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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Emails about John Birch

The Wikipedia requires that all sources of information be accessible to the general public. A very good idea, it keeps people from saying whatever they like in an article. So, in accordance with that, I am going to post some of my correspondance with various people about the John Birch article. I have edited some of them slightly for spelling and format.

John Carling, owner of John Birch Guitars (jc@johnbirchguitars.com):

January 15th, 2007
Hi Paul

I have read your review so far and its about right in its content with a few revisions.

John Birch first got involved in guitar building as a young RAF officer based in the South Pacific Islands in WW2. We formed a band the Wykki Islanders and as supplies of instruments were hard to find they built them out of RAF parts.

Not sure quite how he got into guitars in the UK but after a few years certainly got the business established with his new approach to guitar building.

I attached a picture with John Birch, Roy Orbison, John Diggins and Arthur Baker.

As to the section on the New John Birch there is more info you might wish to include.

During the 1993 to 2000 period put the guitar business on the map, and it was a period of
looking to improve on the original guitars and pickups. This was well underway when John died.
His request was for me to carry on the business as by now had learned everything about guitars.
As an ex pro musician and technician I have continued to improve the present products and services.

The new versions of the SY2 and SG Special and all the others are regarded as better than the original 70s versions.

( I would appreciate if you could revise the part in the text of a" copy of the Iommi SG" and replace with "a new version of the SG Special based on the original" ) This is important to state this correctly.

Eaton guitars are a subsiduary brand i started after JB had died. This allows us to offer a wider range of products and retain the JB professional guitar range as well.

In 2003 the Eaton metal faced LP won Best Guitar of the Year Award by UK Guitar mag.

As well as the website there is an Ebay UK Shop John Birch Online.

Finally we have in the planning stage a John Birch Centre which will include Archive exhibition area, workshop and retail sections.

Hope this helps,

Best Regards

John Carling

January 15th, 2007

I will look up JB date of birth, he was 74 when he died, Nov 6 2000.

Please feel free to use any pictures and we could go into long explanations in the technical
aspect of guitars and pickups if that is relevent in your listing.

Regards JC

February 1st, 2007

John Birch was born in Nottingham, West Bridgford and returned to his original home were he finally lived and worked there until he died.

There is another original guitar with interchange pickups ( I sold to Nicky Panicci in LA late last year.

Nicky worked with David Bowie in the 70's. and USA Band Girls School.

The guitar is one featured in the original catalog page Artists models.

Regards JC

John Diggins of Jaydee guitars (jaydeesupernatural@ukonline.co.uk):

January 23rd, 2007
Hi Paul

Here is some more information for you. I hope you can make some sense of it!

The interchangeable pick-up idea came from Tony. The pick-up routes went all the way through the body, with copper contact points along one edge of the pick-up route situated near the back of the instrument. The pick-ups were assembled on a plinth, pre adjusted for height. The pick-up surrounds were fitted to the front of the instrument so that when the modules were slotted in from the back they engaged into the surround at the correct height. The pick-ups were held in place with sprung loaded clips that located into a vee slot routed into the side of the pick-up cavity. When in place, the pick-up housing was flush with the back of the instrument. Contacts on the pick-ups were also sprung loaded and made contact with the adjacent copper points in the pick-up cavity. The only one I know of still in existence is owned by Greg Dorset (Rockstars Guitars)

Just to answer a question from your earlier email, the pick-ups we are going to make for Tony's Old Boy replica will be the p90 size, which means I will be able to make this size pick-up in the future.

Best Regards

January 19th, 2007

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, we are extremely busy at the moment.

John Birch himself was involved mainly on the electronics side of the business. I myself was responsible for the designing and the woodwork. Arthur Baker was like a production manager. His job was to break down the manufacturing into different processes, and then devise the best way to carry them out.

The very first guitars were 24 fret SG's, both black and white. There were also a few 24 fret Les Pauls. The fingerboards on the first guitars were Brazilian Rosewood. This then changed to Maple a couple of years later.

John used to advertise his pick-ups and guitar customising in a magazine called Beat International, this is how I got to know about him. One day I decided to visit him with a guitar I had made, and he offered me a job.

With regards to the pick-ups, I recently had Tony's 'Old Boy' in my workshop as he has asked me to make a replica of it for him. This means I will have to replicate the original style pick-ups. I have taken some good photos of it if you want them.

The pick-up in the neck position is actually a Biflux.

The Magnum X is different from a Multiflux. It was 20k, with no extra wiring capabilities other than to reverse the phase.

I have never heard the Gibson Iommi pick-ups so I'm afraid I can't comment on them.

I hope that this has been helpful.

Best Regards

Ian Seaton of Rare Guitars (Iseatrock@aol.com):

January 23, 2007

Hello Paul, I would be delighted if you used a pic of it. You are right the pu's are multiflux. The controls are far more complex. As you look at it The one on the right is master volume, the toggle is p/u selector, the 4 numbered ones are vol/tone for each p/u. It is the top two that are mind numbing. The top right is two position, the left, three. They seem to work on all, front and rear, switching between, phasing and turning off the pickups. It also makes a difference where the pickup selector is as that appears to alter their function completely! So far I have managed to get about 10,000 different tones out of it and I am still learning.
You will have seen on my website that I refer to it as a "early 80's" , Greg Dorsett has told me it is definitely a early 70's custom job but who it was made for I have not been able to find out. A little mention on your site would be appreciated and if you want any more pics let me know.
It is the most fantastic guitar, as I said on my site in my 51 years of guitar playing I have never come across anything like it. The man was a genius.


That represents every email source I used in the article. I hope that it is informative and interesting to you!

Paul Stadden


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