Bert Weedon. OBE. 1920 - 2012
A quick tour of some of Bert's guitars over the years
For the real thing, go to The Official Bert Weedon Website at www.bertweedon.com
A bit of a change from old amplifiers in this one. It was raining and I had nothing to do, so I dug out my vinyl, first issue copy of “Bert Weedon Remembers Jim Reeves” with a great, full colour picture of Bert and his 'Guild Bert Weedon' Starfire on the sleeve. Watching Bert on Five O’clock Club every week started a lifelong quest to spend every spare minute and every spare (and not so spare) penny on guitars and amplifiers. It would have been more productive to actually learn to play, but that wasn’t to be.
The man himself
If you're interested in Bert's discography, click HERE.
A useful feature of a typical Bert Weedon album is the sleeve photograph which usually shows him holding his latest guitar.
In a 2002 interview with musicradar.com he says that most of his guitars were given to him, presumably by the manufacturers or distributors, and that he’d still got them.
"I'm very fortunate because all my guitars are presented to me. It's a long while since I paid 15 shillings for a guitar."
In later years he moved away from archtops and on to other types which we won't go into here.
From the same musicradar interview (bear in mind that he was 81 at the time and still playing)..........
"So I still play the Fender, but now I use the Parker guitar as well because it's so light and I can stand up and do the show without bending over, which for an old man is a marvellous asset. I'm very impressed with the Parker guitar and I'm impressed with the Fender guitar."
Here are some examples of Bert’s instruments together with details of the source material, just to prove that I didn’t make it up. The albums are all worth a listen, and many are now available on CD and internet streaming services, They include '22 Golden Guitar Greats' (Warwick WW5019) that got to number 1 in the UK album charts in 1976.
The Hofner Committees
Go to vintagehofner.co.uk for a discussion about who The Committee might have been.
I'm afraid I don't know that much about old Hofners (couldn't afford one) so the notes are a best guess
'Bert Weedon's Guitar Guide to Modern Guitar Playing'.
Chappell & Co.
The same guitar fitted with a clamped-on DeArmond Rhythm Chief (?) pickup.
BBC radio broadcast 1961.
I think this is a two pickup "Golden Hofner" model with gold plated fittings and rectangular control panel.
Those 'cowboy rope' cords were absolute murder to stand up with for long.
Bert looking very dapper with a Golden Hofner Thinline on an Apple Music online compilation HERE
Part of the original photograph.
'Honky Tonk Guitar'. Top Rank 35101. Released 1961.
'Weedon Winners' EP. Top Rank JKP 3008. Released 1961.
The guitar now has a Bigsby vibrato unit (or it's a new one)
The Guild Starfires
Bert with an early Guild Starfire III with no back binding. (If anyone wants to argue that it's a T-100D, feel free). It seems to have two extra dot markers on the 17th and 19th frets.
This would have been made at the Newark Street (apparently actually in Observer Highway) factory in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Pickups are DeArmond 2000s
(I had to look all that up, so don't blame me if it's wrong)
I have a 97 blonde version made in Westerly RI. Beautiful guitars.
Work your way through Gary Donahue's site at https://www.gad.net/Blog/gads-guilds/ to find out more.
'Play Every Day The Bert Weedon Way'
Chappell & Co. Ltd
Unlike some of Bert's other guitars, the Starfires 3 and 5 came with a Bigsby (or Guildsby as they say) as standard.
With their thin bodies, the Starfires are much easier to play standing up. In the pic below, Bert has the strap across the front of his Hofner to tilt the fretboard back.
Photographed in 1963 with the new Starfire V that would be the basis of the future Guild Bert Weedon model.
(Don't try this at home boys and girls; the fire's not actually turned on.)
For a more in-depth discussion about the guitar, head over to the Lets Talk Guild forum HERE
Bert's own Yamaha YTA-95 (currently hiding in my front room) that he used in the Seventies with the Guild.
Signed promotional photo-card with discography to early 1965
The Guild Bert Weedon model, which is basically a standard Starfire V with "Bert Weedon" engraved on the pickguard and trussrod cover.
There were some design changes to the V during the production run so not all BWs are identical.
It's an interesting promo card, presumably made out to another musician that Bert has been working with.
The last record listed on the reverse is '12 String Shuffle' backed with 'Colour Him Folky'
HMV POP 1387. Released 1965.
'Bert Weedon Remembers Jim Reeves'
Contour 2870 341
The album cover that started all the trouble.
This is coming towards the end of Bert's Guild period (in photographs at least) and the appearance of Yamaha.
Yamaha instruments in the UK were handled by Chappell & Co, who just happened to be Bert's publishers.
No surprise then that, when the SA series is introduced in the 1973 catalogue, Bert receives an example of the SA-60. Assuming that the manufacturers would want to showcase their top-of-the-range instrument, it's possible that the more expensive SA-90 wasn't available at the time. The 90 starts to turn up on album covers in 1975.
Only the SA-50 came as standard with a vibrato unit and Bert's 60 and 90 were both modified with non Yamaha parts.
Black and white publicity photograph with Yamaha SA-60.
Date unknown. Possibly 1973/74.
Note the non-Yamaha, Bigsby B11 vibrato unit.
'Bert Weedon Remembers Nat King Cole'
Contour 2870 495
A new SA-90 with a standard, non vibrato tailpiece and missing pickguard.
'Bert Weedon Remembers Jim Reeves'. Pickwick, Contour CN 2008
This is a 1976 reissue of the 1973 album with a different photograph.
Still no vibrato or pickguard. This photograph is also used in the 1977 release '20 Golden Guitar Greats'
One Up OU 2167
An artist's impression of the SA 90 used on a couple of compilation albums.
Below Left: '22 Golden Guitar Greats'. Warwick WW 5019 from 1976.
Below Right: The same image flipped over for 'Guitar Greats'. Chevron CHVL 075 from 1979.
'Bert Weedon Blue Echoes'
Polydor 2384 095
The SA-90 now sports a Gibson Maestro Vibrola unit.
'Bert Weedon 16 Country Greats'
Polydor 2384 102
SA-90 in the background with the Vibrola and what looks like electrical tape around the handle.
'Bert Weedon Heart Strings'
Celebrity ACLP 002
This is the same photograph used for the 1981 album 'Love Letters'.
Everest Records. CBR1015
We're coming to the end of the SA-90 period now with the introduction of the SA2000 in the UK in 1981 (1977 in Japan)
'Bert Weedon and his Dancing Guitars'
Dansan Records DS 053
The newly introduced Yamaha SA2000 also gets treated to a Gibson Maestro Vibrola.
You can see the blanked-off holes where the original stop tailpiece used to be.
Bert's hand is covering the company name that Yamaha have now started to put on the headstock. The SA-60 and 90 just had the tuning fork logo.
'Bert Weedon's Guitar Course'
Pickwick Video Ltd
SA2000 in the background.
Bert plays his SA2000 live on "This Is Your Life" 1992.
Just out of the picture are Marty Wilde, Joe Brown, Lonnie Donegan and Chas McDevitt.
Don't judge anyone by the noise they make together. The bar was probably open.
From here on, Bert starts to appear with Fender Strats, but there aren't any new album releases that I can find that show him with one on the cover.
The weather's improved, so that's all for now folks. I'd love to hear from anyone who knows any more about the instruments. RIP Bert.