THANKS TO THE DEEP INTEREST IN some of the weirder retro guitars of the 1960s,
there are now a number of companies that
make wonderful versions of some of the more
infamous models from that golden era of unbridled
guitar making. After all, we love our Phantoms,
Rockets, Modernes, Breadwinners, and
Teardrops, and the more unique and unusual
the guitar looks, the more we want it.
One of the stranger 6-strings from the mid
’60s was the Hallmark Swept-Wing. Company
founder Joe Hall designed this whack job along
with Ventures’ bassist Bob Bogle, and he used it
as the flagship model to launch his new guitar
company in 1966. As an apprentice under the
tutelage of Semie Moseley, Hall’s guitars were
obviously inspired by certain Mosrite designs,
and that is a very good thing for lovers of vintage
bizarre. Sadly, less than a hundred of these guitars
were made before the short-lived company
folded in 1968. Recently, Bob Shade of Maryland
reintroduced the entire Hallmark line with
the guidance and endorsement of Joe Hall and
fellow Mosrite/Hallmark designer, Bill Gruggette.
This looks like something Batman might have
played (if one of his many talents had been
playing guitar). But I felt that there was something,
um, normal about the Swept-Wing. From
a distance, the stark, white pickguard atop
the silver sparkle finish seemed to neutralize
the Swept-Wing’s unique shape. So I contacted
the folks at Greasy Groove Pickguards
in Canada hoping to weirdify the guitar’s look
with the custom “Luna Mayhem” design they
offer. As a finishing touch, I added the red
PLAYABILITY & SOUND
The Swept-Wing plays like a dream and sounds
even better. I use mine in my surf band all the
time. It looks terrific and unique, and it gets more
compliments than my playing does. It has a zero
fret, 23 medium frets, a bolt-on maple neck, and
a rosewood fretboard. Although this is a large
guitar, the mahogany body is pretty shallow, and
the whole hot mess ends up weighing just over
7.5 pounds. The Hallmark 67 Hi-Fi pickups have
a healthy output and are full of usable tone.
I usually have to speculate about what any given
Whack Job might be worth, as they
are typically vintage pieces with
“seek me out” pricing (meaning,
“What have previous near-identical
models been sold for?”). Both
the Swept Wing and pickguard,
however, are currently available.
The direct price for a new Hallmark
Swept Wing is $895, and
the custom Greasy Groove pickguard
cost only 60 bucks!
WHY IT RULES
This is a new guitar made to exacting
modern standards, but it looks like
a vintage weirdo. And while I’d never
slam my “conventionally beautiful” Les
Paul or Strat, sometimes ya just gotta
go for something strange and exotic.
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