Bruce Eady ‘The Invader’ – New Zealand made guitars in 1964

The following article featured in the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, February 10th 1964.

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Bruce Eady (was there ever an Eady not involved in music?) as owner, and Ray Simpson as engineer were the Jansen Guitar Company; responsible for electrifying clubs and suburban bedrooms and garages with the very popular Invader.

English Guitar maker Alan Entwistle (when making his first guitar as a kid in 1962 pinched the telephone’s earpiece out of the local phone-box to make a pick-up) worked for Jansen in the early 70’s after initially working in Sydney Eady’s Auckland music shop; Sydney was Bruce’s father. Alan worked on the last Invader guitars made, around 1979. He regards Jansen highly, “Jansen was a NZ company but its influence reached far and wide. They exported to Australia, the US, Canada and even small quantities to UK. A little while ago there was an article in the US Guitar Player magazine singing their praises. And, arguably, the world’s most famous instrumental was played on a Jansen Jazzman – ‘Wipe Out’ by the Surfaris.”

Alan also recalls one of Ray Simpson’s 1940’s pioneering electric guitars, “Ray holds the honour of building one of the world’s first solid body electric guitars (1945)… it was a portent of things to come.. but what was interesting (and dangerous!) was that it had a mains powered onboard valve preamp, along with electrostatic pickups! Ray went on to form his own company in Auckland and manufacture his range of Simpson guitars”.

Alan last saw Ray “in 1980 when he had his own guitar workshop at United Sound Systems down in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane (Australia).”

The Kavaliers were led by Freddie Keil of the all-star Keil family.

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14 thoughts on “Bruce Eady ‘The Invader’ – New Zealand made guitars in 1964

  1. My name is Jack Collins, I’ve lived in USA since 1966. Before that I was chief engineer and factory manager for BBG and built the first prototype Jansens in my garage in Hamilton.
    I designed the Jansen organs and supervised their production. The story above has got rather convoluted but the truth is what I have just stated. By the way I personally built Peter Posa’s
    system.

  2. I am in the process of repairing a Jansen Baritone guitar. It has had some radical mods so is really past being “restored”,and its collectible value has been lost. I am looking for a string tree and/or a Jansen logo transfer, as the original string tree has been removed and the holes in the machine head are ugly. If I can’t get a string tree I thought I could cover the holes with the logo. Any info appreciated. Cheers, Bruce

    • Hi Bruce, sounds like a neat project, while I completely emphasise with the purest, often, particularly as things get older, they can deteriorate beyond facsimile restoration and need to be given new life. I like that, a bit original/saved, a bit repaired/transformed.

      Good luck with your request, there might be some good Kiwi no. 8 wire suggestions from folk too!

      • Hi Paul. Thanks for your encouragement. This is therapy for me as I live in hospital, due to slow but disabling bone cancer. A couple of things I should have mentioned before: I think this is a very early Jansen, maybe 1964-5 era, and it has a 29 inch scale. The pickguard and body look identical to the guitar that Bill Belton is playing in the newspaper article above. The pickguard is fairly rough, and has no edge treatment at all. The mods consist of 3 micro switches designed to isolate the neck and bridge pickups individually, and there is a 4 way knob switch which looks like it operates a series of different treble bleeds. It has had a nail glued into the side of the knob which is probably so one can see of feel the setting in the dark! As the electronics were not working when it was sent to me due to incorrect grounding, I have not yet tried it out except for testing all the connections with a multimeter. All that needs to be done now is refinishing the machine head and fitting the strings. Cheers, Bruce.

    • I have a bass neck (4 string 30.25 inch scale) and a loaded bass scratch plate( looks like the one the ladies are working on in the newspaper photo).I think from a Simpson instrument.
      Can anyone please help me with info. photos etcetera? I am a professional luthier. I have restored a number of Simpson and Jansen instruments .

      • Hey Stephen, hopefully someone will be able to oblige, I will see if I can make a higher quality scan of that particular picture from the magazine article for you. Cheers, Paul.

      • Hi Paul,
        Ray Simpson was my Father, and since his passing away a last year, I was trawling the net and came across the Woman’s Weekly article hence your blog. I remember when I was a kid assembling the pick ups for his solid body electrics in his workshop under our house in Birkenhead. He also made several acoustic guitars, which were amazing for their level of workmanship. I have in my possession one of his first prototypes, He restored it in his old age after it had done the rounds in bands. I would be happy to send a photo of it if you want.
        Regards
        Peter Simpson.

      • Hi Peter
        Thanks for writing, sorry to hear of Ray’s passing. I think it would be very cool to see the prototype, am sure the other contributors to the story’s comments would too. Helping your father out sounds pretty neat, and how very Kiwi… “in his workshop under our house.” I will send you and email. Thanks for getting in touch. Cheers Paul.

  3. Jansen is still going strong 64 years after inauguration as BBG. Locations have changed and staff have changed but the product was top quality until 2001 when the last product left the production line. Jansen now imports all product on sale.
    I have been working for Jansen since 1968 seeing the change from valve power to solid state power. Lowrey, Acetone and other organs were assembled and sold until the market evaporated or changed by import regulations which required a high local content until Roger Douglas lifted all requirements and anyone with a haybarn could import and sell without any manufacturing process at all.

    If you were one of the staff, please enter a reply here.

    • Hi John, wow, you will have seen some great gear – and some fascinating changes over the years. My first guitar was an Invader (man, I’d dearly love to have that still!), and have had cabinets made, speakers repaired etc by Jansen over the years. I agree that the 80s were a time fraught with poor policies that saw a myriad of industries struggle to compete or disappear completely; we are much the poorer for it.

      I welcome your suggestion of other staff getting in touch here. Cheers John. Paul.

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