Friday, October 30, 2009

guest post: peter from i heart guitar - retro revival favourites

today i have asked for a guest post from peter, who writes the world's best guitar and music blog: i heart guitar. i may be biased, though! full disclosure: he is my boyfriend... or maybe i should say, he is my polygamist boyfriend: i have to share him with a bunch of guitars. either way he is great and knows great stuff.

take it away, peter:

I’m a guitar geek. I’m a big ‘ol guitar geek and there’s nothing anyone can to do help me. Ever since I saw guys like George Harrison and Mark Knopfler on telly when I was a kid, I was addicted to that combination of wire and wood. I didn’t realise it at the time but most of the designs I really liked happened to be vintage models from the 50s and 60s. Sure, my tastes later developed into pointy, neon-coloured 1980s heavy metal guitars from Japan, but even now I have a soft spot for cool retro and vintage designs. Well there’s a Chinese company named Eastwood which has revived a lot of these great designs – sometimes exactly, and sometimes with a few bits changed for practical reasons. Here are a few of my favourites.

Airline 59 Custom 2P

Probably best known these days as ‘That guitar Jack White plays,’ the coolest thing about the Airline 59 Custom 2P is its rubber body binding. Why? Nobody really knows…

Airline MAP

Another cool Eastwood reissue of an Airline guitar. I dig the MAP for that cool striped pickguard and let’s not forget the colour. Sure, the colour doesn’t have an actual impact on the sound (the paint and clearcoat do, but that’s a far geekier matter for another time), but I swear you could play two structurally identical guitars of different colours, and come out with a completely different musical attitude for each.

I like this because it looks like a cartoonist’s idea of what a guitar might look like. I don’t know who designed it but they should be decorated with the highest awards in the land. It comes in two colours: Lollypop Red and Taffy White. If I was born a woman I’d change my name to Taffy White.


Unlike most of my vintage guitar fetishes, the RS-II would look like a quite sedate, respectable instrument for guys in tuxedos to play at weddings, if not for the big ‘ol Ziggy Stardust-style lightning bolt awesoming it up. Also note the solitary ‘chicken head’ knob all alone while its four circular colleagues pal it up.

Saturn 63

Dig all that chrome. The Saturn 63 continues Eastwood’s tradition of reissuing guitars that feature completely unnecessary yet absolutely indispensable accoutrement. Why is there chrome binding on the body and around those holes? Nobody knows. Nobody needs to know. It’s just awesome, and that should be enough.

This is Eastwood's version of the famed Ovation Breadwinner used by Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra. I could go on but what more needs to be said that that? ELO, people!

Wandre DLX

Here’s another guitar that falls into the ‘probably not designed by a guitarist’ category. It’s so out-there, from the asymmetrical shape to the cool apostrophe graphics around each of those three switches. I love how voluminous the headstock is, and the stars on the neck… how could you possibly not want to invite a guitar with stars on the neck into your life?


Finally there’s the EEB-1 bass. Not content with merely having violin-style f-holes cut into the top of the body, the EEB-1 has them going all the way through the freaking body. And not only that: the majority of the body is covered in a plastic scratchplate. I love how bold this design is, and how it messes with traditional design schemes.

For more on Eastwood guitars, visit their website at Oh and feel free to visit my blog, if you want to read about more of this kinda stuff. It’s okay if you don’t.


Miss Sofia said...

So here's the deal: I can't play the guitar. The piano? Yes. The bass? A bit. But when it comes to guitars, I'm helpless. Still, I'm in love with the instrument, I find them really beautiful (not all of them. I have this immense loathing for Flying Vs. Ugh. >.<"), and I totally have a thing for guitar players. I like hanging out at guitar shops, just looking at everything and all that jazz. Well, when it comes to the ones featured in the post, I do love Airline 59 Custom 2P (and I have a super cool picture of Jack White with Jimmy Page's double SG, while Jimmy's holding Jack's Airline). Gemini and Wandre DLX are also really really cool, design-wise, although I suppose the Wandre isn't very practical or comfortable to play.

Cloudbusting said...

I really like the Breadwinner...interesting piece about something I know very little about, always good to learn something new!

thomas4th said...

You picked a bunch of my favorite Eastwood designs. The Breadwinner is my personal favorite - I'd love to see Ovation bring back the original. The Wandre DLX is a fun space-Strat-looking guitar (I think it should have P90 pickups instead, but I'm weird), and the EEB-1 positively bleeds retro-futuristic cool. And I agree that the rubber Airline binding is super-cool. I'm surprised more guitars don't have something like it - it's cost-effective, versatile (I'm sure it's easier to work with than normal plastic binding), and durable, covering the edges of the guitar. It probably helps stabilize it sitting down, too.

I love this post - I wish there was more discussion about guitar aesthetics and design. Mostly it seems to be neck profile this, tone woods that; while practical and useful, it's important to remember that guitars should look cool too. Hopefully if I ever have a girlfriend, she'll be as gracious about sharing me with a bunch of guitars!

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