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The Shaftesbury 3266

Posted on September 22, 2014

This long-necked Italian beauty is an absolute pleasure to lay your hands on. Like the 3265, she was manufactured by EKO in the early 70’s for Rose Morris and has a distinct cosmetic elegance that transcends all mockery of the obvious tele inspiration.

The neck is very long and thin as most electric basses were throughout the sixties and early 70’s. This feature coaxes a specific walking style out of the player, as it is very easy to cram more notes into a phrase. There is a definite “less is more” aesthetic to this instrument and features just one pickup, volume and tone control just like a Rock n’ Roll machine should.

Set it and forget it.

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Vintage Shaftesbury Electrics

Posted on September 15, 2014

Plundering our vintage vault is a favorite activity of ours and today we present to you the spiritual predecessors to our new 34 series.

These electrics played a pivotal role back in the 60’s and 70’s introducing players of all types to a professional level axe without breaking the bank much like we do today.

Here you get the full spec on these bygone beauties that inspired past and future generations.

 

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Acoustic Guitar Tonewoods

Posted on September 09, 2014
One thing we’re often asked about in the store is tone-woods. There is a bewildering amount of information out there offering a buyer information on the ‘best acoustic guitar’ or the merits and one brand against the other. Whilst this information should be considered I would stress that one guitar’s sound will suit a certain player the same guitar will be completely unsuited for someone else. In my experience, all things are not equal!

The most important thing to consider is tonewoods. Tonewoods are the combination of woods that a guitar is made from. Often guitars will have a top wood and a different back/side wood, however it is not uncommon to have guitars made completely of the same type of wood.

So why does this matter? An acoustic's sound and timbre comes from the wood. In the interest of your sanity I will not bore you with too much detail but rather give you a brief overview to get you started.

The most common top wood is spruce. Spruce has a yellowish colour and a bright sound. There are many varieties such as European, Adirondack and Sitka. Generally the price of the instrument will offer a clue as to the quality of the spruce. Spruce is a good all rounder and can handle almost anything.

If a bright sound is not YOUR sound, mahogany might be the wood for you. Mahogany is a rich, warm, dark brown wood that is more commonly used in combination with mahogany back and sides. If you like a prominent bass or warm tone then try mahogany. Consider your sound when listening to guitars. If you have a high voice then a mahogany guitar will compliment it. If your voice is low and gravelly it might and I stress MIGHT not work for you.

Cedar is a popular alternative. It has a quicker sound and more prominent attack. It can give a fuzzy yet warm sound and works really well with mahogany back/sides. It produces a large amount of overtones which gives it it’s distinctive character. Aesthetically it looks similar to spruce but more orange in colour with a tighter grain.

As far as the back & side woods are concerned the popular options are mahogany, maple and rosewood. Mahogany gives you low end and punch when used with spruce whereas rosewood gives you clarity, a clean pronounced bass with crystal clear highs.

Generally speaking, if you’re making guitar focused music then rosewood will sound incredible.It is pronounced, defined and sonically pleasing. If you require a warm, wide sound or something that will blend with other instruments then mahogany will work well. Maple has a very light colour and a tone to match. It’s a ‘toppy’ almost thin sound that sits very well in a mix. Perfect for a pop player or a guitarist with a very busy accompaniment.

I have been deliberately brief in this blog as there is already an overwhelming amount of over complex information about tonewoods and I personally believe you have to try out as many guitars as possible to truly know the right sound for you. I also have only touched on the most common woods to avoid complicating an already daunting subject. You can go into infinite detail about the merits of adirondack versus Engelmann spruce or Indian or Brazilian rosewood however I would rather be on Denmark Street trying guitars than reading about them online. If you would like any more information about tone-woods or would like to discuss your desired sound then please get in contact with me at the store.

Hope that helps!

Henry

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Shaftesbury Del Vecchio

Posted on September 09, 2014

This is one of the craziest guitars in our Shaftesbury collection and gets more inquiries than just about any guitar in the shop.

This is a seventies Shaftesbury Del Vecchio replica based on the Brazilian Dinâmico model resonator guitar manufactered in Sao Paulo in the 1930’s.

This bizzare beast is the only resonator ever to be strung with nylon strings. Chet Adkins was an early user of the Dinâmico after hearing it’s beautifully bizzare tones on the single “Maria Elena” by Brazilian brothers Los Indios Tabajares.

Spiritual descendant and fellow finger-picker extroadinare Doyle Dykes reportedly owns the Shaftesbury version and loves the wild tones he gets from it.

 

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Shaftesbury Thin line

Posted on September 09, 2014

This early-seventies thinline style Shaftesbury is a favorite of our guys in the shop. She was manufactured in Italy by the legendary EKO factory who was at one time the biggest guitar manufacturer in Europe.

They were known for their excellent build quality, playability and artistic style and this Shaftesbury is no exception. This semi-hollow bodied beauty is light as a feather and plays like absolute butter. Though she was inspired by the Telecaster Thinline she is far more elegant than her brown, brutish, bluesy American cousin.

With great sounding low-output Dearmond style pickups that smoke from an ashtray bridge cover and classy f-hole in the body she is truly the beautiful little sister in the Shaftesbury family who has to be seen and heard to believe.

 

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Rose Morris 1970 Catalogue Featuring the 3261, 3262 and 3263

Posted on August 26, 2014

In tandem with our previous Shaftesbury Rickenbacker post, we submit the full profile straight from the vintage 1970 catalogue.

This classy trio of Ricky inspired Italian guitars represent the most sought after of the vintage Shaftesbury due to their style, playability and rarity.

Back then they could be yours for a whopping 65 pounds!!

 

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Shaftesbury Western Acoustics

Posted on August 18, 2014

Saddle up partner. Let’s see if you got the gumption to get up on the stage and bring the barn-burner!

Back in the 70’s we brought you the Western series of Shaftesbury acoustics. These fine guitars were a cordial collaboration of spruce, mahogany and rosewood just like they are today. If a six-shooter was not enough you had a whole different kind of Rodeo with the 3168 12-string.

The 3190 and 3191 Jumbo models came with a plush-lined case and were the top market of the Westerns.

These are still kicking around vintage shops and auctions to this day and still sound great after all those years of blood sweat and tears.

 

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Pickup the tone!

Posted on August 18, 2014

One thing I get asked a lot about is pickups, and how much they contribute to the tone of an electric guitar.

My immediate response is always a nice little soundbite from Paul Reed Smith, who said the pickups are the microphone for the guitar, and I think that's a very neat little metaphor that outlines the relationship between the guitar and the pickups when it comes to tone. Paul often quips "Put a different mic in front of Frank Sinatra, and he won't sound like Dean Martin."  What he means is while the pickups will affect the tone, it can only pick up the vibrations that the guitar is allowing the strings to create - they don't, in themselves, influence that.

All that said, there's no doubt pickups contribute significantly to the sound that ends up coming out of the amplifier.  Here's a quick guide to the basics.

Active vs. passive

The majority of pickups are passive, i.e. they require no power source or pre-amp before the signal enters the amp. Companies such as Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio do a vast range of such pickups to cover all tonal eventualities.  Active pickups, most famously made by EMG, have a pre-amp built in, and require a 9v battery to power it.  The output tends to be higher and slightly compressed and scooped, making them very popular with players seeking high-gain metal tones.  Beware, however, when buying active pickups, that some guitars will need extra space routed in the pickup cavity to accommodate the battery.

Voicing

Most commonly, pickups are classified by output, vintage, medium and high output.  This helps to narrow down the search a little, but beware! Just because a pickup is classified as 'vintage' absolutely doesn't mean it won't be suitable for higher gain sounds - some of the best high-gain sounds are from pushing vintage-voiced equipment to breaking point! The major manufacturers will cover all of these bases with often more than one option.

Fitting

If you're confident with a soldering iron and can read a wiring diagram, there really isn't much to be frightened of to fit pickups yourself. Often, it's a case of just replicating what is currently in your guitar.  If you'd rather not attempt it though, we offer free installation on pickups bought from us, so feel free to pop into store and ask our technician!

Until next time, TECH care of yourselves, and your guitars. Ed.

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The Elusive Shaftesbury 1020 Prototype

Posted on August 11, 2014

Sometimes you can’t rely on a vintage collection or catalogues to achieve a complete scope on a brand like Shaftesbury. Just like today, we have been a forward-thinking brand with an all-encompassing ethos. We have always catered to all styles of musician and sometimes one-offs or a special line of guitars is commissioned to suite the needs of a specific audience. This has yielded some of the most collectable and rare Shaftesbury instruments out there such as the Ned Callan or Del Vecchio.

In this case a gentleman by the name of Nick Clyne submitted a query about a rare Shaftesbury (model 1020) he purchased in Chalk Farm in 1972. The dealer told him it was one of six prototypes of it’s kind and never made it into full production. This is great news for us as we are absolutely thrilled to add a new Shafty to our dossier of defunct diamonds in the rough.

This is an amazingly handsome gypsy-jazz gentlemen’s instrument with a distinct Django feel to it. Sporting an ebony fretboard, spruce top, rosewood back and sides, trademark Shaftesbury ‘S’ that slithers in to the oval sound-hole and a bridge that is as dark, straight and distinguished as the Rheinhartian mustache itself, this is truly one of the rarest Shaftesbury guitars we have ever encountered. If someone has one of the other six prototypes, we would love to hear your story.

 

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John Grey & Sons Archtop

Posted on August 11, 2014

This beautiful and very rare archtop acoustic has been brought to our attention by it’s owner, Bart Phillipe.

Stamped with the makers mark ‘John Grey and Sons’, and the serial number 6240, this jazz master has been lovingly restored and by all accounts, sounds amazing!

John Grey and Sons was established in 1832 and became known for high-quality banjos, guitars and drums.  It was bought by Rose Morris in 1928.

I think you’ll agree, Bart has done a great job in restoring it to it’s former glory.

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