eople often ask me what was the 60's music scene like and some say if you can remember, then you weren't there! However, I spent lots of time in Denmark Street / Tin Pan Alley doing lots of sessions for people in studios there, mainly in Southern Music, now called Peer Music, one of the world's biggest publishing houses. Popping out for the odd beer you could bump into some others who were just starting to climb the ladder of success! Great and very creative times they were, when it was all new and exciting. I first caught the collecting bug in the mid 60's being introduced to it by the unsung pioneer of Blues 12 string in the UK, Johnny Joyce. John was also one of the best guitar repairers around. In later life, he designed the JJ acoustics and Sandpiper guitars for Aria. At the time I was playing electric lead guitar in various name groups whilst playing lots of sessions during the day for many hit artistes and songwriters of that time. John was fanatical about early American Blues acoustics and it was he who got me started in the search for and collecting of, virtually unknown brands here in the UK such as Stella Guitars made by Oscar Schmidt in New Jersey. Of course as I continued on this journey, I discovered that many of the Blues legends began playing using Stellas, including the King of the Blues 12 string Leadbelly, and Blind Willie McTell. McTell's Statesboro' Blues was the first song I heard John play on 12 string and it was hugely impressive to a young electric band guitarist like me. That also hooked me into 12 string playing, which I have continued to develop over the years. Playing with John and watching him ply his craft over the many years we were friends, until his death in 2004, gave me a great insight into how acoustic guitars worked and how they didn't. Using this experience, I have applied it to the range of acoustic guitars that are now available worldwide under the VintageÂŽ brand name.
PAUL BRETT SIGNATURE
6 & 12 STRINGS
he first guitar in the Paul Brett Signature range was a parlour size 12 string which was inspired by my 1920's Weymann 12 string. It's probably the only one in existence today and using it's concept, we redesigned the original and brought it up to todays standard. An identical 6 string was also released alongside it and the reviews were absolutely fantastic from both the media and players alike. Plus, Vintage are amazing with their selling price and I was happy with that fact that we could confidently pick up the tags of Working Man's Guitars, because of their very competitive prices.
VE8000PB Electro-Acoustic Natural
Acoustic magazine "Compact, loud and musical, with benchmark playability… Both these guitars are greater than the sum of their parts."
iGuitar online magazine "A smooth and pleasurable playing experience… Isn't that the greatest praise I can give, that this guitar made me instantly want to play?!"
“The PB 12 string has the rich tonal qualities of a 1920’s Stella that set the standard for old country blues recording and at a price that can’t be beat.” Stefan Grossman.
Inspired Performance Technology™
“Paul Brett knows all about 12 strings and his new guitar is a real breakthrough, a real winner” John Renbourn.
VE8000PB-12 Electro-Acoustic Natural
PAUL BRETT SIGNATURE
VIATOR TRAVEL GUITAR TM
VTR800PB-12 Electro-Acoustic 12 String with USB output Natural
Guitarist magazine An endearing travel guitar offering a completely different vibe from the big America-name options
VTR800PB-USB Electro-Acoustic with USB output Antiqued
"A travel guitar with impeccable build qualities and a great sound."
VTR800PB Acoustic Natural
ollowing on from these, I was inspired to launch a travel guitar. My inspiration this time was an early 1900's Lyra 6 string, which could even have been the first travel guitar at the time, because of it small body size. Again, it was made by Oscar Schmidt and proved to be another template for me to redesign and modify for today’s player. Initially, Vintage released an acoustic-only version which like the first two offerings was heralded greatly by both press and players alike. Even top guitarist Gordon Giltrap started using one in his live programme. Following on from this, Vintage then released an Antique finish version that had a Fishman pickup system, together with a USB output for use with digital media. Finally, we designed and released a 12 string version with a Fishman pick up and USB. All these models were released under the name Viator. I named it so because of my love for Izaak Walton's book ‘The Complete Angler’, the third most republished book in the English Language next to The Bible and Shakespere. Viator was a character in the first edition which is Latin for traveller, so it made perfect sense to call it the Viator as you can take it anywhere with the minimum of effort. Someone even took one up the Amazon on a filming trip and commented it stayed perfectly in tune throughout!
Paul with his 1900's Lyra 6 string
PAUL BRETT SIGNATURE
GEMINI BARITONE TM
s we progressed, more guitars followed. I always liked the idea of a Baritone acoustic but could never justify the price in buying one as I knew I would only use it for a couple of numbers. Therefore, again relying on my knowledge and guitar collection, I wanted to create a baritone that would also double as a six string with a simple change of strings. The inspiration for what became known as the Gemini model came from my 1930's Kalamazoo KG-11. Why, because the bottom bout I thought could handle the Baritone mode. So again, we redesigned and modified the original idea and thus was born the Gemini, complete with Fishman pickup system. Adding two identical white scratch plates to the body either side of the soundhole which offset the brown antique finish was the icing on the cake because it was immediately identifiable and added to it's unique visual appeal. Whilst I didn't set out to design a baritone that would handle slide blues guitar, it seems that some guitarists who brought the Gemini are drooling over the sound it makes in this genre, especially when amplified. Guitarist Presents
Acoustic The Gemini is the most radical to date, but in the hands of a creative musician has plenty of potential.
Acoustic magazine Great look, nice balanced tone, lovely V profile neck. Offers a lot for the money with a reputable name behind it.
VGE800N Electro-Acoustic Antiqued satin
PAUL BRETT SIGNATURE
VIATEN TENOR TM
â€˜ve always had a very old European made tenor in my collection which was very loud and played beautifully. So the next project was to use this as inspiration to produce a modern tenor that would handle both fingerstyle and strumstyle genres. Thus was born the Viaten, using a derivative of the Viator name to keep the brands fluid appeal. VTE800N Acoustic Natural
Acoustic magazine Another signature instrument in a range that is already justly celebrated far and wide. Superbly well built and bags of fun!
PAUL BRETT SIGNATURE
STATESBOROâ€™ 12-STRING TM
s I always pay deep respect to the pioneers who plied their craft in bygone ages, and the amazing list of musicians who have made it possible for us to enjoy their music and develop ideas of yesterday to keep them alive today, it was only fitting that we pay tribute to one of the great Blues 12 string legends by recreating a guitar he played. As I mentioned earlier, Blind Willie McTell (whose song Statesboro Blues was the first blues I heard played live by John Joyce on an acoustic 12 string), was photographed playing a Stella Westbrook. Unlike earlier Oscar Schmidt 12 strings which had slotted headstocks, the Westbrook had a solid one and a long scale length. I managed to obtain one many years ago from Neil Harpe, the world expert on Stella Guitars. It's probably the rarest of the Stella 12 strings (Leadbelly's guitar was slot head) and when I showed it to John Joyce he said it was the best 12 string he had heard or played for traditional blues. A compliment indeed from someone who had dedicated his life to the subject. Again, we redesigned and updated the original and produced a 12 string which we called Original the Statesboro' and were very pleased to have dedicated it Westbrook to one of the great blues legends. The guitar is a available as a straight acoustic or with a Fishman Rare Earth soundhole pick up.
I make no apology for bringing some of the great American Blind Willie McTell early acoustic guitars, breathing new life into them in the hope that they will keep the history of Americana guitars and the legends who played them very much alive today and in the future. This is what Vintage and myself are proud we have been able to do.
V5000SB-12 Acoustic Satin Antique Burst
VINTAGE ‘PAUL BRETT’
aul Brett is rated as one of the best 12 string acoustic guitarists in the world. He has played or recorded with The Strawbs, The Overlanders, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera, The Velvet Opera, Tintern Abbey, Fire, Roy Harper, Al Stewart, Lonnie Donegan, Paul Brett Sage and in his own right as Paul Brett. He was a top session guitarist in the 1960’s & 70’s, having been in demand for many top sessions with a wide variety of Artistes. His first 12 string guitar suite ‘Earth Birth’ was critically acclaimed. It was released on Paul’s own label Phoenix Future and produced by world famous artist Ralph Steadman of ‘Fear & Loathing’ fame. This led to Paul being signed on a four album deal to RCA. He later achieved album Chart success and Gold & Silver LP sales via his K-Tel ‘Romantic Guitar’ album. As a journalist, he wrote for Melody Maker, NME, Sound International and International Musician in the same time frame he produced shows for Capital Radio, was a Marketing Consultant for Aria Guitars under whose brand he released two ‘Paul Brett’ signature guitars. One six string and one 12 string model which have now become collectors items. In the early 1980′s, Paul decided to move to the ‘other side’ and became Managing Director for Pan, who acted as European Agency for bands such as Bryan Adams, Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Jeff Beck, Journey, Styx and many more. He wrote TV Themes for Thames Television, credits include CP Taylor’s ‘Rainbow Coloured Disco Dancer,’ The first Aids series of nightly programmes and The M25 Travel Series. He was then co-head of Production with Michele Breeze for the Rank Holiday Division for eight consecutive years till the mid 90′s and also Production Director for Majesty Cruise lines in the States. Paul is the resident expert on Vintage Acoustic Guitars for UK National Magazine ‘Acoustic’. He is also the Festival Director for the Llyn Acoustic Guitar Festival in North Wales and has his own range of signature guitar distributed worldwide by Vintage Guitars. He has appeared as an expert in his field on Internationally broadcast television shows ‘The Antiques Roadshow’ and ‘Flog It.’ Both mainstream programmes made by the BBC. Recently, he has formed a record label with Tom Newman, the producer of Mike Oldfield's Multi Million selling iconic album Tubular Bells and co founder of Virgin Records. Together they are undertaking several projects in the educational area bringing new recordings of classic albums to schoolchildren, the first of which was Tubular Bells recorded by The Children of Ireland.
Paul has played sessions / tours / gigs with many bands including: Flower Pot Men, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Elmer Gantry’s Velvet opera, Tintern Abbey, Hudson & Ford, Michele Polnareff, The Cyril Stapleton Orchestra, The Clark Brothers, Neil Christian, Barclay James Harvest, The Overlanders, Matt Mattox Ballet Company,
USA (Musical Director), Warren Davies Monday Band, Steve Hillage, Kevin Ayres Georgie Fame, Mungo Jerry, Savoy Brown Blues Band, Michele Breeze, Quintessence, Jimmy James & the Vagabonds, Nick Sterling, Bob Voice, Dave Lambert,
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jimi Hendrix, Martin Vinson, Jackie Graham, Steve Hillage, Pete Haycock (Clymax Blues Band), Van der Graff Generator, John Etheridge, Willoughby and Craig, T-Rex,
Press crits: “Brett is the best 12 string guitarist on the planet” Music Week “If Eric Clapton’s fingers are made of gold then Brett’s are pure platinum” Concert News USA “Brett sounds like a 12 string version of the Halle Orchestra in full flight” Fred Dellar – Mojo “Virtuoso performer, untouchable and incomparable” Daily Express “Very ambitious, very different and very good” Sunday Times “Master of the solo 12 string guitar” Gloucester Chronicle “Brett is very imaginative and a superb player” Melody Maker “Paul is always the innovator, one of the very few” Cosmopolitan “This guy sounds like four players” The Sun
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Photography: Gary Barlow, Michele Breeze and Richard Ecclestone.
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