Vinnie Bell’s Basement Guitars

Vinnie Bell Sitar Ad

Today I googled for Vincent Bell’s name because I couldn’t believe Danelectro didn’t mention him in their promo for the Coral Hornet re-issue now called Dead-On-67. He designed those in the sixties along with several other classic and unique models like the Bellzouki (first electric 12-string) and the Coral Sitar (electric guitar with 12 bordun strings and a sitar bridge). Anyway, so I came across this great page by Moe Thomas for the first time. He says he’s a long time friend of Mr. Bell and when he visited the legendary guitar player’s basement he took pictures of the sheer mass of historic and unique guitars and prototypes – many built by Vinnie himself. He’s a very inventive guy thinking up things like the first wahwah or his trademark underwater sound as heard on Moon Gas and apparently various practices and machinery used in guitar manufacturing – all while making a living as one of the east coast’s busiest studio session men.

Here are links to some highlights of the collection:

  • photo of Sitar prototypes
  • the sitar-shaped Bellzouki as portrayed on the back of Joe Harnell’s Bossa Now! album
  • Vinnie Bell’s personal 6-string bass (who knows how many records we have heard this one on?!!!)
  • one of a kind Coral Scorpio-style 12-string Sitar (a dream instrument of mine)
  • Vinnie Bell model Stratocaster as presented to him by Fender Musical Instruments (note straight bridge pick-up)
  • the banjo he played on Louis Armstrong’s recording Hello Dolly
  • the mandolin Bell played on The Godfather-soundtracks

also visit www.vinniebell.com

My Custom Guitar

…if I could have it my way.

jm

I created this picture in the dressing room at offset-guitars.com.

Structure
I would have a Jazzmaster body made from mahagony with maple-top.
A Mosrite/Gretsch scale, set neck, maple with ebony fretboard (Mosrite radius).
The neck-profile copied from my e-sitar.
Neck-binding, zero-fret and the smallest frets available (Framus NOS?)
I probably would have a Bigsby instead of the jm-vibrato, but the jm-bridge.
These appointments are based mostly on one of my all-time favorite guitars, the 1975 Gretsch Country Rok, which I sold long ago.

Electronics
For pick-ups I would have three Novak Fender XII replicas.
Jaguar style three on/off switches (rather than the Stratocaster switch in the pic)
The rhythm circuit to give additional pu-combinations, since the 3 pups have two coils each. Maybe like this: upper-bout switch turns on north of bridge, south of neck, but not breaking the main selector circuit. The outside coils should be humcancelling and hollow like a Jazzmaster.
I just love the sound of the Fender XII, which I used on Wild Action (Modern Sounds of The Looney Tunes Band). The pick-ups are not as thin as DeArmond single coils, and not as fat as Supertrons. More like Jaguar ones, but hum-cancelling.

Cosmetics
Color: ocean turquoise with matching headstock and gold hardware, Kluson-style tuners. Pickguard either gold-aluminium or vintage white. I wanted a gold guard guitar ever since I got The Wildest Guitar by Mickey Baker.
I never had a blue-ish guitar before. It looks so green because I chose the aged look in the dressing room. The finish is bluer when new.
It looks fancy, I see that. But it’s supposed to be a custom, they have to look fancy!

Go-Go Beach

Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t mean to say this is a great musical. I have only heard one of the songs and had enough.
The reason I had to include Go-Go Beach here is that I once recorded a track called Go-Go Beach! It was on one of my homerecording tapes, that interested parties could get through reviews in Pipeline and New Gandy Dancer, around 1990. In the track I tried to get some of the spirit of the Manchester bands like the Charlatans and Stone Roses coupled with instrumental guitar work.
When The Looney Tunes Band started, I stopped this tape thing. But somehow I remembered the track after the band broke up (the drummer wanted to include electronics, but I did not want the Loonies to change in that direction). Go-Go Beach then turned into Gogo Sitar and was the first track I did with my modified ES335 copy, homemade electric sitar.

So, there’s no connection for me with that musical, other than the coincidental naming. If you didn’t care for such information, you wouldn’t have read so far, would you?

Gogo Sitar – Autobahnraser
on TV Pro Sieben 20.15

Tonite on German TV channel Pro7 at 20.15 CET they will be broadcasting the carchase movie Autobahnraser. Gogo Sitar is on during the pizzadelivery scene. Nothing special, really, just thought I’d let you now about it.

04.11.2006, 20:15 Uhr
Autobahnraser
Spielfilm, Actionkomödie, D 2004

Der Polizeineuling Karl-Heinz wird auf eine Gang von Autobahnrasern angesetzt. Langsam gewinnt er ihr Vertrauen, und die Gruppe zieht ihn mehr und mehr in ihren Bann. Schließlich entsteht sogar eine echte Freundschaft. Mit Hilfe seiner Autobahnraser-Freunde gelingt es Karl-Heinz letztlich sogar eine Bande von lang gesuchten Autodieben zu überführen …

Darsteller:
Luke Wilkins (Karl-Heinz)
Niels Bruno Schmidt (Knut)
Alexandra Neldel (Claudi)
Manuel Cortez (Bülent)
Collien Fernandes (Nina)
Kristian Erik Kiehling (Ecki)
Regie: Michael Keusch

Autobahnraser at IMDB