Watkins Guitars

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Posted by Phil Giddings on Thu, 07/01/99 - 19:13:12.

I am the proud owner of a Watkins Rapier 44, circa early 1960s. Can anyone tell me anything about them, other than the fact that they're pretty rare - as far as I know.

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Re: Watkins Guitars

Watkins wre one of, if not the first production electric guitar in England. The rapier came in 22, 33 or 44 with two, three or four pick ups respectively. They came in red or black finish and production, started from 1961.
At the time, they were budget instruments. Watkins, were mainly manufacturers of amps and effects (Like the Watkins copicat).
Later on Watkins became WEM(1970s)and later still Wilson(1970's and 1980's) were they were producing guitars until 1982.
They also made some guitars for Vox.
Being budget models, then they are still relatively inexpensive now, you can buy good 1960's 22s or 33s for around £300 and I have a few and seen a few others but you can pick them up very cheaply becuase most people have never hard of them, I'm talking about £30 -£50.
I've never seen a 44 so they must be rarer than the others and so I reckon you could add £100 to that figure.
Hope this helps.

Re: Watkins Guitars

: Watkins wre one of, if not the first production electric guitar in England. The rapier came in 22, 33 or 44 with two, three or four pick ups respectively. They came in red or black finish and production, started from 1961.
: At the time, they were budget instruments. Watkins, were mainly manufacturers of amps and effects (Like the Watkins copicat).
: Later on Watkins became WEM(1970s)and later still Wilson(1970's and 1980's) were they were producing guitars until 1982.
: They also made some guitars for Vox.
: Being budget models, then they are still relatively inexpensive now, you can buy good 1960's 22s or 33s for around £300 and I have a few and seen a few others but you can pick them up very cheaply becuase most people have never hard of them, I'm talking about £30 -£50.
: I've never seen a 44 so they must be rarer than the others and so I reckon you could add £100 to that figure.
: Hope this helps.
Have got a 1960's red Watkins, twin pick up (Rapier 22??). I have managed to break one of the machine heads, do you or any one else out there know of a source who could supply a replacement? Any help gratefully received.

Re: Watkins Guitars

I am in possesion of a watkins bass guitar, i know nothing about it, all i know is my father bought it in kit form and built it himself, and that's all he said about it before he passed away, if anyone thinks they could help me find out what it is, keeping in mind i have very little guitar knowledge, e-mail me and i'd be very grateful.

Re: Watkins Guitars

I own a Rapier 44 - bought for £20 in 1978! I saw several Rapiers in 'Rock Bottom' in Croydon - mostly 33s going for about $300 each - the 44 may be worth more. Why noy call them? Do you have any spares for yours? I need a scratch guard and pickup covers...

Re: Watkins Guitars

Hello Phil! Would you believe I bought the neck of a guitar back in around 1972 and it was painted orange. The guy charged me $75 which was pretty costly considering that it wasn't a Fender or any recognizable type neck (at least to me) but somehow in the back of my mind I recall the luthier telling me that it was a Watkins! Now this has to be what it is because I've never heard that name before. However, I have no clue what the actual body looked like but I can tell you that the neck is almost identical to a stratocaster neck except the headstock is longer but sort of shaped like the Fender headstock and somewhat straighter (not as fanned out). I'm not sure what the length is, it looks just a tad shorter for some reaon that a strat. I made a start body when I was 15 and am now 42 and still have not put them together because I had bad liuck with a router and my first trial telecaster body. Looked like moon craters when I finished with it. hehe so nexyt week I am taking the Watkins neck and start body replica I cut out of an old deconstructed upright piano and going to put Buddy Guy type lace sensor Fender pickups, the whole nine yards Fender and see how it works. The neck action is beautiful and smooth as a baby's bottom with that oiled looking rosewoood with real dot abalone pearl inlays. Fret wire looks pretty think also. Let me know if you have a pic. My email is yes@sgi.net I can also scan and send you one of the neck if you like. Take care. Frank McLaughlin

Re: Watkins Guitars

: Hello Phil! Would you believe I bought the neck of a guitar back in around 1972 and it was painted orange. The guy charged me $75 which was pretty costly considering that it wasn't a Fender or any recognizable type neck (at least to me) but somehow in the back of my mind I recall the luthier telling me that it was a Watkins! Now this has to be what it is because I've never heard that name before. However, I have no clue what the actual body looked like but I can tell you that the neck is almost identical to a stratocaster neck except the headstock is longer but sort of shaped like the Fender headstock and somewhat straighter (not as fanned out). I'm not sure what the length is, it looks just a tad shorter for some reaon that a strat. I made a start body when I was 15 and am now 42 and still have not put them together because I had bad liuck with a router and my first trial telecaster body. Looked like moon craters when I finished with it. hehe so nexyt week I am taking the Watkins neck and start body replica I cut out of an old deconstructed upright piano and going to put Buddy Guy type lace sensor Fender pickups, the whole nine yards Fender and see how it works. The neck action is beautiful and smooth as a baby's bottom with that oiled looking rosewoood with real dot abalone pearl inlays. Fret wire looks pretty think also. Let me know if you have a pic. My email is yes@sgi.net I can also scan and send you one of the neck if you like. Take care. Frank McLaughlin

Hi Frank, I'll get a pic for you, as you've probably worked out they used a strat style body, mine was originally red though someone has painted it black, which has worn thro to the white primer.
Funny you should say bout the Buddy Guy pickups, my guitar has been signed by Buddy when he came to the venue where I work, not sure if he played it though.

Re: Watkins Guitars

Hey Phil, sorry for the 3 year delay! I just saw your post back. My email addy changed so that's probably why I never got a copy. Mine was probably red like yours but it may have faded to look orangish. I still haven't put that darn thing together. You're lucky to have Buddy Guy sign that. I have a hat he signed from his Buddy Guy's Legends Chicago club. Well good luck! Thanks for your feedback. Frank

Re: Watkins Guitars

I seem to have become a Watkins Guitar collector by default since it was never my intention to start collecting them.
I have had a Rapier Bass since about 1967.It is currently in pieces and needs renovating.The action was always terribleIt is an awful pink/red colour.Many years ago I removed all the frets and converted it into a fretless bass.

My second Watkins is a red (possibly 33 but no other markings to identify) which I bought from a second hand shop in 1968 for 20 pounds, which seemed like a lot of money then.Serial No.14462.
It has rather a strange body shape, like a strat but with the horns rounded off.Action is very good.

My final purchase was 1998 again in a second hand store, a Rapier 44 for 100 pounds.I don't think the shop owner realised it was a vintage guitar or it would have been much more.It had been badly hand-painted black body.When I renovated it, there were signs that it had been red but since I already had a red Rapier, I resprayed it a light blue to match the early strat colour.Serial No.17211.
Action is good but not as good as the 33.

Both my Rapiers say Wilson on the baseplate.Anyone know why not Watkins or WEM?

Does anyone know how to date the Rapiers fron serial No.?Charlie Watkins is on e-mail but not very keen to answer trivial questions from the masses (understandably).

Would anyone else like to leave details of their Watkins guitars?

Re: Watkins Guitars

Hello Watkins also made amps in the late 60's (WEM) so they re-named their guitars to Wilson. Thats why both your rapiers say wilson on the base-plate.

Re: Watkins Guitars

Sorry Reg I seem to have copied your message. I was trying to say I have a Watkins Sapphire guitar from the 60s. 3 Pickups (I think humbuckers), tremolo bar (which is a flat bar unlike the strat) sunburst, body like a heavy,larger strat but neck and heads are different... 3 tuning heads on each side like a Gibson. It is all original and plays very well. Have a Selmer truvoice Diplomat amp of same era which also works well. Have you heard of or have any info about the Sapphire?

Re: Watkins Guitars

 Watkins Guitars

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Re: Watkins Guitars

Hi Phil I have a watkins rapier 44 it has a black headstock and a red body but has at some time been painted black to match the head the tremolo has the logo Wilson on it I believe that was a subsidery of watkins a british firm I also have an old catalogue with pictures of the 22,33,44 guitars but with a slightly different scratch plate to mine

Re: Watkins Guitars

Hi Steve,
I'm interested to see the pictures of your Rapeir 44. It would be a very kind of you. Thank you in advance. Santi. (santi008@hotmail.com).

Re: Watkins Guitars

I would also like to see the pictures of your 44.
I have one but dont know how original it is, never having seen another.

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