SLADE GEAR
A page for the REAL anoraks among you....

Dave's guitars | Nod's guitars | Nod's HiWatt amplifier | Jim's guitars and basses | Don Powell's drum kits

Dave Hill's "Dad's Gibson" guitar.
Probably the most long standing guitar in the whole Slade story.......

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This guitar was used at the beginning. It is still there now, despite a brief lay-off in the mid 90's when Dave had a rather pointless flirtation with stock Gibson Les Paul guitars. It is the one guitar that Dave Hill trusts to get his sound across properly.

The neck is from a Gibson 335 or 345. The maple body is made by Sam Li. The small rectangular 'CUSTOM MADE' plate behind the bridge does not relate this guitar to a Gibson model at all and this guitar bears no resemblance to any Gibson model available.

The neck pickup is from a Fender Jaguar. The bridge was a typical Gibson TuneOMatic style, but John Birch replaced it later on, however. Either Dave knew exactly what he was doing, or this guitar is made from whatever was lying about!

It has certainly been very good to him over the years.


DAVE HILL'S SAM LI / GIBSON GUITAR is featured in the June 2015 issue of GUITAR AND BASS MAGAZINE.
This excellent feature is also on the net: Part One | Part Two.
An extra web article about some of Dave's other guitars is here.

Looking at the John Birch J2 guitars that are shown in the panel below, one can maybe see clearly why Dave Hill had the scratchplates fitted onto the bodies of them as an attempt to make them resemble this guitar. The lacquer on the upper rear bout of the body is worn away by forearm friction - probably from the sparkly jackets.

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A replica of this guitar was made later on by Jaydee. It did not have scratchplates fitted and was heavily flamed.
It has not seen much stage use.

Meanwhile, Flamin' Slade strike again, with another quite accurate replica of one of Dave's best known guitars!

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............... not to mention the terrifying fringe and daft stage suit!!!


The original John Birch 'SuperYob'

One of the most desirable guitars to a Slade fan would have to be the original John Birch 'SuperYob' guitar (below), which was a one-off guitar custom made for Slade's Dave Hill. The man who designed it was a schoolteacher in Scotland.

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(from the March 2006 issue of Guitarist - well worth ordering or subscribing!!)

A true one off barking mad signature guitar, made for a true one-off barking mad guitarist, designed around the time of the 'Old New Borrowed and Blue' album and was used in the period from then up to the Flame film.

This guitar went through a couple of refinishes in silver and also in black before Dave eventually gave up on it as a dead loss, because it was so uncomfortable to play and didn't actually sound particularly good. It was of little use in the studio, compared to the trusty 'Dad's Gibson' and onstage, it was just horrible to play as the action (string height above the neck) was unbearably high. It's all very well a guitar looking great, but when it's painful to play, well...............

It was traded in unceremoniously against a couple of stock Gibson guitars and was left languishing in a Birmingham guitar shop window for a couple of years, as some sort of trademark, until Marco Pirroni from Adam and The Ants spotted it and bought it for £500.

Image provided by Marco Pirroni
Magazine cover courtesy of Marco Pirroni

It has since appeared in a couple of noteable promo videos - Slade's 'Little Sheila' (for which Dave borrowed it back) and Madness' 'Shut Up'. It also appeared in the original Slade 'My friend Stan' promo video, 30 years ago.

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Framus made a pair of copies, the red one below now belongs to Paul Day, whose guitar collection is immense. The fate of the other (silver) copy is not known. Neither appear to have ever been used on stage with Slade.

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John Birch guitars, less the late John Birch, started work on a number of 'replica' SuperYob guitars. These were based quite closely on the original Yob, which Marco lent back to Dave Hill and John Birch guitars while it was needed. I don't think the small limited edition ever got to the intended number of 50 copies, which can only serve to make the small number that were actually built and sold even more valuable. Mind you, you could still get one made...........

Ex-Slade bassist Dave Glover did talk to the company about a bass version of the SuperYob, but the body to neck proportions would have been all wrong. The idea was abandoned. No basses were made.

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A rare picture of the first John Birch re-issue SuperYob 001 while under construction.
This is the one that Dave Hill uses now.
No bridge, no strings, no scratchplate, no electrics at this point.

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The finished reissued result, with illuminated neck fret dot markers - as on the deluxe version.

A further tribute to the Superyob (below) comes from the Slade tribute band Flamin' Slade, who sent me this photo.
Ed describes himself as being 'no John Birch, just a man with a hacksaw'. It looks bloody good to me!

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I also remember the tribute band 'Cum on feel the noize' having a home-made Yob guitar.
Are there any pictures out there?

TV appearances featuring the Superyob guitar:

It features prominently in Madness' 'Shut Up' promo video from Stiff Records.

Dave used the Yob on TOTP when the band performed their single 'Everyday'.
This was a recording that Dave didn't actually play on, as he was away on honeymoon and so he missed a lot of the recording sessions for Old New Borrowed and blue. Jim Lea did all the guitar parts.

Another TOTP appearance for the Yob, on 'My Friend Stan'.

'My Friend Stan' promo video.

Dave was reunited with his original SuperYob guitar briefly for the 'Little Sheila' promo video.



'THE BAT'

Also made by John Birch, specifically for Dave Hill, after he had seen the original made for someone else (see picture below). Not known for certain how many others were made, possibly only two. Dave's plain white model did appear in the JB catalogue. Dave's Bat was stolen before it was ever gigged and has not resurfaced. It has probably been used for spare parts for another guitar.

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Dave Hill's glitter finish DeArmond guitar.

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Dave endorsed this guitar and had a couple of them. This one was fitted with LED's on the neck
and was featured heavily in the stage show, until he took delivery of his replica superyob guitar.

This particular guitar was then sold on EBay to JC - to whom I am very grateful for this photo.


Burns Flyte guitar and bass

Slade with Burns Flyte guitar and bass.

Dave and Jim were both given Burns Flyte instruments, around the same time that Marc Bolan was seen with one..
It is believed that Dave later sold his on (as he tends to do with any endorsement guitars he is given).

What happened to Jim's Burns Flyte bass is not known.


Dave Hill's Framus Nashville Deluxe guitar

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Dave required a new and period guitar for the film Flame, which was set at the end of the 60's. He actually plumped for an authentic manufacturer, but took an up-to-date model guitar - The Nashville. This is the deluxe model, as it has edge binding stripes on the body. Nashvilles are quite scarce. No-one is sure where this is now.

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The 'Flame' guitar.

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Some more very useful info - from Ken Tait :

Hi there, I've just been browsing your excellent site, and being a guitarist as well as a Slade fan I was particularly interested in the pages about Dave, Nod's and Jim's guitars. I was surprised by the inclusion of the Flame guitars as they were only dummies.

Although I cannot answer the questions 'Where are they now?' what I can say is that when they were being 'played' I was about 4 or 5 feet from them! The place was the Hammersmith Palais during the filming of Flame. My friends and myself had answered a call for people to be in the audience at The Rainbow and the Hammersmith Palais. An offer like that is not to be taken lightly, so we quite naturally bunked off school and went.

At the Palais we managed to get in the front row right in front of Dave Hill. When they came onto the small stage I noticed that there was something strange about the Flame guitars. The strings on Dave's one (being the closest) were all the same width. Despite the screaming that was going one I managed to get his attention to ask about this curious feature. Because of the noise it took him a while to work out what I was asking, but the light dawned and he held it up and grasped all six strings between his fingers and waggled them around to demonstrate how baggy they were. At the same time he mouthed "It doesn't matter, it's not a real one". A few minutes later the fact that they were fake was confirmed when he tried to plug a guitar lead into it and discovered that the jack socket was in fact just a hole and the lead wouldn't stay in!

A week or so before that at the Rainbow 'concert', Nod, was talking to us (the crowd that is, not us personally), explaining that they were supposed to be using these Flame guitars back that they hadn't turned up from the manufacture's - Framus.

Of course you've only got my word for all this, I can't actually point at the screen and say "look, that's me!" I missed out on getting my face on screen by about three inches as at the Hammersmith Palias the camera tracked along and stopped right in front of the girl who was on my left (I think you can just see my elbow!). However I can state that if you watch the crowd shots in the Rainbow (where Flame come up through the stage), on Dave's side you should be able to make out something shiny on a pole being waved. It was in fact a 'Flame guitar' that I made, heavily based on the Superyob, and I'm on the end of it. It can also be seen in the album cover - just.

I think that I've blathered on long enough - keep up the good work.
Keep On Rocking

Ken Tait..


Other John Birch guitars:

Dave Hill's John Birch J2 guitar (natural finish)

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This guitar later had white 'batwing' panels and truss rod plate added to it, to make
it look a bit more interesting and possibly to cover some blemishes in the finish.

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Then later on, it had the upper rear white plate changed to a black one. Keeping up here?

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Then it went white again........
This is possibly an attempt top make it resemble the Gibson / Sam Li hybrid shown at the top of the page.


A lovely white John Birch SG custom style guitar

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Dave used this onstage and on TV with Slade several times at home
and abroad, which leads me to believe that he actually owned it.


When ONE neck isn't enough...

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Photo courtesy of Slade in England. This guitar was probably a 'loaner' from John Birch.
Dave was unlikely to have owned it. The weight would have been prohibitive for normal stage use.
Also Dave's tendency to play it while totally naked didn't make it a viable stage guitar.


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Dave Hill takes it lying down...

 

A spare John Birch bass

 

 

Nod's Gibson SG junior (with JB pickups)

 

Dave's sunburst J2 without added plates

 

Dave's natural J2 with white upper rear plate

No-one is sure what happened to all of the John Birch guitars that Dave used. The 2015 Guitar and Bass magazine article shows that he still has at least one of them. The Hi-Watts have been sold on as they were conking out on him after being stored in a Birmingham warehouse for ages and he doesn't ever use Hi-Watt amps now. Dave now mainly uses the old classic 'Dad's Gibson' guitar that he had previously retired from use due to fear of inflicting further wear and tear on his favourite aged guitar.

He has also been known to use a couple of stock Gibson Les Paul's, but these did not have too distinctive a sound, especially as Dave stopped using his Hi-Watt rig, depending instead on hired Marshall set-ups which never really gave him anything approaching his old sound at all. Dave would have been better off getting the Hi-Watts serviced. You learn from your mistakes.

Dave has also had a replica made of 'Dad's Gibson' - see below - but it has never really seen that much use.

As we all know, Nod's amps went at an auction at the Robin 2 in 2002.
One of them went to Slade fan Stu Rutter.


MISCELLANEOUS GUITARS:

Dave also used a Burns Vibrasonic for a lengthy period before getting "Dad's Gibson", which was seemingly later re-shaped in an attempt to make it resemble a Gibson Les Paul with a different neck grafted on. Photos exist and will be on here soon.

The Watkins Rapier

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Another classic 60's starter guitar. Used in the Flame film for the 'Iron Rod' cabaret scenes.


... and a Hofner Club 40, used in 'Flame.

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A mandolin used in an N'Betweens promo shoot.

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A family photo from Dave Kemp's pages also shows this on the wall at Dave's parents house,
so Dave is quite likely to have mastered playing it - even if it hasn't appeared on an Slade record.


Dave Hill's first guitar

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I jest not. This is it. I never lie.

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