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Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Vintage DNA » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:26 pm

Does anyone have any information on Russ Ballard's strat style guitar he played in Argent?

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Looks like a strat with a tele neck but the top horn is shorter than a strat, obviously a one off but does anyone have any info? I've just built a "tribute" Strat using a standard strat body with "weight reduction" holes drilled in the body and warmoth neck and am really interested to know the origin and history of Russ's guitar. Does he still have it?

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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Dan LB » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:50 pm

Looks like it *was* once a Strat. It looks like the holes were drilled into it and the upper horn was carved back to that shape and then the whole thing refinished and a Tele neck bolted on to it. The neck pocket was probably modified to accommodate the square heel on the Tele neck too.

I'm just guessing though....

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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Vintage DNA » Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:42 pm

Dan LB wrote:Looks like it *was* once a Strat. It looks like the holes were drilled into it and the upper horn was carved back to that shape and then the whole thing refinished and a Tele neck bolted on to it. The neck pocket was probably modified to accommodate the square heel on the Tele neck too.

I'm just guessing though....

Dan

Yes, certainly looks like it could be a modded strat tele hybrid.

I'd really like to know who built it and when, doesn't see to be any info online other than it was built in 1972 or earlier.

Interestingly in this 1972 video it seems to be white with Strat neck

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-6v4H4BtWI

Whereas in this 1973 whistle test video it is gold with tele neck

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsG5V-o6uxY
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby SecretSam » Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:30 am

OT: 2think4uni - that's the best signature line I have read for a long time !
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Hewesy » Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:25 am

Funky bit of kit! Looks like he wanted a Strat, Tele and SG at the same time (that top horn looks very SG to me).

I note he has his own website these days, why not email and ask?

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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Vintage DNA » Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:56 pm

Hewesy wrote:

I note he has his own website these days, why not email and ask?

Hewesy

Doesn't seem to be any email contact address on his web site, I did ask the question a while back on Russ's myspace site but didn't get a reply :-(
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Vintage DNA » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:52 pm

Well, I've finally finished building my "Holy Strat" which is very strongly influenced by Russ's much modded Strat. I thought drilling all of those holes in the body would have an adverse affect on tone and sustain - to my amazement it seems to sustain better and feel more alive than it did prior to body surgery!

Image

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Image
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby artzmusic » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:21 pm

Great job! Still musing about the sustain. Interesting observation.

Does it resonate in any particular key now!!

Oh, and you'll never need a guitar stand - just hang it on anything!

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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby ChromeDome » Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:59 pm

Wow - that Holy Strat looks great! I've got an 8lb 10oz Strat and if I was brave, I might consider this approach (I'm not!).

Edit: I'm pretty sure that when Gibson drill the (much smaller) weight relief holes in the mahogany bodies (they've done this for years on the non-Historic LP Standards) they put them in similar locations. I think I read somewhere that as long as you stay away from the area between the bridge and neck, the tonal differences are no greater than they would be between any two "regualar" guitars anyway.
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Vintage DNA » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:20 pm

This guitar started life as a £100 chinese strat copy, it became an excercise in turd polishing! The body looks to be Basswood rather than Ash or Alder and had a thick poly finish which was completely sanded off and replaced with a thin cellulose finish instead. Now has all new electrics and Bare Knuckle Irish Tour PU's. The theory I'd heard was that if holes weren't placed in the line of strings then it shouldn't make a difference to tone but this doesn't seem to be the case, could be that some of the rigidity and mass has gone from the wood and made it more resonant as a result? Thinner finish would certainly be a factor, there are other changes too - it now has a Warmoth '59 profile conversion neck with Gibson 24.75" scale length instead of standard Fender item so it could be some of it is down to that. Certainly lost none of it's Strat "quack" which again is a surprise.

A friend has a collection of over 25 Strats and this held up very well in a "Sound off" with them, sounding as good as his top 5 instruments including 54 Custom shop Model and US Standard and a couple of early Tokai Springy Sounds. This was as much a surprise to me as it was to him - my belief was that Swamp Ash is always the tonewood of choice for strats but by some happy accident this sounds really good, it also really resonates when played unplugged which to me is the sign of a good guitar. Hard to say how much difference the holes have made to the tone but certainly not had a detrimental effect, quite the opposite. Definitely a keeper :)
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby zenguitar » Fri Jun 10, 2011 1:07 am

Bottom line?

Congratulations, that's a lovely looking guitar you've made for yourself. And if you are happy that it plays and sounds as good as it looks, that's all that matters.

Well done, and enjoy it :)

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:17 am

nice job on the swiss cheese strat !
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Techno-confused » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:27 pm

Looks like you've done a great job on that Strat.

My wife and I were lucky enough to bump into Russ Ballard at a John Mayall gig a few years ago. Meeting Russ was great and he was extremely generous with his time, talking to us for just under an hour - about Argent, songwriting and life in general. Great when you meet a hero... and they turn out to be really nice, genuine people.

As it happens, I did ask him about his Strat. Yes it was originally a Strat... I can't remember what year it was made, I think early to mid 60s. Anyway, Russ had a friend of his do the work on the body etc. Russ wasn't too fond of the middle pickup on a Strat... so he removed it.

One of the Old Grey Whistle Test DVDs has Argent playing GOd Gave Rock and Roll to You. I think Russ plays that Strat on it... I'll try to check and let you know.
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Wonks » Sat Jul 16, 2011 10:17 am

He does play that Strat on the OGWT video.
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby zenguitar » Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:49 pm

Hi again wonks, good to see you again mate :)

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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Wonks » Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:53 pm

Same to you sir! :D
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Vintage DNA » Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:00 pm

Techno-confused wrote:Looks like you've done a great job on that Strat.

My wife and I were lucky enough to bump into Russ Ballard at a John Mayall gig a few years ago. Meeting Russ was great and he was extremely generous with his time, talking to us for just under an hour - about Argent, songwriting and life in general. Great when you meet a hero... and they turn out to be really nice, genuine people.

As it happens, I did ask him about his Strat. Yes it was originally a Strat... I can't remember what year it was made, I think early to mid 60s. Anyway, Russ had a friend of his do the work on the body etc. Russ wasn't too fond of the middle pickup on a Strat... so he removed it.

One of the Old Grey Whistle Test DVDs has Argent playing GOd Gave Rock and Roll to You. I think Russ plays that Strat on it... I'll try to check and let you know.

Thats great info and really pleased he's such a nice guy too. Looks like he has the same opinion of strat middle pu as Richie Blackmore - can't say I agree, to me the middle pu is a big part of the strat sound.

Wonder what happened to his strat? Haven't seen it on any recent photo's.
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Wonks » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:25 pm

I'd imagine the Russ Ballard Strat (like Ritchie Blackmore's) was old enough to just have a 3-way selector switch (5-way as standard started sometime in 1977). So short of jamming the selector switch in the in-between positions for those now standard position '2' and '4' sounds (fine in the studio but difficult live when swapping positions) the middle pick-up wouldn't be quite as useful to some people. And removing the pickup reduces the overall magnetic string pull so the other two pickups can be brought nearer to the strings before the onset of wolf notes.
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Glamhag » Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:16 pm

I believe I may have witnessed the end of the Strat's working life.

I saw Argent twice in the 70s at Plymouth Guildhall. From the first gig I knew that he had a habit at the end of the set of throwing the Strat spectacularly high in the air and catching her neatly. On the second gig he did the same thing, but without the catching her neatly bit.

I never saw them live again but on subsequent TV appearances I noticed he was now playing a different, more conventional and less interesting guitar.

Poor holey Strat!
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby alfredo » Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:35 pm

-- wrote:He does play that Strat on the OGWT video.
This clip's in the 'Old Grey Whistle Test: 70s Gold' compilation that's currently doing the rounds on BBC4 - next broadcast tomorrow (Sunday 25 Sept) at 11.30pm or still available on iPlayer.

Caught the programme last night/early this morning and was surprised at how much miming there still was in the early OGWT days.
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby tonyrome » Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:56 am

Glamhag wrote:I believe I may have witnessed the end of the Strat's working life.

No, it's not dead. It's still in use, as of 2012.

Argent - Hold Your Head Up, Butlins 2012
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby Gadget13769 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:14 pm

Five of my guitars have holes. Here's one...

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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby zenguitar » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:15 am

Gadget13769 wrote:Five of my guitars have holes. Here's one...

Image

That's a serious woodworm problem mate. Have you had them all fumigated?

:angel:

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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby SecretSam » Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:10 am

What's a wolf note ?
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby 6120 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:52 am

I'm interested in doing this to one of my tele's so what size holes have you drilled and what tools did you use to drill the holes?
Many thanks!
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Re: Russ Ballard's custom 70's guitar with holes in it?

Postby mick.n » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:44 pm

Would all those holes weaken the body?
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