Ampeg Deluxe Wild Dog/ Split Sonic Solid Body Electric Guitar, made by Burns (1963)

Ampeg Deluxe Wild Dog/ Split Sonic Solid Body Electric Guitar,  made by Burns  (1963)

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Item # 7950
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Ampeg Deluxe Wild Dog/ Split Sonic Model Solid Body Electric Guitar, made by Burns (1963), made in London, England, serial # 2116, sunburst polyester finish, sycamore body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, original blue-check tolex hard shell case.

Here is one of the rarer instruments we have encountered from England's James Ormston Burns -- the Ampeg-logo "Deluxe Wild Dog" guitar; the American-distributed version of the Burns "Split Sonic". In the early '60s Ampeg was looking for an electric guitar line to complement their popular amplifiers and imported a rather limited line of re-branded Burns of London instruments. These were high quality, unique guitars but the price in the US after transport and import duties were figured in proved to be extremely high, a major flaw in the plan! This "Split Sonic" was the first Ampeg-logo model introduced early in 1963, re-named the "Deluxe Wild Dog Guitar" although the nameplate on the actual guitar remained unchanged.

The initial Ampeg line consisted of only two models, this guitar and a matching "Wild Dog Bass". These must have been brought in in very small numbers, as they are exceedingly rare today, with only a few examples documented. Ampeg advertised these in 1963-4 as "Exciting Wild Dog" models, but in the crowded US market the instruments went little noticed. The line was expanded later in 1963 to include what became only decent seller: the less expensive, short scale "Jazz Split Sound" guitar, which was imported into the US in small but steady quantities up through the beginning of 1965. These are the only Ampeg/Burns model generally commonly seen today.

The Split Sonic itself was Burns' upper/midline instrument; thoroughly professional but less expensive than the dramatically styled Black Bison that stood at the top of the 1962-3 line. Owing a conceptual debt to the Stratocaster, the Split Sonic differs primarily due to its particularly "British" styled body with a truncated upper bout and fluid contours. The three "Split Sound" Tri-sonic pickups with two coils in each are linked to a rotary control giving four tone selections including the snarlingly out-of-phase "Wild Dog" and the patented "Split Sound" which combines different half-pickups to accentuate bass and treble registers. The Burns "Series I" vibrato system incorporates a floating bridge cradle and fully adjustable individual saddles and even in this early version can be considered one of the best systems of its kind, capable of some truly dramatic whammy effects.

The 24 1/2" neck is slim and comfortable with a slightly less round feel than a Fender. This guitar has a bound fingerboard which is an unusual but not unknown feature on this Ampeg version. All the instruments from the Burns London period (1961-65) are extremely well made; this early example would have been one of the first Burns guitars ever seen in the US. A great guitar and a super Burns rarity.
 
Overall length is 40 in. (101.6 cm.), 13 in. (33 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 1/2 in. (622 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

All original with some light checking (less than many!) and small dings to the finish, but no major areas of wear. Plays very well and is complete including the oft-missing trem arm and bridge cover, and still residing in the original blue check Tolex Ampeg HSC. Excellent Condition.