Guitar Collection: My Bubba, 1956 Yngve Barslev Jazz Guitar

1956 Yngve Barslev Jazz Guitar
The 1956 Yngve Barslev Jazz Guitar owned by Gupbjorg Tomasdottir of My Bubba. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
My Bubba - Charm (Live on The Current)
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Guðbjörg Tómasdóttir and My Larsdotter comprise the Scandinavian duo My Bubba. Following a recent in-studio session hosted by Mark Wheat, Tómasdóttir, aka Bubba, took some time to tell us about the guitar she plays. Here's what she had to say.

This looks like a vintage guitar. What can you tell me about it?

I believe this guitar was built in 1956 in Copenhagen by a luthier called Yngve Barslev. He had a guitar shop in Copenhagen and built guitars mostly during World War II, but later, he made a few of these — this was one of his last guitars that he made, this arch-top model called Jazz Guitar.

When I bought it, I had the pickup installed, and later, I added a volume knob. That's to be able to play in rowdy venues! (laugh)

When and where did you get this guitar?

I got this guitar maybe eight or nine years ago. It was about the time when My and I had met and started making music together. I wanted to find my guitar. I was bicycling in Copenhagen and I saw this guitar in the window, and it just spoke to me. I had a very strong gravitation towards it, and I went in and tried it. The guy in the shop said, "So many people have come in and tried this guitar, but they all think it sounds too dry and too dull; they want something brighter and shinier."

But I felt our personalities and the music that we make matched perfectly. This is the only guitar I've played ever since.

What was it about the sound of the guitar that first struck you?

It's hard to put words on it. You know when you meet a person that you just really like and you know it? It was kind of like that. The sound and the temperament and the texture — it felt like the sounds I hear in my head could come alive in this guitar somehow, better than any other guitar or instrument I've heard.

So you must write all the songs on this.

Yeah, everything! This is my only guitar. And it's old and it needs … it actually broke once; it fell completely apart and I had my luthier in Copenhagen completely restore the neck. It needs some care to function, and people tell me that I should have an extra one, especially when we're on the road all the time. But so far, I've only travelled with this one, and this is the only guitar I have.

Sometimes with vintage guitars, people know something about who owned it previously. Did anyone know who had owned it before you did?

I do not know who had this one before. The strings were very, very old and used when I got it, but the guy at the shop did not know where it had come from. It had been an orphan for a while.

But it has a sister guitar that belongs to the man in the shop; that one has been featured in a book about Scandinavian guitars. That one, its sister, belongs to the shop owner, and he cherishes it very much.


My Bubba - official site

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  • My Bubba perform in The Current studio In town to open for Mandolin Orange at the Turf Club in St. Paul, Scandinavian duo My Bubba stopped at The Current for a session hosted by Mark Wheat that's filled with witty banter and captivating music. Watch video of the session, and listen to My Bubba's web-exclusive cover of Bob Dylan's 'You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.'

3 Photos

  • 1956 Yngve Barslev Jazz Guitar
    Gupbjorg Tomasdottir (right) and My Larsdotter of My Bubba performing in The Current studio. Tomasdottir plays the 1956 Yngve Barslev jazz guitar. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • 1956 Yngve Barslev Jazz Guitar
    The 1956 Yngve Barslev Jazz Guitar owned by Gupbjorg Tomasdottir of My Bubba. The name 'Barslev' remains slightly legible on the headstock. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • 1956 Yngve Barslev Jazz Guitar
    The 1956 Yngve Barslev Jazz Guitar played by Gupbjorg Tomasdottir of My Bubba. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

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