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Multivox/Premier carved scroll mahogany-bodied electric from 1959


Premier/Multivox started making these carved scroll mahogany solid bodies in 1958. The very earliest version was set-neck, going over to bolt-on pretty quickly. The shape of the treble-side horn evolved from long to stumpy to the version seen in this 1959 example, with its elegant outward curve echoing the wave shape of the scroll side, the perfection of the design. The later Premiers covered in Italian cellulloid are nice in their way but part of a downward slide in quality, materials, and looks throughout the 1960s.

The neck here is solid perfectly vertical tight grain Brazilian rosewood that sustains like nothing else and rings like a bar on a marimba.These earliest necks have an angled scarf-joined headstock (made with a “V” notch cut under the integral fingerboard; a less desirable non-angled scooped headstock with string retainers came shortly thereafter. In Premier's world at this time truss rods were a tone-deadening frill, unnecessary on a good quarter-sawn Brazilian neck. This neck, after almost fifty years of string tension — some of that with hulking flatwounds — had only a slight bow, easily brought to perfect minimal relief by a compression fret job. By the way, the position markers are just cut from aluminum rod, though most people assume they are mother of pearl.

On the down side, the binding on Premiers often deteriorates and the fret spacing is oddly erratic for an otherwise extremely well-crafted guitar with bound body, fingerboard, and headstock, and gold plated hardware standard. You can even see the bad spacing in the upper frets of the 1964 model you posted. I corrected fret spacing problems and replaced the binding when I refurbished this one, which I bought in deteriorated but complete condition in 2005. Unless the frets are repositioned it is only good for slide, and Ry Cooder (see picture) has been known to play this very same two-pickup early model. The “Franz” pickups (as used also on early Guilds) are like dream P-90s. To top it off, it has catalin knobs, a big appliance-style pickup selector switch and a flashy pickguard that leaves no doubt that this instrument was made for show business.


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