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  1. #1
    BluesLover
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    Default When GB guitarists could not get USA guitars...unthinkable!

    From Reverb, by Tony Bacon

    in Gear , Music , Music by Bobby Owsinski
    When American Guitars Were Outlawed In England
    Futurama guitars on Bobby Owsinski's Production BlogConsidering the giant influence that British music had on America in the 1960s and 70s, it’s hard to believe that there was a time when American instruments were banned by the British government. This forced English musicians to use a wide range of other Euro-based guitars and somewhat explains why many of our guitar heros ended up using what they used.

    In an excellent article in Reverb, Tony Bacon tells the story about how the British government imposed a severe set of import restrictions on American goods (including vinyl records) in an effort to give a boost to the economy. These restrictions turned into a debacle and were rescinded in 1959, but not before it having a profound effect on British guitar slingers.

    During the time period, the only way an English guitar player could get an American guitar was either on the used market, by doing a private import (which is how Hank Marvin ended up with his famous red Strat), or by buying one from a sailor (yes, really). In fact, that’s how George Harrison ended up with his first Gretsch. John Lennon bought his Rickenbacker while the band was playing in Germany, another way to get the guitar of choice.

    Brit guitar players soon resorted to wide variety of continental brands, including Framus and Hofner from Germany, Hagstrom from Sweden, and Futurama (Jimmy Page’s first electric guitar – see the graphic on the left) from what was then called Czechoslovakia

    When the ban was finally lifted, American guitars were soon available but were extremely expensive, going for more than twice the retail price of what could be found in the States. Prominent British music companies soon became the importers. Selmer distributed Gibson, Jennings (maker of Vox) distributed Fender, and Boosey & Hawkes imported Guild, Martin, and Harmony.

    American instruments are still more expensive in England than in America, but Fender, Gibson, et all are relatively reasonable compared to what they were in the past. And with good reason. They’re still great instruments and hard to beat.
    Last edited by BluesHawk; 11-01-2018 at 03:02 PM.

  2. #2
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    It wasn’t just the UK, New Zealand had all sorts of import restrictions which promoted NZ made guitars and amps but you could still get overseas stuff but it was more expensive but nowhere near as bad as UK. The Jansen guitars were blatant copies of Fender Jazzmasters and weren’t too bad, their amps left a bit to be desired but I think it was the crap locally made speakers. I have an old Jansen amp with an Eminence speaker and it made a huge difference.

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    BluesHawk (11-15-2018)

  4. #3
    BluesTalker
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    Thanks BluesHawk, an interesting piece of music history.
    Rdrokit Power channel, rock/blues & roadhouse music.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc4...9lEgoWa39iqEgA

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    BluesHawk (11-15-2018)

  6. #4
    BluesLover
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rdrokit View Post
    Thanks BluesHawk, an interesting piece of music history.
    You guys offer so much in your posts that I can actually talk with you about and get your opinions...look what Clive added, for example. So I just want to do my part and add what I can.

    Cheers,

    Doug

  7. #5
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    Hofner was another big name .They were reasonably playable and many if not all the great British players played one at one time .My first rig was a Hofner Club 60 and a Watkins amp ,no pedals .They hadnt been invented so just a tremolo foot switch and some times a Kopykat tape echo .Hofners were OK but I found their necks a bit big ,not chunky in a good way.I have small hands .Tapewound strings usually .A Stratocaster was a wet schoolboy dream

  8. #6
    BluesLover
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesbroken View Post
    Hofner was another big name .They were reasonably playable and many if not all the great British players played one at one time .My first rig was a Hofner Club 60 and a Watkins amp ,no pedals .They hadnt been invented so just a tremolo foot switch and some times a Kopykat tape echo .Hofners were OK but I found their necks a bit big ,not chunky in a good way.I have small hands .Tapewound strings usually .A Stratocaster was a wet schoolboy dream
    Hi, BB. Thanks for your personal experience with not getting US gear in England. I went to the University of Manchester in 1968 and 69 and have been back several times to visit me mates. Got a lot of music education there...Jethro Tull, Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, The NIce, Mad Dogs & Englishmen... playing in our f'n little gym! Where are you in the UK then?

    Cheers,

  9. #7
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    I am in Norfolk but was born near London so the London scene was my oyster .I played in a school type band playing Shadows ,Beatles and then went acoustic playing London and other places folk clubs but I did also play some acoustic with a harp player blues as well as folk and bluegrass(odd mix).I missed the London electric blues scene completely as I found a lady and got married,bought house etc .I did have blues promise.A black jazz player said I really had a feel for jazz and blues (for a whitey) but wife kids house etc stopped it all .I got back into it all in about 2007 ,finally could afford a Fender (hurrah)and also attended some local studio blues jams later .I started singing and playing bluesy fake jazz at a local jazz open mike sessions(gulp) with a pro band and then plucked up courage last week to attend and play and sing in a local pub.I seem to go down well,mainly singing ,or at least didnt get thrown out so I will go again .I'm 71 so have to keep going .Thanks for asking

 

 

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