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In ’61, Lucien Wulsin III took over the reigns of the Baldwin empire, and by ’65 they were ready to jump on the guitar bandwagon.

Coincidentally, Leo Fender was having health problems and decided to put Fender Musical Instruments on the block.

Spurned by Fender, Baldwin dispatched treasurer Richard Harrison to England to negotiate with Jim Burns about purchasing his floundering company.

Harrison recalls that Burns was pleasant enough, but that he spent most of the next several weeks in talks with Burns’ attorney trying to sort out the terrible state of affairs at the guitarmaker.

The most detailed source for information on Burns guitars is The Burns Book (The Bold Strummer, 1990) by Paul Day.

If you want to know about a Burns-built guitar, you need this book.

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Thus, guitars were blessed with the Midas touch, veritable gold mines guaranteed to swell the bottom line as large corporations sought to diversify.) bought Guild, Gulf and Western (oil) bought Merson/Unicord (Univox), King Korn Stamp Company (trading stamps) bought Westheimer Sales (Teisco, Kingston). At least Baldwin made musical instruments, although, as it would turn out, that didn’t make much difference in the final outcome.Even new guitar importing companies were fueled by money from elsewhere: Strum & Drum (Norma) came from nuts and bolts; W. James Ormston Burns was born in England in 1925 and following World War II became involved in making guitars.Burns guitars were generally well designed and produced, with feather-touch vibratos, a unique “gear-box” truss rod adjuster (which ended up on many Baldwin-era Gretsches), and nifty electronic features like the “Wild Dog” setting on the Jazz Split Sound (basically an early out-of-phase tone).Since most of Burns’ guitars ended up in the Baldwin line, there’s no need to go into them at length.

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