Monday, 10 January 2011

Peter Cook - FenderBirds and other work for The Who . . . . . .

I asked Peter about the FenderBirds and ExplorerBirds - how
they came about, how many were made and the odd one out -
the Deep Cut FenderBird.
As Peter explained to me, during our discussion - all of this was
about 35 years ago and with his other custom builds, work with
various artists and with companies in the music business, he must
have seen and touched a great deal of guitars and basses.
At the time, it was just a case of getting on with it, and detailed notes
were not kept, so as Peter says - "going from memory". . . . . . . .

John said he liked the T’bird body & fittings but he preferred the
Precision neck – he gave me the hardware and I did the rest.
When the pickups & bridges ran out I made them as well.
I think there were about six Fenderbirds and 6 Explorerbirds
I don’t recall the deep-cut FB.

I also designed and built a number of ‘off the wall’ basses for him.
John would come up with a concept and I would make it happen:
The Axe – used in Tommy.
This is the only image I could find - I'm sure there is another
version of this - Different hardware??

The Lightning – used on the album cover of ‘The Who by Numbers’
My recollection is that John had a basic concept and wanted Dan Electro
Pickups – I took the concept, designed it and made it a reality.

Peter told me that designing the head was as much of a challenge as the
rest of it - trying to get it to look right and to get the tuners in line.
He was quite surprised when I told him that there were now copies made
of his work - The Lightning Bolt and a whole bunch of FenderBird and
ExplorerBird clones.
The Flame – used on Top of the Pops – Same deal but with my pickups etc.

Peter worked on other basses of John's and his name is mentioned several
times in "Bass Culture", a book which details the bulk of John's collection.
I have a couple of other details, that I have found out during my research
but I need to check these and and may add to the final posting about Peter.
Through my association with John I also customised a number of
Pete Townshend’s stage Les Pauls, to the same exacting specification - by
removing the neck volute, re-profiling the neck, fitting a third middle pickup
with extra switching options.

At this time I also developed and made the ‘Axis’ guitar and bass
with an active onboard parametric tonal system. . . . . . . . . .

Next time, Axis - work with Gibson, Mighty Mite and
The British Music Press.

Cheers. :)

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