What more can we say about Paul Barth and his guitar-building legacy that
gave birth to the modern electric guitar!
This 1968 Hohner-Bartell "Black Widow" is a rare "One-Off" early
employee-built "Fretless" Bass. Even though "Hohner" is on the
headstock... the label inside the F-hole states "Mfg. by Bartell of
California". So what makes this prototype "Black Widow" Bass uncommonly
rare... well all of its earlier ancestors were usually painted with a
black finish. These guitars never featured this type of incredible
two-tone body finish, nor the fine lines around the unusual German carved
top or the rich ebony-black binding around the back.
The early Hohner-branded Bartell basses, just like the Bartell companion
guitars, were all designed by Guitar Wizard Paul Barth, a former master
guitar-builder for Rickenbacker, Magnatone and National. The
Hohner-Bartell and Bartell brands had a close relationship to the
Acoustic Corporation's "Black Widow" model.
Paul Barth took his design to Hohner and started producing some of the
earliest "Black Widow" models (similar to the "Black Widow" prototype
guitar featured in the Hendrix photo). The overall shape between the
Hohner-Bartell & the Acoustic Corporation models were vertically the
same. The major differences are F-holes on a chambered body, two pickups
(on the bass), and an option to have it in natural maple finish with a
maple fretboard. Also, while the Acoustic Corporation only made fretted
basses, the Hohner models were primarily "Fretless".
Jimi Hendrix's fretless guitar (which he only used for slide work) was
manufactured in Riverside, CA. According to legend, Hendrix really loved
this guitar. At some point, Jimi's "Black Widow" guitar was stolen.
Hendrix commissioned another one to be manufactured with some of his
personal adjustment specifications. Barth was in the process of building
a second prototype for Hendrix when Jimi died unexpectedly... on
September 18, 1970 in London.