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Shergold Guitars, or Shergold Woodcrafts Limited, was established in October 1967 by former Burns London employees Jack Golder and Norman Houlder. Based in east London, the company moved from Forest Gate to Harold Wood in 1973.
Initially they concentrated on producing woodwork for other companies, principally for Dallas Arbiter under the Hayman brand (until 1975); for Jim Burns himself under the Burns London banner; "Ned Callan" and Rosetti. When the contract for the Hayman guitars came to an end, the Shergold company found themselves with significant stocks of part finished instruments and raw materials. With this stock they launched their first guitars under their own brand name from late 1975.
Shergold concentrated on guitar production until 1982, when a downturn in the guitar market (especially for home grown instruments) meant that they returned to general custom joinery producing furniture, and only undertaking guitar work on a custom order basis. In 1983, Norman left the company to emigrate to Australia, but would return to the country (but not to Shergold) within a few years. In 1991, Jack began making new Shergold guitars - the Limited Edition Masquerader - due to a rising interest at that time in British guitars from the 1970s. This revival was short lived, as Jack died in 1992. The Shergold company closed shortly afterwards.
Shergold had an eye for innovation - pioneering features that would be used by other manufacturers (bi-directional truss rod, semi through body neck joint on the Cavalier), and others that have surprisingly been forgotten (interchangeable control electronics on the Modulator series). These features were always tempered by a tendency towards clumsy styling - bodies were slab sided, the juxtaposition of arcane Blackletter script on modern instruments, and the quirky logo of a man carving a guitar body all contribute to a style that was often criticised by contemporary reviews, but now has an authentically 1970s retro feel.
Notable players of Shergold instruments include:
- Mike Rutherford of Genesis, who had a set of double neck Modulators custom made in 1977 which could be split in half and interchanged
- Tim Smith of Cardiacs
- Christian Hayes of Cardiacs
- Bernard Sumner of Joy Division and New Order, particularly on the Unknown Pleasures album.
- Gillian Gilbert of New Order
- Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order, plays six string Marathon basses
- Julian Cope, plays various Custom Doubles
- P. Paul Fenech of psychobilly band The Meteors
- Marty Willson-Piper of The Church
- solo experimental guitarist GP Hall (who plays a modified Shergold six-string bass with a half-fretted, half-fretless neck)
- Gary Marx of The Sisters of Mercy played a Masquerader
- Porl King of miserylab and In Death It Ends
- Bob Walsh of The Dooleys Modulator Bass
- Shug Healy of The Inserts 1977 Custom Masquerader