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Burns Guitars to Relaunch Under New Ownership

(Image credit: Burns Guitars)

Burns Guitars - the legendary British guitar brand whose instruments were used by the likes of Jimmy Page and Elvis Presley - is being relaunched, it was announced today.

A group of investors, led by Simon Gilson and Terry Hope - the founders and former owners of PMT, the UK’s largest musical instrument retail chain - acquired the brand from luthier Barry Gibson.

“There is only one true historic guitar brand from England and that's Burns," Gilson told MI Trade News (opens in new tab). "It was the one that was in right at the beginning and it has all that amazing history and still has tremendous potential. 

“Speaking personally, at that time Terry and I were almost through the process of selling PMT and once that was completed we said ‘Well, we've done it with retail, wouldn't it be fantastic to say we also did it with manufacturing?’ The timing is right. There's a cycle in the vintage market and we're only three or four years away from vintage coming back and we'll be ready.”

Founded in 1959 by James Ormston Burns, Burns Guitars found early success thanks to the use of its instruments by Hank Marvin and the Shadows. The company went through a number of ownership changes over the years, including a period where it was known as Baldwin Burns, thanks to its acquisition by US-based Baldwin Piano Company.

Barry Gibson, who relaunched the brand under the Burns London name in 1992, has been making exact replicas under the Burns name in his London workshop, with more mass-market-oriented models under the Burns name also being built in Korea and China.

Gilson said that the newly relaunched company is working on re-engineering its existing vintage designs so that they meet more modern standards, but that it will be at least a year before production begins.

It was also announced that original, never-before-seen Jim Burns designs were acquired in the purchase, and may pop up in future guitars.

“The new product will come out in 2021, mid-range at first, then with the custom shop models, genuinely made in London by craftsmen, faithful to the brand and things of real beauty,” Gilson said.

For updates, be sure to keep your eyes on burnsguitars.com (opens in new tab).

Jackson Maxwell
Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.