bass guitars

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From 1994 until 2010 AZOLA produced acoustic electric uprights and bass guitars. Models included the Ampeg inspired AZOLA Baby Bass as well as the MiniBass, BugBass, Lightning Bug, Gypsy, Bambino, Deco, Nouveau, Jazzeau, and Jazzman - all in a plethora of configurations. The manufacture of some models, like the Ultrascoustic BugBass and Ultracoustic Baby Bass involved violin-making techniques like carving, shaping, and fitting to make smaller versions of traditional acoustic upright basses.


The Alvarez trademark was established in 1965,  and the mark was used on Asian-made guitars distributed by The St. Louis Music Supply Company. This company was founded as a violin shop in 1922 by Bernard Kornblum.  St. Louis Music also distributed the Electra and Westone solid body electrics, and manufactures Crate and Ampeg amplifiers.

The first Alvarez guitars were built in Japan during the late 1960s. The company was one of the first to offer Asian-made solid top acoustics. Later models were made in Korea.


Ron and Susan Wickersham founded Alembic in 1969 as a consulting firm that worked with the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash & Young to improve the quality of their live sound and live recordings. After improving the technical aspects of the PA systems and live recording techniques, Alembic turned their attention to the electronics used in the guitars and basses the musicians were playing  to further improve the live sound. Touring bands were experiencing was too much electrical interference and unreliability with their instruments. Ron Wickersham designed low impedance pickups to increase the bandwidth. This also made the pickups low output and so he had to design an active on-board preamp to boost the signal. These were the first guitars with active electronics.


Overwater Basses had its origins in a cellar workshop in Denmark Street, London in 1977 where Chris May and business partner Andy Preston made and repaired guitars and basses. Overwater was officially established in 1979 and soon an additional workshop was opened in Newcastle and then an Overwater factory near Alston. In the early years Overwater made guitars and basses, but by the mid 1980s it became best known for its innovative bass designs. Chris May and the original Overwater team then split from the Newcastle and London businesses to form a separate company. Overwater Basses is now located in Carlisle in the old Atlas Works, where the Overwater team continue to make innovative electric basses.

Source: Overwater Basses website (30 October 2018)


Kimbara is the brand name used on a series of n classical, steel strung, and electric guitars and basses made for UK instrument distributer Fletcher, Coppock and Newman (FCN) Music. The brand name was first registered on the 2nd of January 1968 and the guitar production involved FCN Music commissioning guitars from various different factories across the Far East. Initially guitars were produced in Japan, then in the late 1980s guitars were sourced from Korea, and in the late 1990s instrument production moved to factories in China. The price of a Kimbara guitar puts it in the 'budget' range of guitars (The 8/Y model was available from 1977-1990 and its last UK RRP was £186.00). But they were nonetheless attractively designed, well made, and had surprisingly good tone for the price. In 2012 FCN ceased trading.

Source: FCN Music website (archived 2012)


Gordon Whitham and John Smith founded Gordon Smith Guitars in 1974 and it is the longest running UK guitar maker.

In 2015 Auden aquired the Gordon Smith Guitars brand, when John Smith retired and it continues to trade as a stand alone business producing hand crafted British built electric guitars. John Smith spent his final year with the company helping to set up the processes in Auden's workshop and ensure that the Northhampton made instruments carried on the GSG tradition.

Source: Gordon Smith Guitars website (9 February 2017)


Kramer was founded in 1976. It is best known for electric solidbody guitars (played by Edward Van Halen). The Kramer company went bankrupt in 1990, was revived in 1995 and acquired by Gibson in 1996. The current Kramer line includes electrics, acoustics and gear, made overseas since 1998 and sold though MusicYo.


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