A History of Broadway Guitars
Broadway BW1 & BW2
The story begins in late '50s Britain, when Broadway became the brand name, belonging to and marketed by UK importers, Rose-Morris. The name was applied to musical instruments from various sources, during the 1950s, right through to the early 1960s. It was used on electric guitars and related equipment, which came from the UK itself and on those imported from Germany and more especially, from Japan.
In an early instrument catalogue, from UK distributor Stanley Lewis and dated around 1960, there are two rather primitive UK made, solid electric guitars; the Broadway BW1 and BW2, both of which being rather similar in style to the early Dallas Tuxedo models. This Dallas guitar began manufacture in 1957, by a company owned by Henry Weill and was marketed by Dallas Arbiter of London. From the late 1950s, the Dallas Tuxedo was the first British made, solid body electric guitar to commercially hit the market. In it's wake came the Broadway BWI, which had one pickup and the BW2, which had two pickups, controlled by a volume and tone knob for each pickup.
The Broadway guitars BW1 and BW2 were of solid wood construction, generally finished in a brown sunburst, with a sparkle finish pearloid scratchplate. They were, however. also available in a cream blonde burst , with a split blue and white pearloid scratch plate. The fretboard was in rosewood. The characteristic 'Broadway' logo is stencil painted on the front upper bout of the guitar's body, rather than portrayed on the headstock. A volume and tone control , of white plastic with a gold insert for each pickup, was a typical feature. A simple trapeze tailpiece and a rather primitive bridge completed the guitar and any adjustment to the guitar's intonation was achieved by moving the bridge in the desired direction. Three-a-side open back tuners complete the headstock adornment.
These Broadway BW1 and BW2s almost certainly came from the same London-based factory which produced solid body electrics for other guitar manufacturers of the time, including Vox, Hohner and Fenton Weill, as well as the aforementioned Dallas Tuxedo.The Broadway BW1 and BW2 was manufactured from the late 1950s, probably around 1959, into the early '60s.
The photos (left and right) show a brown sunburst Broadway guitar BW2,, with the Broadway logo just about discernible on the guitar's upper bout.
The BW2 on the right has changed volume and tone control knobs, for ease of use.
The unusual blonde-burst BW2 shown here is owned by Guy Mackenzie. It features an addition in the form of a Framus engraved palm tremolo device, fitted to the standard trapeze tailpiece. Guy commented "the Framus add-on vibrato is amazing but of course, puts the guitar out of tune when used".
Guy has several Broadway guitars in his large collection, which can be found at http://www.theguitarcollection.org.uk
Guy and I were unaware that we were bidding against each other for this rare guitar when it appeared on eBay in 2009! Luckily, this increasingly rare guitar has found a very good home.
The page on the left, from the very first catalogue of Bell Musical Instruments of Surbiton, Surrey, shows the Broadway solid model (BW2) retailing at 19 gns (a guinea being one pound and one shilling in pre-decimal currency), with it's one pickup sister guitar (the BW2) 141/2 gns. A felt lined fibre case was 21/2 gns extra!
I stumbled across this photo from a website called www.walthamstowmemories.net. The title of the site says it all and the kind permission has been given to use the photo, that shows a band playing at the William Morris Hall, Walthamstow, probably in the late 1950s/early 60s. There’s not much information provided, except that the band centres on local drummer, Ian Purdy and which included a guitarist, called John (?), who played a Broadway guitar through a Watkins amp. The guitar is undoubtedly a Broadway BW2. I should imagine there’s not many photos of this guitar being played in existence and it’s good to see one, for historic reasons alone.
The photograph on the left shows The Senators, a beat group from Gorton in south east Manchester. Here they're found playing at Brookfield Church, in Gorton, at their Christmas Party in January 1962. Their guitarist is found sporting a rather splendid Broadway BW2 in blonde-burst. Lovely!
The images (left) of the sunburst BW1 were sent by Mark Harvey, a keen collector of '60s and '70s guitars.
Mark acquired this guitar in the summer of 2014, purchasing it from it's former owner, who supplied the photos at the top of this page.
It's a great example of a very rare, early British electric.
Thanks to Mark for suppling the photos and background info.
BWI rare photo
A rare photo of a sunburst Broadway BW2, being played by the late John Bradbury (1947-2016), from Chesterfield, in Derbyshire .
The photo was sent by his son, Richard, who only recently discovered this photo and had searched in vain for the 'identity' of the guitar, until stumbling across this website. The photo probably heralds from the early '60s.