Its been some time since I featured a range of early guitars from the 60's so without further ado lets talk Italian.
During my plukey youth I would glue myself to guitar shop windows and be amazed at the bizarre shaped solid body guitars hanging on the wall, not only were they generally ugly as shit or looked as though they had been built from spare radio parts, even those ugly ducklings were few and far between. That would soon all change.
However, twixt and between those weird guitars there were some guitars fabricated in Italy which at least had some nice style to them, as only the Italians could do and one of those incredibly rare brands was MARINUCCI. Marinucci had been a music factory producing accordians since the 1920's but changed to making guitars during the 1950's and the upcoming guitar boom of Rock n Roll and Skiffle.
I remember seeing this guitar and saying to my pal that it looked like someone had taken a bite out of the body. The model was the Gemelli 224 and came with either 2 or four pickups the four pick-up job being named the 224-4.
Italian styling made this different and especially the rather attractive scratch plate with more than a nod at art deco design. The stripey part resembling piano keys or of course accordions from where the instruments originated.
The controls were inset into the upper part giving pick-up selection and a couple of volume controls.
Gorgeous scratch plate, the badge was the the crest of the town where these were built. This is a beautiful guitar I don't even care what it sounds like to be honest
During the early 60's MARINUCCI sold the factory to EKO so if you are lucky enough to have a MARINUCCI badged model it is very collectible.
Another Italian designed guitar and also manufactured by another company that had previously made accordions.
This guitar is reported as being the best sounding guitar of its day and was quite potent. It didn't have lumps chomped out of it either. Like most of the Italian guitars it had a tremolo arm centred on the tailpiece. It's looks are more "Atomic Age". Quite a nice headstock, a bit Fender Jaguar-ish
Like Marinucci they were soon swallowed up by EKO who then fabricated all guitars with different badges for UK traders or for Department store "own brand".
This guitars neck gave access to the uppermost fret.
It has a kind of styling that today one might associate with heavy metal Jackson type guitars but the Albert Lee HH guitar has practically the same body style.
EKO were amongst the big names of guitar production in the early days and they bought out smaller Italian guitar makers by the handful whose styles and designs were incorporated into the Eko brand and one of those carrying on the "Bite mark" is one I haven't featured before on the blog and that was this very pretty EKO Melody triplecut.
This was probably their finest moment, design wise. This is a thing of spartan beauty and was available as a two and four pick up variant. Style was certainly more of a consideration than practical use by the Italians with their habitual placing of the controls in front of the strings was not really well thought out in terms of practicability running the risk of changing your settings every time you started strumming.
The internet is full of sites where you can get a good look at the whole range of EKO guitars, the best probably being Vintage Guitars so look them up and drool over some lovely old examples of early guitars.
Emotion and guitar snobbery aside there is something to be said about collecting Italian guitars. They are readily available and you stand a good chance of being able to pick a great condition, genuine 60's guitar, for less than the price of a new brand name guitar but now with a good potential for a profit a couple of years down the line whilst still being able to enjoy owning something so nice. Whereas, the brand new guitar you may have just bought has already lost a third of its value as you walked out of the guitar shop door.
It isn't comparable to a Gibson or Fender for in terms of tonal quality, although with top end names being fabricated in Korea and China their quality is an issue these days. It is worth a thought. It's fun tracking guitars down on the internet, certainly mare fun than tracing your ancestry!!
If you have one of the above guitars it would for sure sound remarkable through a Binson echo for that old rock sound. Made in Milan from 1961 onwards, Binson was THE echo chamber to have and was Hank Marvins choice and later David Gilmour. Meazzi also featured as another Italian echo chamber of note.
I recently came across this though which is probably the creme de la creme of Italian amplification:
This fantastic bit of kit is an Ecolette four input amplifier with an ecolette echo chamber built in, its so nice I can imagine a real nice surf sound through this baby.
Contact: Bobsbullocks @gmail.com