From Vintage Guitar magazine –
“The story of the Burns Steer Cutaway begins in 1925 with the birth of the “British Leo Fender,” James Ormston Burns. An avid guitar player beginning in his early teens, at 18 he joined the Royal Air Force and learned metalworking. In 1946 he returned to playing guitar professionally and by ’52 was playing in Felix Mendelson’s Hawaiian Serenaders. He held jobs as a waiter and painter, played guitar by night, and built his first guitars.
Burns’ reputation grew and in 1960 he had founded Ormoton-Burns (aka Burns of London), which manufactured the Burns guitar to the tune of more than 150 units per week until 1965, when it was purchased by the Baldwin Piano and Organ Company. After the sale, Jim Burns twice later attempted to revive the line, and though he wasn’t successful, a number of his designs survived, including the Steer Cutaway.
Upon initial inspection, it’s immediately apparent the Steer Cutaway is not your average guitar. Its single-cutaway string-through Basswood body boasts a unique beauty with its classic sunburst polyester finish. The other obvious aesthetic oddity is the metal plate between the neck the bridge, holding the two Burns humbucking pickups. The humbuckers are tappable by the mini-toggle switch, and each pickup has a dedicated tone control. The electronics are rounded out with a three-way switch and a master volume control.
Attached to the Steer’s basswood body is a bolt-on 251/2″scale maple neck with a gloss finished maple fingerboard supported by a bi-flex two-way truss rod. Neck and body are adorned with single-ply binding, while the neck and headstock are finished to match the body. Top it off with a quirky, slightly horn-shaped headstock, and the Steer is ready to stampede its way into any musical situation.
When one’s hands first wrap around the Steer, you’re struck by how solid the guitar feels. The materials, build quality, and attention to detail are more typical of a guitar costing two to three times as much. Our tester arrived with a nice setup and played extremely well right out of the case, and a few strums reveal a great ringing acoustic quality with good natural volume.
A taste of the Steer’s diversity comes via its tapped humbuckers. Though the guitar carries a decided retro-vibe aesthetic, its tonal varieties are plentiful. From Billy Gibbons style crunch to flat out Metallica-inspired distorted mayhem, the Steer delivers. Tapping the humbucker unleashes another one of this bull’s many personalities. Through a Fender Deluxe, the Steer trots straight to the rodeo, with an outstanding country/chicken pickin’ tone especially with the tone control wide open. Visions of hayrides and sweet tea abound!
The middle position on this beefy tone machine produces a more “distant” tonal offering, perhaps due to the body cavity. It’s a tone that could be useful for ’60s-oriented music or perhaps surf, due to its almost lipstick-pickup tonal quality in the tapped position. There’s a minor change in output along with its more hollow overall sound, and certainly some will appreciate the alternate colour, as it is markedly different from the other voices of the guitar.
Keeping in mind Burns’ search for an ideal guitar, the Steer Cutaway is made with a grand collection of player-friendly options. Jim Burns was a musician first, design visionary second, and both are represented well. The take-it-or-leave-it looks may not be for every player, but if you’re looking for an extremely versatile instrument with unique style, and you’d rather not break the bank, this may be the guitar for you.”
Later era Burns guitars were initially made in Korea and the quality control on these guitars is generally regarded in very positive terms. Burns guitars after 2006 were made in China.
The 2 x humbucker configuration on this Steer is unusual and quite rare. Most Steers had a Tri-Sonic single coil pickup in the neck position, but this one offers a single coil sound courtesy of its coil tap, as well as a quite complex and rich sounding tone in its full humbucking setting.
This Burns Steer cutaway is in good overall condition. It has some wear showing on the metal pickguard where the shine has worn away, and a few minor dings and dents. But it is a well built guitar with some very useable sonic options emanating from two very good sounding tapped Burns humbuckers,
The maple neck is fast and clean, frets show little wear, truss rod works fine and the tuners are solid. No changes or modifications – just straight up as originally created.
Comes in a CLX gig bag in good condition.