The guitarist for The Glitter Band and his quest to build a 2008 version of the “Star Guitar” made famous in the 70s by the late great Gerry Shephard.
Current guitarist for The Glitter Band, Marc Pearson, felt it was important to restore the Star Guitar to it’s rightful place at the front of The Glitter Band, and embarked on a project to build the best ever Star Guitar as a tribute to his predecessor the great Gerry Shephard. After speaking with several respected guitar builders, Marc contacted John Carling (JC) at John Birch Guitars.
John Birch Guitars have considerable history with the Star Guitar, having worked extensively on Gerry Shephard’s original guitar, as well as having built a line of reproduction models during the following few years. Marc had several key criteria for this guitar and, after extensive telephone conversations with JC, Marc felt that these guys were the right company to build the “GS SuperStar” (In tribute to Gerry Shephard).
The first of Marc’s criteria is that the guitar needed to be a leftie. The second main criteria was that the GS SuperStar had to integrate Line-6 Variax electronics. Marc uses Line 6 guitars exclusively and has grown to love and rely upon these innovative instruments.
“Prior to owning my first Line-6 I used to have to carry at least 2 guitars (My Les Paul and an acoustic) in order cope with the variety of material in The Glitter Band show. This was becoming a major problem, particularly when traveling abroad, with airlines becoming more and more strict with regard to weight and luggage allowances.
I was amazed when I auditioned my first Line-6. Every guitar I ever wanted, and then some, in one playable instrument. Add to that the fantastic computer modeling software that allows you to build your own virtual guitars and store them on the Variax, and you have an amazing package. The GS SuperStar simply HAD to incorporate this technology.”
Marc arranged to meet with JC and his body fabricator Laz Gajic. The guys were really excited by this project. JC had managed to overcome some considerable challenges regarding the ribbon cables from the piezo saddles, through the bridge and down to the processor board inside the Variax body. Marc had already purchased another brand new Variax to become the donor guitar. The plan was to extract the entire sound system from the donor Variax then transplant it into the new GS SuperStar.
When Marc met with the guys they discussed the requirements at length and the instrument began to evolve. JC was very keen that the guitar should include the original John Birch Magnum pick ups that were used on the original Star Guitar. As you probably know, the Variax guitars have no pick ups. Cosmetically it made sense to include the Magnums. This now meant integrating not only the active Line-6 circuitry but a passive circuit including the 2 high output Magnums as well.
Marc also specified an ebony fret board with mother of pearl dots, coupled with a standard Les Paul style head stock, as opposed to the star shaped one that was used on the original. Not only did it look better that way, but Marc insisted that this has to be a playable, practical working guitar and felt that the Les Paul head stock was more appropriate.
The next challenge was to figure out a schematic for the electronics. Marc wanted a single output socket on the guitar and opted for a micro switch so he could flip instantly between the output from the Variax circuit or the twin John Birch Magnum pickups. The original Variax controls (Sound selector, Volume and Tone) were mounted together with a matching stacked dual Volume/Tone pot to control the Magnums when they were in use. Marc was keen to avoid spoiling the aesthetics of the guitar by turning it into a ugly mass off switches and pots.
The GS SuperStar was to be finished in high gloss large silver metal flake paint.
So, for all you guitar heads, here are the GS SuperStar specs:
* Construction English broad leaf maple interlocking
* 22 fret ebony fret board.
* Chrome Schaller machine heads
* 2 No. John Birch Magnum pickups.
* Three control pots for the Variax functions and one
dual stacked pot to control the Magnum pickups.
* 2 No. toggle selector switches (One for the Variax functions & one for the Magnum pick ups) & 1 No. micro switch to select either Variax or Magnum pickup output.
* Locking strap studs.