FAQ: GASKELL LEGACY GUITARS (2007-2012)

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

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

  • 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 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.

  • 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 were hand made at the factory. 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 the Australian dollar went out of control and became ridiculously overvalued against all world currencies which lasted four PAINFUL years. During this 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 exchange rate going through the roof - in the wrong direction! This was actually one of reasons we were eventually forced to stop producing factory guitars and go 100% Australian. The USA and Europe were always our largest markets. Many very large Australian businesses that traded internationally went under 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" = no guitars were sent without being properly set up

  • 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. These guitars could be brought up to professional level without being built from scratch in Australia. This saved you money! 

  • Full Custom shop setups were 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 ended up around the AU$1500, more if we had to paint them too. Very cheap 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. My hardware was not "made in China."

  • Switches and wiring were from China. These were sometimes not very good and just about every guitar was re-wired at our workshop in Sydney during the set up. The Chinese wiring could be said to be the weakest link. But no Gaskell ever left the workshop with unsatisfactory wiring!

Gaskell headstocks

  • The Gaskell "hockey stick" headstock 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 from 2007-2008. The headstocks looked a bit like a golf club head. 

  • "Beak" headstocks were only for 2008 and only on Classic models.  It's quite pointy and the "Gaskell" decal is quite large. 

  • 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 headstock of the Gaskell 2009 Limited Edition Firestarter (with non reverse headstock) and All Rounder  were meant to be the same but the All Rounder ended up getting a Stratocaster headstock due to a misunderstanding between myself and the factory in China. However, I really liked how the All Rounder turned out so I stayed with that headstock thereafter. 

  • The Gaskell headstock logo remained the same for the entire production run of Legacy models and for the first year of full Custom shop. Both fonts are a Script font but they are different. From 2021 I intend to revert back to the Legacy font for all new custom builds after I use up my leftover 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 available. 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 Korean 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 Korean pickups with branded Wilkinson pickups. Wilkinson pickups are made officially 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 I used the Chinese-made Wilkinsons to try and keep the guitars at the intended sub-$1000 price point. Wherever they are made they are still the same and just as good. 

  • In one of the production runs some of the Wilkinson pickups had Epiphone backing plates. I discovered this when doing some PRO SERIES upgrades on guitars made in that run. It is possible that these Wilkinsons were made at the same factory that made Epiphone pickups. If a factory runs short of a part when mass producing it is customary for them to grab whatever else they have on hand and use that as they cannot have delays or stops on production. Backing plates are not something most people are ever going to see. This may be what happened with a batch of Wilkinsons that the factory produced alongside Epiphone pickups. I have no definite answer on that. I have a whole box of Wilkinson pickups pulled from Legacy models over the years and I have no way to tell when they were made!

Gaskell Classic - left handed Explorer

  • The most popular Gaskell model was the Gaskell Classic. This is a left handed Explorer-style guitar. At the time Gibson had never made left handed Explorers.

  • 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. Gen3. 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.

  • First-generation colours were: natural, white, black, and two-tone sunburst.

  • 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. 

  • Second-generation 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. 

  • Third-generation colour choices were black, white, red, and natural. I did a one-off small run of 3-tone sunburst in 2010. 

  • The pick guard was my design. The rear of my pick guard comes to a point, finishing just before the stop tail. This is a unique Gaskell identifier.

  • 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 or matt black Classics (Huntsman.) Charles Cilia painted the Australian ones.

  • All Gaskell Classic controls were intentionally wired Volume + Tone + Tone as standard. This is in direct contrast with Gibson and others who usually wire their controls Volume + Volume + Tone. This is another Gaskell identifier.

  • I purposefully fitted all Legacy Classics with metal domed control knobs, more commonly seen on Telecasters. At that time nobody that made Explorers used domed knobs. This is another Gaskell identifier.

Gaskell XBass - left handed Explorer bass

  • There were two generations of Gaskell XBass. 

  • The first generation XBass (2009) had a larger body and a slightly different shape. It was more pointy. It was only available in matt 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 somehow eliminated neck dive. It actually wasn't a conscious achievement!

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

  • Early pickups were unbranded pickups. I cannot remember if they were Korean-made or Chinese-made. 

  • 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 - left handed 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.

  • 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 as opposed to the Firebirds made by Gibson.

  • 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 were solid cherry red only.

  • 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 some of the pickups being microphonic. Not just the Firestarters but the first generation Classics too. We thought it happened during the shipping.

  • Second and third generation Firestarters were fitted with Wilkinson open humbucking pickups, made in China. All sunburst ones had cream pickup rings.

  • 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 (transparent), 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 body and mahogany neck with neck-thru join. Production costs were higher because of this.

  • I redid the pickguard for the third-generation Firestarter and the front of the pickguard follows the contour of the lower horn of the guitar. 

  • Colour choices for third-generation Firestarters were worn cherry (transparent), 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. 

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

Gaskell Hybrid - left handed double cutaway

  • The Legacy Gaskell HYBRID was introduced in 2011. 

  • Originally there were two models: the "Hybrid" which was in solid colours, and the "Hybrid Deluxe" which came with figured caps and natural or transparent finishes. 

  • Every Hybrid was made with a genuine, 14mm solid maple cap. This was unheard of for a factory-made guitar. Nobody made factory guitars with solid maple caps. 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 costs too. 

  • 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. Domed knobs by this time were starting to become a Gaskell identifier.

Gaskell Concord - Randy Rhoads V

  • The Gaskell "Concord II" was a left handed Randy Rhoads-style offset V and came in two generations.

  • 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. It used the Jackson/ESP/Kramer pointier body. 

  • The headstock shape of the 2008 model was not my design. It is the same headstock as the house brand of guitars that the factory made for international export. Their house brand was "Feeling."

  • 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 model this time based directly on Randy Rhoads' second prototype offset V guitar. I kept the more pointier ESP/Kramer/Jackson body but used Randy's original specs: Fender bridge, four-controls, and pinstriping. It came with my 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 named the "Concord" which was Randy's original name for his.

  • In 2010 I added pink and black colours for the Australian/European market and red and black colours for the U.S market. The U.S models were shipped directly from the factory to the United States.

  • All Concords had gold hardware.

  • From 2010 I changed the pickups to Wilkinsons.

  • In 2011 I reintroduced the 2008 "Koru" this time calling it the "Concord II." It was identical to the 2008 model except it had the Gaskell "hockey stick" headstock and dot inlays. It came in black only. 

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

Gaskell M-Series/Brumby - Kelly Explorer

  • 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 had my OEM Korean 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 Fixed bridge option was dropped. 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 original.

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

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

Other Gaskell models

  • The Gaskell Jazz was essentially an ES 335 copy, but left handed. It was 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.

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

  • 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. 

  • The headstock of the Ice Axe was a one-off design similar to the first-gen Gaskell Retro headstock. 

  • 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.

  • The Sage came with my OEM high-output humbucking pickups, made in Korea.

  • 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 an undesirable angle. 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 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. 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 individual builds

  • The Gaskell All-Rounder was a left handed Telecaster style guitar. It was not just a copy. I gave it a Stratocaster headstock and Strat-like body contours. The body contours made it really great to play. Very "un-Telecaster."

  • No one seemed to be interested in all the ideas I had to make it a bit more interesting, i.e. different bridges, controls, pickups, etc. Fender were making left handed Telecasters at the same time but only in black or sunburst. Boring.

  • 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 tremolo I used for all my Floyd Rose-equipped guitars was an OEM unit made in Korea "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents." The unit was a Gotoh-style Floyd Rose. They are an excellent unit and helped keep the guitar to the intended sub-$1000 price point. I cannot get these any more as replacement parts as I have no longer have OEM arrangements with factories that mass produce. All Custom shop builds were and are built with either genuine Schaller or Gotoh Floyd Rose tremolos. Note, the Floyd Rose tremolos you can buy from China on eBay or AliExpress are NOT my tremolos! I do not know how good the Chinese ones are but $40 for a Chinese one versus $300 for a Gotoh? You work it out.