1964 Burns Nu-Sonic Bass

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In April of 1966, when the Beatles went into Abbey Road Studios to record “Paperback Writer,” George Harrison was photographed playing a 1964 Burns Nu-Sonic Bass guitar finished in Cherry-Red.
James Ormston Burns co-founded Ormston Burns Ltd. (“Burns LONDON”) in 1960. Jim Burns has been often described as the British Leo Fender due to the many parallels in the products and direction that their respective companies took. 
American made guitars were quite rare and expensive in post-World War II Britain and Burns was able to provide a less expensive alternative. For a brief time in the early 1960’s, Burns produced some of the most distinctive looking guitars to come out of Britain. In a clever marketing coup, Burns was able to convince guitarist Hank Marvin, of the popular British group Cliff Richard and The Shadow’s, to lay down his famous red Fender Stratocaster in favor of the Burns Marvin signature model. In addition to Marvin and Harrison, Elvis Presley was photographed playing a Burns guitar. However, despite all this initial success, Burns ran into financial difficulties and the original company was sold in 1965 to the Baldwin Piano & Organ Company, leading to its eventual demise. 
The Nu-Sonic Bass was launched in 1964, as a follow-up to the Burns Sonic line, and marketed as a budget, mid-range instrument. The instrument was made from obeche, a soft African mahogany wood, which allowed Burns to keep the body light. Unfortunately, the obeche would often contract and expand causing the polyester finish to crack. The bass body and headstock were finished in either translucent pigment black (sunburst) or cherry red polyester. The back of the neck was painted a distinctive Cherry-Red skunk stripe.
The Nu-Sonic bass featured: a short 30” scale length; slim neck made from Sycamore (European maple); Rosewood Fingerboard with dot inlays; 21 Frets; distinctive “batwing” headstock with Burns badge; small-size tuners with white plastic buttons; 2 “Nu-Sonic” Pickups; 2 volume, 1 tone and 1 master volume control; 3-way pickup selector switch; Traffolyte pick guard and serial number plate.
Harrison likely borrowed or temporarily rented the Nu-Sonic bass. Very reminiscent of Paul McCartney’s 1962/63 Hofner 500/1 bass, the Nu-Sonic was also small, light and comfortable to play with a big punchy sound. Continually looking to enhance their sound, the group embraced different instruments. At the time, other artist’s were making recordings that had the bass content a lot stronger and often at the forefront of the mix. Perhaps they thought the Burns Bass could add a deeper low end to their recordings.
The 1964 Burns Nu-Sonic Bass in our collection is identical to the one used by George Harrison.
George Harrison in the studio playing the 1964 Burns Nu-Sonic Bass.

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