Thursday, 30 December 2010

A few questions to answer. . . . .

Hi to all out there. :)

I had intended to carry on to the next stage about Peter,
his work on John's other basses and the work he did for
Pete Townshend but I have had quite a few questions asked
of me and if I am able to, I would like to answer them at the
same time.
As it is the festive season, I don't intend to contact Peter
until the new year, as I am aiming to compile them into several
specific questions that could be answered easily, without any
lengthy dialogue.

Several visitors have asked if I have come to the end of the
No. Not by quite a long way, there is a lot more to come.
I have only moved into this section about Peter Cook and his
work, as I find it very interesting, myself and as I have been
lucky enough to speak to him, I wanted to detail it as soon as I could.
I would think that there are only three more parts to the story,
including the next one, so it is not extensive.
So, please sit tight, bear with me and I'll come back to you
in the new year.

If anyone has a Peter Cook instrument, knows of one, has images of one,
please drop me a line - I would love to hear from you, on the usual address
detailed below.

In the meantime, I would like to thank all of my visitors, from all over the
World, for dropping in and having a read.
For those who have contacted me personally, with their related stories,
thank you for taking the time and trouble - always nice to hear from you
and your tales or opinions on an instrument. Ta!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year for 2011. :)

Cheers. :)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Peter Cook, Luthier - Part 2. . . . . . .

From the early days of getting together with a few friends . . . . . .

. . to playing guitar in pro bands and then on to guitar making
and expanding the Ned Callan range. . . . . the story continues
in Peter's own words.

When Tom sought fame and fortune with ‘July’ and later with
Richard Branson, (Tom produced Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells)
I continued to develop the Ned Callan Range, the concept was to
produce a quality guitar & bass within a budget price - this was
before the Japanese started to produce good instruments.

I got a distribution deal with Simms Watts and contracted the
body & necks out to Jack Golder of Shergold - they made the
earlier Burns guitars and latterly the Hayman guitars.
I had my own small production line where we made the pickups
& hardware and assembled and set up the final product.
I not sure how many units we made but it is in the hundreds.
The early models had glued in necks whilst the later models
had bolt on ones for the ease of production.

Things came to a halt when Rose Morris took over Simms Watts,
they cancelled a large order which was just about to be delivered
and after months of haggling the Cody range (Nobbly Neds) was
re-branded for Rose Morris but we were still left with a large number
of Custom and Salisbury guitars which were eventually sold off in
bulk, directly to retailers.
I didn’t really see eye to eye with Rose Morris and my association
with them ended soon after.

Part of the deal with Simms Watts was to tour the country with
their road show and on one of these occasions John Entwistle made
a guest appearance to promote Ned Callan.
We did a short set, with John on bass, Dave Simms on drums and
me on guitar - everyone wanted John to play Boris the Spider but
with my blues background we ended up playing Smokestack Lightning,
a Howling Wolf song.

Following this I set up a guitar repair workshop and started to
build custom guitars totally in house.

John started to bring bits of Thunderbirds to me to resurrect and it
became apparent that he liked the sound and appearance of the
Gibson Thunderbird but preferred the feel of Fender Precision necks.
So I made him a number of hybrids using Precision necks and custom
made bodies.

The FenderBird had landed.

As a natural progression I designed and built a number of ExplorerBirds
for John - same deal but with a custom Explorer body. . . . . . . . . . . .

Next time - ExplorerBirds, other projects for John, work for Peter and the
progression of Custom Builds and commission work.

Back next week, with more of Peter's story.

Cheers. :)

Monday, 20 December 2010

Peter Cook, Guitar Builder and Musician. . . . .

Peter Cook.
From the Horses Mouth. . . . . So to speak!

Tuesday the 7th of December, was a day I had been looking forward
to for some time - Scroll down a couple of posts and you can see how
this all started.

Peter has very kindly taken time to document the facts from our
conversation, so the next few installments are the words of the man, himself.
For anyone who is a fan of guitars, it is a very interesting read, from
someone who very heavily involved in the music industry, when things were
starting to get exciting.
A time when there were a lot of young bands around, with people hungry for
what was new, before the Disco boom and the advent of The Walkman and
later, MP3 players, people would go into town, to the village hall, anywhere
that they could see live bands and hear live music.

For most, who have heard of Peter Cook, their immediate thoughts turn to
his work with John and Pete, from The Who and perhaps don't realise, he
was involved in the music industry, many years before creating the
The Flame,
Fenderbirds, The lightning and several others.

I left school in 1962 when I was fifteen and got an apprenticeship in the
print trade but my heart was in music and I got the sack for bunking off one
time too many.

With my ‘proper job’ working life behind me, I became a ‘professional
musician’, initially with some old school mates (including Chris Jackson)
trying to emulate The Shadows.
Most of the old mates left and Alan James and Tom Newman joined me
& Chris, we started out as the ‘Dreamers’ playing Shadows & then the
Beatles material but with the advent of Freddie & The Dreamers we
became The Tomcats and established ourselves as a Rhythm & Blues
band, ending up being managed by Alexis Korner and became the
resident band at Beat City, in Oxford Street.

We have since found out that one of the demos we recorded at Regent
Sound (a Chuck Berry number) impressed the ‘Stones’ and they stole
our thunder by recorded and releasing it before us.

One of the gigs we did when we first started touring the UK as
The Tomcats, was
'Ma' Regans Ballroom circuit in Birmingham.
We played at the Old Hill Plaza, The Ritz Kings Heath, The Brum Cavern,
the Plaza Handsworth and on one
occasion we played 3 venues in one
night, on the same bill with The Redcaps,
The Brumbeats and The Searchers.

After I left the band they joined up with Tony Duhig and John Field
from another local group ‘The Second Thoughts’ and went to Spain as
‘Los Tomcats’.
When they returned I hooked up with Tom again and we started to write
songs together and seven of mine were recorded and released by Tom’s
new band ‘July’.

During this time Tom and I did many things to earn a buck including stage
managing at the Lyceum Theatre London and guitar repairs.
This was the genesis of my guitar repairing/making period, we made a
number of prototype guitars from some old necks we bought from a junk
shop in Kilburn, one of which the Beach Boys (I can’t remember which one
of them) wanted, unfortunately he didn’t pay for it or return it.
These were the first Ned Callans.
Tom & I call each other 'Ned' so we just added Callen, from the TV show
because we both liked the program and it had a good ring to it.

I think that will do for now, there is more to come, including magazine
cut-outs and more images.
Come back at the end of the week.

Cheers. :)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Tale of an Odyssey. . . . . or two . . . . .

My Odyssey is one of my favourites and was the first instruments I
featured in this blog.

Here's The Old Fella, week before last - sorry about the quality of the
pic and no, we weren't micing up the floor!!! This was pack up time -
bass drum mic! Just seen in the background is the SB 600 - he does
come out now and then!

This is the new boy, last week! Yep, I've now got two of them.
Big smiles all round.

Great night on both occasions - these things kick like a mule.
Seen with an Aria RSB Deluxe - great opalescent cream colour.
Also a couple of cracking SG's - not mine but they are part of
the team - without them, things would sound a little empty! :)

I will get some shots of the two together, as soon as I can.

Just a quick post today, back soon with something else -
perhaps a guitar, as I mentioned last!!

Cheers. :)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Peter Cook, Guitar Builder - Eric and Peter meet . . .

Tuesday was an exciting day, one that I had been looking forward
to for some time.

Being an enthusiast for hand made guitars and "one off"
I have always had an admiration for the makers and it would be hard
to mention custom guitars and basses, without the name of Peter Cook
being included.

Being fortunate enough to own two of Peter's instruments and knowing
of several other owners, I have spent some time trying to arrange a
meeting with him, which after some time, he kindly agreed to.

I spent a fascinating two and a half hours with Peter, discussing his earlier
days as a guitarist and the later periods including Ned Callan, work with
The Who and several other famous players, the custom building and the shop.

I shan't go any further at this stage, as I said I would detail what we
discussed and let him go through it, to make sure what I write is accurate.

I thoroughly enjoyed his company, he is a very interesting and engaging
person to talk to.

Sit tight and as soon as I am able to, I will post up what we discussed.

For me, a great day - one I will not forget!

Cheers. :)

If you have landed on this page and you want to go to the 
latest post, go here:
Latest post. 

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Aria SB-R60. . . . . . . . .

Sunday morning again!
Yep, hot coffee time, in front of the fire - toasty!!

Gig last night, some distance away, fair sized pub but I think
the current weather put some folks off. Shame but there you go!
I think there were about 30 in the pub and most stayed to the end
so not too bad.
Driving back - foggy or what?????? Not nice - rolled in at 2.30 ish
and have promised myself an easy day.

I have recently started looking at other collectors web sites and it is
amazing what is out there - I will try and sort out a couple of the good
ones and put up some links.

So, I said on my last post. . . . . . More Aria!

This is an SB-R60, yet another model number.
Aria of this period had subtle variations, cosmetic details, string spacings,
pick-up/circuit differences, gold or chrome etc, etc.
This one has a different make of strings to the 600, I have listed but
if you handed them to me in a a dark room and said not to go beyond the
twelfth fret, it would be so hard to tell them apart - certainly the sound is
practically identical.
This has a through neck, wider string spacings (the 600 is almost parallel)
and different jack socket area but sound wise. . . . . well I can't tell the difference!

Next week is the last gig of the year and then, as actors say when they
are out of work. . . . . We are resting!! :)
This year has not been as busy as previous years, enough to keep us going
but a lot of places that were doing two or 3 a week, have cut down to one.
A sign of the times.
Hey Ho, we have a handful to kick off the year, see how things go from there.

Anyway, I think we have done enough Aria, for the time being - still quite a
few to go but I'll come back to them later.

I thing it's time for a few guitars, as the basses have been hogging all the posts.

I really don't play guitar that much now and am thinking of letting some
of them go to new homes - it's just deciding which ones!
Pick one, open the case, plug it in, quick 5 minutes and then the doubt
kicks in. :)
This one or the other one, or that one - oh I don't know!

Never mind, I will take pics and details before they go.
Busy next week but hope to be back here on Friday.

See you then.

Cheers. :)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Guild B301-F. . . . . . . .

Guild Guitars are mainly associated with acoustic guitars, for folk,
country and traditional music, along with semi-acoustic archtops,
which gained a reputation with jazz players.
The company was established in 1953 and is still going today
but over the years has seen trouble and has had changes of

The first Guild I ever played was an acoustic, owned by a guy who
used to fix roads for a living and had a beautiful guitar, that thing
was LOUD!
It may have had something to do with the fact that it was strung
with the heaviest available gauge of Martin strings - basically
tow ropes.
I always amazed me how the top remained on the guitar and was
perhaps a testament to the strength and quality of it.

The next Guild instrument I played was a B-301-F, fretless.
This arrived in the shop, along with an S-300D guitar, direct from
the Guild distributors, "on approval".
Basically, they were doing promotions on the solid body range
and they were ours until we had sold them or handed them back.

I spent hours on that fretless! I loved the sound, although my main
leanings at the time were Rock, Prog and Funk - not quite fretless
territory but who cared, I was determined to master the thing.
Well, more years on than I care to mention, I am still not a proficient
fretless player, although I have several with un-marked boards.
Will I ever get it 100%? Maybe not and that is why I also have several
"lined" fretless - much better with those - you get the sound and a lot more
accuracy in hitting the note.

So here it is, my B-301-F, which is strung with black tape wound strings,
which give a lovely, thick, warm, wooden sound.
Not much else to say about it, one pick-up, volume and tone, plug it in
and off you go.

I also have the fretted version in the Mahogany finish, which I will come to
another time.
There is a great web site, full of interesting Guild info - well worth a look.

Back next time with another Aria!!

Well, while I was at it . . . . . . . I thought I might as well carry on!

Cheers. :)