The Standel Company made amplifiers, primarily, but they did make a few different guitars along the way (such as the Standel Custom featured in this column in December ’06). When the company closed its Bakersfield factory sometime around 1966, the resulting liquidation auction kept local luthiers in parts for years. In fact, brands such as Hallmark, Gruggett, Epcor, Buck-A-Roo and others sported surplus Standel hardware well into the 1970s.
So one might naturally deduce that when a number of these “Standel” guitars showed up with the Hallmark brand on them, that the Hallmark factory had simply used up spare Standel parts to make some aftermarket guitars.
The only problem with this theory is that the masterminds of Hallmark Guitars—Joe Hall and Bill Gruggett—say they didn’t make these instruments— and they don’t know who did! The only explanation for these instruments is a thieving ex-employee who may have assembled these on the side. But if that were the case, why would he brand them as Hallmark—a name that could be easily traced back to the owners?
The guitar itself is a real Bakersfield twang machine, perfect for playing some Ventures or Buck Owens, for those who like that sort of thing.
Until next time, keep watching the skies for more odd masterpieces such as this beauty.
Special thanks to Marc Lipco, Bob Shade, Joe Hall, Bill Gruggett and Johnny Simonetta