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Supposedly ultra-rare Burns Flyte guitar in red finish… original or refinish?

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I hope that regular readers will forgive me for returning yet again to one of my favourite guitars. Of course we all have our favourites; mine include the Ovation Breadwinner, the Yamaha SG-2 and SG-3, and – the guitar we are looking at here – the Burns Flyte.

In 1965 Jim Burns sold the original Burns guitar line, that is Burns London Ltd, to the Baldwin Piano and Organ Company of Cincinnati who soon re-branded the guitars with the Baldwin name before discontinuing the line in 1970. Jim Burns bounced back in 1974 with Burns UK, and one of this company’s most recognisable guitars was the futuristic looking Burns Flyte, styled after the British/French supersonic airliner Concorde and originally to have been named the same.

I’ve seen Flytes in silver and natural finishes before, but never before a red example like this Flyte currently listed on eBay in Germany. The lack of a Burns logo or Flyte legend do make me wonder if this red Flyte may be a refinish job, but the eBay seller seems to be implying that it is original when making the statement:

one of a kind, 1975 handmade in England for guitar trade show

…which isn’t to say that it hasn’t been re-finished. I should imagine that it would be important for any guitar made for a tradeshow to have the company logo on it at least.

Whilst I’m in a questioning frame of mind, I often see quoted that the Burns Flyte was played by Marc Bolan of T Rex and Dave Hill of Slade; we know that Bolan did indeed play a Flyte – there is plenty of photographic evidence – however, I have never seen a photo or footage of Slade with such a guitar. I remember going through a rather exhaustive (now defunct) website detailing all the guitars used by Slade and never saw the Flyte listed there either. Do any of our readers know if Dave Hill or ANY of the members of Slade ever played a Flyte?

Anyway, the red Burns Flyte pictured above is currently listed on eBay Germany with a Buy It Now price of €1444.

G L Wilson

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