Claescaster

Tag: Eric Clapton

Mossman Guitars

1979 Mossman Catalog - Great Plains Mossman 1979
1979 Mossman Catalogue, taken from David Hylander Guitar Works

I have recently come across another American guitar maker that was previously unknown to me. I mentioned Grammer guitars earlier, this time it’s Mossman guitars that I’ve fallen in love with. One of the guitar builders that I follow on Instagram, kawvalleyguitars in Kansas, kept posting images of Mossman guitars he had done neck resets on, which awoke my curiosity. After a bit of Googleing I realised that quite a few artists liked Mossman guitars, including John Denver, Eric Clapton, Albert Lee, Doc Watson, Hank Snow, Cat Stevens and Merle Travis. Stuart Mossman got fed up with all the plywood guitars that was pumped out of the big factories in the 1960-70’s and decided to start building his own guitars with real tone woods and proper craftsmanship, and so S.L Mossman Guitars were born in Winfield, Kansas.

Stuart Mossman at work, S.L Mossman Guitars
S.L Mossman Guitars 2
Stuart Mossman in Winfield, Kansas. Here you can read more about the Mossman story

1979 Mossman Catalog - Flint Hills Mossman 1979 1979 Mossman Catalog - Great Plains Mossman 19791979 Mossman Catalog - Timber Creek Mossman 19791979 Mossman Catalog - Golden Era Mossman 1979
This could be the most awesome guitar brochure ever printed, the 1979 Mossman Catalogue, taken from David Hylander Guitar Works

Radius gauge

Understand radius
My Westone Stratocaster is getting the strings adjusted to the 7.25″ radius of the fretboard

I recently received my Understring Radius Gauge set from the friendly Portuguese luthier supplier Guitars & Woods. If I had only bought this before I ordered four new sets of Jescar frets from Philaluthiertools. I stupidly thought that most of my old Japanese guitars had a radius of 9.5″, they didn’t feel as curved as my Fender Telecaster TL52-75, which I knew had a radius of 7.25″. It turned out that both my Greco Teles and Hohner and Westone Strats had a vintage radius of 7.25″, so now I have to order new frets for them. I have never really cared about adjusting the strings after the radius, I read somewhere that Eric Clapton and others had the saddles flat so I thought I could have that too but when I received my Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500 back in September and it had really well adjusted action set after the radius I instantly fell in love. It’s such a difference on a Strat or Tele with a 7.25″ radius, you can really see and feel the curve. I adjusted all the guitars I could according to their radius and in most cases I had to raise the string height on the D and G string, which makes them really snappy and twangy, it sounds and feels awesome on my Telecasters.

Fernandes RST-50 ’57

Fernandes The Revival 57 Stratocaster
Fernandes The Revival RST-50 ’57 Stratocaster Made in Japan, 1988
I just realised that the Fernandes that I sold back in July is on the market again. If anyone needs a Strat, a proper “Blackie”, I could highly recommend this one. Here is the ad at Guitarristas

Gibson SG

Gibson SG Gibson advertisement Solid Hit 1961

Gibson SG Custom and Gibson SG Standard 1961 catalogue
Solid hit. Gibson SG Custom and Gibson SG Standard from the 1961 catalogue, They looked a lot less evil back then

I have always had a weird love – hate relationship with the Gibson SG. Even though I really like both AC/DC and Black Sabbath the SG has kind of been ruined, or rather over exposed, through Angus and Toni. A bit like the Fender 52′ Telecaster which feels a lot like Bruce Springsteen and Keith Richards, even though neither actually plays a 52′. I have just seen too many young boys playing rock riffs on a Cherry SG Standard or SG Special for considering owning one myself. On top of that my woman thinks they look evil, EVIL I tell you. Then again, imagine an early Seventies walnut SG Deluxe or Custom in it’s worn wood colour. That’s pretty sexy, or even sexier a fancy pants white SG custom with gold hardware. The only problem is that they tend to come with 3 pickups and I can’t play guitars with 3 pickups, I end up hitting the middle one all the time. That’s why I prefer Telecasters instead of Stratocasters, even though I love the sound of the Strats middle pickup, I just keep hitting it and I it’s in the way when I’m trying to chicken / hybrid / whatever you want to call it, pick with my fingers.

1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom
An original 1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom

GIBSON SG 1970 catalogue
GIBSON SG 1970 catalogue

GIBSON SG 1972 catalogue
GIBSON SG 1972 catalogue

I’ve been quite tempted for a while to get myself an old Greco, Ibanez or Tokai SG, ideally white and gold but with just 2 pickups, as explained above. The problem is that most of the Japanese SG’s that shows up on eBay are early 1970’s ones and I don’t think they will live up to my expectations. I doubt that a bolt on neck cherry Avon or Columbus SG copy will stand a chance next to for an example my Greco EG-600 Les Paul Custom from 1980, which makes it a bit silly even if you could get one for 150€.

1972' Greco SG-400
Greco catalogue from 1972, just look at the white and gold Greco SG-400

Keith Richards playing Midnight Rambler on a white Gibson SG Custom at the Nicaragua Benefit, Jan 18th 1973 © Lynn Goldsmith
Keith Richards playing Midnight Rambler on a white Gibson SG Custom at the Nicaragua Benefit, Jan 18th 1973 © Lynn Goldsmith

Jimi Hendrix on a white Gibson SG Custom
Jimi Hendrix on a white Gibson SG Custom

Now we are talking, Keith and Jimi on a white Gibson SG Custom. The guys below looks pretty cool too, even if they went for the more classic Cherry instead of Walnut or white. Well I guess Eric Clapton doesn’t count since he went bananas and had someone on acid paint his.

Duane Allman Gibson SG 1961
Duane Allman with his 1961 Gibson SG

Pete Townsend Gibson SG
Pete Townshend playing a Gibson SG in 1966

George Harrison from The Beatles’ 1964 Gibson SG
George Harrison 1964 Gibson SG

Eric Clapton's
Eric Clapton’s “The Fool” a 1964 Gibson SG

Guitar of the day

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard “Keith Burst” Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

A very well known and documented guitar with the most incredible provenance that has etched its mark on the eternal pages of rock ‘n’ roll history, most notably with the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. The guitar is an original 1959 Les Paul Standard that was purchased new in March 1961 from Farmers Music Store in Luton, United Kingdom, by John Bowen. John played with Mike Dean & the Kinsmen and he had a Bigsby Vibrato fitted at Selmer’s in London before trading the guitar in there for a Gretsch Country Gentleman in late 1962. The guitar was later purchased by Keith Richards, who was playing guitar in a little known outfit called the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards used this guitar extensively in the early days of the Rolling Stones and it was seen regularly from autumn 1964 until 1966 when Keith began to favour a Les Paul Custom. Appearances on ‘Ready Steady Go’ and classic songs like ‘The Last Time’ and ‘Satisfaction’ have been played on this guitar. There are many great photographs of Keith and the guitar. Keith was the first major rock star to use a ‘Burst’; he was probably partly responsible for inspiring both Clapton and Page to pick up Les Pauls. Keith owned and used a Les Paul Standard way before Clapton had one, before Jeff Beck, before Peter Green, before Jimmy Page, Mike Bloomfield, Joe Walsh, Billy Gibbons, Duane Allman etc. (need we go on?).

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Keith sold the guitar to Mick Taylor in 1967 when Taylor had replaced Peter Green (who in turn had replaced Eric Clapton) in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. The Bluesbreakers’ classic British Blues sound was forged when Clapton plugged a ‘Burst’ into a Marshall JTM45 combo and Peter Green followed suit, later selling his ‘Burst’ to Gary Moore. Taylor had stood in for Clapton when he failed to show for a gig one night and ended up playing Clapton’s own Les Paul, so it was inevitable that the young Taylor would go for the same guitar and he exclusively played this Les Paul up to his joining The Rolling Stones two years later. Before Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page was a red hot session musician who cut his teeth on a 3-pickup Les Paul Custom fitted with a Bigsby. It is possible that Jimmy considered buying the ‘Keith Burst’ from Richards or maybe just used it in the studio? We aren’t entirely sure but we know that Jimmy used the guitar on at least one mid 60’s recording session. Eric Clapton used the ‘Keith Burst’ in 1966 with Cream at the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival. There are several photographs of Clapton with this very guitar at the concert. Maybe Clapton borrowed it from Keith?

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Mick Taylor made his live debut with the Rolling Stones at the famous Hyde Park concert in July 1969 after the shocking premature death of Stones guitarist Brian Jones. The concert was immortalised by Granada Television, who filmed and released it as ‘The Stones In The Park’. Taylor used the guitar to play ‘No Expectations’ and ‘Love In Vain’; Taylor was also filmed with it backstage in the band’s dressing room trailer before the show. The guitar appears next on the Rolling Stones’ 1969 tour of America, when Keith and Taylor both played it; the film ‘Gimme Shelter’ documents Keith using it for ‘Honky Tonk Women’. There are also many photos of Mick Jagger with the guitar at some 1970 recording sessions, which may be the last documentation of this instrument in the hands of the Rolling Stones. Its disappearance is shrouded in mystery and controversy: Rumour has it that the guitar was stolen in 1971, either from the Marquee Club during the Stones’ ‘Farewell Tour’ of the UK, or from Nellcote in southern France during the recording of ‘Exile on Main Street’. Dave Brewis of Rock Stars’ Guitars recounts a story he heard from the next owner, Cosmo Verrico, who played guitar with the Heavy Metal Kids, who were signed to Atlantic Records alongside the Stones. The story goes that a Stones representative gave the guitar to Cosmo to replace one that was stolen. What is definite is that Cosmo did own the guitar until 1974, when he sold the guitar to Bernie Marsden of Whitesnake. Bernie owned the guitar for a little over a week. He sold it to guitar enthusiast Mike Jopp and thought he had done well when he made £50 profit. Mike Jopp owned the guitar until 2003 when it was sold to a private investor. The ‘Keith Burst’ was next seen in late 2004 when it was offered up for auction by Christie’s in New York. A private collector purchased the guitar in 2006 and it currently resides in Europe. Taken from Richard Henry Guitars

Mick Taylor with Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard
Mick Taylor with the “Keith Burst” 1959 Les Paul Standard

Fernandes The Revival RST-50 ’57

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster
Fernandes The Revival RST-50 ’57 Stratocaster
Made in Japan, 1988

We were up in Vitoria last weekend for the Azkena rock festival, I had to see The Black Crowes, and I managed to find this little beauty in a Cash converter. It’s a Fernandes The Revival RST-50 ’57 Stratocaster made in Japan probably in 1988. It’s a bit of detective work left to do, I’m still not sure if these were made in the FujiGen or the Tokai factory. It’s most likely made in 1988, well if you can trust Guitar world crazy in Japan, but he seems to know his stuff. The number on the back plate has nothing to do with the year but the first digit of the number stamped on the neck seems to indicate the production year, at least during the 1980’s. Mine has #Y80801 and ’57 stamped and the heal so that should be a Fernades RST-50 ’57 Strat from 1988. However, this guy on eBay claims that Fernandes changed from the proper Fender head to a sharpier head in 1986. He claims that mine should have been made between 1982-85 since it has “Electric Sound Research Group” under the Fernandes The Revival logo on the headstock. I think I’ll go with the Guitar world crazy guy, he seems to know a thing or two. We can be pretty sure that the material is the following, both Guitar world crazy and Music-Trade Japan says the same. The RST-50 ’57 were made between 1981-90, came with Revival Logo, had a 3-piece alder body a Small head and a 1-piece maple neck, poly lacquer, L-5000 Vintage Arched PP Gray Bobbin pickups, separate Diecast & FSRG Press saddle. However, then it says that from 1984 the pickups changed to VS-2 and the saddle to non press marked which is weird since mine clearly has “Revival F.S.R.G” stamped on them. It has quite a lot of fret wear but since the neck felt so amazing I couldn’t resist. Now I finally have an awesome “Blackie” copy so you all can call me Claes Clapton from now on.

Update 2013-07-06
Fernandes have found a new dad. She got adopted this Saturday by a lovely sound engineer, that happened to live two streets away from me, so she could be the jewel in his growing collection of Japanese guitars. I wish the best to both of you.

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster

Guitar of the day

Eric Clapton's 1939 Martin 000-42
Eric Clapton’s 1939 Martin 000-42. Sold at auction in 2004 for $791,500, the highest price ever paid for an acoustic guitar.

1939 Martin 000-42 played by Eric Clapton

Guitar of the day

'BLACKIE' CIRCA 1956 AND 1957, A COMPOSITE FENDER STRATOCASTER

Eric Clapton’s “Blackie” 1956/1957, a composite of 3 different Fender Stratocasters. Sold for $959,500 at a Christie’s auction.

Eric Clapton's