Bozo Podunavac | Bell Western | 1969 | SN:25469
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- Model: Bell Western Prototype
- Year: 1969
- Serial number:254 69
- Top: European Spruce
- Back & sides: Brazilian Rosewood
- Neck: Mahogany
- Body length: 20 1/4
- Upper bout: 11
- Lower bout 16 1/2
- Binding: Rosewood
- Rosette: Marquetry
- Backstrip: Herringbone
- Purfling: Line
- Headstock: Rosewood
- Scale Length: 25.4”
- Nut width: 1 3/4”
- Twelfth fret width:2 5/16”
He emigrated to Chicago and soon thereafter in 1964 opened his own shop and built guitars under his own name. He is best known through Leo Kottke who played several of his guitars in the 70’s.
To date he was completed over 500 guitars with a distinctive voice and aesthetic. He relishes highly ornate instruments and his guitars are known for being balanced with a full projection.ce
The prior owner says: “Today we have the rarest of the desirable rare, an original 6-string Bozo Pudunavac Bell Western model 80S, from 1969. This, folks, was when Bozo was making all of his guitars himself and was at the top of his game – not to mention building with the most incredible Brazilian rosewood you’re likely ever to see! Perhaps that’s because guitarists like Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Peter Lang, the Reverend Gary Davis, and John Pearse played instruments that Bozo himself lovingly assembled. Original Bozo-built instruments are sold so rarely that the Blue Book of Acoustic Guitars lists only the Japanese copies. So when an original Bozo comes along, it attracts a lot of attention.
The top (I’m told) is German spruce. It’s turned a deep honey color, however, so there’s no longer any color clue available for me to confirm or deny that. But based on my other guitars I’d tend to rule out Sitka, and German would be my next guess. The back and sides are Brazilian rosewood, as is the case with virtually all of Bozo’s early guitars. And what Brazilian rosewood! Not the crazy, swirling stumpwood that luthiers are forced to use these days (when they can get even that). No – this is the perfect, straight grained, quarter sawn Brazilian last seen in Martin dreadnoughts from the 1930s and 1940s!
The neck is mahogany, and the fretboard, bridge and heelcap are ebony. The nut (1-3/4”) and saddle are bone. It has pearl dot position markers, a fancy flower pot and Bozo name in mother of pearl on the headstock, and clover in mother of pearl in the fancy rosette – which also includes herringbone. The binding is wood (maple, I think), and there’s a fancy back center strip and herringbone purfling. Original Grover tuners, working perfectly. Clear pickguard. A sharp looking guitar, for certain.
Structurally, this guitar needs nothing except to have you play it. The first 5 or 6 frets are showing some wear, but it’s perfectly playable now. The action and intonation are excellent. Cosmetically, there’s a good deal of lacquer checking, and there are a small number of minor dings and scrapes here and there – as you’d certainly expect in a 40 year old guitar that’s been played regularly! And though I can’t be certain, it looks like there have been two top cracks on the treble side, fixed long ago. It has a new set of GHS mediums on it, and this guitar wants to get going!
Now, something about the sound. It’s been said that the Bell Western was Bozo’s marriage of a Martin dreadnought upper bout with a Gibson jumbo’s lower bout. I don’t know if the measurements stack up precisely, but I will tell you I’ve never heard a guitar that sounds quite like a Bozo. It’s like the guitar has on-demand 4 wheel drive. You’re cruising along, everyone watching your clever guitar riffs, because you sound great, your guitar looks awesome – and of course, you’re incredibly good-looking! Then you want to end the tune by hitting a big chord. It’s like … I dunno … maybe someone opened a garage door somewhere in the guitar and all this extra room and volume just materialized! That’s a Bozo.”
Pictures kind courtesy of David B. Johnson
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