Burns Legend S Type Guitar: Legacy of an Early 60s Classic

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Burns Legend S Guitar
Burns Legend S Guitar
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A reproduction of the Burns® 1964 electric “Marvin,” currently known as the “Hank Marvin” Signature model, the Legend “S” suggests unique features, including a Rez-o-tube® bridge, special tonewoods and a scroll carved headstock.

Burns® guitars

In 1960, British guitar maker Jim Burns (1925 – 1998), under the company name Ormoston-Burns, started producing electric six-strings. Throughout the years that followed, music greats like the inimitable King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, Queen guitar wizard Brian May, specifically on the Bowie collaboration, “Under Pressure” and British picker extraordinaire Mark Knopfler, have been among the countless musicians who have played a Burns® guitar.

Nevertheless, apart from of its musical realizations brought about by some atypical innovations, Burns® guitars experienced periods of financial ups and downs, eventually causing a change in ownership, explained on the company’s website:

“Despite these achievements, in addition to the high profile enjoyed during the early ’60s, Burns fortunes declined after the takeover by Baldwin in 1965, and it was another twenty years before Burns oldies were accorded proper recognition and credibility, some models from that era having assumed the status of highly-prized collectors items, with values accordingly rising to similarly elevated levels. Demand for prime examples of the most sought-after oldies invariably exceeds supply, guaranteeing ever-increasing rarity and prices.”

Birth and rebirth of the Legend guitar

Following its purchase by the Baldwin Piano and Organ Company and industry giant Ampeg, the historic guitar maker ceased production in 1983, only to reemerge in 1992 as Burns® London.

Subsequently released in 1996, the Legend line of guitars, including the “S” type, was a throwback to a prior Burns® classic. Online, Burns® London puts it in plain words:

“The Burns Legend was a faithful reproduction of the original Burns Marvin, first introduced in 1964.”

In due course Burns® London discontinued production of the Legend in favor of the Burns Marvin model, now manufactured as the Hank Marvin Signature.

Specs: Legend type “S” versus the current Burns® Marvin

The Legend type “S,” a Brazilian mahogany hollow-body with a sycamore veneer, sports a 25.5″ scale length and a bound beech wood neck capped in rosewood, with a zero fret. Above it all sits a neoclassically instilled scroll carved headstock.

Three chunky control knobs, 1x volume and 2x tones along with a five-way pickup selector, mix and match the blends that are shaped by the three Rez-o-matic® pick-ups.

Called the “Rez-o-tube®,” which may be the most innovative of Burns® ideas, is a bridge mechanism, described online:

“This exclusive patent involves each string passing through the bridge in its own individual resonance tube, rather than going through alongside 5 other strings. This enhances the tone of each string and gives greater clarity of articulation.”

The Legend’s progeny, Burns® Signature Marvin, named after the 60s Brit rocker Hank Marvin from The Shadows, has an American Alder body and a Canadian Hard Rock maple neck obtainable with an Indian Rosewood or Canadian fingerboard. Considering the FBI’s raid on Gibson’s guitar manufacturing facilities in August 2011 was the result of questionable Indian Rosewood, enthusiasts beware.

A number of the Legend “S” type’s other characteristics are on the current Signature Marvin, including the “Rez-o-tube®” bridge, the trio of alnico “Rez-o-matic®” pick-ups and the three piece pick guard, available in authentic tortoise effect or vintage mint green.

The recent Signature Marvin comes in white, red and sunburst green finishes.

In the United States, the Signature Marvin is distributed by Saga Instruments; it’s best to consult the Burns® London website for pricing and ordering details.

Whether it’s an original Legend “S” or a newer Signature Hank Marvin model, the one-of-a-kind breakthroughs suggested by Jim Burns present a singular record of achievement when it comes to legendary guitar making.

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Paul Wolfle

As a vintage and contemporary music enthusiast, guitars dominate Paul’s life. He plays slide in open tunings on a National Steel Tricone resonator and electric blues, in standard tuning, on an assortment of other instruments including his white Fender Stratocaster.

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