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FAQ: Gaskell "Legacy" Guitars (2007-2012)

  • A Gaskell "Legacy model" refers to a factory-built Gaskell guitar or bass built between 2007 and 2012. 

  • All Legacy Gaskell guitars and basses were built, painted, and assembled in a factory in China from 2007-2012 under OEM arrangement.

  • All manufacturing specifications were instructed by Kevin Gaskell and carried out by the factory.

  • All Gaskell instruments were templated by Kevin Gaskell and made accordingly by the factory.

  • All Legacy Gaskells were built as intermediate to semi-professional level guitars.

  • All Legacy Gaskells could be upgraded to full professional level instruments as part of the PRO SERIES upgrades. 

  • Legacy Gaskell guitars and basses were never "entry-level" instruments.

  • Every single Legacy Gaskell guitar and bass sent from Australia was professionally set up at the Gaskell/Cilia Custom shop in Sydney before going to any customer. No guitar was ever sold "straight out of the box."

  • Every single Legacy Gaskell guitar and bass sent from USA was professionally set up at the Gaskell U.S distributor in San Diego, California before going to any customer.

  • Because I chose to use the highest-quality materials and manufacturing processes for my guitars, production costs of Legacy Gaskells were much higher than other mass produced guitars by other brands. Some Gaskells were hand made. Finished guitars were intended to be sold at the sub-$1000 price point. This was not always easy to accomplish and several models were borderline profitable because of these higher production values and costs.

  • Following the Global Financial Crash in 2008 that wiped out the global economy the Australian dollar quickly became overvalued against all world currencies which lasted for a four painful years. During that time U.S and European customers saw the price of Gaskell guitars go up and up as time went on, not because we put the price up but because of the rocketed exchange rate. This was the main reason we were eventually forced to stop producing factory guitars and had to go 100% Australian-made. The USA and Europe were always our largest markets. Many very large Australian businesses that traded internationally went out of business during those four years for the same reasons. 

Retailers and distributors

  • Legacy Gaskells were sold in Australia through four music stores: PKs Music in Perth, River Music in Windsor NSW, Fernandez Music in Central Coast NSW, and Downtown Music in Sydney.  PKs Music, being a lefty exclusive music store, was the main retailer. 

  • PRO SERIES were sold directly to customers, not through a store.

  • From 2008-2010 Legacy Gaskells were distributed in North America directly though a Gaskell representative and distributor in San Diego, California. The guitars were shipped from the factory to the United States and sold to the U.S market from San Diego.

  • U.S Gaskells were set up by a local San Diego luthier using the same instructions and requirements used here in Australia.

  • No guitars were ever sent to a customer "out of the box."

  • I personally never saw any U.S-market Gaskells first-hand.

  • Sometimes we sold "B stock" or "scratch and dent" models at reduced prices. These were guitars which had flaws in the finish, or scuffs, dents, or marks that could not be buffed out, but the playability of the guitar was still perfect. Today, it might be difficult to tell if a guitar was originally a B-stock, as a second hand Legacy Gaskell could be 10 or 12 years old by now and have all sorts of battle scars from normal wear and tear.

Pro Series

  • PRO SERIES Gaskells were Gaskell Legacy models with inhouse upgrades such as pickups, custom paint, and upgraded hardware. All upgrades were done at the Gaskell/Cilia workshop in Sydney or at the workshop of my technician in San Diego, California. 

  • PRO SERIES upgrades were offered on every Legacy model.

  • Some PRO SERIES guitars were pre-ordered unfinished and only the bodies were built at the factory. They were then finished in Australia at Custom shop. These guitars could be brought up to professional level without being built from scratch in Australia. This saved you money! 

  • An extensive guitar set up was called the "Platinum Setup Service." This included full fret work which could even include a re-fret if needed. The Platinum Setup service was a AU$250 optional upgrade to any Legacy model.

  • All Gaskell PRO SERIES guitars received a Platinum Setup which was included in the price. With EMG, Seymour Duncan, or DiMarzio pickups, Grover tuners, and a Platinum setup, most PRO Series came in under AU$2000, or cost more if we had to paint them too. Very inexpensive considering what you got for that money!

Gaskell hardware

  • All Gaskell hardware was imported from Korea and was specified to be the highest quality available. This included the first pickups I used, tuners, bridges, and Floyd Rose tremolos. I used hardware produced by Jin Ho and Sun-il. Both these companies provided OEM hardware to many internationally famous guitar brands. Jin Ho were official manufacturers of Wilkinson parts, for example. 

  • During the years of the GFC when the Australian dollar exchange rate made Australian products overpriced internationally, I was forced to have to find a way of cutting costs. I started using tuners and bridges made in China (with the exception of my licensed Floyd Rose tremolos) from about 2010. By that time, Chinese manufacturing had drastically improved and their parts were generally very good.

  • Switches and wiring were Chinese. These were sometimes not very good and just about every guitar had  to re-wired at our workshop in Sydney during the set up. The Chinese wiring could be said to be the weakest link. ​

​Gaskell headstocks

  • The Gaskell "hockey stick" headstock (not to be confused with the Gibson "hockey stick" headstock - they are not the same!) became the standard headstock for most Gaskell guitars and basses from 2009, and still is. This was my third headstock design, the first being the "golf club" and the second being the "beak."

  • "Golf club" headstocks were used from 2007-2008. The headstocks looked a bit like a golf club head. 

  • "Beak" headstocks were only used in 2008 and only on Classic (lefty Explorer) models.  It's quite pointy and the "Gaskell" decal is quite large. This is what identifies a Generation 2 Classic.

  • Some guitars had their headstocks changed in subsequent generations of the same model, i.e M-Series (Kelly Explorer), Retro (Ric 330 style), and first generation Randy Rhoads V.

  • The Gaskell All-Rounder was a left handed Tele-style guitar. Fender headstocks are copyrighted and therefore illegal to copy. Mine is reminiscent of a Gibson Firebird headstock if anything, and nothing like a Telecaster or Stratocaster headstock by Fender. The Gaskell has a pointy-end whereas the Fender Strat headstock is more curvy and has a ball-end. It looks nothing like the Telecaster headstock.

  • The Gaskell headstock logo remained the same for the entire production run of Legacy models and for the first year of full Custom shop. From 2021 intended to revert back to the Legacy font for all new custom builds after I used up my leftover Custom shop decals. 

  • I used a slightly different font for the first generation Concord, which was essentially a left handed version of the factory's house brand of guitars. Therefore the headstock was theirs.

Gaskell pickups

  • The first pickups used in Gaskell guitars were an OEM pickup made in Korea. These were the highest quality that I could find for the intended price point of the guitars. They were excellent pickups. Because they were OEM you could technically call these "Gaskell pickups." But I never went as far as calling them "Gaskells" as the company that made them is a massive OEM manufacturer for a number of international brands and those same pickups were used by other brands too

  • From 2009 I replaced the OEM pickups with Wilkinson pickups. Wilkinson pickups are made in both Korea and China. You can tell where they are made by the backing plates. Because of increased overall production costs due to using expensive mahogany for many of the guitars, I used the Chinese-made Wilkinsons to try and keep the guitars at the intended sub-$1000 price point. Korean or Chinese, it didn't matter. They were equally good. I never received a complaint about Wilkinson pickups. I have used them for recording and gigging personally and they are impressive for a supposedly "cheap" pickup. 

  • In one of the production runs I discovered some of the Wilkinson pickups had Epiphone backing plates when I pulled some out for PRO SERIES upgrades. It is possible that these Wilkinsons were made at the same factory that made Epiphone pickups. If a factory runs short of a part in the middle of batch run (mass producing) they will take and use whatever else they have on hand that is interchangeable to replace the missing part. Factories cant have delays. Backing plates are not something most people are ever going to see. This may be what happened with that batch of Wilkinsons. I have no definite answer on that.

Gaskell Classic

  • The most popular Gaskell model was the Gaskell Classic. This guitar is reminiscent of an Explorer guitar. At the time Gibson had never made production left handed Explorers. It was the first guitar I made. 

  • For a few years I was the only guitar brand in the world that made lefty Explorer-style guitars. 

  • In the past lefty Explorers had been made from time to time by Hamer, Dean, Tokai, and ESP. Never Gibson or Epiphone.

  • The body of the Gaskell Classic is slightly smaller and more rounder than the Gibson. It is not a clone of an Explorer.

  • There were three generations of Legacy Classics. Gen.1 was made from 2007-2008. Gen.2 was made in 2008 only. Gen.3 was made from 2009 onwards.

  • The headstock shape is the easiest way to identify each generation. 

  • First-generation Legacy Classics had basswood bodies, maple necks, and Indian rosewood fingerboards. They came with covered humbuckers, made in Korea. Colours were: natural, white, black, and cherryburst.

  • Second-generation Legacy Classics had mahogany bodies with maple neck and Indian rosewood fingerboard. Second-generation Classics were fitted with open humbucking pickups, made in Korea. Colour choices were: natural, white, and black. 

  • Third-generation Legacy Classics continued to be made with mahogany bodies, maple neck, and Indian rosewood fingerboard. Third-generation Classics were fitted with Wilkinson open humbucking pickups, made in China. Colour choices were black, white, red, and natural. I did a one-off small run of 3-tone sunburst in 2010. 

  • I did a small run of single-pickup Classics with Floyd Rose tremolos in 2009. Only four colours: black, natural, maroon, and white. 

  • I did a very small run of Classics with bolt necks. I do not remember if these were part of a second or third generation run. And I do not remember my reasoning for this. If any of these have survived, these would be the rarest Gaskell Classics on earth!

  • The pick guard was my design. The rear of my pick guard comes to a point, finishing just before the stop tail. This is completely different to a Gibson/Epiphone Explorer.

  • Some Classics destined to be PRO SERIES models were made with ash bodies (for their natural finish), some had body binding, and some were routed for one or two pickups with a Floyd Rose tremolo. Some were pre ordered with figured maple tops. PRO SERIES guitars were always finished or upgraded at the Gaskell workshop in Australia or at the workshop in USA. 

  • Some PRO SERIES Classics were entirely painted at Custom shop, e.g the blueburst Explorers and matte black Explorers ("Huntsman.") Charles Cilia painted the Australian ones.

  • All Gaskell Classic controls were intentionally wired Volume + Tone + Tone. This is different from Gibson and others who usually wired their controls Volume + Volume + Tone. This is another Gaskell identifier.

  • I purposefully fitted all Legacy Classics with metal barrel control knobs, more commonly seen on Telecasters. At that time nobody that made Explorers used metal knobs. Also, it was impossible to get left handed numbered knobs at that time. Barrel knobs are another Gaskell identifier.

Gaskell XBass (Lefty Explorer Bass)

  • There were two generations of Gaskell XBass. 

  • The first generation XBass (2009) had a larger body and was quite pointy. It was only available in matte black.

  • The second generation XBass (2009-2012) used exactly the same body template as the Gaskell CLASSIC and by happenstance the slightly smaller and rounder body also eliminated neck dive. 

  • All Legacy XBasses were made with basswood bodies with maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. 

  • Early pickups were unbranded pickups. I cannot remember if they came from the Korean factory or the Chinese factory. 

  • Second generation XBass guitars used Wilkinson bass pickups. These were excellent pickups and totally suitable for serious gigging.

  • The XBASS was available from the beginning in the following stock colours: white, natural, burgundy, and sunburst. Eventually black was added and this colour became the most popular thereafter. The last run of Legacy XBasses were all black.

  • I did something different with the XBASS by giving it three controls. They were wired Volume + Tone + Tone. I also used dome control knobs. 

Gaskell Firestarter (Lefty Firebird)

  • There were three generations of Legacy Firestarters. They differed in tone woods and colours and some small details.

  • All legacy Firestarters were three-piece bodies and were hand-made at the factory.

  • Banjo tuners were never an option as no one made them for left hand and Gibson stopped selling them altogether from 2010. All Firestarters had 6-inline standard tuners. 

  • The shape of the Firestarter is different from a Gibson Firebird. It is smaller and slightly more rounded. It is about the same overall body size as the Firebirds made by ESP.

  • First-generation Firestarters (2008) and second-generation Firestarters (2009) were made with mahogany body and maple set-in neck, the same as the Gibson Firebirds of the 1970s.

  • Colour choices for first-generation Firestarters was "solid cherry red" only. This was a much darker colour than later versions of the same colour. It was almost a purple.

  • The first-generation Firestarter was fitted with my OEM full size covered humbucking pickups, made in Korea. Pickup rings were black. There was a problem with one shipment we received in that a lot of the covered pickups were microphonic. Not just the Firestarters in that run but also the Classics in that run too. We thought it might have happened during the shipping. I lost money having to replace those pickups.

  • Left handed number control knobs were not obtainable at that time so the first Firestarters received barrel knobs, as did Classics. In later runs I did sometimes use reflector or speed knobs but they were always wrongly numbered because they were right-hand knobs.

  • Second generation (2009) and third generation (2010) Firestarters were fitted with Wilkinson open humbucking pickups, made in China. I did this specifically to avoid any chance of microphonic pickups again. It is a long journey by sea from China to Australia.

  • The pick guard on first and second generation Firestarters were distinctive in that the front of the pick guard lined up with the front edge of the front pickup ring. It created an interesting offset contrast with the bottom contour of the guitar. 

  • Colour choices for second-generation Firestarters were worn cherry, sunburst, and white. White guitars had a black pickguard. Sunburst guitars had cream pickup rings unless otherwise specified. 

  • Third-generation Firestarters (2010-2012) were made with mahogany wings and neck thru for body and neck. Production costs were higher because of this.

  • I redesigned the pick guard for the third-generation Firestarter so that the front of the pickguard follows the contour of the lower horn of the guitar. 

  • Colour choices for third-generation Firestarters were worn cherry, sunburst, white, and black. I personally upgraded a number of the white Firestarters with black hardware. Sunburst guitars continued to have cream pick up rings. 

  • The 2009 Limited Edition Firestarter was made at a different factory and had a non-reverse headstock. It was only available in sunburst. They were very heavy, those ones. Over 3kg.

  • The 2011 Limited Edition Firestarter was also made at a different factory (and not the one that made the 2009 Limited Edition) and it had a slightly bigger body than my standard templated Firestarter, more like a Gibson Firebird. It was a one-off model.

  • Because Firestarters had full-size pickups we were able to do EMG, DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan upgrades as part of PRO SERIES.

Gaskell Hybrid (Lefty double-cut)

  • The Legacy Gaskell HYBRID was introduced in 2011. It was similar to a PRS double cut.

  • Originally there were two models: the "Hybrid" which was painted in solid colours, and the "Hybrid Deluxe" which came with figured caps and natural or transparent finishes. There was a slight price difference between the two. It was a silly idea really. The caps were the same top quality pieces, whether you could see the figure or not. 

  • Every Hybrid was made with a genuine, 14mm solid maple cap. This was unheard of for a factory-made guitar. Of course, I paid extra for that and the final price of the Gaskell Hybrid was almost not profitable due to the huge production costs, not just from the cap, but there were other higher costs too. By the time the setup was done, usually involving rewiring and fret work, it cost me almost the same as I sold it for. I did not make any money on these. The overinflated Australian dollar made it worse. 

  • The Hybrid was available in the following colours: deep burgundy with gold hardware, natural with gold hardware, transparent black with chrome hardware, and red with chrome hardware.

  • I put the coil split on the tone control and used metal domed knobs. Barrel knobs by this time were starting to become a Gaskell "thing."

Gaskell Concord (Lefty RR V)

  • As a Legacy model the Concord came in two generations.

  • This was one of my personal favourite guitars.

  • The first generation, called the "Koru" (the shape of the unfurled native New Zealand silver fern) was introduced in 2008. It had a pointed headstock, shark fin inlays, and Floyd Rose tremolo.  ​It was only built for the one year and only came in black. I based it on the ESP body shape, not the Jackson RRV.

  • The headstock shape of the  2008 model was not my design. It was the same headstock as the house brand of guitars that the factory made for international export. It looked a bit like a pointy "spade."

  • For some reason which I cannot remember I used a slightly different font for the Gaskell logo on the headstock of the 2008 Koru. It is the only model produced that had a different font from all other Gaskells.

  • In 2009 I introduced a second RRV-style model this time based directly on Randy Rhoads' second prototype offset V guitar. I kept the ESP body but used Randy's original specs: Fender bridge, four-controls, and pinstriping. It came with my Korean OEM pickups and was only available in the one colour: cream. It was the first new model to come with my new standardized "hockey stick" headstock. This new model was renamed the "Concord" which was Randy's original name for his (but with an "-e" at the end of his.)

  • In 2010 I added pink and black colours for the Australian/European markets and red and black colours for the U.S market. The U.S models were shipped directly from the factory to the United States. At that time I had a U.S distributor who took care of all U.S orders, setups, and sales. 

  • All Concords had gold hardware.

  • From 2010 I changed the pickups to Wilkinsons.

  • In 2011 I reintroduced the Floyd Rose version but this time with the standard Gaskell headstock and dot inlays. It came in black only. 

  • All Floyd Rose Concords had chrome hardware despite the trend by everyone else at the time to do black hardware on black guitars.

Gaskell M-Series/Brumby

  • The Gaskell "M Series" (later called "Brumby") came in three generations. It was the second guitar I produced. At the time original Kelly Explorers were not offered in left hand so naturally I produced a left handed version.

  • The first-generation (2008) came with the choice of Floyd Rose or a Fender-style tremolo bridge. It was fitted with my OEM Korean-made pickups and a Jackson/Charvel-style pointy headstock. I had not at that time arrived at my final Gaskell headstock shape.

  • Colour choices were 3-tone sunburst and 2-tone sunburst.

  • The second-generation M Series (2009) got the Gaskell standard headstock and the Fender bridge option was dropped.

  • Also from 2009 Wilkinson pickups replaced the OEM Korean pickups.

  • The third-generation M Series (2011-2012) was made at a different factory and the body was larger than earlier models in order to create more of a difference between the Gaskell and the Jackson/ESP versions.

  • Third-generation models came with solid colours with quilted maple tops and black hardware. Wilkinson pickups again. These were some really nice guitars!

  • The model was discontinued after I went full Custom Shop. I never made one in Custom Shop thereafter. 

Gaskell Jazz

  • The Gaskell Jazz was essentially an ES 335 copy, but left handed, introduced in 2009. At that time neither Gibson nor Epiphone were making left handed 335s so this was as close as you could get to one. I thought about changing it a bit but it is a guitar that people like exactly as is. It made no sense to change anything on it and the factory was already making this guitar as a production guitar for other brands so I just had them make it for me too. This is the only I time I basically copied another guitar outright.

  • The Jazz was initially available in 3-tone sunburst, and natural colours. Later I added red, natural with figured tops, and black. Some sunbursts had flame maple tops.

  • All Jazz's had covered humbucking pickups, first my OEM ones and then Wilkinsons.

  • Red was the most popular colour.

  • The model was discontinued after we went went to Custom shop individual builds.

Gaskell Ice Axe

  • The Gaskell Ice Axe was a left handed Iceman style guitar.

  • It was a one-year only model produced in 2010.

  • It had a mahogany body and maple neck and was a bolt neck.

  • Available only in black with chrome hardware. 

  • The Ibanez Iceman had four control knobs. The Gaskell had two control knobs. 

  • It was very expensive to make. Profit margin was almost non existent. 

  • The headstock of the Ice Axe was a one-off design similar to the first-generation Gaskell Retro headstock. I cannot remember why.

Gaskell Sage

  • In 2008 I briefly made a headless 6-string called the Sage. It came in British Racing Green, 3-tone sunburst, white, and natural with genuine spalted maple veneer.

  • It came with my OEM high-output humbucking pickups, made in Korea. HSH.

  • The Sage had an "Overlord of Music" tremolo which could be set to be fixed or floating. The tremolo system was problematic and it was hard to set up properly due to the locking nut being at the wrong angle - totally the fault of the factory. The setup costs blew out due to the hours of work needed to get the locking nut right. I made no money on these models. Once the guitar was set up it was still a great sounding guitar and excellent to play. I only made 6 total. 

  • The pickups were probably a little too "hot" for the expected audience for this guitar

  • After my experiences with the Overlord of Music tremolo I vowed never to use that tremolo system ever again. 

Gaskell Retro

  • The Gaskell Retro was a Ric 330 style semi-hollow-body guitar.

  • There were two generations, the first built in 2009 and the second built in 2010.

  • The first and second generation Retros have different headstock shapes. They are mirror images of each other. The second-generation headstock shape was a mistake made by the factory. They got it the wrong way round on the second run. It didn't matter. They both look good. 

  • The 2009 first generation Retro had a curly tail piece. The 2010 second generation had a plain tail piece. 

  • The first-generation Retro came in red and sunburst. The second generation added blue.

  • The model was discontinued after we went went full Custom shop and to individual builds in 2013

Gaskell All-Rounder

  • The Gaskell All-Rounder was a left handed Telecaster-style guitar. I gave it Stratocaster-like body contours. The body contours made it really great to play. Very "un-Telecaster."

  • The headstock was my own. It was nothing like a Telecaster headstock. The Gaskell headstock came came to a concave point, like the beak of a bird.  If anything, maybe a bit similar to a Gibson Firebird headstock. If so, it was not a conscious thing.  

  • I wanted to do different things with the Tele concept, but after some years it became clear to me that no one in the broader lefty guitarist community was interested in all the ideas I had to make it a bit more interesting. Fender were making left handed Telecasters at the same time but only in black or sunburst. Boring. I realized after many years that lefty Tele players will happily take what they can get. They aren't generally into variety or variations, really.

  • I was very disappointed that I could not establish a Gaskell presence with this type of model. I will admit that. 

  • The model was (reluctantly) discontinued after a year of full custom shop with no one interested in an individual build in that time.  

Floyd Rose tremolos

  • The unit I used for all my Floyd Rose-equipped guitars was an OEM tremolo made in Korea "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents." They were an excellent unit and helped keep the guitar at the intended sub-$1000 price point. I don't really know who made it. I think it was a Sun-il. I don't know.

  • I never once had a complaint about this tremolo. I used one on a personal guitar for a number of years and it never let me down.

  • I cannot get these any more as replacement parts as I no longer have OEM arrangements with factories that mass produce.

  • As of 2023 I am an authorized Australian reseller of both Schaller and Original Floyd Rose tremolos.

  • Of note: the Floyd Rose tremolos you can buy from eBay or AliExpress that are made in China are not the ones used on my guitars! They are different in that they are stamped "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Pats." ("Patents" is abbreviated.) They are also made of inferior material than the Gaskell OEM units fitted to the Gaskell Legacy Concord, M-Series, and Classic.

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