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Mystery Guitar

Well, this is the first blog entry really. I wanted to start something to document some of the oddities that pass through my worksho, and this gives me an excuse to put the tools down once in a while!

What better to start with than with this guitar:

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This instrument came in a few weeks back for a refret. It’s an interesting specimen as there is no maker’s label, and it has an unconventional bracing pattern. It’s clearly hand made by someone somewhere - I have a hunch that it was made here in the UK - but there the trail goes cold.

I thought nothing of it at the time, but it seemed oddly familiar to me. I guess I just thought that was because I’d seen it a few times before seeing as it belonged to my friend Jérémie Coullon, an excellent gypsy jazz musician who plays frequently in London.

Well - the reason for the familiarity was this picture, from the cover of a copy of Jazz Express from 1984 (which you can see behind the guitar in the picture above):

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I bought it from Deptford Market for the princely sum of 20p the very same week I moved into my workshop. Surprised to find anything there with a Gypsy Jazz guitar on it, I framed it and hung it on the wall above my workbench. It shows Diz Disley performing with Kenny Baker, Johnny Van Derrick and Biréli Lagrene at the 100 Club in London that same year. And whaddyaknow? Diz is playing that exact same guitar. I emailed a couple of people I knew and indeed traced the previous owners back to Diz.

It looks like the tailpiece was replaced and the 9th fret dot was moved to the 10th (as is often the fate of 9th fret dots on gypsy guitars). but apart from that and a new set of tuners the guitar is doing very well for it’s 30+ years of age!

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