Early on, Jim felt that he had something special to offer, and was aiming mainly for the top guitarists. Most of these were reluctant to take on products by newcomers. A notable exception, though, was Ike Isaacs, who accepted Jim’s offer. It was the Mullard circuit valve amp which caught Ike’s attention.
A brilliant yet eccentric man
As Jim’s reputation began to be established, the firm of Ormoston-Burns was incorporated in 1960.The Artist was the first guitar to be launched. Soon enough, the corporation expanded and moved to larger premises in Romford, where the Black Bison and Marvin models were produced. In the heyday of Burns guitars, over 150 were produced each week, and the market was almost insatiable.
But Jim Burns was an eccentric person whose forte was guitar design and technology and not business and financial management. Despite the good times for guitar selling, Jim was deeply in debt to suppliers and creditors and in desperate need of rescue. In 1965, Jim decided to sell the company to Baldwin Piano & Organ Company, and it was sold on the condition that Jim must make no more guitars under his own name for three years.
After a brief interlude of manufacturing under the name of Ormston and Hayman, Jim would make two attempts at a come back — 1974 and 1979 — using his own name. In spite of the effort put into creating innovative guitars, however, things did not go quite as well as expected, and in 1983, Jim left the stage.
In 1992, he returned as a consultant to the then newly formed Burns London Ltd, who started an excellent re-launch of the best Burns guitars from the ’60s.
Jim Burns died in 1999.