John Birch Custom Custom made One of a Kind 1972 Black | Reverb (2023)

1972 John Birch Custom Made Guitar, Made for Celebrity {see note} This is a one of a kind guitar.Near Mint Condition !

Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath came to Birch's shop after having his ideas rejected by the major guitar manufacturers of the time, such as Gibson and . Iommi was looking for someone to make him a guitar with a 24-fret fingerboard and high-power/low-noise pickups. Iommi's red received some modification in the form of a re-covered Gibson in the bridge position and John Birch's own Superflux in the neck position. This guitar is in the Times Square . In 1975, Birch built Iommi his black 24-fret, cross-inlay SG Special. This was the main guitar used on the albums Technical Ecstasy, Never Say Die, Heaven and Hell, and Mob Rules. This guitar is now in the Miami Hard Rock Cafe. Around the same time Birch's SG was built, John Diggins also built Iommi's Jaydee SG, which features a custom-wound pickup by Diggins in the bridge position and a standard Biflux in the neck position. The guitar also has peeled and cracked paint due to a rushed finish job. During the Cross Purposestour, the guitar was left in a hot car on a date in Brazil, and the finish bubbled and cracked due to the heat. This guitar was first used for some overdubbing on Heaven and Hell, but quickly became Iommi's main guitar. The Birch shop also built a guitar for Tony that featured the ability to remove and replace pickups. The pickups plugged through the back into slots which had quick connectors that allowed them to be pulled and replaced easily, and didn't require any soldering. This allowed for more tonal options than any standard guitar, no matter how complex its wiring. Geezer Butler also had some basses made by Birch, one of which can be seen in the music video for Black Sabbath's "."

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Manny Charlton of Nazareth used John Birch to customise a Gibson Flying-V guitar which he had purchased in Tucson, Arizona during 1976. John Birch added Di Marzio Super Distortion Humbuckers, an out-of-phase switch, Gibson TP-6 fine tuning tailpiece, a flash metal scratch plate and refinished it to a dark sunburst colour. This guitar appears on Nazareth's albums Playin' the Game (1976) and Expect No Mercy (1977) and can be heard on the recordings of "Kentucky Fried Blues", "Down Home Girl" and "Flying". It was used on many Nazareth tours in the late 1970s and was in Manny Charlton's possession until April 2015, when it was sold to a private collector. John Birch also customised another Gibson guitar that Manny Charlton used to favour in the 1970s. This was a Gibson Les Paul that started out life as a '50s Gold Top before Manny bought in the states around 75-76. John Birch sprayed this guitar black and fitted it with his own bridge design. He also fitted it with Alembic-designed hot-rod magnets in the pickups. Manny used this guitar for several years until in "a moment of insanity" according to himself: In the middle of the '80s whammy bar craze he had a Kahler Tremolo fitted to it, and "destroyed a wonderful guitar".

Another of Birch's famous customers was Brian May of Queen. Brian wanted a copy of his Red Special to use as a backup guitar, so he asked John to make him what would come to be referred to as the "Yellow Special." This is the guitar that was used on several videos from the album News of the Worldand the video for "." May never liked the Yellow Special's sound or feel. The construction of the Birch guitar and his original Red Special are very different. May's Red Special is constructed of mahogany and oak with a frictionless roller bridge, whereas the Birch guitar used all-maple construction with an ebony fingerboard, as well as a non-roller bridge which meant tuning was unstable. At a concert during the in the early eighties, he broke a string on the Red Special. After using the Birch guitar for a few minutes, he became frustrated because the tuning stability on the guitar was very poor. He tossed it offstage out of frustration, but no-one was there to catch it. The guitar neck was completely separated from the body. Fortunately, all the pieces were saved, and the remains can be seen at Brian May's site (link at bottom). Until a few years ago, John Birch still offered a copy of the guitar featuring Brian May pickups, but the model has been discontinued.

Roy Orbison also ordered a guitar from Birch. In 1975, Orbison's guitarist, Allen Panter was having problems with his Les Paul. Orbison was also having difficulty with his , and needed it to be repaired. Orbison was satisfied with the work done, and decided to have a custom guitar built. Orbison, Birch, and Birch employee John Diggins all had discussions on what Roy would like to have built. The Eagle guitar was born, and it can be seen at Jaydee's website (link at bottom) while the actual guitar hung on the wall at Birmingham Hard Rock Cafe until its closure in 2006.

Dave Hill of Slade has used John Birch guitars since the mid-seventies. Among the many modified Gibsons and John Birch originals Hill used throughout the 1970s and 1980s were a J1-style maple guitar featuring Hyperflux pickups and, of course, the famous Super Yob guitar, which is styled after a Sci-Fi ray gun. Hill has said he didn't really like using the Super Yob due to its neck-heavy nature, its poor sound, and terribly high action. Hill then had a copy built for him by . Recently, the new John Birch company released a 50-guitar run of the new version that features LED lights in the neck inlays.

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The Glitter Band's glitter-covered star-shaped guitar was built, according to Gerry Shephard, by John Birch in mid-1975 for the release of The Glitter Band's "Love in the Sun". He also repaired Shephard's old gold-coloured star guitar, which had been damaged at a show by some overzealous fans. The cost of the new guitar was £400. The guitar received more damage over the years, but was fully repaired in 1996 by Ray Cooper. The guitar was used mostly by Gerry Shephard, and retired with him in 2002. He built a reversed Stratocaster model with two JB pickups and hollow fret cavities for Ritchie Blackmore.

In 1972, Lance Fogg of UK cult band Complex came to John to revitalise his Rickenbacker 4001 bass. John replaced the bass pickup with one of his Hyperflux pickups, rewound the treble pickup, set up the action and completed the bass in a snow white finish. It remained a trademark of Complex through to 1979.

Birch also built the Rook guitar for Rook Music, which can be seen, along with Framus's copy of the Super Yob, in Tony Bacon's The Ultimate Guitar Book. The Rook guitar was designed to emulate a rook chesspiece, complete with a simulated brick texture made of cork and a front gate made of fretwire.

The last guitar that John Birch himself worked on was a replica of the Birch bass used by Jim Lea of , owned by Stu Rutter.

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Colin Gibb, from ‘Black Lace’ who had been a great lover of ‘custom’ guitars, and a great admirer of John Birch guitars (having borrowed one for the ‘Superman’ video) commissioned the company to build an 8-string bass, in 2001. The instrument was based on what Fender ‘may’ have produced, if they ever made an 8-string, in the 60s, Having a ‘hockey stick’ headstock (similar to the Fender electric 12-string), and chrome control plate (as on the bass V1) but being mainly designed around the .


John Birch built many styles such as Flying Vs, SGs, J1s and J2s, Strats and Les Pauls. He even built 4000-style basses and doublenecks. Also available was a teardrop-shaped guitar, much like the Vox teardrop guitar. Also available, of course, were custom shapes that could go as wild as the customer's imagination.

The guitars also had features that were uncommon for the time, but are now used by many guitar companies, such as 24-fret necks, neck-through construction, as well as his high-gain, low-noise pickups and stainless steel bridges. His truss rods went into a tube-like channel, and steel rods went down to the seventh fret for extra security from headstock breakage, though this made them somewhat neck-heavy. The guitars were also made of solid rock maple, which gave the guitars great sustain and durability.

(Video) Steve Birchall, "Reality Gates+" [CP-045]

This item is sold As-Described

This item is sold As-Described and cannot be returned unless it arrives in a condition different from how it was described or photographed. Items must be returned in original, as-shipped condition with all original packaging.Learn More.

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