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2005/131/1 Acoustic guitar, and case, wood / metal, made by Pacific, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1945-1955. Click to enlarge.

Pacific acoustic guitar

Made 1945-1955
The Pacific company was formed in the 1940s by Hec McLennan, a mandolin and banjo player working in Australia from the 1920s. Instruments were originally put out under his name, as a banjo mandolin in the museum's collection suggests. The name was later changed to Pacific. The guitars produced by Pacific seem to have been marketed with a Hawaiian theme in mind and sometimes bore images of palm trees or else cowboy themes which were often spray painted stencils on the bodies. Fret markers were also often sprayed on the neck rather than mother of pearl being used.

Pacific are significant as they are one of the earlier makers of guitars in Australia that produced instruments in large numbers, however relatively few of their instruments survive possibly due to the quality of the materials and finishes that were used. They were contemporaries of Maton but did not have the same quality, instead focusing on more utilitarian instruments made from basic materials. Other companies making guitars around the same time include Wayne guitars and the makers of the Kord King pedal steel guitar, of which only 100 were apparently made.

This guitar was made during the period when Hawaiian music was popular in Australia. Its label features an image of a hula dancer flanked by musicians sitting in front of a tropical backdrop. The statement on the label stating it is a "Genuine Wikara Guitar" is also telling as Buddy Wikara (aka Arthur Thompson), was one of the founders of the Hawaiian Club in Sydney during the mid 1930s. Wikara was also a professional musician and played in a number of groups such as the Pacific Players and with musicians such as Johnny Wade and Django Kahn. His wife, who took the stage name Lani (aka Grace Thompson), was also in one of the lineups.

Michael Lea
Curator, music & musical instruments
March 2005

Summary

Object No.

2005/131/1

Object Statement

Acoustic guitar, and case, wood / metal, made by Pacific, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1945-1955

Physical Description

Acoustic guitar, and case, wood / metal, made by Pacific, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1945-1955

Acoustic steel string guitar with variation of tobacco sunburst finish on body fading from dark brown near centre to a lighter brown towards edge to black at the edge. Soundboard is of grained pine. Neck with black fingerboard with inverted triangular fret markers. Black back and sides that are possibly pine or plywood. White edging along upper edge of body and around edge of sound hole. Coloured label inside guitar featuring Hula dancer sitting flanked by two musicians either side in white suits holding a variety of instruments including a guitar. Musicians are sitting on a bench in front of a painted backdrop of a tropical scene.

Black covered hard case with dark brown lining.

Marks

Brand name stencilled on top of head stock, in grey 'PACIFIC'

Coloured label inside guitar, '(Hula girl flanked by men in white suits holding musical instruments) / GENUINE WIKARA GUITAR'

Handwritten underneath label, in blue pen 'H59'

Production

Made

1945-1955

Notes

Pacific guitars were produced in large numbers as a cheaper alternative to more expensive brands. They not only manufactured guitars but also banjo mandolins. Actual production numbers are not known but they manufactured guitars with a range of finishes and stencils applied to them. Some of these had model names such as "Chord", stencilled vertically down the head stock underneath the horizontal Pacific name.

History

Notes

The specific history of this instrument is unknown but it is thought to date from the period spanning the popularity of the Hawaiian Club in Australia and Hawaiian-style music from about 1940 through to the 1950s.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 2005

Acquisition Date

23 May 2005

Cite this Object

Harvard

Pacific acoustic guitar 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 9 July 2020, <https://ma.as/350304>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/350304 |title=Pacific acoustic guitar |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=9 July 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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