This rare native New Yorker blends old-world craftsmanship with rock ’n’ roll design.
There’s an oft-told tale about solidbody guitars in the early 1950s. It relates how California upstart Fender sparked the public’s fervor with its Broadcaster and Telecaster models, and how the established East Coast builders first denied that they had to respond, but then relented. The rest, and even that alone, is history.
While everyone knows how Gibson answered Fender, they weren’t the only notable East Coast brand at the time. Epiphone was a heavy hitter, too, and there were other significant labels, including the company behind this month’s guitar, New York City-based Premier. That guitar and amp seller was a division of the Peter Sorkin Music Company, and its guitars were made by Sorkin’s manufacturing subsidiary, Multivox. Premier was especially notable for its “scroll” electrics, like this month’s exceptionally well-preserved E-723.
This guitar’s belt rash proves it’s seen action during its more than half-century.
Photo by Lynn Wheelwright
With pots dated late 1958, this E-723 was originally offered in or around 1959 and is an early example of the scroll shape that Premier would continue to use throughout the 1960s. Check out that distinctive upper horn: traditional yet daring, almost like a mandolin’s curves transferred to one solid piece of mahogany. And, well, that’s exactly what it is.
Like Gibson’s urn headstocks, this Premier’s torch inset has a distinctly Greco-Roman look.
Photo by Lynn Wheelwright
Premier’s owner Sorkin had recently bought the Strad-O-Lin mandolin company, and he put its equipment to work on these solidbodies. In many ways, they’re a marriage of old-world craftsmanship and rock ’n’ roll design. The neck is one carved piece of Brazilian rosewood, yet bolt-on. The gold hardware and trapeze bridge could complement any jazz box, yet they sit next to a large crushed-plastic pickguard that’s almost garish. All those knobs and switches are functional and funky. The small black knobs include a volume and tone control for each of the three single-coil pickups, which get their own on/off toggles as well. The large gold dial is a master volume control.
Premier’s owner Sorkin had recently bought the Strad-O-Lin mandolin company, and he put its equipment to work on these solidbodies.
Premier’s scroll guitars were made in a variety of pickup configurations, model names, and finishes, and were originally sold for anywhere from $145.50 to $230.00 and more, depending on the number of pickups and factory upgrades. Nowadays, prices range from about $1,500 at the low end (for a single-pickup model in fair condition) to $5,000 or more.
The dials on the left side of the guitar are volume and tone controls for the pickups. The toggles at right are on/off switches, and the large dial is a master volume.
Photo by Lynn Wheelwright
This particular Premier is one of the high-end models, with three pickups and a Ruby finish that has faded over time. Guitar seller, tech, builder, historian, and writer Lynn Wheelwright has owned it for the last 30 years and says it is one of “only two other examples of this top-of-the-line, solid-carved, 3-pickup beauty” he’s found in decades of looking for guitars. He’s selling it for $4,899 through his Pro Musician Outlet Reverb shop.
Sources for this column include Vintage Guitar’s February 2020 article “Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Premier E-723” and Reverb listings from Retrofret Vintage Guitars, The Guitar Broker, and Rivington Guitars.
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D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.