1959 Futurama III
Photographs by Joseph Branston
Made in former Czechoslovakia and imported into the UK by Selmer, the Futurama was the guitar to aspire to for practically every young hopeful in British beat groups of the late 50s and very early 60s. The prohibitive price of imported Fenders and Gibsons at the time meant that the Futurama’s comparatively modest price tag of 55 Guineas (£57.75) was just about reachable for the more serious player. This was certainly the case for George Harrison – who took a Futurama to Frankfurt with The Beatles – and fellow Liverpudlian Gerry Marsden from Gerry And The Pacemakers. Even Jimmy Page had a Futurama at one point during the dawn of his career.
Early Futuramas were built in Blatna at the Drevokov Cooperative in Czechoslovakia and featured a faux-maple fingerboard and a surface-mounted jack socket. Later models – such as the one featured here – were manufactured in Hradec Králové by CSHN, the major hardware change being the jack socket, which was now edge-mounted.
When Fender switched to rosewood ’boards at the close of the 50s, Futurama followed suit, dyeing a cheaper hardwood (quite possibly beech) accordingly. “They followed Fender and went for a darker wood,” Phil Carwardine of Vintage And Modern Guitars tells us .“But it’s a cool thing in that a Fender Strat was something to dream about in ’58/’59 in the UK, so loads of people had these and, actually, when you look at them, they’re not that bad – there’s quite a bit in them. It’s quite engineered, really. You can get Hank out of it, which is what everyone was doing, I guess, wasn’t it?” Guitarist would like to thank Vintage And Modern Guitars in Thame for allowing us access to this piece of guitar history. www.vintageandmodernguitars.co.uk