Welcome to JunkGuitars.com!
So, you've been surfing the vast void of cyberspace and stumbled across my little web page... Well, my name is Big Beat and this site is a tribute to guitars that get no respect. JunkGuitars.com is all about JUNK GUITARS and has been at it for over 20 years! It is dedicated to all those cheapo, off-brand, low-end, cheesy vintage guitars that some people call junk. But we LOVE these junkers! They are cool in a perverse way and these days many do have a cult following. Either way, this page is a fun look at the dark side of vintage guitar collecting.
I like the obscure kind of vintage, those barely playable bizarre pieces of string cheese with names that most people have never heard of. I'm especially partial to the guitars of USSR and Eastern Europe and am a leading authority on these guitars, having researched them and written about them for over 25 years. So stay a while, read the stories, look at the pictures. Cheap, trashy, cheesy guitars rule!
I was 14 when I bought my first guitar. It was an ancient Silvertone archtop that I found at a yard sale for ten bucks. It played like a five-dollar guitar. And so, before I could learn how to play it, I had to learn how to repair it. I've been playing and repairing old guitars ever since. Somewhere along the line, my interest in old guitars developed into a full-time hobby. Over the years, I restored hundreds of guitars and passed them on to new owners. Some of the guitars that went through my hands have found new homes as far away as Tokyo, London and Moscow. From Brooklyn to Seattle to the deepest Siberia, somebody is playing an old guitar that I have once rescued from abuse and neglect and given a new lease on life to. There's nothing like the feeling of pride in taking dirty, broken-down, unwanted old junk and turning it into something useful, cool, desirable and beautiful.
While not as valuable or as playable as "serious" instruments, junky old guitars really are a lot more fun! But these guitars rarely get any respect. When I first started this site 20 years ago, there was plenty of info available online and in print about vintage Gibsons and Fenders, but precious little about old Kingstons and Sekovas, while Eastern European and Soviet guitars were a total mystery to most people. I find the history of these instruments fascinating, and as a junk guitar historian I decided to do something about it.
This site includes my STORIES (some of which have been published in Vintage Guitar Magazine) and PICTURES of various offbeat guitars that have passed through my hands over the years. Also some LINKS of interest to fans of low-end, obscure, bizarre and cheesy vintage guitars. Enjoy!
The legal stuff:
Copyright and copyleft 2003 - 2023 JunkGuitars.com. All rights reserved and well deserved. Hey, show me some gratitude and respect for laying the knowledge on you free of charge! You may quote short pieces for your personal use, but please don't forget to credit the source. Contents of this site have been registered with the US Library of Congress and are protected by the US copyright law. Any commercial use or wholesale copying is forbidden without prior approval. Blatant infringement will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, not to mention that it is bad karma and your mama really should have taught you better.
All articles and other written text on this site are 100% original material. These are exclusive to this site and appear here for the first time anywhere, with the exception of those articles of mine that have been previously published in various magazines. Most of the photos on this site are also exclusive, personally taken by me. These photos are copyright protected. Also, while I may not own the actual copyright of some pictures, I do reserve all rights to any scans and collages that I personally made. All other photos remain the property of their authors and are used here solely for non-commercial purposes of education, research and entertainmnent, considered "fair use" under US Copyright law. I try to list the source if I know it, but it is often impossible to say where each picture originated. If you own copyright on any of these pictures, please let me know, so that I could give credit where it's due.
No animals or vintage guitar dealers were harmed during the creation of this web site. JunkGuitars.com is proudly independent since 2003 and is not sponsored by or affiliated with any manufacturer or retailer. All brand names are referenced for identification only. This is a non-profit site, created for educational, research and entertainment purposes only. My goal is to share information with other vintage guitar historians and collectors. If you find any of the site content offensive for any reason, it is entirely your problem.
Special thanks to:
- Dan and Mihalich for helping out with the technical aspects of this site way back in the very beginning, and Anna D. with helping me to design its look. Twenty years ago it wasn't bad, nowdays it's as retro and cheesy as the guitars!
- Konstantin of Studio1525, the very first seller of cheesy Soviet guitars on eBay, for graciously allowing me to photograph and examine his guitars before anyone even knew what they were.
- VP, Wals, Regent30, Foxy, cRock, Vadim, Serge, STNK and other regulars of the old (long since defunct) Guitars.RU forum for helping me locate and acquire my first few Soviet models. That's where it all started c. 2001, the first online discussion of Soviet guitars. Before CheesyGuitars.com, before this site, before SovietGuitars.com, before all those Facebook guitar groups and even Facebook itself... And I was the one who started that thread! They thought I was nuts asking about Urals and Tonikas. Buy a new guitar, they said, who wants that old junk...
- VP, for agreeing to what must have been the first such transatlantic trade in the Soviet guitar collector community. Which started a persistant rumor that some crazy American will trade a Gibson for a Ural! Well, not quite, I traded a Japanese SG copy for that Tonika.
- Dusan Palka, whose expertise on Czech guitars has been most helpful.
- Efim, for translating some Czech source documents for me.
- Meatex of Cheesyguitars.com, Ivan LordBizarre and Ejik, Shlepakoff, Izol and YaHa of Sovietguitars.com, my friends and fellow guitar researchers, for never giving up until long-lost guitar history is rediscovered!
- Jamie Chivers (RIP), a dear friend and amazing luthier, builder of all sorts of weird and cool guitars.
- Ivan Georgiev (RIP), another kindred soul who kept the history of Bulgarian guitars alive and will be greatly missed.
- Serge, for scans of the Musima catalog.
- Ward Meeker of Vintage Guitar Magazine, Steve Cherne and Zachary Fjestad of The Blue Book of Electric Guitars, Terry Burrows of 1001 Guitars, for publishing some of my guitar stories.
- Gennady, the Siberian connection. Owner of an amazing Soviet guitar collection and restorer of hundreds of Urals and Tonikas. A lot of collectors now own guitars that went through his hands and don't even know it. Some people cannot be relied on to pack a couple of knobs properly, this guy wasn't afraid to ship me an entire Amati drum set straight from Siberia!
- All the fellow guitar historians on the old Euro Guitars forum. An insane amount of information was lost along with that forum and this loss is nothing short of a tragedy.
- My family, for love and support (Mom, I'll get those drums out of your living room soon, I promise!)
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