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Shergold Guitars Down on The Farm - 30th June 2000
The farm house In the leafy farmlands of Surrey lurks a well kept open secret - the recording studio owned by Genesis - known simply as "The Farm".
As Mike has been the only real prominent user of Shergold guitars, I got in contact with him a few months back to see if he would be able to let me have a look over the Shergolds he made so famous. Mike passed on my details to his long time Genesis assistant, Dale Newman. As it turns out Dale was the main person involved in the commisioning of the notorious "demountable" double necks, and invited me down to The Farm to view the Rutherford Shergolds.
Arriving shortly after 9:30 on a cool, overcast morning we were met by the personable Dale. Sparing me an hour of his time (and taking a break from stripping the insides of a barn apart!), Dale kindly induldged my passion for Shergolds and all things Genesis, with a hands-on viewing of the famous Shergolds and a brief tour of the rest of The Farm facilities.
The Barn
Dale in The Barn next to one of four Moog Taurus bass pedals This is where most of the time was spent - until recently almost every piece of equipment Genesis had ever owned was stored in this and a second barn. A large quantity (enough to fill a 45 foot articulated lorry) of this was cleared recently (auctioned on Ebay at the end of June 2001, and from which we won the original six string top section to the clip-together Shergolds), leaving a manageable amount of flight cases to be further catalogued and sorted later. In racks at the near end of the barn, are all of Mikes guitars (a quick estimate of around 40) that are not in current use. The labels on the edges of the flight cases hint at the contents - Fender, Steinberger, Rickenbacker, Giffin to name a few - and of course the four Shergolds.
Along with all this guitar stuff, other notable piles of flightcases were nearly all the keyboards Tony Banks has ever used, four Moog Taurus units (the one pictured on top of the flight case next to Dale is cannibalised for spares to keep the others working!), and the whole tour stage from the last tour.
The Studio
The control room While on the way back from the barn, Dale offered to give a quick tour of the studio area. Visiting there was strangely unsettling - a sense of deja vu no doubt from the little snippets that I've seen on documentaries about the band. It seems smaller than it appears in the video footage I'd seen, and once the recording area has had all the equipment set up in it, there is apparently very little space to navigate around drum kits, amps and keyboards. Mikes rig was in the recording area, along with bits of Paul Carracks keyboard rig in preparation for some work with the Mechanics (though this must now be in some doubt following the death of singer Paul Young on the 16th of July - Ed).
Back in the mixing room, the sound engineer was in the process of transfering old analogue master tapes of Genesis recording sessions onto digital media, in preparation no doubt for the next boxed set. Though we were a good ten minutes over the time we'd agreed on at the start of the visit, Dale let us listen to the run through (complete with outtakes - little bits of Tony trying different keyboard runs and so on) of "Wot Gorilla" from "Wind and Wuthering".
The Shergolds
A deeply unflattering picture of The Editor with MRs double neck The doubleneck in action in Tokyo 1978 While these Shergolds haven't been seen in public for something approaching eighteen years, and according the stickers on the scratchplates, were last set-up in April 1990, their condition is excellent. The backs show little scratching considering these completed a good few Genesis tours between 1977 and 1983. The dreaded Shergold finish cracking doesn't seem to have affected these guitars - I think they are finished in a different material than the standard Shergold finish. They also managed to survive a tumble off of a stage step for which Dale got a round of applause from the audience at a gig, when he missed his footing while carrying the double neck up to the stage before the show. Both Dale and double neck survived intact!
The six string and two twelve string tops are built around Meteor bodies, which have had the stepped mitre cut parallel with the centre line of the body from the middle of the bottom cutaway. Fitted into the main body half are a pair of threaded plates at either end, a pair of dowel pegs between those, and a four pin connector of the type used in the Modulator module bay in the centre. On the twelve strings the jack socket (and five pin XLR type socket fitted to most of Mikes guitars) are in the matching clip on part. However the six string has the normal jack mounted on the main body edge and the XLR on the main body face.
The six string has had many alterations made to it and is I believe a later conversion (or possibly a replica) than the rest of the parts; the pickups have been replaced with three Fender type single coils mounted roughly on a plastic sheet, and the unbadged neck is presumably a "paddle" neck shaped to the Shergold profile, as it had a skunk strip on the back and a headstock adjuster bullet for the truss rod - not a Shergold style. Also fitted is a pickup for an ARP Avatar synth, which meant taking a nibble out of the edge of the Module 7 that was fitted.
July 2001: We now own the original six string top section.
The two twelve strings are identical to each other, but when setup properly would be in different tunings. This was the original concept with the demountable necks - as much of the earlier Genesis material is in unusual tunings and when performed live required switches between guitar and bass the idea was to allow differently tuned twelve strings to be clipped to the main bass half. The reverse of the headstocks carry Dymo tape labels of "Funky" and "Normal". While "normal" is most likely to be an open D tuning, Dale couldn't recall what Funky would have been - these things were apparently rarely written down!
Construction is almost identical to the six string half, except that these are better finished with the output coming out of the small lower clip half (or routing through the bass half) and that the Module 4s fitted to them have shaped plates to make them look like normal scratchplates.
The bass half is almost a stock Modulator bass. The only additions to it are a small two position switch behind the upper cutaway (the switch has been removed leaving the empty plate - the selection of the necks is now handled by a rotary switch fitted to the scratchplate). The mitre section is the same as the mini clips fitted to the three upper halves, in that it carries the thumb screws, peg sockets and male connectors that match with those on the uppers. The front strap button is fitted underneath the neck joint block instead of on the clip on top section.
When clipped together and with the thumbscrews tightened the guitar feels similar in weight to a "normal" Custom Double. The centre of gravity is further back than on a Custom Double as the necks are parallel with each other (normally they are set slightly diverging towards the headstocks) and the bodies are normal single guitar length (on Custom Doubles the body is about 1 inch longer than a normal single neck). The body is also slightly taller than a Custom Double, due to the gap between the upper and lower pickups being about half an inch larger.
Many thanks to Mike Rutherford, all at Hit and Run, and especially Dale for allowing me to take up their time to look at a bunch of forgotten twenty year old guitars!
Thanks also to Liz for transport - yes, you do just drive straight in through the main gate!
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