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NGD - Harvey Thomas Century / Model C

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Tonesponder, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. Tonesponder

    Tonesponder TDPRI Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    I've always been a fan of the wild fetish guitars of the 60s, and just yesterday I stumbled across this beauty in an old guitar shop I saw on a road trip. I'd never seen or heard of Thomas guitars before, so this left a real impression on me. Well, I continued on my trip and when I got home I couldn't stop thinking about the unique guitar. When I woke up this morning I decided that I really should have picked it up, but since I didn't know the price I loaded up my van with as much extra gear that I had in case I needed to do a partial cash/trade deal if it was too much for my pocket book. When I arrived back at the shop, I showed the owner my gear that I brought to see if he was interested in anything, but my heart sunk when I found out the guitar wasn't for sale. I left the shop and went out for a bite to eat, but decided to ask the restaurant for a phone book and gave the shop owner a call before completely giving up and getting back on the road. The owner agreed to trade me the guitar for all the gear in the van. It was a bit more than I wanted to let go, but I happily agreed since I probably won't find another one of these for my collection anytime soon.

    Anyhoo, here she is. This Century looks kinda' like if it were a Burns Bison that was heavily influenced by Italian design. Whether you love it or hate it, I'm pretty excited about my new toy. :)


    Anybody else have one of these?
  2. dannew02

    dannew02 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 2, 2010
    Erin Prarie, WI
    Eh. That's one of the fake Chinese ones. There's like, 6 of them at the GC by me right now...
    No seriously, that's a cool guitar. What does it sound like?

  3. Jupiter

    Jupiter Doctor of Teleocity

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    That's something, all right!
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  5. Tonesponder

    Tonesponder TDPRI Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    I sat down today and gave it some playtime. I thought that either the neck pickup was dead or that the pickup selector switch was dirty. As I was messing around with the switches and knobs I heard some faint chiming when Switched to just the neck pickup. So I cranked up the volume and realized that the pickup selector switch was reversed from what I was used to and that it was the neck pickup I was playing on the entire time. The bridge pickup works but has very low output, but I believe it's a good thing. The bridge PUP on this guitar is the brightest pickup I have ever heard in my life. Think of playing a fender jaguar's bridge pickup with bass-cut switch enabled, and now imagine something 2x or 3x brighter! I still haven't gone through and fully set up the guitar, so I'll adjust the pickup pole pieces later and report back about how the guitar sounds in the middle position once I can achieve a proper blend.

    So keeping in mind that I thought I was playing a very warm bridge pickup when in fact I was playing just the neck pickup, these guitars must just be very bright overall. I'll most likely order a set of flatwound strings to tame this a bit. The guitar also has very flat frets, almost feels fretless when playing up and down the neck. Unlike most guitars with tiny frets, it doesn't feel like you have to fight with them or apply much finger pressure at all. This is one strange bird, but so far I've been pleased with it. :)
  6. idjster

    idjster Friend of Leo's

    Wow! That is fantastic! Love the headstock. You know, the rest of it really is reminiscent of a Burns Bison. I'm glad it's making you happy. Essentially, at the very least that's what we want from our guitars. Congratulations!
  7. DrumBob

    DrumBob -------------------------

    Jul 23, 2009
    Highland Lakes, NJ
    I have never seen one of those. Bizarre.
  8. Blazer

    Blazer Doctor of Teleocity

    Dec 2, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Now that's something you don't see very often.

    When I look at it I'm bound to run it into a Fender reverb unit and a dual showman and it's "Surf's up dude!"
  9. ReaL Madras

    ReaL Madras Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 8, 2012
  10. 62 Jazzmaster

    62 Jazzmaster Friend of Leo's

  11. Tonesponder

    Tonesponder TDPRI Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Thanks for the links, guys. From what I've seen it looks like mine has had seen better days. The Neck has been reset with the addition of that added bolt-on neck plate, the vibrato arm must not be original and the bridge pickup seems to be "dead" ( I didn't know dead pickups with broken windings still worked on the magnets alone if you crank an amp). I still can't complain, after all I was the one that begged for the trade. She'll make a fine rhythm guitar for me. :)

    I've been looking around and I'm not really sure what this model is called? The neck and body are each both stamped with the serial # C066. Some catalogs show this body style and call it the century, and others call it the western falcon, but neither catalog show this exact guitar.

    Looks like I have this top white guitar but with the gold vibrato style shown on the second guitar pictured. My vibrato is stamped "THOMAS" in the metal if you peek under it.

    One thing I love about it is the dual mono outputs. I can plug it into my little blues amp and my large clean amp at the same time for a combination of the best of both worlds.

    I wish this Harvey character was still around, I'd love to shake his hand.
  12. GlenParrish

    GlenParrish Tele-Meister

    Jan 27, 2011
    Fresno, Ca.
    Super cool. I love that weird ******! It's awesome you got it for stuff you weren't using, too. Congrats!
  13. Tonesponder

    Tonesponder TDPRI Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Here's a fun one, a home video of Harvey Thomas himself posted by one of his daughters. What is he playing?

    I've read that he sounds to have been a collector of all types of guitars, and had quite a large "graveyard" of Cadillac cars on his property.

    I honestly can't count how many Luthiers I've met that don't play guitar. Reminds me of that old motto....Don't trust a skinny cook. :D
  14. Lawson

    Lawson Tele-Meister

    Dec 19, 2011
    That thing is gonna bring out a genie anytime!!
  15. cellrebral

    cellrebral Tele-Meister

    Jan 14, 2011
    location, location
    Nice guitar, I just love seeing stuff like this, and the people that are into these ecclectic guitars are awesome. Hope it serves you well. I know some of those older Italian type electrics ( not sure if this is based on those) have some out of phase type pickup selecting which was preferred back then for a more laid back thinner sounding style.
  16. Tonesponder

    Tonesponder TDPRI Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    For those interested, at this point I'm waiting and searching for someone familiar enough with these to do a proper restoration for me.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  17. trev333

    trev333 Doctor of Teleocity

    you could get the bridge pickup re wound/magnets re charged.... it might come good....
  18. Tonesponder

    Tonesponder TDPRI Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    For sure, but the dead pickup has been fun for now as a trebley beast. :)
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  19. Walter Broes

    Walter Broes Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Wow, that's too cool. Congratulations.
  20. Centurian 1

    Centurian 1 NEW MEMBER!

    Jan 28, 2013
  21. voodoo_idol

    voodoo_idol Friend of Leo's

    Mar 1, 2009
    Pasadena, CA
    There is a long, detailed article on the history of Thomas Guitars in the current (March 2013) issue of Vintage Guitar magazine. Should still be on newsstands.

    His first prototypes were made in 1962. The article says he liked DeArmond pickups, but refused to use them because he really disliked Gretsch for some reason. So he ended up sourcing his pickups and hardware from Framus in Germany.
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