A History of Broadway Guitars
Broadway Plectric 1923 & 1927 (circa 1962)
1st Generation models with vibrato
The Bell Music catalogue of September 1962 shows the aforementioned Broadway Plectric 1921 and 1922 models but also two new Broadway solid electric models were made available; the Broadway Plectric 1923 and the Broadway Plectric 1927.
The Broadway Plectric 1923 (the single pickup model) and the Broadway Plectric 1927 (with two pickups) were two models fitted with the “new Broadway tremolo arm” as an optional extra. The price for the Broadway Plectric 1927 model was around £25, so still within the budget of many aspiring guitarists of the time. The vibrato assembly was hidden under a chrome cover plate, which is often missing on surviving models, as illustrated in the photograph above.
The Broadway Plectric solid’s vibrato tailpiece, was a rather primitive unit fitted in the UK, after importation of the guitar from Japan. Confusingly, these vibrato units are stamped “Made in England,” which tends to make people think that the whole guitar was in fact made in the UK. This was not the case and Broadway Plectrics continued to be manufactured by Guyatone in Japan. The Plectric1927 also has 'Broadway' stamped into the vibrato footplate on some models. The vibrato tailpieces were clearly outsourced to a number of suppliers, so some variation in stamping is to be expected.
Apart from the added vibrato unit, which replaced the chrome ‘ashtray’ cover, the specification on the Broadway Plectric 1923 and 1927 models were exactly the same specification as seen on the Broadway 1921 and 1922 models.
In keeping with the rest of the Broadway Plectric range, the guitars were fitted with tuning machine heads of a simple open-backed variety. They were individual machine heads (not 6 in a row), held onto the headstock with two screws and capped by a white plastic tuning button. The shaft of the machine head posts protruded through the headstock, with no ferrule bushes. A white plastic truss rod cover was for decorative purposes only, as with other Broadway models, there was no truss rod to adjust the neck! The guitar's action could only be set by raising or lowering the bridge, by adjustment of the thumb wheels. Over time, Broadways do tend to develop a poor action, often rather high, with no immediate remedy once the bridge has been lowered as far as it can.
The Broadway Plectric 1927 (above) is in wonderful condition. It's my own and is completely original, in full working order with original case, Broadway headstock logo and Broadway strap. And it's not for sale, in case you should ask!
The photographs illustrate the tremolo unit fitted to the Broadway range. The most common type is that shown on the left, comprising a base plate with sides, over which a chrome cover was placed and screwed down. The tremolo arm moved the strings, thus producing a tremolo effect. This was stamped 'PM & Co. Made in England'.
A less common type of unit is shown above, with the same principal of action but of a differing construction.
The tremolo units were manufactured by several UK companies, (clearly subcontracted to manufacture but not to install the units ) who usually added their name to the plate. Where the tremolos were fitted is unclear but possibly at Rose-Morris.
Left: A 1962 Broadway 1927 solid electric with those splendid Guyatone over-sized chrome pickup sold on eBay in March 2013 for £250. It had the original case, original lead (therefore probably a mini-jack socket, which would require conversion to accept 1/4” cable jacks) and overall in quite good condition. Alas, no Broadway headstock logo but these guitars don’t come along that often, so overall a good buy!