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Burns guitars were generally well designed and produced, with feather-touch vibratos, a unique “gear-box” truss rod adjuster (which ended up on many Baldwin-era Gretsches), and nifty electronic features like the “Wild Dog” setting on the Jazz Split Sound (basically an early out-of-phase tone).

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The most detailed source for information on Burns guitars is The Burns Book (The Bold Strummer, 1990) by Paul Day.

If you want to know about a Burns-built guitar, you need this book.

Reportedly the purchase price was in the neighborhood of $380,000 – a pittance compared to the $13 million CBS plopped down for Fender, although, of course, there could be no comparison between equity values.

In any case, the amount didn’t matter much because, as Harrison recalls, very little cash was involved in the deal. In September ’65, Baldwin Piano and Organ took over the assets of Ormston Burns Ltd., a.k.a. Jim Burns remained on with his old company for about a year in a consulting capacity, fairly typical in this sort of deal.

) bought Guild, Gulf and Western (oil) bought Merson/Unicord (Univox), King Korn Stamp Company (trading stamps) bought Westheimer Sales (Teisco, Kingston). At least Baldwin made musical instruments, although, as it would turn out, that didn’t make much difference in the final outcome.

Even new guitar importing companies were fueled by money from elsewhere: Strum & Drum (Norma) came from nuts and bolts; W. James Ormston Burns was born in England in 1925 and following World War II became involved in making guitars.In the late ’50s he was part of Burns-Weill, making some of the earliest production guitars in England.In ’60 he founded his own company, Ormston Burns Ltd., which began selling guitars branded “Burns London.” Among his most endearing guitar designs were the pointy, horned Bison and a guitar made for Hank Marvin, England’s answer to the Ventures.The Baldwin story goes back a bit further, to Cincinnati in 1862, when a reed organ and violin teacher named Dwight Hamilton Baldwin opened a music store and eventually became one of the largest piano retailers in the Midwest. In 1890, Baldwin decided to go into piano manufacturing and began building upright pianos.Joining him as a bookkeeper in 1866 was Lucien Wulsin, of Alexandria, Kentucky. He passed away in 1899 and Wulsin took over the operation.At the time, Baldwin became aware that Burns of London was also in search of a savior.

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