Shaftesbury guitars were a line of mid-priced instruments manufactured for British distributor Rose Morris in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Rose-Morris had opened their London Shaftesbury Avenue retail showroom in September 1967, and it was this address that provided the name for their own range of guitars. Throughout this period they were main distributors for numerous brands: high end ones by Rickenbacker and Ovation; mid-priced models from Eko, Aria and Levin; and budget guitars like Top Twenty and Avon. Shaftesbury were very much in the middle, being produced for Rose Morris in Japan (probably by Aria/Matsumoku), Italy (Eko) and the United Kingdom (Peter Cook/Shergold). Most were copies (some more slavish than others) of expensive American models. Others, specifically the British-built Ned Callan models, were totally original designs in their own right.
The range of Shaftesbury guitars displayed by Rose Morris at British Musical Instrument trade fair, London, August 1969. Models shown (from left to right) are: 3263, 3261, 3264, 3265, 3400, 3266.
The first Shaftesbury guitars debuted in the Summer of 1968. These were Japanese-built, and seeing as Rose Morris already had a relationship with Aria, quite possibly made at the Matsumoku plant. They certainly share many characteristics of other Matsumoku-made instruments. These were the Rickenbacker styled 3261, 3262, 3263 bass and the Gibson Barney Kessel-styled 3264.
But by the Summer of 1969, Shaftesbury production had moved to Eko's Recanati factory in Italy. Further guitars were added to the range, a Thinline Telecaster copy (model 3265), a Telecaster Bass (3266), and a Les Paul (3400). In many cases, the model codes were abbreviated to the last two digits, i.e. models 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66 and 00.
The next model to be added to the Shaftesbury line was a perspex Dan Armstrong-style guitar, model 2402 in mid 1971.
Ned Callan guitars were made by UK luthier Peter Cook in Notting Hill. The bodies and necks were made by Shergold, with Cook producing pickups and hardware, and assembling the finished instruments. Distribution was initially by UK amp-manufacturer Simms-Watts, but they were bought out by Rose-Morris in 1973. So in late 1973, Rose Morris issued the Ned Callan Cody six string as model 3420, and the Cody bass as model 3421. These were a step up from the other Shaftesbury guitars, with an increased price to match. Peter Cook was unhappy with the arrangement: "Things came to a halt when Rose Morris took over Simms Watts, they cancelled a large order which was just about to be delivered and after months of haggling the Cody range (Nobbly Neds) was re-branded for Rose Morris; but we were still left with a large number of Custom and Salisbury guitars which were eventually sold off in bulk, directly to retailers. I didn't really see eye to eye with Rose Morris and my association with them ended soon after." (from an interview with Peter Cook here.
Another two models, the Ned Callan Hombre, and Ned Callan Hombre bass were added to the line in early 1975.
The following Rose Morris catalogs include Shaftesbury guitars:
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