Above : Zemaitis metal front featuring stunning engraving by Danny O'Brien. Danny only engaved my metal front with two scorpions. If you see another, be careful!
Below : Tony in his Kent work shop playing my 1980 12 string acoustic.
Below : Tony's guitars feature the magical engraving of Danny O'Brien. My 12 string was made in 1980, as a tribute to John Lennon I asked Danny to engrave a Beetle.
I am passionate about Zemaitis guitars. I admired the instruments before I even knew who made them. Ronnie Wood of The Faces played one in the video for MAGGIE MAY. It took me years to find Tony and I ordered a few instruments from him. It was a great privilege to have known him and an honour to call him a friend. TheZemaitis 12 string dates from 1980 and was originally made for Tony's son (also called Tony). Some amazing instruments were created in that workshop. I no longer own the metal front. Kanda Shokai now produce Zemaitis guitars in Japan. Tony was invloved in the initial talks with the company and thought they had the intergrity to produce quality instruments to carry his name. I have two of the new Zemaitis guitars and can tell you Tony was right, they are great guitars.
Below : Danny O'Brien engraved Tony's guitars and carries on the tradition for the new Zemaitis guitars. He supplies designs and also engraves some of the instruments.
Above : Photograph taken when GUITAR magazine came to visit July 2005. Quite a few guitars have gone since then (also the piano) . The collection was featured in the October 2005 edition.
Noel Gallagher's Gibson Flying V.
Above : Noel playing Gibson Flying V on the video shoot for "D'you know what I mean".
left : Ex Noel Gallagher Gibson Flying V 1967 reissue. This 1997 guitar was used by Noel on the album “BE HERE NOW” and in the video for “D’YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN”. I owned the V from 2000 to November 2011.
Right : Ex Rich Robinson (Black Crowes) Danelectro DC3.
Above : Ex Rich Robinson (Black Crowes) Danelectro DC 3. Rich used this for slide. He is a member of The Zemaitis Owners Club. When I heard he was selling a few guitars I bought this one. I have used this guitar live and in the studio.
Below : 1971 Zemaitis resonator made for Ronnie Lane of the Faces. I have a video of Ronnie playing DEBRIS and also OOH LA LA on this guitar. Stan Lane (Ronnie Lane's brother) is a freind of mine. I have waited ten years for Stan to sell me this guitar! I picked the guitar up on 7th October 2005. Knight guitars set it up and have just fitted a transducer for me. I have used it in the studio and intend to play some of Ronnie Lane's songs on it on stage. I sold quite a few guitars to get this little gem! I made a You tube clip about this guitar, quite a few years ago.
Above : Zemaitis resonator made for Ronnie Lane of the Faces in 1971.
Above : Collecting Ronnie Lane's Zemaitis from his brother Stan. He also gave me one of Ronnie's old waistcoats. Francine and I spent a lovely evening with Stan and Jan Lane.
Below : Ronnie on stage in 1974 with Zemaitis resonator.
RICKENBACKER v64 360 12 string.
I have owned this Rickenbacker since the 90's, used it for almost every gig and recorded with it in the studio. I have managed to keep it in mint condition too! I met up with Roger McGuinn of THE BYRDS when he played near my home in Surrey (England). We had been chatting on e mail, Roger asked for a copy of a recording that I had. We met him after his show and he signed the pickguard from my Rick for me. Stupidly I sold the guitar in 2014 to a friend. In 2015 I bought it back!!! They no longer make this model.
Rickenbacker V64 360 12 string.
FENDER 57 Reissue Stratocaster in Fiesta red.
Above : Fender 57 Reissue Stratocaster, used in the 80's on sessions and live.
This Fender 57 Reissue Stratocasters was my main guitar in the 80's. I played it a lot live and also used it in the studio. During a recording session that became the ORANGE AND BLUE album, for Nirvana, I also used it to play the bass guitar part!
ROCKY Stratocaster replica.
I bought this replica of George Harrison's ROCKY Stratocaster, to play on stage with Nirvana when we played in Spain 2004. It was a psychedelic festival, so the guitar went down really well. George painted his 1961 Sonic Blue Stratocaster by hand. The serial number of George's guitar is 83840.
Above : "ROCKY" replica George Harrison Stratocaster.
Zemaitis (Japan) Disc front
I owned a Zemaitis Disc front in the 90's. The guitar was ordered from Tony Zemaitis and then built for me. It was a magnificent instrument. the body was ebonised. This gave the guitar a sort of dull finish. The three pick ups would sing when tuned to open E for slide. I eventually sold it to a friend in Australia (for the same amount that I had paid Tony). Ten years later I managed to get hold of one of the new Zemaitis Disc fronts. I was amazed at the feel of the guitar. It felt just like my old one that was hand made by Tony. The engraving on the Disc was designed by Danny O'Brien. A machine etched the design onto the disc then a Japanese gun engraver would finish the engraving by hand. As a matter of interest Danny O'Brien was also a gun engraver. This new Zemaitis is one of my favourite guitars.
Above : Zemaitis (Japan) Disc front. This guitar is very close to Tony's work.
Below : I had some modifications carried out to this guitar. The Ron Wood style tone/volume controls were added, along with a pre-amp. This gave the guitar much more of a cutting sound. I had the badging replicated from Woody's original Disc front. The disc was replaced by a reproduction of Woody's Disc, just like the original this was hand engraved by Danny O'Brien. He did this as a favour and has asked me to point out he would not engrave another .Finally I had some large pearl dots inlaid into the neck. This guitar is my main guitar for recording and live work.
Above : Zemaitis Disc front with hand engraved disc by Danny o'Brien. Danny recreated his engraving from Ron Wood's Disc front. It really is a work of art. Danny has asked me to point out that he engraved this as a favour and would not do another. Thank you Danny!
Below : Here is a close up of the head stock. Superb engraving by Danny O'Brien.
Below : Zemaitis (Japan) Pearl front. The workmanship is breath taking.
This Zemaitis (Japan) guitar gets gasps when it comes out of the case. The workmanship on it is outstanding. It plays as good as it looks! The pearl has been applied in the same manner as Tony applied it. I gigged this guitar the day after I received it. It is a joy to play. I have used it quite a bit in the studio. Tony would be pleased that so much care has been taken to replicate his ideas.
The photograph below was taken by Joby Sessions for GUITARIST magazine. The image was also used in their calendar.
Below : I worked for Sid Watkins and he gave me an old guitar body , neck and some hardware. I painted the body and it stayed in my loft for many years. My good friend Bob put it together. The paint was still tacky after ten years, so he put a clear perspex sheet over it. In August 2006 Bob fitted an EYB sitar bridge for me. I have been using it in the studio on recordings. I made a You Tube clip about this guitar. TO WATCH CLIP CLICK HERE.
Jon Douglas Rhinestone Stratocaster
Above : In the seventies Fender produced half a dozen Copper body guitars as an experiment. I managed to obtain one in the eighties.The bodies were cast by Jon Douglas who has sculptures in The Savoy hotel, Britains at war museum, Sherlock Holmes museum and Churchill museum. I sold it years later to a guitar collector friend. In the nineties I contacted Jon (now in his nineties) and asked him to cast another. The minimum run was 25 bodies! This is one of that edition and has Jon's signature etched by the jack socket. Sparkles doesn't it! I made a You Tube clip of the guitar.CLICK HERE TO WATCH CLIP.
Below : The guitar body is cold to the touch. It is cold cast copper, a mixture of Copper filings and resin.
Above : Steve Howe had a play of one of the Jon Douglas Copper body guitars when I visited him. He thought it was an unusual instrument, but not really him. I bought a guitar from Steve while I was there and unknowingly stole a plectrum from him.
Above : September 22nd 2011. Watching BILLY CONNOLLY'S ROUTE 66 TV show, I was amazed to see a Jon Douglas guitar appear!!!
1964 Burns Nu Sonic bass
The Burns Nu Sonic bass was only available between 1964 and 1965. I had never seen one in the flesh (or wood) until recently. For a small bass it has a big sound and fast neck. Depending on who you believe, George Harrison used one with The Beatles on Dr Robert and also Paperback writer.
Above : 1964 Burns Nu Sonic bass. George Harrison was reported as recording with one during the Paperback writer sessions.
Below : This example still has the chrome bridge that is often missing.
Above : Close up of the head stock.
Below : George Harrison with Burns Nu Sonic during sessions for Paperback writer.
I do not own the copyright to this photograph.
Mike Oldfield's Fender Telecaster
This is Mike Oldfield's Fender Telecaster. It has a neck date of 1966. In Mike's autobiography he writes about fitting the Bill Lawrence pick up with his Father's help.
It was the only six string electric guitar used to record Tubular Bells. When you hear the distorted guitars, speeded up guitars etc, this is the instrument that created those sounds. Mike's agent acquired the guitar from Marc Bolan (he had connections with both players). At the time Marc was thinking of going electric, but changed his mind. It was one of Marc's early electric guitars. I have not managed to find any photographs of Marc with the guitar yet.The instrument features on a number of Mike Oldfield's albums. He sold it recently and very generously donated the money to the charity SANE. They help people with mental health problems.
It's a great honour for me to be the custodian of this amazing guitar.
You can see a clip of Mike Oldfield's Telecaster here CLICK HERE
Above : The neck is dated November 1966. Mike Oldfield acquired this guitar from Marc Bolan via his agent in the late sixties.
Above : Beautiful grain showing through. When Marc Bolan owned this guitar it was a cream finish. Mike Oldfield sanded off the finish. In his autobiography, Mike writes how he took the guitar into the garden shed and with his Father's help fitted the Bill Lawrence pick up.
Above : Guitar and Bass featured the guitar when they interviewed Mike Oldfield. They explain how the Telecaster owned by Marc Bolan came into Mike's ownership.
Above: Mike Oldfield standing next to the Fender Telecaster that he used to record Tubular Bells. It was the only 6 string electric on the ground breaking album.
WEM THE SHADOW ECHO
I do love my echo and this old version of a Watkins Copicat from the early sixties just does it for me. My good friend Bob sold it to me recently. I have a letter from Charlie Watkins about it. They were made in very small numbers circa 1963. The unit has a single record head and two playback heads (and two valves). I used it on the demo of Mike Oldfield's Telecaster on YOU TUBE.
Above & Below. THE SHADOW ECHO.
Rob Armstrong acoustic ex Gordon Giltrap
It's been an ambition of mine to own a Rob Armstrong guitar. When Gordon Giltrap decided to part with one of his Rob Armstrong guitars, I had my chance. This guitar has the serial number 777/ 707 This means it was the 777th instrument that Rob created, built in July 2007. The top is Cedar and the back and sides are Mahogany. As you can see, the the sides are Red (so is the back). Rob told me it is a special guitar and has even more unique features than his other instruments. These include the non bound rounded edge to the body, bridge, headstock, Red body even the "A" on the headstock. I think it's a stunning guitar to look at and sounds as good as it looks.
Above : Ex Gordon Giltrap Rob Armstrong acoustic made in July 2007.
Below : Gordon Giltrap left this plectrum in the case.
Below : A view of the headstock featuring a unique "A".
Above : With Philippe Dubreuille in his workshop. April 2013.
The BEST guitar slide in the World!
I have used many slides over the years, glass and metal, old bottle necks, pill bottles. My favourite that I always use is an old chrome slide. Recently I managed to get hold of a TONY WHELAN slide, made out of the barrel from a vintage shotgun!! I can see why so many Pros, like Ronnie Wood and Mick Taylor use them. As you can see, my one is cut from the same barrel as Ronnie Wood's! The tone that is pulled out of the strings by these slides is jaw dropping, I can't tell you how good they sound. Here is Tony's e mail, if you want a slide yourself. twhelan0206@gmail
Below Tony Whelan slide made out of a vintage shotgun barrel!
The Monster Stratocaster
The Monster Strat was put together using various old Fender bits and pieces. It's beaten up and scarred, but plays and sounds great. The nearest thing to a 58 Stratocaster.
Morris Minor Hubcap guitar.
I met Davey Chivers, at a guitar even in 2013. I found out that he built a guitar using a Morris Minor Hubcap for Seasick Steve. He agreed to bulld me an identical instrument. I took delivery of it in November 2013. I have it tuned to open G.
Above : Morris Minor Hubcap guitar. I play it in open G tuning.
Above : Close up of the Morris Minor hubcap guitar, built by Davey Chivers.
Rob Armstrong double neck acoustic
This is an unusual instrument. You don't see many double neck acoustics, probably due to the tension of all the strings. The serial number is 057 / 474, this translates to the 57th instrument that Rob made, in April 1974. I made a You Tube clip of ths guitar. To watch the clip CLICK HERE
Steve Acworth Mini guitar.
Steve Acworth is a Luthier that I have long admired. Based in Kent for quite some time, Steve's instruments found their way into very famous hands (Status Quo and Jeff Beck to name two). He always thinks outside the box and has some fascinating ideas about guitar construction. This particulat guitar was made for a teenage girl in 1997. It's almost a Travel guitar, but plays better than any Travel guitar that I have owned. Steve's web site is http://www.sparkspin.co.uk/index.htm worth a visit!
Fender B Bender Telecaster.
I have owned a number of B Bender Telecasters. This Telecaster was made in Mexico and plays like a dream! The string pull mechanism is not your usual Parsons/White B Bender. It was made by Forrest Lee Junior. The mechanism seems slightly lighter than the Parsons/ White versions that I have owned.
Above/Below : Fender B Bender Telecaster. The pull string mechanism was made by Forrest Lee Junior.
Zemaitis International Heart Hole CAG200
I recently took delivery of a Zemaitis Heart hole acoustic (model CAG200).
As soon as I unpacked the guitar I was impressed with the build quality and superior materials used. Sumptious mother of pearl inlay, solid Sitka Spruce top, solid Rosewood back and sides, Mahogany neck and bone nut and saddle. The frets are perfect, no sharp ends. The guitar is fitted with the Mi-Si VT system. It's amazing! You plug the guitar into the mains via the jack socket. Sixty seconds later, it is fully charged and lasts 18 hours. More details at http://mi-si.com/products/ I am told these guitars are not available in the U.K. yet. I will be using this guitar at my next acoustic gig.
Above : Zemaitis Heart hole.
Below : Body detail.