Gear Search Gallery: 1990 Warwick John Entwistle Custom Buzzard

This Explorer-inspired, North America-shaped bass was the brainchild of Who bassist John Entwistle and Warwick’s President and Founder Hans Peter Wilfer back in 1985.


This Explorer-inspired, North America-shaped bass was the brainchild of Who bassist John Entwistle and Warwick’s President and Founder Hans Peter Wilfer back in 1985. Entwistle had some very specific ideas for his custom-made bass after moving away from his Rickenbacker 4001, Alembic models, and the Fender “Explorer- Bird,” and knew Wilfer could do the job. According to lore, John and Hans Peter drew up the basic design in one day. That night, after a few drinks in a London nightclub, the two agreed it would be called the Buzzard. A few prototypes were made and after a few design tweaks became the bass we recognize today. After the duo decided on the name, the headstock was changed to more closely resemble a buzzard’s beak during late-stage prototyping. Warwick released The Buzzard to the public soon thereafter, and the company continued making custom Buzzards for John in subsequent years.

The Buzzard featured here has its own story to tell. Warwick made about 18 basses specifically for Entwistle in 1990, and the bass shown here was the only instrument out of Entwistle’s extensive collection chosen to be featured on the cover of his book Bass Culture. It features a 34" scale and two EMG P-style pickups. On the Buzzards built for Entwistle, he preferred a Modulus graphite neck for its ability to hold his low-action, which required constant truss-rod adjustments on standard necks. He also valued the neck’s suitability for his dynamic playing, as well as its seeming imperviousness to weather changes.

The current owner purchased this Buzzard, along with a gold one, from John at his home in 2001. Regarding the signature, he relates, “John signed this one for me right there with one of the sharpies that he used for his illustrations and drawings, as we were halfway between his downstairs studio and his art room.”


Thanks to Greg Dorsett and David Brewis of Rock Stars Guitars for listing this bass on Gear Search. Whether you’re looking for a slice of rock history or the latest on the market, there’s a great chance you’ll find it at Gear Search. More than 40,000 pieces of gear are listed, including some of the rarest pieces in the world.

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