Saturday, January 12, 2013

Some Cool Guitars (Part One)

Here are a few of my guitars, at least some of the funky ones. I have others guitars that are more ...functional... and modern, of course, but these are great fun.

The first is a Norma "Barney Kessel" model. It doesn't actually say that on the guitar, but a prominent website that features vintage guitars (My Rare Guitars) refers to the guitar by that name. Quote: "A very rare Norma split p/u Barney Kessel design." His guitar is black, and I don't see a bridge cover in the photo; otherwise they are twins. It has a big "baseball bat" neck, but it's a blast to play and it's great for a rockabilly type sound. The split-pickup setup is pretty unusual, and actually functional.

It has another cool feature--there's an inductive "varitone" type filter built in to it. It uses a small transformer as the inductor. The filter switch (L,M,H) is down near the lower (and oddly placed) F hole cut-out. It might be a resonant filter (should be), but it sounds like a high-cut to me.

Norma Barney Kessel
The Norma "veritone" inductor and switching for the split pickups

The split pickup switching plate for the Norma

The green burst is my Sekova--coolest headstock ever! 

Next is a red-burst Kingston thin-line hollowbody guitar. It has gold-foil pickups and an extra long tremolo bar...but it feeds back like mad. Looks cool, but wouldn't play it above living room levels.

Kingston #I
This violin style Kingston is a surprisingly great guitar! The action is excellent, the intonation good and it has a cool voice.  

Kingston #II

Two project guitars--a Kimberly Phantom 22 thin-line longhorn model. This guitar has the same pickups as a Teisco May Queen, and the tremolo and bridge also are the same. That's gotta say something about the date (and location) of manufacture. The other is a Maxitone something or other. Someday I'll finish fixing both up. 

The Maxitone is a step up from most MIJ thin-line guitars. It's definitely heavier, more solidly built. Another with a uniquely weird headstock. I tried fixing the one bad pickup, which kinda worked, but was too noisy. Haven't found a replacement yet...

Kimberly Phantom 22 and a Maxitone

All the funky tremolos work fairly well on these MIJ oddities / beauties. Better than many stock Fender-style trems. Not the thing for dive-bombs, but still pretty cool.

Finally, here's an unbadged lap steel but I think it's a National. That is, I've seen identical guitars advertised as such on the 'bay.

National lap steel (?)


  1. I have the same green sunburst Sekova, missing the pickguard but otherwise in great condish! Do you know what model it is and perhaps what it's worth?

    1. I don't know it's value, but an "ebay" ballpark is probably $200-$300 USD. Hard to tell, guitar values have generally declined since the last recession.

      If I recall, it was pictured on a catalog cover in 1970. What follows is the other historical info I have. It's all quoted in my Instructable page that features some of the repair/refinishing I did to the guitar:

      Here's the history:

      "The guitar is a late 60's Sekova thinline hollow-body electric. This is a MIJ (made in Japan) instrument. The company imported Japanese guitars into NYC, USA in the late 1960's and early 1970's. It's common heritage with Teisco and Kawai is pretty obvious, but they were allegedly made by Aria.

      I'll quote some info from the 'net. I cannot speak to it's accuracy:

      Sekova was a brand name for the Musical Merchandise Company of New York. These guitars were produced by ARAI whose parent company was ARIA. These well made copy guitars were more than likely built in the Matsumuko plant in Japan."