Here’s a unique guitar with a story.
This is one of only three Burns Marvin guitars in Greenburst, handmade by Jim Burns specifically for the Shadows in London in 1964.
In beat-era England before The Beatles, one band reigned supreme – The Shadows. Starting out as Cliff Richard’s backing group, this foursome launched an incredibly successful string of guitar instrumental hits with “Apache” in 1960.
Far and away the most influential musical act in Britain, their trademark sound was achieved with Fender guitars and Vox amplifiers. This iconic image was the apex of desire for thousands of aspiring guitarists who especially fixated on bespectacled lead guitarist Hank B. Marvin and his red Fender Stratocaster.
When the group appeared in mid ’64 with a new lineup of signature guitars built by Burns of Romford, Essex, the shock was felt in every guitar enclave in England.
The linkup with the Shadows cemented Burns’ position as the U.K.’s top guitar maker. The band was already well acquainted with the benefits of a relationship with the builders of their gear – since 1959 they had been collaborating with JMI as the premier artists endorsing the Vox amplifier – in fact the classic Vox AC30 Twin owes its existence to the interaction of the Shadows and JMI.
Fender guitars were also supplied by (at the time) UK distributor Jennings.
But Marvin and rhythm guitarist Bruce Welch felt the Strats they were using were not precisely tuneable – the infamous “magnet suck” which causes low strings to note flat up the neck if the neck pickup is too high may have been a problem. Also, Hank’s trademark constant whammy bar use probably taxed his Strat’s capabilities.
Jim Burns was approached through Ike Isaacs, his “technical director” and Hank’s onetime teacher, and agreed to collaborate on a design. First advertised on 22nd May 1964, the Marvin was developed over the course of two years, and more than 30 prototypes.
In May 1964 Burns delivered a number of Marvin model guitars to The Shadows in various colours, including only two in the striking colour of green sunburst. Actually a total of three “greenburst” instruments were made – one each for Marvin and Welsh, and one that Jim Burns kept for himself. And that one is this guitar, listed here by PREMIER GUITARS.
It is the last one remaining because, although the two Shadows guitarists used their greenburst Marvins throughout the 60s, both guitars were stolen from the band’s truck in 1970.
From Hank Marvin in 2004 – “Some guitarists think America is the only source of high quality electric guitars, but some remember the wonderful guitars designed and produced by Burns Guitar UK. In 1963, the founder Jim Burns worked closely with myself and Bruce Welch of The Shadows to design a guitar with the style, sound and playability that we needed. Together we developed the ‘BURNS MARVIN’ a fine guitar, which I played on record, stage and screen from 1964 thru to 1970 when, unfortunately, my guitars were stolen, never to be seen again, well not by me!”
This is NOT a Burns Marvin reissue, which was a limited edition run in 2004. This is the real deal, the last known remaining original Burns Marvin greenburst guitar from 1964.
This guitar is possibly the most collectable original Burns Marvin model in existence. It was bought by its owner, an avid Hank fan & collector, directly from the current owner of Burns UK, Barry Gibson. A letter of provenance to this effect can be provided with the sale of this guitar.
This vintage Burns Marvin is in completely untouched, original condition. It has been played, but very rarely, showing some very light pick wear on the guard, and a few minor scuffs which are very difficult to see. But it has not been changed or modified in any way since the day it came off the line in 1964. It is pretty much in “museum” condition.
It features a trio of “Rez-o-Matic” single coil pickups handwound to Hank’s original specifications, with plenty of sparkle, twang, and nuance. And the elegant “Rez-o-Tube” tremolo unit is a thing of beauty both in appearance and functionality.
Body One piece alder
Neck One piece maple neck with rosewood fingerboard
Headstock Scroll “Marvin” clear plastic name banner
Scale 25½ ins
Frets 21 (with zero fret)
Pickguard 3-piece three-ply with inscription “Handcrafted by Burns London”
Pickups 3 x handmade Rez-o-Matic – slanted
Controls 1 x Volume, 1 x Tone (middle & neck p/ups), 1 x Tone (bridge p/up)
Selector Three way pickup selector
Bridge Rezo-tube unit. The tailpiece is engraved “Designed and Handcrafted for Hank Marvin by Burns”, with Hank’s signature.
Weight 9.5 lbs
This guitar is a delight to play. The handcrafted, one piece medium C profile neck is better than any reissue. The frets appear unmarked, the tuning and Rezo-tube bridge are solid. And it sounds the business – many original Shadows tracks including “The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt” were recorded with a Burns Marvin. That is the sound of this guitar.
This is a significant instrument in the history of 1960s British pop music. And it is now certainly a “one-off”, given that the two original Shadows greenburst guitars have not been seen since 1970.
Comes in its original hard shell case in good condition.