Burns Jazz Split Sound Solid Body Electric Guitar (1964)

Burns  Jazz Split Sound Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1964)

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Item # 8446
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Burns Jazz Split Sound Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1964), made in London, England, serial # 8263, red/black sunburst finish, sycamore body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, black hard shell case.

The most popular 1960s design from the always-eccentric James Ormston Burns, the Jazz Split Sound is a relatively unsung Beat-Group era classic and a very stylish guitar. This model was available in the US labeled both Ampeg (1963-4) and Baldwin (after late 1965) but this "true Burns" example, dated internally to November 1964, is something of a rarity on these shores. Burns instruments were sold worldwide under the company's name, but very few made it to the US due to the English firm's lack of a distributor in this market. The Jazz Split Sound was Burns' mid-price instrument; professional class but less expensive than the more dramatically styled Black Bison and Hank Marvin guitars at the top of the line.

Obviously owing a lot to the Stratocaster, the JSS has three "Split Sound" Tri-sonic pickups with a rotary control giving four tone selections including the snarlingly out-of-phase "Wild Dog" and the patented "Split Sound" which combines different half-coils to accentuate bass and treble registers. The lavish Burns "Series II" vibrato system incorporates a floating bridge cradle that moves laterally and individual saddles and must rate as one of the best systems of its kind.

The sunburst-finished 23 1/2 inch-scale neck is slim and comfortable with a slightly less round feel than a Fender and a sunburst single sided headstock, later changed by Baldwin to a natural finish double-sided design. The sunburst finish was standard for this model; this one has faded quite a bit, but does not exhibit the heavy checking often seen on these UK-made guitars and has a bit of nice grain to the sycamore on the back. All the instruments from the Burns London period (1961-65) are extremely well-made, and this rates as a fine-playing guitar with tons of character and a very distinctive sound.
 
Overall length is 40 in. (101.6 cm.), 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 23 1/2 in. (597 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

This is a nice, clean example of this guitar overall with only some light wear and no alterations. The sunburst finish has faded quite a bit on the top, giving it sort of a 1950s Fender two-tone hue, while the back retains more of the original red color. The finish has small dings, scuffs, and a few chips, but none of the heavy checking often present on English polyester from this period.

The guitar is complete and all original except the trem arm is a perfect replacement from the modern Burns of London company, made to the exact original spec. An excellent playing and sounding example of this rare-in-America version of Jim Burns' most popular instrument, in a period but not original shaped HSC. Excellent Condition.