Recently, Atlas Obscura shared an amazing video that shows new electric guitars being built in England in 1965 as guitar making was enjoying a boom in Britain because of the “Beat Groups”. These guitars were being built and assembled at the old Burns factory in Essex. Burns London is still turning out some fine guitars, and a fine example is its Hank Marvin Signature Edition as well as other models.
The 1960’s were swept up by the boisterous, raging rock-and-roll wave. And at the heart of the sound: the electric guitar. This 1965 video archived by British Pathé follows the creation process of gleaming, wooden electric guitars at a factory in Essex, England. With each step, a curmudgeon of a narrator adds amusing, snippy comments about rebellious teens and youths.
Dozens of craftsmen handle an electric guitar before it’s placed in a shop window, explains the narrator. “All this to make a bedlam of adolescent noise,” he then adds.
After grinding just enough space out of a solid piece of wood to fit in the electromagnetic pickups, the instrument is fitted with two miles of string. At the 49-second mark, you can see how the rosewood fingerboard and nickel frets are fastened to the neck by hand. The lustrous materials can rack up the price, the narrator commenting how, “the guitar boys have to pay so much for their guitars that they have no money left for a haircut.”
Bright neon polyester spray paint is coated over the wooden bodies before adding on the string and glossing the finished product. Each guitar is specially tuned so musicians can play that distinct rock-and-roll sound—or noise, according to the narrator.
“Surprising,” he says. “When you consider the noise they make, that each and every guitar is scientifically tuned just as if they were real musical instruments.”