The Current's Guitar Collection: Dave Bayley of Glass Animals, 1963 Hofner Galaxy 175

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Machine head on Dave Bayley's Hofner Galaxy guitar. (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)
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After Glass Animals were in The Current's studio for a session hosted by Mark Wheat, front man Dave Bayley took some time to tell us about the vintage guitar he was playing. There's a good story behind it.

Tell me about the guitar you're playing today.

This is my old 1963 Hofner Galaxy 175. It's my favorite guitar in the world, it's my baby!

Do you recall when and where you got it?

I've had it for about five years. There's a street in London called Denmark Street, which I guess is quite famous. It's called "Guitar Alley"; there's a load of vintage guitar shops. I picked it up down there when I was at university.

Was it a serendipitous find? Did you see it in a window? Or did you go to Denmark Street that day with the intent of purchasing it?

I hunted around for one for ages — for about a year and a half. When you do find them, they're incredibly cheap. I just saw one go on Ebay in the U.K. for £240 [$390 U.S.], which is relatively nothing for a nice vintage guitar. But they're just hard to come by.

It was total luck that I found one in this shop. Basically every time I pass a vintage guitar shop, I go in and see if they have a Hofner Galaxy. And if they're in good shape, I'll definitely get it.

How many do you have?

Well, I have one now! I am slowly trying to collect them. They break — a lot. So my functional Hofner Galaxy is here with me. They're just made of — annoyingly — quite cheap wood, but all the other parts are fantastic. So the wood starts to disintegrate and people throw them out, and you just kind of salvage all the parts and build another one at some point, so I've got a lot of parts.

And this one in particular, the entire inside of it is held together with duct tape at the moment. They fall apart very easily, but duct tape can fix anything!

What is it about the tone of the Hofner that attracts you?

It's got an amazingly raw sound. I think they're quite cheap pickups, but they distort in a really nice way, and it's got a very woody tone. I don't really know why that is, but I love that about it. There's not much high end, but really thick, creamy low end. And it's got an amazing number of controls on it as well, as you can see! There's a lot going on, which you have to be careful about. I've got all the controls glued down where I like them, so I can rock out and not flip a switch.

It's very versatile, you can get anything from a Tele twang to really rich Strat, creamy blues sound on it. That's what I think it's best at, that creamy blues sound.

Do you find the banding on the fret board a little confusing?

Yeah, it can be a bit confusing. I've got used to it; I just use the little spots on the top of the neck. It's kind of like playing the violin now; you don't have to look at it.

But this guitar is so light; that's one thing I really love about it, it's really very light, so I can sing with it. So it's not like having a Gibson round your neck, where it kind of weighs your lungs down; you can jump around with this all day.

You use a lot of hand muting when you play.

I actually was really interested in this guitar because it has a built-in mute, which I've cable-tied down at the moment. So there's normally a piece of foam going across the mute, and you just flip it on — it's spring-loaded, and all the strings are muted. So it's really helpful for someone like me who does a lot of palm muting, but right now, the foam just wore away so much that I've tied it down and just palm mute. But the guitar itself is particularly good for palm muting, actually; really easy action.

It's normally got a tremolo, too, which I've taken off because I never use it.

Do you write on this guitar?

I do a bit. I have two guitars I write on; this is one of them. The other one is a really cheap classical guitar that I bought in a market in Oxford for £5. I've written about 80 percent of our songs on it. I have it sitting by my bed so if I wake up in the middle of the night with a song idea, I roll over, flip on my recorder and record the riff into it or whatever it is.

Any other stories?

On our last American tour, it got lost by British Airways, so I didn't have it for the entire tour, which was really sad. British Airways said it was American Airlines' fault and that it was in San Francisco. And San Francisco said it was British Airways' fault and that it was in London. So it was lost in the abyss.

It took them two and a half weeks to get it back to me, but I've got it now. Reunited!

Resources

Glass Animals - official site

Hofner

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5 Photos

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    Glass Animals' front man Dave Bayley's vintage Hofner Galaxy. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • glass animals 1
    Dave Bayley of Glass Animals performs in The Current studio (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • glass animals 4
    Glass Animals perform in The Current studio (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • glass animals 3
    Dave Bayley of Glass Animals performs in The Current studio (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Denmark Street, London
    Corner of Denmark Street and Charing Cross Road. Denmark Street contains lots of musical instrument shops, including the one where Dave Bayley of Glass Animals purchased his Hofner Guitar. (Tom Morris)

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