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Another gallery of reader's Broadway memories, finds and photos. Keep 'em coming!
Memories of an old Broadway guitar player
How often does this happen? A virtually mint condition 1962/3 Broadway Plectric 1922 turned up in 2011 at Brighton Guitars, in its original case with an original mini-jack lead, a rare instruction sheet (that accompanied new Broadway guitars) and a Broadway leather strap. Everything looked as it might have when first purchased. The previous owner’s father had purchased it from new and it had hardly been touched in the 48 years of its life! The guitar sold for just over £300, which is amazing for a vintage Broadway in pristine condition. Many thanks to Brighton Guitars, of Sydney Strret, Brighton for allowing me to photograph the guitar at their premises..
John Brown, of Broadstairs, Kent is now the proud new owner of the lovely Broadway Plectric 1922, who wrote:
“I had two of these in early 60’s, sadly I can find no pics at the moment .
Both were in the dark red colour and both had the pickup chrome surround plates. One had a trem unit fitted which had the make stamped on it which read "Made by John Grey", which were an old company that used to make banjo ukes. Both were bought from a little music shop in Merton High Street, South Wimbledon called George Cummings .However when I saw one advertised, I just had to get it. It was on eBay but I had a deal with the store and got it, in my opinion, for a steal.
I have fond memories of the Broadway guitar, that is why I am so glad to have found this one as I always intended to one day. My uncle had a little firm making recorders and flutes and his good pal was Jim Burns of Burns guitars. Jim set my Broadway up and it played as good as any guitar today. Jim never gave me one of his but he did give me a drum kit !!!
I have had dozens of Fenders and still have but I always remembered my first solid, the Broadway.”
Memories of an Old Hofner Player
Steve Russell is undoubtedly the expert on vintage Hofner guitars and his website can be found at http://www.vintagehofner.co.uk from where the following extract is taken, which recalls Steve's experiences of his first electric guitar.
"My first guitar wasn't a Hofner, it was a Broadway 1921Model Solid. This was a single pickup, fixed neck, solid guitar imported by Rose-Morris, I think from Japan, and given a suitably showbiz name for the British market of that time. (My pal had a set of drums with the same name on them!) I received this from my parents, much against their better judgement, as my Christmas present in 1961. (See the Broadway Guitars Website for further details.)
It all started for me though earlier that year in the Park during the annual summer show. Being 14 years of age, boredom was inevitably setting in whilst watching the assembled 12 year-old pianists and tap dancers on the temporary stage, doing their best in the talent competition. However, interest began to return when four youths in dark suits and narrow ties took to the stage, particularly as I recognised them as being Sixth Formers from my own school. Guitars were plugged into mysterious radio-like boxes at the rear of the stage, and "The Strangers" launched into "Walk Don't Run". I had not believed before that day in the park that such a sound could be produced outside a recording studio, or away from the stage of the London Palladium; let alone in the middle of a field in Yorkshire by four schoolboys! My mind was made up. I now had to acquire an electric guitar at all costs.
In those days, a company called Bell from London advertised their catalogue of guitars in the New Musical Express every week. This was obviously the way to make progress, and so the catalogue was duly applied for by post. Actually three catalogues arrived in response; the proper Bell publication, full of guitars ranging in quality and price from a 5 guinea "Spanish" to the Burns Vibra-Artist. The other two unsolicited documents were both from Selmer, one describing the Selmer-Truvoice amplifiers, and the other describing Hofner and Futurama guitars. My first contact with Hofner guitars had been made.
After days poring over the two guitar catalogues, (the relevance of the book on amplifiers totally escaping me at the time!), I came to the conclusion that there was no chance of my `father laying out 50 guineas or so for a Hofner electric. There may be a possibility of something in the £20 region as a special Christmas present however, and following a vigorous campaign, the Broadway was purchased from Woods Music Store in Huddersfield, a few days before Christmas, 1961.
Luckily, my enthusiasm was also shared by three friends, who were persuaded to obtain, in the next few months, drums, bass guitar, and another electric guitar. The other two guitarists had more co-operative sponsors than myself, and hence a red, vinyl covered Hofner Colorama II and a twin pickup Hofner Solid Bass, as well as my Broadway, now equipped the "Telstars". Everyone understood though that regardless of lack of talent or equipment, I was to be the lead guitarist!"
Steve Russel (left) with his broadway, is shown with his bandmates as 'The Telstars', taken in 1962
Another ‘hybrid’ Broadway
John from North Lincolnshire kindly wrote to me, after advertising his Broadway Plectric 1927 2nd generation, two pickup model with tremolo on eBay in February 2011. I was interested to hear of the guitar’s history before being sold on to a new owner.
The guitar was in a very good condition. It looked as if a respray may have happened at some point in its life but once again, the headstock is embellished with a Broadway transfer logo, not usually associated with Plectrics but moreso the Broadway budget range.
“I bought a collection of guitars recently and it was included. A lady sold them all, as her father had passed away. I got a receipt with it from a pawn shop in Doncaster from 2002”
Well, that’s the known history of this lovely Broadway and it’s probably a late 1963 model, when Guyatone seemed to be using up any parts they could, in order to fulfil contracts to Rose Morris, towards the end of the guitar’s production run. The late ’63 models were also beginning to demonstrate parts added by Henry Weill’s factory (notably the pick ups and wiring) before production finally ceased. John’s ‘hybrid’ Broadway guitar is shown below.
Broadway Plectric 1922
The guitar featured below is a lovely, well cared for Broadway Plectric 2nd generation, without a tremolo unit, belonging to Paul of Macclesfield. This guitar was originally owned by Paul’s father-in-law and I’m grateful to Paul for the photos that he sent to me, before it was advertised on eBay..
Broadway Budget Oddity
Steve Hall wrote to me, explaining that he had purchased a Broadway budget model, secondhand from a junk shop, way back in 1967, which he learnt to play on, before passing onto a friend a couple of years later. The friend (or should that read fiend?) then ‘customised’ the guitar around 1972, by removing much of the wood, keeping to the shape of the body line, changing the tuners and covering the scratchplate in faux suede. All the original paintwork was removed, the neck re-varnished with wood varnish and the body sprayed white.
The guitar, at some point, was then ‘kindly’ returned to Steve and has remained unplayed for 30 years, being in a cupboard until Steve decided to test it out. Electronics and switches are still working but the guitar is spoilt by characteristic rough fret wire ends and in this case, dodgy intonation. Steve questioned the guitar’s build, as this one (along with so many other Broadway ‘hybrids’) isn’t made of the characteristic plywood used on budget Broadway models but of something far more solid. It’s quite probably a solid body fitted with budget parts.
Quality control was never a strong point of Guyatone, especially in the latter years of production and the odd configurations of parts fitted within the same model range can be staggering. Anyway, here’s a glimpse of the guitar in question. Well, it’s certainly different and possibly only it’s owner could love it ! Many thanks to Steve for the information and the photo.
Paul's Broadway story
Paul Limb contacted me and sent a photograph of himself playing his converted Broadway Plectric 2nd generation model. Paul got his Broadway in the late '70s, at a time when his transport was a motorbike (with band practices 15 miles away!). His Gibson L6S was too valuable to carry on the bike, so he purchased a one-string Broadway, which was hanging in the window of a guitar shop in Heanor, Derbyshire.
Sanding down the headstock front (which read 'Holburn' ) and the guitar body, re-spraying with Rover Green (and a second green colour and black, so as to resemble the Burns greenburst colour, Paul set about changing the total feel and playability of his Broadway. A dual sound DiMarzio humbucker was fitted and then wired for in and out of phase. The tone controls were rendered superfluous and removed. The resultant sound was amazing.
As Paul says, "It floored my Gibson and was used live and on various recordings with the bands 'The GoCaptains', 'Penguins of Truth' and my blues-rock trio, 'Gas Station Blues Band'. Paul now intends to put on new machine heads and possibly put on extra fret markers (where they should be and not on either side of the 12th fret). Thanks to Paul for providing all the information about his 'new' Broadway.
The Return of the Danish Broadway!
If you have read the section on the first Readers Gallery page of this website, you'll be familiar with the story of Henning Nør and his Broadway guitar, when he played across Denmark back in the day. Still living in Copenhagen, Henning has been in regular contact and I sent him a whole box of 'bits' along with an old Broadway body and neck , with a scratchplate which identified it as a later Plectric 1927. Henning received the package and immediately set to work on his restoration project. Henning takes up the story.
"When i first got the Broadway bits and pieces from Steve, I was thinking of a total renovation. The whole enchilada, including a new, curved fretboard, and a fancy red colour! Maybe give it a new black scratch plate like on my old one? And Strat knobs? Maybe even chromed ones.
But looking at the condition it was in, I decided not to. It is an old guitar, which is quite obvious, but amazingly good looking. In relation to its age. Instead I would try to only make repairs and replacements to bring it to its original appearance, namely a fifty years old vintage and not altering anything to make it look like something else!
I visited my local gear 'pusher' to see if he had anything useful. In his sparepart drawer I found a tuner – I think it was an old Hofner. I disassembled it and used the pin and the wormwheel, which suited in the remaining original Broadway part.
The nut was missing, and first I glued on a white plastic one. (from the same drawer). That wasn´t good, and it didn´t quite fit. I realised that the there should also be a zero fret, which I made, and now that I was in process, I made a nut of a small piece of ash and colored it dark brown.
There was a lot of hardware included. However, the top part of the bridge was missing. I tried to find one that resembled the special look of the original, but didn´t succeed. Instead I found an old Egmond bridge that looked a little bit like it. I drilled two new holes in the original base to make the adjustment screws fit. It worked out fine.
It turned out that in fact all the tremolo parts were there, except for the cover. But “with a little help from my friends” that soon was remedied. Steve got in contact with Rob Cloke who produced an excellent copy which was sent to me. After a little kiss from a file it fitted perfectly!
The pickguard with the pickups, switches and control knobs worked excellently when mounted. It just needed some new soldering in the jack socket.
And of course I retained the original knobs! Two screws from the tuners (which matched the ones in the pickguard), were put into the empty holes there. A couple of new strap pins – and my new old Broadway was finished!
As intended it looks old and roadworn.
It's not 100% original, but close!
It's just like I imagined that my old one would have looked if I still had it.
Many thanks to Steve and Rob for their help with this project ".
'Chuggy', has posted a photo showing himself “....aged about 12/13, around 1967 or 1968 in the front room at Green Lane, Dronfield, playing my Broadway electric guitar, a 5-watt valve amp and a 2 x 8 homemade cab.”
Until recently, I wasn’t aware of the existence of blue Broadway Plectrics but a couple have turned up on eBay (which I always took as a re-spray) and now this one. It might just be that a few light blue finished guitars came out of the Guyatone factory after all.