Burns Guitars Reviews & Articles

Burns Guitars Reviews & Articles

Missing Beatles Bass?

The story goes that when Macca and co went into Abbey Road Studios to record the 'Paperback Writer' sessions on 13th April 1966, they were looking to experiment with a new bass sound. At the time, the group were said to have been listening to Wilson Pickett, Marvin Gaye and other Stax recordings, where the bass content was a lot stronger and often at the forefront of the mix. So when the Fab Four arrived at Abbey Road they had some new instruments, possibly borrowed or more likely hired from Burns London or Sound City as both were well known for gear hire.

John had a Gretsch 6120 and McCartney a Casino guitar and a Nu-Sonic bass, though surprisingly there is only evidence of Harrison using the bass for this session, and it hasn't been seen since. So could this be the very same bass that was used as a template for the Nu-Sonic reissue?

'The bass was part of a collection of vintage instruments that a guy had bought from the Baldwin guitar shop in St Giles Square in London,' explains Barry.

'Once Baldwin had taken over Burns in 1965 they sold off all the guitars with the Burns logo to promote the new brand. The story has it that this bass and a 12-string and a 6-string were Abbey Road guitars used for hire or to loan out to artists, who'd take them in the studio and return them after.

'I've just kept it as a sample, one of the many models we bought from the 60s, to use as templates to produce newer models. It's not confirmed but we think it's the one that Harrison used on The Beatles' "Paperback Writer" sessions.

'While they were factory made, each one was a factory-made 'one-off', so every screw hole is in a different place, every scratchplate is different, and our bass is identical to the one in the photograph. Trying to tie down more evidence has been very difficult. We've spoken to various recording engineers that worked on that session, but it was a long time ago. All we've got is a few photographs to go by, and some archived material that we sourced from various aficionados across the planet.

'We've had several instruments that have been owned or played by some well-known players of that period, but if this is what we think it is, it's probably the most unsung one of all.

'All The Beatles' instruments that were used in that period have been accounted for and located, but that's probably the only one that's never been seen since those sessions. With these things you have to have lots of providence, and all I've got is the word of the guy I bought it off that it was used at Abbey Road Studios for that session.

'It was a useful bass to have in our collection, but as time's gone on I realised it is quite a serious instrument — it should be given the light of day.'

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