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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More Birch related email

I have recently been corresponding with a fellow named George Waller. He was a frequenter of the John Birch custom shop back in its heyday, and even ordered what just may be the only 10 string/5 string doubleneck bass in the world. He's given me lots of very valuable information, and I am going to post it here so that the Wiki allows me to post the information.

Email with George Waller
April 22, 2007

Hi Paul,

To answer your questions;
I think it is possibly the only 5/10 string duo in the world at that time, in fact I can't recall seeing another one at any time. I paid £600 cash for it -- a lot of money at the time. It was built in 1975 if I remember correctly. I moved to London in 1976 and sold it in P/X for a 1961 Precision bass. I did some local recordings with it, but they have long since been lost.
The bass was originally WHITE, but the colour started to "yellow" after a very short time so they did the "greenburst" colour for me free. I was the original owner of course, and I think the guy who sold it to Songbird music bought in London when I sold it, and he moved to Toronto many years ago, so 3 owners at most (including Songbird). Andrew no doubt has the name and address of the other guy! Everyone just stood and stared at it on stage--it was a real showstopper!
Why did I sell it-----well, I'm a short guy of 5ft 6" and that thing weighs over 17 pounds-----------get my drift?? It was huge!!----I now play a 1976 Alembic Series 1 bass and that is huge as well, but I can cope with this one . www.Jaydeesupernatural@ukonline.co.uk is the address of John Diggins who worked with JB at the time. He is the guy who designed the electronics and most of the stuff for JB guitars and is a real genius. He now has his own company with just himself and his son, and they make top quality instruments. You can contact him as well if you like! He remembers both me and the bass very well-although I had hair then!

Keep in touch


Email with George Waller
April 23, 2007

Hi Paul

Yes I know them all personally! I used to go down to the shop/factory (it was like a converted suburban house) in Rubery just outside Birmingham. Arthur was even shorter than me, and must have been about 60 at the time, so I assume that he has gone to the happy guitar factory in the sky. I don't know if JB is still alive, as he was no youngster at the time either!!
I think Alembic inspired Johnny Diggins!--they inspire EVERYONE.
If you need anymore help-------just ask------------but keep in touch anyway

Take care


Email with George Waller
April 24, 2007


When I visited the shop on several occasions, I met Black Sabbath-they were having guitars made as well. I also saw and played the "shamrock" bass that they built for Barry Devlin of Horselips. I saw and played the "spade" that they made for Roy Wood, and also saw the heart with the arrow through it that they built for MUD.
The shop was just a house in suburbia. The kitchen was changed to the Spray room, another room was for woodworking (Arthur's domain). Upstairs was for electrical work and set ups etc and offices. It was literally a 3 bed house with the upstairs rooms looking out on to the main street!
I've enclosed a pic of John Diggins (as I remember him) at the start of the JayDee guitar period. I'll try and get more pics if possible for you, but Diggins told me that all the old catalogues etc had been lost in a fire.


Email with George Waller
April 24, 2007


I do remember going down to Rubery to collect the guitar because JB had called me to say it was ready. When I got there, there was still a problem with the 10 string bridge. He offered to put me up in a hotel, but I just drove the 320 miles back home to my own bed and picked her up a week later.


Email with George Waller
April 25, 2007


I remember Arthur's voice----he had this typical soft yet full Birmingham accent(which is quite unique). I remember the door to the upstairs set up room was always wedged open -by a Gibson EB3 front bass pickup!!! Arthur (and indeed the 3 of them started to call me Mr. Waller at the start, but I soon changed that, and we were all on first name terms. Arthur even used to make me tea and coffee or go to the local shop for some beers for me. These were REAL nice guys.


Email with George Waller
May 1, 2007
Forwarded response from John Diggins to the following questions:
1. When did you leave the John Birch shop?
2. When Birch stopped building guitars in the eighties, did people come to you for Birch style guitars? Were you seen as a surrogate John Birch?
3. What did Arthur Baker do when Birch quit luthery?

Hi Paul,

Here is the reply to your questions from My Friend---John Diggins:

Hi George

Here are the answers to the questions:

1. I left the John Birch shop in November 1977
2. People did not come to me for Birch style guitars
3. Arthur Baker came to work for me as production manager.

I hope these help

All the best


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