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Tony Raven
#1 Posted : Monday, April 09, 2012 9:40:34 PM(UTC)
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I took a leap & came up aces. Today I came home to an Austin Guitars Teleclone. More on that in a moment.

According to the seller, this axe was purchased in 2004, so the brand has been around for at least that long, though the AG website is perpetually "under construction":
http://www.austingtr.com/
The brand is owned by St. Louis Music (who will be my primary vendor when I open my shop), & they have a little background on the current direction:
http://www.stlouismusic.com/new.../04/2010/austin-guitars/
And it mentions that the brand has been around fo 20 years.

For acoustic guitars, their core models are MSRP $149-$349. Unlike many start-up importers, SLM is smart enough to quality-check the guitars & set them up. I'm guessing they check out their electrics as well.

Because of an exhausting day, I'm about an hour from being asleep, but I'll give you a brief. If I fall into collector jargon, feel free to ask for definitions.

Model AU962, tagged as made in Korea -- one source says this model was meant as an hommage to the 1962 Telecaster, though I can't decide between Custom & Deluxe. According to the Blue Book website:
Quote:
The AU962 Era '62 Era Professional Deluxe (disc., last MSR was $449) has a quilted maple veneer, no pickguard, and a mini-humbucker in the neck position.

Cherry sunburst (including the headplate -- nice touch), bookmatched top, single-bound in creme, back in a mahogany stain.

Classic Tele-type bridge: ashtray surround (no top), three brass rods. Standard humbucker at the neck, chrome in creme ring. Top-rout, no pickguard. Standard-shape control plate, but with the 3-point switch safely between the two knobs -- another nice touch for guys like me who keep accidentally swatting a Tele's switch.

Unique tapered 3-3 head, Kluson-type chrome cans with mini-beans. 21-fret unbound neck, bolt-on. Jointed headstock raked at about a Gibson angle. Black nut.

The fit & finish are of high quality. Fret ends are perfect, & this will need only minor set-up -- pretty darned good for an axe that's probably not been tweaked in eight years. Unplugged, I can attest that it's got nice body tone & impressive sustain.

Total cost: $116.01 delivered. No collector demand (yet) just a solid, well-built guitar that's ready to gig out-of-box. In all, I'm keeping an eye open for AU-series Austin guitars -- for instance:
Quote:
The AU754 Rock Standard, AU758 Rock Pro, and the AU792 Tour Pro all feature PRS-style bodies.

Edited by user Saturday, November 02, 2013 3:07:55 PM(UTC)  | Reason: clearing dead links

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Tony Raven
#2 Posted : Friday, April 13, 2012 11:15:18 PM(UTC)
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One more interesting oddity: the back of the body, under the bolt plate, is relieved at an angle of a few degrees, making it a little easier to reach those higher frets. Why is it that clone-makers don't catch onto these great little nuances & steal THOSE from each other??

Yeah, yeah, pictures on the way -- another 52-hour work-week is under way & I'm fried.
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#3 Posted : Saturday, April 21, 2012 10:27:41 AM(UTC)
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Apparently the older Austins have their fans. I put in a bid on a VR-100, a straight-up LP clone, set-neck, bookmatched flametop in lemonburst.

I think this MAY have been mis-listed, as that model number is probably a Vintage (from Trevor Wilkinson), but what are the odds anyone would find it? On review, the headstock definitely is Austin.

When the dust settled, it went out for $300 with 30 bids (14 unique bidders) -- pretty impressive audience for such an obscure low-end brand.

If you like the looks of that, the GC in Flint has a similar AU766 (seems to be a one-piece mahogany-stained stop) for $100 + s/h. Another GC has a cherryburst for $180 -- again, not what you'd expect from a used "starter" guitar. And I just spotted one of the hard-to-find carved-top PRS clones for $250.
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In the ongoing saga: found another blueburst AU779 bass for $170 delivered -- very VERY tempting....

Edited by user Saturday, April 21, 2012 10:53:35 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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#4 Posted : Sunday, April 22, 2012 11:31:10 PM(UTC)
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Took the AU962 out for a spin through the Johnson JA-T15R tonight, so some scattered impressions.

The neck pickup (humbucker) comes across as a bit underpowered, & heavy in the low-mids. Not necessarily a bad thing, as this makes for a good balance with the bridge single-coil.

That single is quite a nice surprise. It looks like it ought to be underwound, with the coil wrap almost 2 mm inside the edges of the bobbin. Yet it's got a whole lot of snap & tone that does justice to the Tele sound. Sensitive when I settle back & play light, yet it snarls when I lay into the strings -- it surprised me with a respectable early Angus Young "Highway to Hell" sound. And I suspect that there might be a backplate underneath, as it's no more noisy than the fully-covered humbucker.

Because the pickups balance so nicely, the middle position of the three-way switch gives a rich overall sound.

The tuners are a bit twitchy; they act like 10:1. Though the cans could pass at a quick glance for Klusons, the chrome plastic mini-beans are the least-inspiring part of the guitar. I'm considering swapping 'em for a Grover 135 set, which are 14:1. (The 133 & 136 have the mini-beans, but I don't think it looks right on a 3x3 headstock.)

An oddity I only now noticed. Rather than a Fender-type Tele jack cup, Austin flattened that section of the lower bout so they could fit a four-screw rectangular plate... but they used a standard plate with a shallow curve, so it stands up a little at the middle. No big thing. Pulling a cup can be a pain as it's held in with a spring clip, so the plate makes modding a little easier.

Speaking of mods, let me also mention that it has a Gibson-style nut, held in by a three-screw trussrod cover. Much easier to remove than the Fender style, & giving the modder more options for changing out to brass or putting in a locker.

But so far as playability goes, you really need to try one of these. If you're a fan of the classic Tele tone, you'll enjoy it, as this walks all over most of the Tele copies I've tried, including some midrange Squiers. And if you like a versatile axe that can manage both the Tele & SG tone, it's at least a contender.
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#5 Posted : Tuesday, May 01, 2012 12:26:38 AM(UTC)
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Another update. I tripped over an eBay seller in Cleveland that's been selling wares from St. Louis Music for years. They tell me that when SLM decided to discontinue the Alvarez electric instrument lines almost a decade ago, some of the models were rebranded as Austin & run for a few more years. As an example they mention the Austin AU850 Eclipse bass; another seller has the striking AU870 bass, & now that it's pointed out to me I can certainly see the Alvarez in 'em -- the fretboard inlays are a giveaway. The Alvarez basses go out in the $200-$400 range, often Buy It Now with no action, so I'll take that as a good valuation.

This ALSO reminds me that the Alvarez Dana was a KILLER electric, & the Villain had a licensed Modulus graphite neck Pray, often with a Spyder double-lock & pickups from EMG or Dan Armstrong -- another topic for another thread....

The AU962 has been popping up a bit lately. $200 seems to have become a stable price-point for the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised if it gains value.

I can't recommend the current (three-letter) Austin line. They could be decent quality, but as their older (two-letter) "Fat Strat" clones are showing up in the $100 range, I'd rather go MIK given the choice.

Speaking of MGR, I note their stores regularly have various Austin models at decent prices -- right now, an AU776 set-neck brown SG copy for $150 + $35, & an AU779 bass in blue-burst (like mine) for $100 + $60.

Edited by user Saturday, November 02, 2013 3:09:02 PM(UTC)  | Reason: clearing dead links

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#6 Posted : Sunday, June 23, 2013 3:01:28 PM(UTC)
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Well, goes to show what I miss if I don't watch eBay like a starving vulture...

An Austin AU792, lawsuit PRS clone -- set neck, 22-fret, carved top, rich trans blue finish, dot inlays, with BC Rich "coffin" case -- for a mere $122.50. Only issues: no output, one missing knob.

Edited by user Saturday, November 02, 2013 3:11:39 PM(UTC)  | Reason: clearing dead links

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#7 Posted : Saturday, November 02, 2013 3:55:14 PM(UTC)
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Figuring that the older Austin brand is still holding a fair bit of traction, & wanting to update this a bit, I've gone throughthe thread & swept out a LOT of dead stuff.

Last night, I went to MGR Online & snagged an Austin for $100 + s/h. Being an idiot, I did NOT snag the photo to repost, so you'll just have to imagine. It's one of their "top three" non-LPs, & (the photo was a bit dodgy) probably one of their lawsuit PRS copies. I'm sorta expecting the AU792 Tour Pro, as that was a quilt-top also (MSRP $469) but I though it had a Rose where mine don't. I'm wishing for a 792 mostly because it's not only a set-neck but has a bound top, & y'all know I totally LOVE a nicely bound solid-body axe.

Also have my eye on a carve-top S-type hss for $100.
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SIDE NOTE: while last decade's Austin LP clones get high marks from players, & seem to be developing a low level of collectibility ($350-$500 in 90%+ shape isn't uncommon), I've seen at least one credible review that swears it's an ash (not mahogany) body. Certainly NOT a deal-breaker if the Austins are as good as I've heard.

I regret not snagging the AU776 SG copy when I had the chance...
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I dunno WTF is up with SLM, as their Austin website is STILL "under construction" after three years.

Still hoping to find a good used (current series) Austin Paul. Presently, Austin appears to be offering a series of LPs, albeit with the cutaway looking like a swollen thumb. The AS6P is a straight up clone, the AS6DC is a rather nice double-cut (the round horn looks a LOT better here), & they also have a goldie single with creme soapbars -- a used one is languishing at MGR.com for a mere $185.

For me, though, the potential prizes are the Juniors: single cuts (alas!!) with P90s (two soapbars or one dogear). Here's possibly the only seller online to carry either:
http://hornsales.com/store/p/19...ar-Tobacco-Sunburst.aspx
http://hornsales.com/store/p/19...ar-Tobacco-Sunburst.aspx

No idea why BOTH are $200...

Potential future collectible: these are supposedly available in that nauseous "TV yellow" that I love to hate. As I now regret not snagging a vomit-tone Junior for like $150 back around 1979, this 2-PU is now on my Watch For list.
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#8 Posted : Saturday, November 02, 2013 4:05:14 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Tony Raven Go to Quoted Post
Presently, Austin appears to be offering a series of LPs, albeit with the cutaway looking like a swollen thumb. ...they also have a goldie single with creme soapbars -- a used one is languishing at MGR.com for a mere $185.

As soon as I posted that, I --knew-- it was incorrect. Actually, it's a SHARP-horn, so a bit more snaggable than I'd stated.

Huh.

Well, damitol!! I was about to close in on a Fender Ultimate Chorus (the 2x12 big brother to my enjoyable Princeton Chorus) for $200... now I have to think, & I --hate-- that.
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#9 Posted : Friday, November 08, 2013 3:38:44 AM(UTC)
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I'm very tired, there's another day yet to work, & the weekend is booked full, so I'm stalling (yet again) on photos.

What I've received is certainly an AU792: trans red, creme top binding, bookmatched quilt maple top with a deep carve, inset controls, unbound set neck, raked head, 22 frets.

Tuned up, it plays sweet & sounds nice acoustically. The highest two strings will need minimal intonation. The neck is set dead-flat, so action WILL get even better. I note exactly two infinitesimal points (up past fret 15, & on lower strings) that could use a touch of the file -- else the frets are amazingly perfect.

At first blush, I'd call it +95%. Certainly a bargain -- makes me wish I were a MUCH better player.
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#10 Posted : Friday, November 08, 2013 5:24:00 AM(UTC)
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For anyone who's a fan of the AU-series Austin guitars: you REALLY want to copy this PDF while it's available:

http://hipsnapcreative.com/files/austin_catalog.pdf

Posted by the designer (who neglects to post his name), this is the only instance I've yet found.

At least you can get a good idea of the lovely axes put out -- all too briefly -- under the Austin brand. The jazzboxes have a tiny but seemingly fanatic following. Some of the instruments may never have made it to production, like (I suspect) the resonators & mandolins. This may also be the "second series" of Austins, as (for instance) my AU792 has black tophats with white numerals, & my AU962 sports a fullsize humbucker, not a mini. There are also (per Blue Book) a few models unrepresented.
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Axeman69 on 11/9/2013(UTC)
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