THE GUITARS
THE BASSES
OTHER INFO
BURNS TIMELINE 1952-1983

plus
BURNS LONDON Home Page
BURNS GUITAR MUSEUM





A bit of a sad note…

I’m truly sorry but because of time, commitments and an ever-increasing Burns London catalogue, it’s really not possible now for me to keep these pages up to date.

However, I will leave them online as a continuing reference resource.

If anyone has particular questions on Burns Guitars Since 1992, please let me know.

I’ll still do what I can to help – TM


THIS SITE is for enthusiasts and collectors of guitars and basses made by Burns London Ltd. The Company launched its first guitar, the "Legend", in 1992.

Just in case you're wondering, I have no connection with the Company at all; I just rather like their guitars!


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I have to say, considering that Burns London is now well into its second decade as an established marque, gathering information on their guitars and basses has not been an easy task. I guess there are a couple of reasons for this.

First, there's relatively little material been published on Burns - just two books - and very little indeed on the period of its existence since 1992. And Burns London I suspect have (quite rightly) channelled their efforts into making and selling guitars, not into keeping the sort of records that we rather sad collectors find invaluable.

Second, the information available from catalogues, flyers and web sites is often contradictory. Sorting out what's real and what is not can be something of a challenge.


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IN PULLING these pages together, I've tried hard not to guess or make assumptions. I've tried to confirm any deductions I've had to make about introduction dates, discontinuation dates, body woods, colours, countries of manufacture etc. from at least two sources. But I know even now that, despite the care I've tried to exercise, there are going to be errors - probably quite a few!

And that's where I'm asking for your help.

If you own a Burns London guitar or bass, and the details on, about or around your instrument differ from what you see on the web page, please e-mail me and I'll see the record's put right.

If you have photos of the few guitars that are missing (or better photos of any of the instruments), again, please e-mail me.


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ONE AREA you might find particularly useful is the Support Gallery.

Many of the items are available as print-quality .pdf files. Due to bandwidth restrictions, I can't put all the files up on the site; however, if you need a particular file, e-mail me and I'll be pleased to send it to you.

(Just be sure your ISP will accept any file you select. The largest attachment - the Bison "Instructions And Product Guide"I> - is 3.42Mb, but as you'll see, most are much less than that.)


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BEFORE YOU GET too engrossed, there are a couple of health warnings.


COLOURS & FINISHES

The colours and finishes that Burns London offer on Custom instruments are just the beginning. As their earlier websites tended to indicate, customers can have whatever colours they like within reason. So, if your '95 Double Six is a fetching shade of orange, please don't feel slighted by the absence of your favourite tint from the list!

Next, how a colour is described can be very much down to the distributor of the moment. "Lake Windermere Blue" becoming "Islington Blue", then subsequently transforming into "Baby Blue" is a case in point.

Finally, catalogues don't always tell the full story. Nowhere, for example, in the BL literature will you find reference to a Cobra from 2004 in "Green Burst". They don't exist.

Except I've got one, and it's not a one-off. See what I mean?


SERIAL NUMBERS

... are, let us say, a work in progress. If I'd waited until I'd got all the serial number problems ironed out, this site would never have been launched.

Any help that anyone can offer - particularly with Custom instrument serial numbers - will be greatly appreciated. Again, just e-mail.

One thing that's worth mentioning regarding the Brian May series of guitars:

Burns' arrangement with BM officially ended in July 2004, and to that point, production instrument serial numbers had run from BHM0001 to approximately BHM4660 - maybe a few higher.

However, when the Brian May Guitar Company took over the distribution of BM guitars in mid-2004, the guitars they sold were actually Burns-manufactured instruments. These transitional pieces had the BM signature on the headstock, but of course no Burns logo.

The serial numbers for the Burns-made BMGC guitars ran from around BHM4685 to approximately BHM6430. Whether these should be regarded as truly "Burns" guitars is a matter of opinion. Hope that's all clear!

OK, with regard to other Far East-manufactured guitars and basses, there are certain serial number "rules" that generally seem to apply. They are:

...with a seven-figure number, the FIRST number appears to indicate the year within the decade. For example, Marquee s/no. 9xxxxxx dates from 1999.

...with eight-figure numbers, the FIRST TWO numbers seem to show the year within the decade - eg. Cobra s/no. 04xxxxxx from 2004.

I've checked this with many guitars and basses, and the rule does seem to hold true - by and large. However, I've found exceptions. For example;

a Bison from 2004 with a seven-figure serial number beginning 04xxxxx
a Marquee from 2002 with an eight-figure serial number beginning 20xxxxxx

Both of these could be mis-stamps, but they emphasise the need for caution when trying to date a Burns London instrument by its serial number.

And then, just to add a little more confusion into the mix, we have this quote from Barry Gibson himself, sent to a Canadian collector: "Some Burns models from the Club series had the numbers screen printed onto the back of the headstock, these sometimes came off because of bad adhesion, or they might have not applied them by mistake."

Like I say, a work in progress!

Finally, if you're looking for serial number info on Burns' originals from the '60s (or would just like to see a really impressive collection of original instruments), Burns Guitars From Alfons is the place to go.


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OK, on with the show...


GUITARS BY MODEL
SUPPORT GALLERY
   
Apache Limited Editions
(based on the '64 Marvin)
---- o ----
Barracuda baritone guitar & variants
(original Burns London design)
 Notes on E to E tuning
Batwing
(based on the '99 Marquee)
---- o ----
Bison & variants 
(based on the '62 Bison)
1) US promo leaflet
2) "Instructions & Product Guide"
Brian May & variants
(original design)
1) US promo leaflet
2) "Instructions & Product Guide"
3) Guitar Setup
Cobra & variants 
(based on the '98 Drifter)
---- o ----
Double Six & variants 
(based on the '63 Double Six)
1) US promo leaflet
2) "Instructions & Product Guide"
Dream
(based on the '64 Marvin)
---- o ----
Drifter
(based on the '64 Marvin)
---- o ----
"Harrods" Guitar
(based on the '64 Marvin)
---- o ----
Jet Harris Guitar
(based on the '64 Marvin)
---- o ----
Jet-Sonic
(original Burns London design)
---- o ----
Legend & variants 
(based on the '64 Marvin)
---- o ----
Marquee & variants 
(based on the '64 Marvin)
1) US promo leaflet
2) "Instructions & Product Guide"
Marvin Guitar
(based on the '64 Marvin)
---- o ----
Nu-Sonic & variants 
(original Burns London design: named after the '64 Nu-Sonic)
---- o ----
Scorpion & variants 
(based on the '79 Black Scorpion)
"Instructions & Product Guide"
Shadow & variants 
(based on the '99 Marquee)
---- o ----
Shadows Custom Signature
(based on the '64 Marvin)
---- o ----
Sonic
(based loosely on the '95 Nu-Sonic)
---- o ----
Steer & variants 
(based on the '79 Steer)
"Instructions & Product Guide"
The Flyte
(based on the '74 Flyte)
"Instructions & Product Guide"
The Marvin 1964
(based on the '64 Marvin)
---- o ----
Zodiac
(original Burns London design)
---- o ----


BASSES BY MODEL
SUPPORT GALLERY
   
5-String Bass
(original Burns London design)
---- o ----
Bison Bass
(based on the '62 & '64 Bison Basses)
 1) US promo leaflet
2) Schematic wiring diagram
3) "Instructions & Product Guide"
Marquee Bass & variants 
(based on the '64 Jazz Bass)
1) US promo leaflet
2) "Instructions & Product Guide"
Scorpion Bass
(based on the '79 Black Scorpion Bass)
"Instructions & Product Guide"
Shadows Bass
(based on the '64 Shadows Bass)
---- o ----
Shadows Bass 1964
(based on the '64 Shadows Bass played by John Rostill)
---- o ----
Vista Sonic 5-String Bass
(original Burns London design: name derived from the '62 Vista Sonic Bass)
---- o ----


OTHER INFO
SUPPORT GALLERY
   
---- o ----
"Guitar Neck Adjustment"
---- o ----
USA Guitar Warranty card


ABOUT BURNS LONDON LTD

BARRY GIBSON, guitarist, luthier, enthusiast and entrepreneur, began making Burns London instruments in 1992.

Jim Burns himself acted as a consultant to the Company until his death in 1998; in fact, early Burns London instruments with the Rez-o-Tube trem system invariably featured Jim Burns' signature on the tailplate (see the photo on the right, from a 1996 Legend guitar). However, this hasn't been followed through in later times.

For the first six years, all Burns London instruments were built in the United Kingdom; pursuing, I guess, the old Jim Burns philosophy of "mass-produced one-offs". Indeed, even today, all Custom Shop instruments are still UK-manufactured.

In 1999, Burns London's first Korean-built guitar - the "Marquee" - gained remarkable reviews. This was the instrument Burns used to launch the successful "Club Series". "Club Series" instruments continued to be built in Korea until 31st December 2007. From 1st January 2008, production moved to China.

In January 2004, the Company made its first foray into China with the "Custom Elite Series". Later in 2004, the "Player Series" was introduced (again Chinese made, though at a different factory).



BURNS USA

RATHER BIZARRELY, BURNS USA came into being indirectly as a result of 9/11.

John Coates, a freelance business consultant with a passion for music, was in the UK around the time of the terrorist attacks. Quite suddenly, he found he had some time on his hands.

Surfing the web, he came across the Burns London website. This indicated that the BL Company was seeking a distributor for North America. John contacted Barry Gibson and the rest, as they say, is history.

Initially distributing Burns guitars and basses in partnership with a local Connecticut music retailer, John later became sole owner of Burns USA.

One bass guitar - the "Vista Sonic 5-String" - has the distinction of being the only instrument to carry a Burns USA logo (as opposed to Burns London).

Burns USA distributed Burns London instruments in the US from January 2002 until June 2005.


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FINALLY, a great picture, I think; from the Brian May Support Gallery



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