Welcome to The Liverpool Beat website, chronicling the history of UK Rock music from the golden era of Merseyside music of the 50s and 60s to the present day. Some say the roots of Rock 'n ' Roll lie purely in the deep south of the USA. That maybe true, but Liverpool in the 50s/60s was the centre of the new wave of music which formed the basis of "garage" and even heavy metal. Liverpool Beat takes you on a journey from those heady days of The Beatles into the 21st century with news, reviews and exclusive articles from the real world of rock music.
In my time I have been very Lucky to work on some fantastic guitars but this one is something very rare. It is a 1962 Gretsch Firebird with a few 'special features' but the best thing about it is it belonged to Eric Clapton! The story goes....
In around 1963 Nicky Crouch, of the Mojos, was down recording in the famous Abbey Road studios when Eric came in with a black plastic bag.
Nicky asked him what he had in the bag and he showed him "I'll give you £80 for it" (about £2K in today's money) "Done" says Eric!. So Nicky became the proud owner of this wonderful guitar. It was stored away for a few years due to it's condition as it had been well are truly 'Rocked! you can see from the photo the place were Eric used to put his fag on the peg head as the binding has started to burn. It came out about twenty years ago on loan to Geoff Nugent of the Undertakers while he was having a new neck put on ---- on his guitar not him!!!!
Nick brought it out again a few weeks ago and found out it wouldn't work so,over to me to sort out!
Rejuvenating an old ROCKER!
My Commission was to sort out the electrics and get the guitar playable. Over the first few years of it's life it had been played very hard, but when it came into Nicky Crouches possession, apart from the odd outing, it had laid dormant for nearly 40 years. The Firebird is unusual in that it looks like a solid body guitar when in fact it is a 'chambered' guitar or semi solid. To get inside the hollow part is not easy in fact it is extremely difficult. There are two very small openings on the back one 2" x1" and the other 1" circle.
Using some improvisation I had a look inside, yuk! 50 years of Grime no wonder it wouldn't go! One of the unusual features on this guitar is that it has a coil tap switch, it had corroded so much it had bridged to form an open circuit, so a complete overhaul of the eclectics was carried out.
I plugged it in to my 1969 Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp and, WOW what a fantastic sound that baby sang like a bird!!! ----BUT, I think the Bird was a Reed Warbler!!!!! One of the major faults with all Gretch guitars is the bridge, they move. This is down to bad design and it still happens till this day. After taking the strings off, it became obvious that someone had tried to glue the bridge to the body but all this had done was to take the paint off. I cured this problem by using double sided tape with a foam centre, this would take up any discrepancies caused by the paint loss also it would have a small amount of 'give' when the tremolo is used.
On the home straight now, the rest is bread and butter a complete Fret dress to remove the grooves and a gentle smoothing of the blistering paint on the back of the neck. It very satisfying when a piece of history comes back to life, lets hope Nicky plays it all the time now!!