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Grimshaw Guitars

Grimshaw Guitars were a major UK guitar building force throughout the 1950s jazz and coffee shop era and through the early swinging sixties as music moved towards the rock of the 1970s and early 1980s. As the 1980s moved further into electronic music and foreign made guitars Grimshaw closed its doors ending a legacy of great designs and legendary players. Many later guitar designs were based around Emile Grimshaw's early work and in 2013 Hutchins Guitars became the owners of Grimshaw Guitars Ltd and began the work of keeping the name and legacy of one of the best English brands alive. The plan now is to bring back some of the iconic Grimshaw models in their original form as well as making some new models based around original Grimshaw designs. In the main these guitars will be very small run limited editions hand made at our new workshop situated in the old Höfner factory in Bubenreuth Germany. A fitting and rightful place for the rebirth of such an iconic quality brand . We are very excited to be bringing these guitars back to life, to a new audience playing new music.

Please see below for a brief history of Emile Grimshaw and his guitars. Thanks to Eric J Sandiford for permission to use his words.

Please see Eric's fantastic website about Grimshaw here:

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Grimshaw Guitars

Emile Grimshaw snr was born in October 1880 in Accrington Lancashire. In the early 1900s he was a banjo player in his own quartet and for the highly respected Savoy band. He made many recordings and was well known for his music and tuition books. Emile Grimshaw jnr was born 1904 in Burnley Lancashire. He was also a very skilled player and musician who played with the Jack Hylton orchestra from May 1924 until February 1929.

In 1930 Emile Grimshaw Snr formed a company with Emile Jnr to manufacture banjos and guitars. During this time he continued to produce music and also his very popular guitar tuition book. The early guitars were constructed in a similar fashion to a banjo in that the guitar had a separate detachable back. The main body of the guitar had a large circular hole in the back to help amplify the sound. These are very interesting and unique sounding guitars. This range of guitars were branded Revelation. The company also made a range of standard format guitars under the Hartford brand. Both types were available as archtop “F” hole or “round” hole models. Both the Revelation and Hartford models were available in three levels of trim and both were available as “Hawaiian” models.

In the 1935 catalogue Grimshaw listed the “Premiervox” electric guitar, which could be plugged into a radio or a special amplifier. This interesting guitar was assembled in England from parts imported from Rickenbacker and components manufactured in the UK. It is not known how many were made but this could have been the first electric (Hawaiian) guitar offered for sale in the UK.

After the death of Emile Snr in 1943 the business was continued by Emile Jnr and guitar production was increased. At this time all production received the Grimshaw signature logo on the headstock. Initially it was a hand written/painted signature and it is very likely that the signature was actually done by Emile Grimshaw personally. Interestingly, over the years Emile's signature changed slightly and it is possible to date a guitar by signature. In the 1960s the signature was mostly replaced with a manufactured wire type badge, although some still received the handwritten logo and in the final years the logo was a transfer type.

Post war, the resonator back guitars were discontinued in favour of electric guitars with pickups. During the 1950s they made many archtop, acoustic and electric models including the G3, G5,G6, and “Plectric” single cutaway jazz style electrics. All these were archtop styles. Some had pickups built into the fret board. Grimshaw patented this type of pickup in the USA and the UK. Grimshaw called these invisible pickups and they had tone and volume controls added to the scratch plate. Concert and classical guitars along with jumbo style acoustics were added to the range.

The most popular model of the 1950s was the SS (short scale) Deluxe. This had the individual Grimshaw style feature of unequal cutaways and was finished in colours such as white, cherry red and blonde. These were good substitutes for the American guitars which were not yet imported into the UK (due to austerity measures post war). Some had a Grimshaw patented tremolo system. The SS models were very pretty guitars, played well and were popular with the early Rock'n'Rollers.

During the 1960s in line with the boom in guitar groups they manufactured solid bodied electric models. We believe that Grimshaw were granted a licence by Gibson to produce the humbucker pickup. If this is correct then it would have been the only occasion Gibson have done this. (Seth Lover the inventor of the humbucking pickup mentions this in his biography).

In 1959 Grimshaw made their first solid body electric guitar called Meteor, very few were made and they were replaced by the GS 30 in early 1960s. The GS30 were impressive guitars and were the best selling Grimshaw model in the 1960s with over 400 being manufactured. The GS7 ,GS11, GS33 and GSC models manufactured through the early 1970s until the mid 1980s owed little American design and should have sold in greater numbers. During the 1960s and 1970s bespoke models were produced to customer order and some Grimshaw players had replica guitars made leading to some very interesting guitars. Grimshaw also experimented with organ style electronic guitars but met with no more success than Vox had.

The business continued until the mid 1980s, Emile Grimshaw Jnr died in 1987. Staff member Frank Lonergan, who had worked at Grimshaw for many years, continued to trade as Grimshaw Guitars from premises in Canning Town doing refurbs and repairs until approx. 1990.

Grimshaw, always based in London, had a showroom at 54 - 55 Piccadilly from 1933 until 1962 with workshops at 205 Weedington Rd Kentish Town. From 1962 to 1975 the sales moved to 37 Great Pulteney Street and then moved again in 1975 to 98 Allcroft Road. In 1977 the sales and workshops were consolidated at 12A Vicars Road in Golders Green.

EGrimshawSnr   EGrimshawJnr   The Who