Syd Barrett’s 1960s Framus 5/59 Sorella
Syd bought this guitar presumably sometime after joining the band Tea Set (soon to be renamed Pink Floyd on Syd’s incentive). He was seen playing this particular guitar in a photo taken at a Tea Set gig sometime in late 1964/early 1965, at the time when Chris Dennis was still a part of the band.
The guitar appears to be a Framus Sorella – similar to the one Paul McCartney played almost a decade earlier. The instrument was made in Germany, presumably sometime in the early to mid-60s, and it featured an archtop design and a dark red finish with black edges.
What’s especially interesting about this guitar is that is seems to have featured a custom-fitted pickup. If you look at the photo above, you’ll notice that the control knobs are kind of just hanging from behind the bridge mounted on a small piece of metal, and the wires are hanging loose on the side.
The exact model of the pickup fitted on Syd’s guitar is called DeArmond Rhythm Chief 1000 and is fitted on a guitar by clamping it on the strings behind the bridge, with a metal rod extending toward the neck and holding the pickup itself in a desired position. This design allowed amplifying an archtop guitar without drilling holes in the body, or damaging it in any way.
We learn two things from this observation. The first one is that the guitar was originally acoustic, and the pickup was installed later on, possibly by Syd or someone close to him. The second one is that Syd preferred the bridge position of the pickup, which became even more obvious with him obtaining a Fender Esquire later on in Pink Floyd – which is basically a Telecaster without the neck pickup.
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