Friday, November 30, 2018

George Harrision - February 25, 1943 to November 29, 2001 - His Guitars

The Last PIcture of George Harrison
George with his Futurama Guitar

George Harrison played a myriad of guitars throughout his career with the Beatles. Starting out in January of 1960 with a Czechoslovakian guitar called a Delicia Futurama. This was a rather poor version of a Fender guitar which was being imported and sold by Selmer Musical Instruments. It had three pickups mounted on a solid body. Unlike the Fender, the headstock was three on a side for this guitar.

George Harrison with
his Selmer Truvoice amp
This guitar was played through a Selmer Truvoice Stadium amplifier.

Sometime in July of 1961 George was able to trade up for a Gibson Les Paul GA-40 amplifier.

He also was able to buy a black Gretsch Duo Jet.

By 1962 The Beatles were being recognized in Liverpool and July of that year George acquired his first Vox AC30 amplifier. He played through Vox amps for much of his career.

In September of 1962, Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager, took George and John went to Rushworth's Music store where they picked out a pair of sunburst Gibson J-160E guitars. These instruments went on to become iconic Beatle guitars.

In 1963, just before the Beatles became famous in the United States that George Harrison decided to travel to the United States to visit his sister. She lived near Chicago, in Mount Vernon, Illinois. During this visit he purchased a 1962 one pickup Rickenbacker 425.

He wanted a guitar like the one John had and this guitar was close. He later had a new pickguard made and added a second pickup. He only used it on a few live British television shows.

But the provenance of this guitar states that Harrison used it on the recording of I Want to Hold Your Hand.  Harrison eventually gave this guitar to a friend.

It sold at auction for $657,000.

It was not until April of 1963 that George Harrison graduated from the small bodied Gretsch Duo Jet to the larger bodied Gretsch Country Gentleman.

In July or August of 1963, Harrison added an Australian made Maton Mastersound MS-500 to his collection.

He also possessed a new Vox AC30 amplifier.

Both Country Gentlemen
In October of 1963 Harrison acquired a second Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar and a Gretsch Tennessean Guitar.

By now the Beatles were famous and Vox had built a new amplifier in hopes the music could be heard of the screams of their girl fans. This was the Vox AC50.

By February on 1964, Francis Hall, the owner of Rickenbacker Guitars presented George with a 1963 Rickenbacker 360/12, which gave the Fab Four some of their signature sound.

Harrison also acquired a new Ramirez classical guitar, which he used in the studio and in the film, A Hard Day’s Night. This is another guitar he gave away to a friend from Liverpool.

By now the Beatles were playing stadiums and arenas across the United States, so in an effort to be heard, Vox Musical Instruments presented the “boys” with Vox AC100 amplifiers. Harrison relied on this amp throughout 1964 and 1965.

Sometime between October of 1965 and March of 1966 Harrison had Mel Evans purchase two Sonic blue Fender Stratocasters. One was a 1961 model which he would later paint and it became his Rocky Stratocaster. You can hear that distinctive Strat sound on the recording of Nowhere Man.

He also acquired a Gibson ES-345.

Between April and June of 1966 the Beatles existed mostly in the studio. Harrison and Lennon purchased 1965 Epiphone Casinos. Harrison's had a Bigsby, while Lennon's had a trapeze tailpiece.

Harrison also acquired a 1964 Cherry Gibson SG, a Burns Nu-Sonic bass guitar, and a Fender Showman amp.

In 1966, the Beatles were presented with a prototype Vox amplifer called the UL730. He used this in the Let It Be Sessions.

George with a Vox Super Beatle
(head is backwards)
This same year the Beatles were given Vox Super Beatle amplifiers made by the Thomas Organ Company.

However they used the Vox UL730 amplifiers on most of their final US and European tour.

In 1968, Harrison was presented with a rosewood Telecaster made by Roger Rossmeisl and Philip Kubuki during the time they worked for Fender. They made two of these guitars and gave George Harrison the best one. The serial number is 235594. The guitars body had to be hollowed out due to its weight.

It is sometimes called The Rooftop Telecaster.

It was used in Let It Be and on the Abby Road sessions. Ed Begley Jr. purchased it at auction in 2003.

Harrison also owned several acoustics guitars built in 1974 by luthier Tony Zemaitis.

Read the links in the text for further information.
© UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)
George Harrison with his collection
Some of the Amplifiers That Harrsion Used Through the Years
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Super Strat Creator and Builder Wayne Charvel's Home and Workshop Destroyed in the Camp Fire

The remains of Charvel's
home and workshop
A number of reports are in the new regarding the Camp Fire tragedy that has affected so many people, but in particular well known luthier Wayne Charvel.  Charvel's home and work shop were completely decimated by the fire.

Wayne and his some Michael shared a business building guitars in Wayne's home workshop.

Michael Charvel says his own home was also destroyed in the fire, as were the homes of his brother, sister, and his uncle.

The remains of Wayne Charvel's
home and workshop

In the online Popular Mechanics article, Michael describes the chaos and fear that he faced when he realized that he could have been killed by the fire if he stayed at his home.

Thankfully the family is well connected to those in charge of the town of Paradise, since Wayne's son-in-law is their fire chief,  All made it out alive, and are staying with friends and kind people..

After all people were evacuated, Charvel's residence and workshop were checked by the fire chief, and they were told everything was destroyed. This included all the templates, jigs, custom routing bits, vintage tools, and vintage 1940's Bridgeport milling machine. Wayne built many of his own tools that he will not be able to replace.

Michael says he is grateful that he and all of his family made it out alive.

Wayne Charvel

For anyone unfamiliar with Wayne Charvel, he is a legend in the guitar industry building guitars for  Eddie Van Halen, ZZ Top, and Deep Purple. In fact he list of performers he has built custom guitars for is far too numerous to list here.

Vintage Charvel

Wayne Charvel is ostensibly the inventor of the super-strat. His guitars fueled the needs of many of the 1980's and '90's rock and metal bands.

Les Paul and Wayne Charvel
Wayne began working for Fender Guitars in the mid 1960's doing refinishing work and refurbishing out-of-warranty guitars. In 1974, while he was still working for Fender, he opened Charvel Guitar repair to do custom work.

Charvel at a NAMM show
In fact Fender sent him his first client, the bass player, Roger Glover, and guitar player, Tommy Bolin, pf Deep Purple.  Word of mouth reached the manager for The Who, and Wayne Charvel built a clear plastic bass for John Entwhistle.

Boogie Bodies
He taught his friend Lynn Ellsworth how to cut guitar bodies. Later Ellsworth started a business called Boogie Body Guitars. Charvel began advertising in Guitar Player Magazine.

At first he used unfinished Schecter, and Boogie bodies and necks for his guitars.

Charvel later built his own pin routers and built his own bodies and necks.

Charvel and a
young Billy Gibbons

He also built his own parts to fit Fender and Gibson guitars. Charvel also created custom guitars for Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Topp.

Eddie Van Halen asked him if he could stop DiMarzio pickups from squealing. He did this by soaking them in hot wax. He advertised this service in guitar publications. No other company was doing "pickup potting" at the time.

EVH Charvel

Wayne Charvel also worked on Eddie Van Halen's main guitar, and built him another one that was black with yellow stripes.

Grover Jackson

Wayne Charvel teamed up with Grover Jackson for a while, and eventually sold the business to him.  Many Charvel and Charvette guitars were made in Asia during these years.

In 2002 the Fender Musical Instrument Company purchased the Charvel brand name. They sold Eddie Van Halen "EVH" guitars for a few years.

Michael Charvel
Most recently Wayne teamed up with his son Michael to build high end solid body electric guitars under the Wayne brand.  They are using "old school" technology, hand manufacturing each Wayne guitar one at a time.

Charvel's pin router

Michael says that CNC machines are great for large companies building many similar instruments, but since Wayne guitars are hand made, they still rely on a pin router.

Wayne working on a guitar
The father and son have been in business until this tragic fire destroyed their shop.   Michael says that they will move forward and eventually be up and running again.

If anyone would like to donate to the Charvel family in their time of need, you can contribute to their GoFundMe page or send money via PayPal at

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Roy Clark - His Life and Guitars

Roy Clark

Roy Clark was one of the best entertainers, and funniest guitar players ever, He was a consummate, multi-talented showman. He was a most influential member of the Country Music industry, and his performances helped to popularize it. He hosted the television show, Hee Haw, for 24 years, along with Buck Owens.

Roy Clark on The Tonight Show
Roy Clark also appeared on The Tonight Show, and was a frequent performer on many other popular series. He introduced comedy to his skills as a guitarist and singer, in a way few had ever done.

Mr. Clark passed away this past Thursday, November 30th at age 85.

His parents owned a farm in Virginia, but at age 11, they moved to Washington D.C. where his father got a job in the Navy ship yard. Roy's father was also a semi-professional musician who played a variety of musical instruments, including banjo, fiddle, and guitar.

When Roy was 14 years old, his father taught him to play guitar. Roy was a quick study, and soon was playing not just the guitar, but also banjo, and mandolin. He had a great ear, and was influenced by the style of guitarist George Barnes. Roy also used to go to the many clubs in the D.C area, to not just watch the guitarists play, but also steal their licks. Though Roy played a variety of instruments, he says his first love was the guitar.

Young Roy Clark
Clark was influenced by listening to Earl Scruggs play banjo. So much so that in 1947 Roy Clark had become so good on the banjo that he won the National Banjo Championship at age 15 years old.  He began touring with a band shortly afterward.

At age 16, Clark teamed up with guitarist Carl Lukat as his rhythm guitar player. Clark made his first TV appearance in 1949 on a local television station.

By age 17, he had won his second National Banjo title, and in doing so appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. This brought him exposure to some well-known acts, and he was soon hired as back up guitarist for banjo player/comedian, Stringbean (David Akeman), Annie Lou and Danny, Lonzo and Oscar, and Hal and Velma Smith.

Publicity photo of young Roy Clark

These acts performed alongside such well known stars Ernst Tubb, and Red Foley. Their tours introduced Clark to some playing some large venues.

Despite being in front of an audience, Roy Clark admits that he was a shy kid and turned to humor to overcome this on stage.

When he was in school, Country Music was not popular, and despite his success, he was made fun of by some of his classmates. By clowning around, it seemed to help him fit in. In fact he was not confident enough in himself to perform in a serious manner, until the early 1960’s.

Jimmy Dean
By 1954, Country Music star Jimmy Dean invited Clark to join his band as lead guitarist. Dean hosted a popular radio show in Washington D.C. at the time, and the format was soon moved to television. Clark was eventually fired for habitually being late.

By 1957 Clark left Washington. He said he never intended to be a Country guitarist. He just wanted to play the music he liked, that made him feel good.

Hank Penny's Band

In 1960 Clark went to Las Vegas and hooked up in a Country Western Swing band playing guitar for bandleader-comedian Hank Penny.

Wanda Jackson and The Party Timers
He later backed up Rockabilly Queen Wanda Jackson in her band, known as The Party Timers. His work for Wanda Jackson brought Roy to the attention of Capitol Records. He signed a contract with them and released his first solo album called The Lightning Fingers of Roy Clark,  His first big hit from that record was called Tips of My Fingers. Steve Wariner later recorded that song.

Roy Clark's first successful LP

By 1970 Clark had become the highest paid Country star in the United States earning $7 million dollars a year. He also became a headliner in Vegas, making numerous appearances there during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Roy Clark with Jimmy Dean
In 1960 Jimmy Dean was a replacement host for Jack Paar’s The Tonight Show, and he invited Roy Clark to be a guest. Clark also made a solo debut on The Tonight Show in 1963 when it was hosted by Johnny Carson.

Roy as Myrtle Halsey 1968

Roy Clark made his mark as an actor in a recurring role on The Beverly Hillbillies as a dual character; businessman Roy Halsey, and Halsey’s mother Myrtle Halsey. Ironically, when Clark became successful in Las Vegas, he signed up with the Halsey Talent Agency. So his character was named after his own agent.

Roy Clark on The Odd Couple
Clark was a guest on The Jackie Gleason Show. He also made an appearance in the TV series, The Odd Couple.

During the mid 1960’s Clark spent two years as a co-host of a short-lived Country music variety show called Swingin’ Country.

Hee Haw 1969

Then in 1969, Clark, and Buck Owens were hired as co-host of the syndicated comedy and Country music television show Hee Haw. This show was intended to be a Country version of the show Laugh In. It ran on CBS from 1969 to 1971.

Hee Haw in syndication
However when CBS cancelled the show, it's creators purchased the rights and the show was put into syndication. It became one of the longest running television shows ever. New programs lasted until 1997. Reruns of the show started airing on RFD-TV in 2008, where it still remains popular to this day.

Roy Clark Celebrity Theater

In 1983 Roy Clark was the first performers to open a theater in Branson Missouri that was linked to an entertainer. At the time it was called the Roy Clark Celebrity Theater, and Clark frequently performed there during the 1980’s and 1990’s. He sold his interest, and the venue in now called The Hughes American Family Theater.

Roy went on and began a limited schedule of touring which included playing with Ramona Jones and the Jones Famiy Band at their annual tribute to Grandpa Jones in Mountain View Arkansas.

Roy and Barbara Clark 
Roy Clark married his sweetheart, Barbara Joyce Rupard, on August 31, 1957, and was a father to their five children. He made his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Roy Clark Elementary School was named in his honor in 1978.

Winner of Roy Clark's Tri-Pacer

He also was a certified pilot since he was 23 years old, and owned several aircraft. His first was a 1953 Piper Tri-Pacer, that he auctioned off to benefit the charity; Wings of Hope. He flew himself to many of his concerts.

Clark with a Mosrite Gospel 12 string
Clark played many different guitars, and lent his endorsement several different guitars companies including Mosrite, Gretsch, and Heritage guitars, the latter which produced a signature model.

1951 Fender Broadcaster
Roy states that his first decent guitar was a Fender Broadcaster which he purchased in 1951. He says at the time, he could not afford a Gibson, and this was the first guitar he could afford that had a decent action. He a Marine who wanted to sit in with his band at a club where he was playing in Washington D.C. brought in a Broadcaster. He had never seen or played anything like it. Roy had won $500 from the banjo championship and used that money to buy a Fender Broadcaster.

Up until then he had been playing guitars that had a very high action, which was not conducive for his style of playing.

1952 Les Paul

Clark later purchased a 1952 Gibson Les Paul gold top, which he never sold. He was photographed in his days with Capitol Records with a Gibson ES-335, but states this was a borrowed guitar.

Roy Clark with his 1963 Jaguar

Leo Fender gave Roy Clark a 1963 Jazzmaster, and he played it for a while on the Jimmy Dean Show. Leo knew Hank Penny, and Mr. Penny was able to persuade Leo in giving it to Roy.

Roy Clark with his Gibson Byrdland
Clark also owned what appears to be a 1963 Fender Jaguar. But by that time Roy's main guitar was a Gibson Byrdland which was set up like Hank Garland's guitar. It had a P-90 in the bridge position and a Charley Christian pickup in the neck position. He preferred that guitar over the Fenders.

During his early years working with Ernest Tubb, he became acquainted with Tubb's guitarist, Billy Byrd. Byrd and Hank Garland designed the guitar for Gibson. It has a 23" short scale neck.

1st Gretsch Roy Clark model
For a while Roy played a signature Baldwin made Gretsch guitar.

One of his friends was Shot Jackson, an incredible steel guitar player in Nashville. In later years Jackson owned a guitar repair business/music store. He was the guy that pulled the Baldwin Prismatone pickup out of Willy Nelson's destroyed Baldwin classical guitar, and put it into a Martin N-20; Willy Nelson's guitar known as Trigger.

Shot Jackson also build and sold steel guitars under his own brand; Sho-bud.  Jackson had a relationship with the Baldwin Company that had purchased the Gretsch brand name. He convinced the company to build a Roy Clark model.

2nd version Gretsch Roy Clark model
The guitar was similar to the Chet Atkin's Super Axe, though later the body shape was redesigned. Like the Super Axe, the Roy Clark signature Gretsch had a built-in effects system that contained a compressor and a phasor. I have played the Super Axe, and it was a very nice guitar. The Roy Clark model came out in 1978.

Clark also owned an Ovation 12 string Deacon electric guitar that he used when he played Malaguena and a few other tunes.

Clark with 12 string Ovation Deacon

He had originally played it on his Jazzmaster. On the Odd Couple, he played Malaguena on a Martin D-28. But he loved the big sound he got from playing the song on the Ovation 12 string electric.

Roy Clark said that he used the 12 string Deacon when he plays the Dr. Zhivago theme, Somewhere My Love, to emulate a balalaika. He also has a similar Ovation six string model called a Preacher.

Roy Clark with a Barney Kessel ?

Clark has been seen on shows with a Gibson Barney Kessel. In an interview, he says that borrowed that guitar. He does own a Ventura copy of the Gibson Barney Kessel.

Roy with Heritage Signature model
Roy Clark had a relationship with Heritage Guitars, which are wonderful instruments built at the old Gibson plant in Kalamazoo Michigan by craftsmen that decided not to relocate to Nashville when Gibson moved and shuttered the facility. Clark said his Heritage Guitar is based on a Gibson ES-335.

The Heritage designation is model 535, however his guitar has only one cutaway. During his most recent years, he played Heritage guitars in concert.

He says he still loves his Byrdland, but since the airlines kept damaging it, he decided to quit taking it on the road due to the guitars value. He did admit that the Heritage has a slightly different sound.

He was given a 1939 Martin D-45 by guitarist Doyle Dykes. It had belonged to an old friend of Clark named Smitty Smith. Smith was Doyle's uncle.

Roy claims his first good guitar was a Martin D-18. He also owned a Martin 00-18. As for Gibson guitars, he owned two late 1930's Super 400's.

He also owned a Gibson L-5, L-7, and L-10 and a black Gibson Les Paul.

On the road he took a Takamine flat top. Roy Clark also owns a 1958 Fender Stratocaster, and some G&L guitars. He has an old Fender Twin amp that he used when he was younger. Roy has consistently used Fender amplifiers.

Recent concert Hot Rod Deville
and a different Heritage guitar

In recent concerts he is seen with a Fender Hot Rod Deville amplifier.