appears to be a P-90, and on a separate pickguard are a slanted pickup with twin blades in the bridge position, and a single coil in the center position. In the video the body is red and there is a logo on the headstock. 

In later years the body and headstock appear to be refinished with a flame design.

Larry had another similar instrument with a dark blue body, similar white pickups, but instead of a rosewood fretboard and painted headstock, this one has a maple cap and a maple headstock.  

For many of his small club dates with The Goshorn Brothers Larry and Tim both played Martin and Taylor acoustic guitars.  

However, without a doubt, Larry Goshorn's most beautiful guitar was a Fender Stratocaster with an incredible body that was hand painted by his wife Kim Goshorn. 

Isn't that guitar stunning?  

Larry is certainly missed by his family, friends, and most of all by his wife, Kim. 

Click on the links below the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.  
Two links regarding Larry's guitars were taken by Kim Goshorn.
©UniqueGuitar Publications 2021 (text only)

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Jimmy Bryant And The Stratosphere Twin Double Neck Guitar

Jimmy Bryant
Jimmy Bryant was one of the best and fastest, guitar players in the world of Country Music. But in my opinion he was more of a Jazz player. In fact in an interview his favorite player was Django Rhinehart.  I believe it was Jimmy Bryant that brought that genre into Country.

He was born March 5, 1925 to a dirt-poor sharecropping family in Moultrie, Georgia, and named Ivy James Bryant, Jr. 

He was the oldest of 12 children. The young boy was a prodigy and he learned country fiddle at age five to help feed his family by worked as a street musician during the Great Depression years. 

Bryant joined the army at age 18 in 1942.  He was wounded with shrapnel in battle. During his convalescence he met guitarist Tony Mottola, who was in the Special Services Unit.  Bryant was so impressed with Mottola's proficiency that he decided guitar was the instrument for him. 

Upon discharge with a Purple Heart, Bryant purchased a Gibson Super 400 with floating De Armond pickup, an amp, then played the Washington, D.C. area and in Georgia as “Buddy” Bryant. 

He later moved to Los Angeles and he secured radio work as lead guitarist with Cliffie Stone on the California television show “Hometown Jamboree” playing alongside pedal-steel master Speedy West and numerous other country stars. 

At the time he was sporting a sunburst Gibson Super 400 (with a floating DeArmond pickup) and a Fender Dual Professional/Super with two 10″ Jensen speakers. 

Bryant's Boogie
His first recording session was Tex Williams’ “Wild Card” (1950) for Capitol,. This led to a five-year contract during which he made 65 singles as Jimmy Bryant. His first solo record, “Bryant’s Boogie,” was done as a trial to see how well he could perform. He shared the recording with Stone’s Hometown band and Tennessee Ernie Ford was featured on the B-side. 

Bryant later played a prototype of Leo Fender's Broadcaster which was featured in a Roy Rogers cowboy film. Later Bryant was known for his work using a Telecaster. 

Supposedly Fender was going to produce a Jimmy Bryant Signature Stratocaster, but somehow that deal fell through. He became disillusioned with Fender.

As a result he went on to play a variety of other manufacturers instruments, especially some different Rickenbacker guitars

Bryant with a Maganatone Guitar 
He also played a prototype guitar made for him by Magnatone. After all he was living in Los Angeles, and Rickenbacker was, and is, a California company. L.A.

At the time Country Music coming out of Los Angeles was much more progressive than what was coming out of Nashville at that time and Bryant wanted to push the envelope.

Stratosphere Boogie

His technical skill made it possible for him to take it to the limit way back in 1954 when he recorded “Stratosphere Boogie” and “Deep Water.” 

Both songs featured an innovative approach to parallel harmonies, which would be impossible to play on a normal guitar, where he sounded like two guitars, country-style. 

Bryant With His
Stratosphere Twin Guitar
Bryant had long admired the multi-tracking skills of Les Paul which produced similar sounds. But neither of Bryant's songs were double tracked.  Jimmy Bryant had discovered The Stratosphere Twin guitar, which was the key to achieving this sound.

The Stratosphere Twin Guitar was the first double neck 12 string, and six string electric guitar ever made and offered for sale. 

By tuning the 12 string neck in major and minor thirds, Jimmy Bryant had developed a way to produce a twin-guitar effect with a single instrument which enabled him to generate inimitable harmonized lines. 

1956-57 Pamphlet

The unique Stratosphere Twin Guitar was manufactured for just a few years in the 1950's by a Springfield Missouri company called the Stratosphere Guitar Manufacturing Company. Russell Deaver was the inventor and designer, and along with his brother, Claude the company only manufactured approximately 200 instruments which were marketed primarily to country musicians during the short-lived venture. 

Their most popular guitar was the Stratosphere Twin double-neck, which retailed for about $300 which was a lot of money in those days. 

1956 Stratosphere Twin 

It was Jimmy Bryant's use of this instrument made it fairly famous. Since this guitar was featured on a popular Country Music show called “The Ozark Jubilee,”  This was a groundbreaking weekly live television show produced in Springfield Missouri and it featured top country performers such as Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, Merle Travis, Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. The show was hosted by Red Foley. 

The show brought some of  the biggest country music stars of the era to Springfield Missouri, and Russell Deaver was constantly rubbing elbows with these men and women, trying to get his instruments in their hands. 

Ozark Jubilee

Back during the 1950's there were a handful of such live shows throughout the U.S. such as The National Barn Dance, The Midwestern Hayride from Cincinnati, Town Hall Party from Pasadena, Louisiana Hayride, and others. 

By being able to get their instruments into the hands of some of these performers, the Deaver brothers were hoping this would boost sales. After all, that's how Leo Fender started out. 

Stratosphere Six String
The Deaver brothers opened a guitar-making factory in the 300 block of Boonville Avenue. They built  single-neck six-string and single neck 12-string models as well as their double-neck electric guitar. The guitars were made of an unusual choice of woods, like gum wood. The bridges and hardware were manufactured at the facility out of cast aluminum. The bridges were most unique. The electric guitars body was unlike anything at the time. 

Stratosphere Guitars were only in business for a few years. The instruments are still sought by vintage electric guitar collectors and Missouri and Ozarks music historians.

In Russell Deaver’s obituary from the Brunswick News of Georgia, it stated "He was a house painter by trade but “his love was music.” “He invented a Stratosphere double-neck guitar in the 1950s, which he played with musicians such as Chet Atkins, Speedy West, and Jimmy Bryant,” the obit states. “He was still playing that guitar up until his death."

Stratosphere Twin

Due to their scarcity the Stratosphere Twin double-necks are of more interest to most collectors. At a recent guitar show, said a New York collector had one on display, and the asking price was $15,000.

Click on the links below the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publication 2021 (text only)