Burns London

Burns is an English guitar brand that has been present since 1959 under different brands on the market.

The manufacturer had its heyday in the sixties, as in particular the instrumental band The Shadows with their frontman Hank Marvin with many hits hit the charts. Only in recent years, the brand experienced a significant upswing again, especially by the revived cooperation with Hank Marvin and the collaboration with Brian May ( guitarist of Queen).

The company is headed by Barry Gibson since 1992.


Burns is a guitar brand from England, headquartered in London. ( † 1998 * 1925 in County Durham ) founded The brand name itself was founded in 1959 by James "Jim" Ormston Burns.

Jim Burns was an enthusiastic musician, at a young age he learned to play the guitar, but the instruments available at that time did not meet his expectations and demands of a guitar. His learned occupation as a mechanic and metal fabricator in the context of his military service with the Royal Air Force (1943-1946) thus came to him in good stead. Burns decided - contrary to his original passion for flying - for the service ground staff, as it its air sickness and fear of flying denied a career as a pilot in the RAF.

In 1959, the company Burns Burns- Weill in London and started production of guitars that should be distinguished by some very extravagant and sometimes even bold design from all others on the market. This philosophy is still maintained today, the special certificate at any Burns- Guitar is the HANDMADE ( German: handmade ), followed by the largest value is placed. This is reflected in the price of the instruments. Burns died in 1998.

The individual brands

Burns- Weill 1959-1960

This first company, in collaboration with Henry Weill, was limited to the production of a single model, the so-called Fenton Guitar that looked very similar to the Guyatone Antoria. Henry Weill here developed to the still common electronic system of the Burns guitar. Jim Burns was limited to the production of the wood parts. The Fenton gained only very small quantities after they could compete on price with the Antoria not even begin.

Burns London Ltd 1960-1965

Burns Short Scale Jazz Guitar in orange-red transparent paint, 1963

Body of Short Scale

Burns Short Scale Jazz Guitar, 1963

Burns Marvin, early model, 1964

The advent of skiffle music in the UK and the successes of rock ' n ' roll called for a massive expansion of assortment and product types. After Fender could gain a foothold in Europe ( import of the first Fender Stratocaster to Europe by Harry Webb, better known as Cliff Richard, in 1959, at that price of 140 guineas or 140 pounds sterling) was part of the company Burns action here. It was based primarily on the design of the Stratocaster and developed some excellent guitar types that achieve high prices among collectors.

The models Artist, Vibra Artist, Vibra Artist De Luxe reminiscent of the Stratocaster, but they have " mutilated " horns and only two pickups on. Here the built- in a separate box rolling tremolo first came to use. Furthermore, a total of six different models of Bison series were for sale ( Black Bison, Bison bison and Guitar Models 2-5 ). Characteristic of the Bison series of nearly symmetrical body with two long horns is abundant. Template for the Bison was, as the name gives you an idea of the silhouette of a bison skull.

In order to create a counterpart to the Gibson Les Paul, Jim Burns developed the Sonic series, consisting of Sonic, Split Sonic, Vista Sonic and NuSonic. The body of these guitars reminiscent of the Les Paul, but these guitars were equipped with tremolo.

The jazz models were produced especially for the American market. Although the Short Scale Jazz Guitar and Jazz Split Sound Guitar remember in shape to a Stratocaster, but these guitars only two pickups ( Trisonic ) on. Indicative of the two models is the jazz greatly shortened scale length and the curiosity of 25 frets. Only the high price of Jazz Models prevented longer runs of these two guitars. The excess Guitar Bodies were later used for the production of the bass guitar for John Rostill.

To keep up with Framus or Gretsch, came in 1963 against half- resonance guitar on the market, here below include in particular the TR2, VibraSlim, GB65, Gb66 and Gb66 De Luxe Virginian.

After the Shadows hit landed at hit in the UK since 1959, Cliff Richard and it was for Burns of course honor and obligation to manufacture the instruments for this formation. None other than Hank B. Marvin, the lead guitarist of the formation should be involved in the development of these models. He urged the perfect electric guitar, to which everything had to be right, of execution to the design, which he crowned with his idea of violin head. The top plate of the Marvin series - for the Hank Marvin put his name available, which caused later for trouble with Fender - graced henceforth a worm like string instruments. In professional circles, the top plate is therefore called Scroll Head.

Were developed Marvin Range, the Marvin, Marvin "S" ( luxury version of Marvin ), the twelve-string double-six ( Marvin with twelve strings without tremolo with Trisonic pickups ) and the Shadows bass for John Rostill that the term Marvin was wearing.

Ampeg 1963-1964

For the American market they sought to work with the same amplifier manufacturer Ampeg to distribute Burns guitars in the U.S. can. Since they did not meet with success sonderlicher, sales remained very low. Ampeg guitars are a very sought-after rarity today. It came four guitar models and a bass guitar design in the assortment. The original English names behind it are enclosed in parentheses: Wild Dog (Split Sonic ), Wild Dog De Luxe ( Jazz Split Sound), Thin Line (TR2 ), Sonic Six ( NuSonic ) and as a bass guitar Wild Dog Bass (Vista Sonic Bass ).

Baldwin Burns Ltd 1965-1970

The rise of the "young rebels" in rock music ( The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and many more) meant massive slump in sales for Burns. The period of economic boom was over, open vendor invoices and high production costs led to the collapse of Burns London Ltd.. For a relatively low price of less than £ 400,000, the American keyboard instrument manufacturer " Baldwin Piano Company " acquired the British company. The purchase price was enough just sufficient to cover the open vendor invoices. Originally quite unusual design of the guitars - especially the necks and the top plates - was converted to a " scaled-down " version. These design changes did not lead to increase in sales. Although Jim Burns able to participate in the new company as a developer and consultant continues, however, he was forced to cede to Baldwin his name right. Instead of BURNS LONDON emblazoned now BALDWIN on the guitars.

Ormston Burns Ltd. 1966-1968

Because of the contractual name binding (see above) Jim Burns developed under his second name Ormston various part really fancy models, but should not go beyond the status of a prototype. At least for a short time he was able to hold through the marketing of steel guitars the company Denley under the trade name " Ormston Steel Guitars " somewhat above water and continue to fund its projects.

Hayman 1969-1975

Hayman was a brand of Dallas - Arbiter of the drums were expelled in 1968 (named after George Hayman - actually Haymon, who had a " Vibra Sonic" developed said inner coating which should make the drums very loudly ). As 1969 Jim Burns in collaboration with suppliers ( Jack Golder - Woodwork and Nick Houlder - truss rod, both later Shergold ) from earlier days and former employees of the company Vox (Bob Pearson ) advanced guitar models from the Burns- London -Ltd - time in Dallas arbiter marketed, brand and logo were adopted. After the guitar names were protected contractually, Jim Burns selected number designations for his instruments: 1010, 2020, 3030 and 4040, 5050 for the bass, 1010H, 2020H, 3030H, White Cloud, Modular, Comet, Perspex Hayman ( on semi-acoustic guitars from Hofner or Framus reminiscent form).

In response to customer Burns returned to the classical neck design of prosperous times back. Today the Hayman's are appreciated despite problems with the screen just because of her neck. At the demise of the company, the remaining parts were sold as a do -it-yourself kits. These guitars made ​​from it are known as Hayman Bitzer today. Successor Shergold used at the beginning and remaining semi-finished products from Hayman. The guitars and the drums were made ​​until 1975 ( Free - George Hayman logo, The Chris Barber Band - Hayman logo, endorser Mitch Mitchell).

Burns UK 1974 bis 1977/78


Again Jim Burns tried to recapture his old rank and name on the electric guitars sector. This time he tried it with very fancy models that resembled part of space ships or battle axes of fantasy figures. Although come back to the old Burns- quality, the company went bankrupt in 1977, since the instruments were too expensive. After Gibson had brought the Flying V to the market, Burns countered with the Flyte and the Concorde. Both guitars were also available as a bass guitar. In addition, the range included the Artist, the Mirage, LJ24, and Mark Griffiths Bass.

Jim Burns Ltd 1979-1983

Influenced by the failures of the past decade, Jim Burns wanted to completely withdraw from the market, however, he was persuaded by some friends and sponsors for a new beginning. Previous models were reissued in the old design, but especially at the Marvin there should be problems with Fender, Fender which should claim the right to a name of Hank Marvin. Thus, the model of success "The Marvin" had to be renamed The Legend what the sales figures offset a sensitive damper. Similarly, there was dispute as to the designs of Marvin, as they saw the Fender Stratocaster confusingly similar. From this model, later the successful model created Marquee.

Even before the company went bankrupt again, Jim Burns left the company. Nearly ten years were to pass before should be produced Burns guitars. Only seven different instruments included the range, namely Steer, Magpie, Marvin ( Legend), Bison, Bandit X, Black Scorpion, and the Black Scorpion bass.

Burns London Ltd 1992-2009

Burns Double Six, twelve-string version of the Marvin

Burns "The Marvin Anniversary 1964-2004, 2004

Burns "The Marvin Anniversary 1964-2004, 2004

Burns ' The Shadows Custom Guitar "

Barry Gibson, even well-known musicians from England, reactivated the long years missing brand and put it all on tradition, but let himself be carried away to some new developments. A particular coup was the development of the Brian May Signature Guitar of the same guitarists of the band Queen. Brian May, who at a young age made ​​of precious wood and some Burns- original parts ( Tri -Sonic pickups ) built his legendary instrument " Red Special " with the unmistakable sound itself, agreed with the marketing. Similarly, the Marvin and the Shadows bass were reprinted.

The range encompassed by 2009 different guitar and bass models. The Custom Elite Guitar series includes the Shadows Custom Signature, the Signature Anniversary Hank Marvin Guitar, The Shadows Bass John Rostill, the Jet Sonic and the Sonic Guitar. The Brian May Signature are available in different designs, including a left-handed model. Under the Custom Guitar Series refers to the Apache, the Apache Special, the Legend, the Legend Dream and The Shadows bass. As part of the Club Series the following guitars are available: Barracuda, Batwing, Bison 62, Bison 64, Bison Bass, Cobra, Double Six, Marquee, Marquee Bass Guitar, NuSonic, NuSonic Black, Scorpion, Scorpion Bass, Shadow, Shadow Special, Steer and Steer cutaway ( both semi- acoustic models ).

The models Jet Sonic, The Legend, Scorpion, Brian May Signature Red Special Batwing and were discontinued in April 2008. Similarly, the strictly limited edition models of the Shadows Custom Guitar ( de - luxe version of Marvin in nasty tarot with gold hardware), Apache 50 Anniversary The Shadows and John Rostill Bass Guitar were taken out of the product range due to reaching the 500 - piece ceiling.

50 years Burns London 1960-2010

For anniversary Barry Gibson extended the range. Henceforth, the following models are available in the Custom Elite division:

Apache Dream Noiseless, limited to 50 pieces

Dream Noiseless Special, limited to 50 pieces

Prototype of the legend with grained aufgeleimter ceiling and Sunburstlackierung (single piece )

Dream Noiseless 50th Anniversary Special Edition ( single piece)

50th Anniversary Burns London 1960-2010 Gold Dream (limited 50 pieces)

Shadows bass in a rare painting


  • Apache Double Six Special ( 12-string de - luxe version of Apache with Rezo -Tube tremolo system )
  • Apache Noiseless Special ( limited to 50 pieces )
  • Dream Noiseless Special ( limited to 50 pieces )
  • Gold Dream ( limited to 50 pieces )
  • Hank Marvin Signature
  • Nu Sonic Bass
  • Shadows Bass
  • Sonic

The division Club Series includes the following models:

Bison 62 with knife edge tremolo

Bison with 64 Rezo -Tube tremolo and scroll Head and Neck




  • Barracuda (baritone guitar, playable ie both as a guitar as well as bass)
  • Special Barracuda ( Barracuda with Rezo -Tube tremolo system, 500 pieces )
  • Bison 62 ( knife edge tremolo ) and Bison 64 ( Rezo -Tube tremolo )
  • Bison Bass
  • Cobra ( strat -like entry-level model )
  • Double Six (12 - string version of Marvin with no tremolo system )
  • Drifter LG 50 (identical to Guytone Antoria, first guitar of Hank Marvin )
  • Marquee ( Marvin without Rezo -Tube system, but with a knife edge tremolo )
  • Marquee Bass
  • Marquee Pro ( special version of the Marquee with Tri -Sonic pickups and Gear Box)
  • Shadow and Shadow Special ( de - luxe version of the Marquee )
  • Steer and Steer Cutaway ( acoustic )

Burns characteristics of all models

  • Handcrafted workmanship
  • Tri -Sonic pickups (eg Sonic, Short Scale, Double Six and Brian May and many others)
  • REZ -O- MATIC pickups (eg Shadows Custom Signature, The Marvin, Marvin Anniversary and many more)
  • Rezo -Tube: In Tremolo built Sustainsystem with long tubes through which the strings are pulled
  • Gear Box: In the neck built-in mechanism, which means king thread extremely precise adjustment of the neck allowed
  • Shape of the headstock: Often the shape of stringed instruments reminiscent ( Shadows -Bass, Legend, Marvin )

Particularly interesting are the different tremolo types (eg roll -Floating sustainblock in Short Scale, Rezo -Tube tremolo from Marvin Legend and many others).

Well-known musicians and bands

Elvis Presley, Billy Bragg, Scorpions, Hank B. Marvin, Bruce Welch, The Shadows, Brian May, Paul Day, Edwyn Collins, Menswear, The Searchers, Status Quo, The Tremeloes, The Troggs, Eric Clapton, The Elton John band, The Honeycombs, Led Zeppelin, Mark Knopfler, Mud, Slade and many more. An extensive list together with photographs is available on the Burns website.