Ural was the most popular Soviet electric guitar. It certainly wasn't the best but it was produced in such quantities that it simply dominated the market. It was a flagship instrument at Ural plant in Sverdlovsk which also produced Ural bass and Tonika guitar (the earliest Soviet electric). Original Ural had three weak single-coil pickups with awesome magen-dowid graphics on them.
My inspiration was obviously Christopher Guest's (AKA: Nigel Tufnel) "Mr. Horsepower" guitar, but I decided against using faux chrome exhaust pipes or dial gauges on this rig.
This is more like "a-Soviet-Solo-II-meets-Mr.-Horsepower." That was the idea anyway.
Here's a closer look at all those goofy pickups:
Pretty simple stuff here really. Eight "blade" style single-coil pickups (8.5k output each), with individual on/off switches and volume controls. The two larger knobs are master tone controls for each bank of switches. Given the space available between the end of the neck and the bridge, I figured out that it would be possible to fit 9 pickups in there, but that would have been overkill. Besides, who ever heard of a V9?
In common with several of my recent cheesy projects, the V8 Ural started off as a "corpse" that I got from Konstantin (Studio 1525). It was an interesting Soviet mongrel: a Ural body with a Tonika neck grafted on. I used the neck to build my own "Super Tonika" which left the body and some original Ural parts (a couple of pickups and the vibrato unit). This is what it looked like when I started on it. Not very promising, was it? The neck in the picture came from another Ural, and wasn't used.
After sanding the body down as smooth as I could get it and spraying one coat of primer, I started thinking about what I wanted to do with it. That big "swimming pool" route kept getting my attention, so some cheesy inner voice -- obviously inspired by Christopher Guest / Nigel Tufnel's ultra-cheesy "Mr. Horsepower" guitar -- directed me to see how many pickups would fit into it.
If you've never seen "Mr. Horsepower," check out: www.wolfgangguitars.com/Mr.Horsepower.htm
Since I was using a 25.5" scale "paddlehead" neck that placed the bridge about 0.5 cm farther back towards the vibrato unit than the original bridge, here was enough room in the "swimming pool" to fit seven Stratoid-sized pickups, with about 1 cm to spare. So, I routed off an additional 0.5 cm at the bridge end to allow EIGHT pickups to fit in there. Seeing all those pickups crammed into a POS Soviet Ural made me laugh so hard that I almost lost control of my bladder. It was such a stupid, sick, cheesy joke. After that, there was no going back; I had to do it. Thus was born the stupidiest, sickest guitar joke I've ever come up with ... the V8 Ural.
To my cheesy way of thinking, almost no finish looks cheesier on a guitar body than metalflake green. There's just something about green that screams "CHEESY!" So, of course, that's what I did. There are 8 separate on/off switches, and 8 separate volume controls, plus two master tone controls for each bank of switches. I tried to make it as insanely complicated and confusing as possible, but it's actually fairly simple to use. Even Nigel Tufnel could figure it out.
This wonderfull article is written by
Jamie Chivers -
Guitartech Jamie Chivers,
Over 30 years of quality repair experience
Kettle Falls, WA
Monday - Friday
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