vintage guitars

As an electric hollowbody, the unusual Virginian appears at first to be an acoustic model, but has minimal acoustic projection.

Photos by George Aslaender

This vintage electric hollowbody has some unusual components—such as a Rezo-Tube bridge—that would make it a fascinating addition to any collector’s vault.

Many guitar fans obsess over the “classics,” but I’ve always been more drawn to the obscure underdogs, especially those designed by England’s James Ormston Burns. Sometimes called the “British Leo Fender,” Burns’ success was comparatively minimal, but he left behind many interesting, if often quirky, instruments. The original Burns London company started in 1959, was bought out by the American Baldwin Company in late 1965, and shut down just a few years later. Few guitars with the Burns logo ever made it to the U.S., but many of his models were available here, branded Ampeg (1962–’64) and Baldwin (1965–’69).

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This refinished and modded 1958 Gibson Les Paul Special exemplifies the plusses of buying a “player’s guitar.”

Sometimes, the easiest route to vintage tone and playability is by finding a guitar that’s had a refinish, or other mods that haven’t disturbed its musical essence. These are called “players” or “player-grade” guitars in the vintage market, versus “collectors' guitars,” which are unaltered from their original state. This month’s featured instrument, a 1958 Gibson Les Paul Special, is a players' guitar—and I’m that player.

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This month’s dynamic duo from Gibson: a ’64 SG TV finished in white and its same-shaded ’68 EB-O bass counterpart.

On this month’s menu, a ’64 SG TV and a ’68 EB-0—prime examples of the company’s classic mahogany slab designs.

The successful sales of the Les Paul model, launched in 1952, convinced Gibson to expand its solidbody line to include a variety of guitars aimed at players from beginner to professional. This led to the introduction of both the low-priced, flat-bodied, single-pickup Les Paul Junior and the high-priced, elaborately appointed Les Paul Custom in July 1954. By 1955, the Les Paul line also included the Les Paul TV (aka TV Yellow) and the Les Paul Special. The Les Paul Special, TV, and Junior became double cutaway by 1958.

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