SUPERSOUND ELECTRONIC PRODUCTS (1951-59) was formed by Alan John Wootton and Annie Mary Patricia Wootton In 1952 from very humble circumstances in Hengist Road. Their speciality became amps but in the middle of the 50:s they started making electric guitars in small series. Jim Burns became employed at that time and was responsible for the guitar production. We don´t know much about the guitars but not long ago a small collection of guitars and prototypes of Supersound guitars were find in Britain. At the end of the 50:s we know Jim Burns made the Ike Isacs Short Scale guitar. It had 22 frets with mother of pearls inlays. The shape of the body was like a Gibson Les Paul. About 20 were made.
A fruitful collaboration between Jim Burns and Henry Weill was begun in 1959. Weill was responsible for the electronics, and Jim Burns for the woodwork.
Towards the end of 1959, the collaboration between Burns and Weill was unfortunately cut short under less pleasant circumstances. Jim went in his own direction with Burns London Ltd., and Henry started Weill London and continued with production of the guitars developed during the time of collaboration. As the names started to get confusing, he changed the name to Fenton-Weill (after the first guitar.)
The most interesting guitars: Fenton Guitar, Super Streamline
Burns London Ltd (1960-65)
The founding of Ormston Burns Ltd. in 1960 signified the beginning of a period which would shape Burns' distinct character – indeed, the most important period in Jim's entire carreer. The British guitar industry was experiencing a boom like never before, and the timing was perfect. The majority of the guitars were fitted with a Burns logo, even though this wasn't at the time the official name. In a while, Jim moved from the small premises on 131 Queens Road, Buckburst Hill, where it had all begun.
Burns London Ltd (1961)
Contributing a great deal to the particular charm of Burns is the fact that the manufacturing to such a large extent was a matter of craftsmanship, as well as the relatively small numbers in which every line of guitars was made. Because of this, every range could display a great deal of internal variation, both minor and major. The term "serially produced one-offs" seems an apt one. A great deal of the English pop bands used Burns guitars at this time, and the guitars were also exported to a huge list of foreign countries.
Burns London Ltd
The most interesting guitars: Vibra Artist de Luxe, Marvin, Bison (3 and 4 pup), Double Six TR2, Virginian and Baby Bison.
Burns London Ltd (1961)
Famous Players: The Shadows, The Searchers, The Troggs, The Animals, Elvis Presley, George Harrison, Eric Clapton. The Tremeloes, John Mayall. John Paul Jones, Steve Mariot Jimmy Page , Jeff Lynne and many more
During 1963 and 64, Burns was sold in the US under the name of well-known amplifier manufacturer Ampeg. Ampeg, like many other manufacturers of amplifiers, was interested in picking up guitar production. However, the project was no great success, and the guitars were made to extremely limited editions.
The most interesting guitars: Wild Dogs, Thinline EGT-1
Jim Burns was an eccentric person whose strength was guitar design and technology – not business and financial management. Despite the good times for guitar selling the Burns London Ltd was deeply in debt to suppliers and creditors and in desperate need of rescue. This is when the Baldwin Piano and Organ Company of Cincinnati appears on the stage. The price was £380.000, small money in compare to £13 millions for Fender which Baldwin didn't managed to buy.
Jim Burns remained with his old company for about a year in a consulting capacity, fairly typical in this sort of deal.
The plan was that Burns would continue to manufacture guitars in London and ship them to U.S, branded as Baldwin guitars. Since the name usually was on the pickguard this meant cutting out the Burns name and gluing a piece of pickguard material engraved with the Baldwin name over it. Once the existing Burns part were used up, the Baldwin logo was incorporated into the parts, as normal.
The guitars didn't sell very well in US, but not because of the poor finish! The problem was that the American salespeople didn't know how to sell guitars. Without established guitar-dealer shops and the expertise to sell guitars, the Baldwin line quickly began to languish.
The 65 Burns line initially continued intact as the Baldwin line. Depending on the model, headstocks on most of these early Baldwin guitars were in-line, on-a-side or the trademark large scroll. All Burns/Baldwin guitars had bolt on necks (except the later classical) Necks were adjustable, with access underneath the neckplate into a ”gearbox”. Fingerboard were typically unbound rosewood with pearl dot inlays.
The most interesting guitars: Model 548
Jim, due to the contract with Baldwin, was unable to use the Burns name for several years. Instead, he used his middle name, Ormston. In 1966, he agreed to market the Denley Pedal-Steel guitars under the tradename of Ormston Steel Guitars.
In 1969, Jim Burns was offered employment by the Dallas Arbiter Organisation to develop a new range of guitars to be marketed under the Hayman banner. Here, he worked together with Bob Pearsson, a former Vox employee. The successful partnership with Pearson came to an end in 1971, when Jim decided to leave Dallas Arbiter.
The most interesting guitars: Hayman 1010,1020,1030
Burns UK (1976-78)
May of 1973, Jim Burns was employed by a Newcastle musical instrument retailer as designer and production controller for a new range of guitars marketed under the tradename Burns UK Ltd. A range of futuristic guitars, more interesting in terms of design than sound, was launched. The quality was high, but the pick-ups were a bit weak. Jack Golder's Sheergold Company was responsible for the woodworks, and fittings were produced by Re-An and Eddie Cross.
The most interesting guitars: Flyte, Mirage, Lb66
Jim Burns Ltd (1979-83)
In 1979, Jim Burns made yet another attempt at a come-back. He was persuaded by his friends, and the person said to have played the most important part in getting Jim Burns back in business was Tony Gipp. With fresh inspiration, Jim Burns would develop quite a few innovative guitars.
The most interesting guitars: The Scorpion, The Steer, The Bandit
Burns Ltd 1992-
In 1992, Burns was ressurected by Barry Gibson, who employed Jim as a consultant in the company. Replicas of famous 60's guitars like Marvin (now called Legend) and Bison became "top of the line". The quality was high and the craftsmanship excellent. Some original designs were also created, equipped with Nu-Sonic, and Steve Howe among others got his own edition. Other designs included the Cobra and Drifter, as well as a bariton guitar called Barracuda. In the autumn of 1999, Burns London launched a new line of Korea-manufactured guitars (the Club range) with Marquee being the first design, followed by Double Six, Bison, Steer, and the Brian May Signature.
Burns Ltd 1992-
In 2003 these guitars was followed by the Scorpion and the Flyte from the new Burns US Ltd. These guitars were followed by a range of nice guitars like: Apache, Dream Guitar, Jet-Sonic, Batwing, Marvin Anniversary, Apache Noiseless, Dream Noiceless and Gold Dream….. and the legend lives on.
The most interesting guitars: Legend, Apache, Dream