GOOD NEWS, first. With the fantastic popularity of this column, it has for some time been impossible to print answers to every query sent in. So from this month I'm instigating a new scheme for Guru consultations.
If you supply as much information as you can about your electric guitar (sorry, no amps, no acoustics), and ENCLOSE AN SAE, then your good old Guru GUARANTEES a personal reply on a special form, regardless of whether it's used here or not. Another free (and unique) service for Making Music readers, in fact.
A clear photo of your electric guitar is the most helpful thing to send your Guru. If your Brownie's broken, a good sketch can be useful. Failing that, give as DETAILED a description as you can, including info on pickups and other hardware too. In other words, the more you give, the more I can tell, and the more you get back. A bit like life really.
As usual, write to GUITAR GURU, (Contact Details).
AND SO to this month's business. E Jones from Lancaster thanks us for the Hofner special in the March issue. "I've got a Committee serial 1564," he writes, "can you date that? I want to get a Hofner tremolo arm — any idea where?"
Now then, serial numbers alone are not enough to date Hofners with any degree of accuracy, I need to know much more! Regarding your parts, I strongly suggest you contact the Hofner company direct; I've found a response is usually fast, friendly and often positively helpful. Do, however, be sure to be very exact about just what parts you require, what model you've got, and so on. Contact Karl Höfner GmbH, (Contact Details). And tell 'em the Guru from Making Music sent you.
David Hands from Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, also has a Hofner — this time a Congress, serial number 10779. "There must have been a scratchplate fitted originally," he tells me. "Where can I get one?" Again, I would direct you to Hofner in Germany, as above. And a serial number only is nowhere near enough info for me to date a Hofner. I can guess that David's Congress was made somewhere between 1956 and 1972, at least. Original cost would have been £16 in '57 and £36 in '72. Even with the current interest in the Hofner brand, this acoustic version is not too sought after, and value is about £50 maximum, for a nice example.
Jeff Dent — any relation to Arthur? — writes from Horsham in W Sussex: "Did Shaftesbury make a copy of the Rickenbacker 'Byrds' 12-string semi? Were they much cop, and how much are they worth? I hope you can help me oh one of great guitar knowledge."
There was indeed a Japanese-made Shaftesbury Rickenbacker copy range in the late 60s, distributed in the UK by the Rose-Morris company (Shaftesbury being one of their in-house brand names). I'm tempted to say no, they weren't that good, but in fairness the 12 wasn't too bad within the limitations of its budget origins and the design of the original. Thanks to demand for the real thing prices of such copies have risen, and I've seen them selling for around £150 — more than double the original retail (and far in excess of their true worth, in my opinion). Thanks, by the way, for your accurate character assessment — I'm a sucker for a bit of smarm.
K Sargent from Ilford, Essex says, "I have a Gretsch model 7610, serial 26364, but I know nothing about it." Your Grestch is in fact a Roc Jet, circa 1976, as indicated by the serial number, while the model number provides the clue to its name. The Roc Jet was a 70s revamp of the original Gretsch 'solid' body design of the 1950s which appeared under various guises including Duo Jet, Jet Firebird, Silver Jet, and Round Up.
Gretsch decided to reintroduce this style of model to cash in on the resurgence of popularity for Les Paul influenced models during the early 70s, and followed Gibson's initiative. Needless to say, these 're-issues' do not have the character or appeal of the originals, and values are correspondingly lower, examples being available at around £200.
B Winfield from Stockport, Cheshire has two interesting instruments. "My Vox Soundcaster solid is Strat shaped, powder blue, with three pickups and a trem; my Hofner Futurama is sunburst with three pickups and trem," he says. Well the Vox was made around 1964, although I'd need to know more details about hardware and so on to date it more accurately — there were numerous variations of this model, as with many other Vox instruments. Price back then was £89 and current value has to be about the same for this, one of the first Strat copies.
The Futurama is not a Hofner product; it's a common misconception though, as Futurama models always feature in the Selmer catalogues displaying the Hofner range. Again there were quite a few models and variations in the Futurama range, this being an in-house brandname of the Selmer company, affixed to products from various countries over the years. Depending on just which three pickup version you have, it could be anything from 1959 to 1965. However, regardless of actual vintage or origin, current value is pretty much the same — around £60, again about as much as it cost originally.
Tony Whittle of Intake, Doncaster, says he's got a Ned Callan bass, serial number 993. "The bridge, machine heads and pickup have all been changed," he admits, "mainly because they were all crap, but the neck is really nice with an excellent action. I paid £35. Who the hell was Ned Callan?"
An interesting one this, nice to hear of a knobbly Ned. However Mr Whittle's description is too brief and uninformative, so I'm unable to tell if it is indeed one of those somewhat idiosyncratic models that appeared in the mid 1970s. The Ned Callan name cropped up a number of times during this period, but Ned Callan was in fact an alias for later well known guitar maker Peter Cook — the bodies and necks were made by Jack Golder of Shergold fame, supplier of so many UK products under differing brand names.
Feature by Paul Day
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