Baldwin - Burns Jazz Split Sound Solid Body Electric Guitar (1965)

Baldwin - Burns  Jazz Split Sound Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1965)

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Item # 8681
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Baldwin - Burns Jazz Split Sound Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1965), made in London, England, serial # 13563, red/black sunburst Polyester finish, sycamore body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, black gig bag case.

Not the flashiest but the by far most popular design from England's always-eccentric James Ormston Burns, The Jazz Split Sound is a 1960's classic and a very stylish guitar. These instruments were built at the Burns Romford, UK factory, and were available in the US labeled Ampeg (1963-4) and Baldwin (which bought the company in September 1965). This is a very early Baldwin-marked example, identical in every way to Burns-labeled instruments except for the new "Baldwin" logo tag cut into the pickguard in place of the Burns name.

The dated handwritten inspection sticker for the electronics is missing, but this guitar would have been assembled in the fall of 1965 just after the Baldwin purchase. It features the earlier pattern single-sided headstock and sunburst-finished, unbound neck, changed by Baldwin to a natural finish double-sided design by summer '66. The red-black sunburst finish is standard for this model, and this example has almost no fade but does show some chips to the Polyester.

The Jazz Split Sound was Burns' midline instrument; professional class, but less expensive than the more dramatically styled Black Bison and Hank Marvin guitars at the top of the line. Obviously inspired by 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 unit with fully adjustable individual saddles and must rate as one of the best systems of its kind. The short-scale neck is slim and comfortable with a slightly less round feel than a Fender. This rates as a fine-playing guitar with tons of character and a very distinctive sound, and an extremely good value in a professional caliber 1960's vintage guitar.
 
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 generally well preserved example overall with some isolated spots of finish damage but no alterations. The sunburst finish has very strong color with virtually no fade. It does show several spots where the Polyester overcoat has flaked off in chips, but the rest of the finish appears stable and not flaking any further off the body. It has none of the heavy checking often present on English polyester from this period, so we're really not sure what caused this oddity. There is one fairly deep ding in the back of the neck, and some light divoting to the fingerboard.

The guitar is complete and original except the metal tailpiece cover is missing (as many are) and the trem arm is a replacement from the modern Burns of London company, made to the exact original spec. All-in-all not the cleanest one we have has but a good playing and sounding example of this transitional version of Jim Burns' most popular instrument, complete with the infamous "Wild Dog" sound. Very Good + Condition.