A Banjo-Shaped Guitar Is ... Pretty Weird!
It sure looks like a banjo, but this vintage Kawai-made instrument is definitely a guitar!
I’ve been hunkered down in the basement with my dogs while my family is upstairs blowing their noses. I’m the only uninfected person in the house. Last night, while I was trying to stay germ-free, I was digging on Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2021 film, Licorice Pizza. Set in 1973 in California, the soundtrack features a great assortment of songs I’d never heard before and some classics. One song that was playing in my head for the rest of the night after I watched the movie was “Let Me Roll It” by Paul McCartney and Wings. That song reminded me of the guitar education I got from my buddy Mike Dugan, who has been playing guitar since before the Beatles played in the U.S.
When Mike and I used to demo guitars in my basement, I learned something new every time. He insisted that every guitar had at least one song in it. I would hand him guitars, and he would play a little and tell me the song that was buried inside. I got to learn about a lot of music that I was otherwise simply never exposed to. Anyway, “Let Me Roll It” was the song that came out of one of my Kawai-made “banjo” guitars, sometimes called a banjitar. The other one I owned had Ten Years After’s “Going Home” in it. Go figure!
I’m actually surprised I never wrote about this guitar before, because it is just so odd.
All Kawai banjitars share the model name CB-2V (the CB stands for concert banjo), even though they were sold under different brands—Splendor and Winston, in the case of my two. These were only made in 1968 (along with a bunch of other crazy Kawai-built guitars) and were primarily sold in Japan. I’m convinced that LSD was introduced in Hamamatsu, Japan, around that time because the Kawai designers were just straight trippin’! (I’m actually surprised I never wrote about this guitar before, because it is just so odd.)
A good friend used to travel for his work, and wherever he went to Japan, he would check out the local secondhand shops (which are hugely popular there) and send me pics of interesting guitars. I bought the Splendor guitar this way and had it shipped. I found the other one here in the U.S., where they were usually sold with the Winston badge.
Resplendent with body and neck binding, a German carve, a flip-up bridge mute, and a gently curved back, the CB-2V is also bizarre. The guitars have two pickup switches, a volume and tone knob, and, unfortunately, one of the worst of the Kawai tremolo units. But hey, you can’t win ’em all.
The only reason this was dubbed the concert banjo is simply the round body, which was solid underneath the pickguard. Otherwise, it’s just a regular old six-string with some plinky sounds thanks to the shallow break angle. I suppose you could even coax some sitar-like sounds with the proper set-up. Mike was always able to crank out some raw blues thanks to the Kawai pickups, which at this point were a little less hot than the Hound Dog Taylor guitars from previous years. But Kawai was still using my favorite series wiring, and with both pickups turned on, you can get 10.95k worth of output.
The CB-2V has a 24" scale and a thin laminated neck. Overall, the guitar feels super small on your body and does not balance well at all. The fatal flaw of these guitars is the neck and string alignment. The bridge puts both E strings at the very edges of the neck binding, which leads to a lot of misplaced notes and fretting errors as the strings just pull off the side of the neck. But hey, you probably weren’t buying this guitar for the playability. In fact, I don’t know why you would buy one of these other than the strange factor, which is worth something to certain types of players.
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Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Which one do you prefer?
Rhett and Zach unpack the big news for secondhand guitar sellers and buyers: Sweetwater has launched their new Gear Exchange. How does it compare to Reverb, Craigslist, and Marketplace? To find out, Zach takes the site for a spin and buys a pedal. He calls the process both “very easy” and “normal.” They discuss the pros and cons of the various used-gear outlets and share tips for not getting got when buying gear. Plus, Zach grew a mustache, Mythos Pedals is moving, and he talks about his forthcoming line of Strat pickups inspired by Hendrix’s reverse-stagger setup.
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Get 10% off from StewMac when you visit stewmac.com/dippedintone
Supro Introduces All-New Royale Head and 1x12 Cab
The Royale was designed to deliver loud and vivid clean tone with a responsive, tactile low end.
Designed to offer massive headroom, the 50-watt Royale Head lets you indulge in smooth clean tones at even higher volumes on stage without any breakup. Select between class A and class AB modes, with its variable mode switch, so you can choose between gushing Supro tone or a punchier, tight midrange response.
Introducing the Royale Head & Extension Cabinet | Supro
The Royale 1x12 Extension Cabinet features the custom Supro BD12 high-power driver, offering the same mid-range punch and clean articulation as the Royale combo but with additional stage volume. More info: suprousa.com.
Royale Head | $1,499.99
Royale Cab | $669.99
D’Addario Foundation Kicks-Off Education Initiative with Online Auction
D'Addario Foundation's education project sets out to help schools throughout the country and kicks off with an online auction.
The D’Addario Foundation will host a virtual auction from November 9 to November 30, 2022, with the overarching goal of raising $30,000 for the D'Addario Foundation’s Immersive Music Challenge.
Inspired by a new study published in the Journal of Youth Development, the D'Addario Foundation recently launched the Immersive Music Challenge. This ambitious project will help school districts and charter systems throughout the country boost academic achievement by implementing effective, multi-day-per-week music-based mentoring programs that include training, administration, and evaluation. The D’Addario Foundation has invested in an incredible team of consultants that include school superintendents, public health experts, and data analysts to ensure sound results. In addition, D’Addario is actively seeking corporate partners to support the establishment of these programs and champion their success.
Thanks to the generosity of D'Addario artists and industry partners including Gibson, PRS Guitars, D'Angelico, Taylor Guitars, and more, one-of-a-kind items & experiences are up for bidding. Some of the items include:
- Evans Drumhead signed by Anderson Paak
- ESP Mirage Deluxe '87 Signed by Bruce Kulick of KISS and Grand Funk Railroad
- Gibson Les Paul Custom electric guitar
- D'Addario bass string set signed by Bryan Beller of the Aristocrats
- PRS S2 McCarty 594 Singlecut
- Virtual Lesson with Marty Schwartz
Xotic Effects Introduces Revamped RC Booster
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Xotic Effects unveils an updated version of their classic boost pedal.
Xotic’s RC Booster pedal is back to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The RC Booster’s original design was a customer favorite due to its versatile clean boost, active treble, bass, gain and volume controls. This classic reissue will join their regular pedal lineup permanently.
• Transparent boost pedal for electric guitar
• Up to 20dB of boost for adding volume or sending your amp into overdrive
• Treble and bass EQ controls with +/-15dB range for fine-tuning your sound
• True bypass switching removes the effect from your signal path when disengaged
• Powered via 9-volt battery or optional AC adapter (sold separately)
• 9-18 volts
The first 1000 pedals will contain a special limited edition packaging with special items and actual guitar picks from Andy Timmons, Paul Jackson Jr, Dean Brown, Kirk Fletcher, Allen Hinds, Chris Duarte, Scott Henderson, Oz Noy, Michael Thompson, Yuya Komoguchi, Toshi Yanagi.
RC Booster with limited edition packaging street price is $172.00. More info: xotic.us.