30 July 2008
Profile of drummer Guy Mackenzie - who collects guitars! ...
Guy Mackenzie is a drummer who started out in the early 1960s and found success in the 1970s and 1980s playing all over the south of England with various working bands.
However, it was guitars that proved a fascination - he now has an enormous collection of them at his home in the South West of England, and some of them have an impressive provenance.
What do you collect - and what got you started?
I collect old, rare and unusual electric guitars. In the bands I played with we used to talk guitars endlessly and I’ve always owned several guitars. Also the Ultimate Guitar Book by Tony Bacon and Paul Day was a source of inspiration for me - now Paul Day is a friend and I have bought several guitars from him.
What is the most you have ever spent?
£500 on my Burns Mirage which dates from 1977 and was one of only a few built before Burns UK ceased trading - the story of Jim Burns’s life! Brilliant guitar designer, but poor at managing finance.
Which is your favourite - and why?
I have several but in particular my Fenton Weill Dualtone, which dates from 1962. Fenton Weill is a peculiarly British company (owned by Henry Weill who was German by birth) that produced a wide range of electric guitars from 1960-1965 in the UK - many with very unusual and quirky designs. Also my Burns Weill bass (affectionately known as the ‘Martian Cricket bat’) which was made in 1959 from the short lived partnership (just six months) between Jim Burns (the Leo Fender of the UK) and Henry Weill - probably only about 20ish were made, and this one was owned and used by John Godfrey of Mungo Jerry until the mid 1980s.
If you had to sell your collection which would be the last guitar you would sell - and why?
Difficult one! Although I’m not a guitarist I can hardly ever imagine selling any! But possibly my Grimshaw, which dates from 1967 and which I found in a music shop in Truro, Cornwall (where it had lain for about 18 months) with its neck hanging off! When I bought it the mouths of the young assistants in the shop dropped open - they just couldn’t believe that anyone would be foolish enough to buy it. And as I walked out I could see them shaking their heads with amazement. But I’ve now had it restored and it’s been the catalyst for a friend of mine to set up a website dedicated to these wonderful quirky old guitars which were used by many well known musicians when they started out, like Bruce Welch, Pete Townsend, Alvin Lee and Francis Rossi.
Guy Mackenzie's guitar collection
What is your best buy - and why?
Possibly my Hagstrom H8 bass, which is an example of the first ever eight-string bass. It was made in Sweden and is one of just 2,200 made, and this one was evidently owned by Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. It’s probably one of my best buys because I have several dealers who keep offering me increasing sums of money to part with it - they love the unusual colour, the Thin Lizzy connection and the fact that Jimmy Hendrix’s base player used one.
Have you kicked yourself for not buying/missing out on a guitar?
Not really, but there are several Fenton Weills I wish I had bid more for on eBay!
Is there anything particularly unusual/rare in your collection?
* Hagstrom Futurama Coronado Automatic from 1963, which was one of about 200 built to the specification of Ben Davis of Selmer.
* Dallas Tuxedo, which dates from about 1957-’58 and is an example of the first commercially built and sold electric guitar in the UK.
* Teisco SS4L, a wonderfully dated shape and similar to the guitar that was later used by ‘Hound Dog’ Taylor, who appeared on stage with his dog!
* Yamaha 60T, which was one of the first high quality guitars built by Yamaha, and this actual guitar was featured in an article in Guitarist magazine in June 2006.
* Tremo Twenty - a Teisco built guitar but branded in the UK as Tremo Twenty and one of only three I’ve ever been aware of that are still in existence. (One is in a guitar museum in Switzerland).
And several others...
Your biggest mistake?
Selling a vintage black Gibson Les Paul for £375 in 1996 - no wonder the dealer who bought it travelled 200 miles that winter night to buy it!
What was the last item you bought?
A Zenon from the mid ‘60s which features a red body with a wonderful gold sparkle in it - with a real ‘60s vibe!
How far would you travel?
The UK if required.
What do your friends and family think of your collection?
They think I’m quite mad as I’m not a guitarist but they tolerate me, I think! My wife puts up with it taking over our house because it means that I don’t complain about her passion for horses!
If you won £500 tomorrow, what would you spend it on?
On a wonderful green Fenton Weill dualmaster from about 1962 which is owned by a friend!
Guy Mackenzie with one his prized guitars
How do you display the collection?
In my home and on my website www.theguitarcollection.org.uk (which attracts visitors and messages from all over the world). I have 37 on display in my bedroom (and my wife has moved into the spare bedroom), six in my living room and four in the dining room - the remainder are in my office, which leaves little room for me!
What do you plan to do with your collection in the future?
I’ll leave some to enthusiast friends of mine. But I can’t ever see myself selling any.
Do you belong to any clubs?
No but I watch a lot of live music - everything from folk to heavy metal!
Any recommended reading/websites?
The Ultimate Guitar Book, Guitars of the ‘50s and ‘60s, The Burns Book - if you can get hold of a copy - and The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Electric Guitars.
Can you tell us three things readers need to know about collecting/preserving guitars/musical instruments?
Care for them, enjoy them and enjoy others getting enjoyment from them.