The Burns Flyte is a rare British electric guitar that was made for just a couple of years in the mid-1970s. The styling was inspired by the Concorde, and its unusual design appealed to many including T-Rex’s Marc Bolan who played one, as did members of the band Slade.
Burns company founder James “Jim” Burns has been described as the United Kingdom’s Leo Fender. He founded Burns Guitars London in 1959 with Alice Farrell and at its peak in the 1960s it had grown to become the most successful guitar company in England.
Burns guitars were played by some of the biggest names of the time including Elvis Presley, Hank Marvin, and Jimmy Page. They also produced a line of amplifiers which were used by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Burns was bought out by the Baldwin Piano Company in 1965 and renamed “Baldwin-Burns.” Jim Burns never quite left the guitar business though, after the sale he carried on making a variety of guitars using his own designs.
The most successful of these designs is the Burns Flyte, it was originally planned to be called the Conchorde – a pun based on the fact that the design of the guitar was influenced by the Concorde passenger aircraft.
The Flyte was a stark departure from the four most commonly produced solid body guitar types (and their clones), the Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster, and the Gibson Les Paul and SG.
Above Video: This clips shows a Burns Flyte being played by Nico Poges on the Guitare Collection YouTube channel. As you can see the shape of the body lends itself well to being played on the lap.
The Burns Flyte features a symmetrical solid body design that allows players to get their fingers all the way up and down the fretboard. It can also be played comfortably in a seated position, unlike other avant garde guitar designs like the Gibson Flying V.
The Flyte debuted in 1974, five years after the first flight of the Concorde that inspired it but a few months before the aircraft officially entered service for paying customers in January of 1976. The guitar was given a solid mahogany body with a bolt-on maple neck and ebonized maple fingerboards.
It was fitted with twin Mach One Humbuster humbuckers with five-sided metal covers and a Dynamic Tension bridge assembly with individually height adjustable saddles on a bridge plate.
As mentioned higher up the Burns Flyte was played by both Marc Bolan of T-Rex and members of the band Slade, it never caught on in the same way as its more famous rivals from Fender and Gibson, but it’s a highly collectible model among those who know of its existence.
The example you see in this article is part of the Carl Aage Axel “Laur” Laursen guitar collection that is being auctioned by Bruun Rasmussen on the 16th of November in an online auction. The price guide is 10,000 DKK (Danish Krone) which works out to approximately $1,434 USD.
If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bruun Rasmussen
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