Buck-O-Roo: Doubleneck

By now you probably know that Bakersfield, California, was a major hub in the frenzied guitar-making times of the 1960s, and home to brands like Mosrite, Standel, Hallmark, and Gruggett. During the peak years of 1963 to 1968, thousands of guitars came out of this small agricultural city two hours north of Los Angeles.

Somewhere around the Summer of Love in 1967, everything started to go horribly wrong. The Standel guitar making operation went belly-up and there was a huge auction to liquidate all the parts. Semie Moseley turned down a million dollars for Mosrite, and then went bankrupt a year later, forcing an auction of parts and guitar making equipment. Moseley would keep making guitars, but the glory days were over. The Hallmark company only lasted about a year as well, and their original guitars are rarer than hen’s teeth now.

At the end of the 1960s there were so many spare guitar parts floating around Bakersfield that a whole new genre of guitar began to appear—what I like to call the “Parts-Rite.” A flock of truly weird guitars emerged from this era, from the fairly stock Mosrite guitars branded “GM,” made by Gene Moles (an ex-Mosrite employee who was paid with parts after the bankruptcy) to unexplainable oddities like the Buck-O-Roo doubleneck pictured here.

We don’t know who made the Buck- O-Roo doubleneck, but the forensic evidence is fairly staggering. The body is in the shape of a Bill Gruggett Stradette (though Bill claims no knowledge of this instrument), the vibrato is a Standel (still sporting the “S” badge), the pickups are Hallmark, the upper neck’s tailpiece is a Mosrite, and— oddest of all—the necks are from an obscure Bakersfield brand named Epcor, which produced only a handful of instruments.

The most bizarre part of the Buck- O-Roo is the 14-string upper neck—yes, 14—which is basically a 12-string with three strings for the D- and G-string courses.

While this archeological specimen is fascinating for guitar geeks, whoever constructed the Buck-O-Roo sadly didn’t put enough wood into the neck/body joint, and the reason you only see one string on each neck in the photo is because the necks simply can’t handle the string tension. Sometimes, 14 strings really are too many.

The question remains, who built this “Buck-O-Roo” guitar—and who in the heck is Dee Corby? The answers to these questions may never be known by us mere mortals.

Special thanks to Bill Gruggett, Bob Shade, and Garrett Immel.