Old gold: Mid-90s Malmberg Explorer
This month, the guitar we’re looking at is something of an oddball that required a fair amount of sleuthing on our part to gather all the details...
It was made by a builder called Göran Malmberg, about whom very little is known and whose website seems more concerned with custom-built sports cars than it does the instruments that have passed through his workshop!
However, a guitar of his can be seen in the hands of no less than Eric Clapton in an early Cream video and there are speaker cabinets bearing the Malmberg marque behind Jimmy Page in a Led Zeppelin performance filmed during the late 1960s.
Possibly Malmberg's most celebrated instrument was used by Björn Ulvaeus during ABBA’s 1974 Eurovision success in Brighton.
Remember the guitar shaped like a star? That was made by Göran. But what about the angular Explorer-type guitar in our picture? It was made for a player called Flavia Canel who played in the Swedish heavy metal band called Drain STH.
Exploring the past
Drain STH flourished for a while, picking up an award or two here and there, including the magazine Metal Edge’s ‘Female Performers Of The Year’ in 1999.
Sadly, they disbanded shortly afterwards and Flavia switched to playing bass, which led to this instrument’s arrival at Guitars: The Museum in Umeå, Sweden.
From what we can ascertain, the guitar was never meant to be modelled on Gibson’s famed Explorer, but instead after a Japanese guitar brand, the exact identity of which seems to have been forgotten by all concerned.
Certainly, Ibanez has had some angular body shapes in its catalogue over the years, but the same could be said for a few other Asian makers, too.
In any case, it has a carved top and allegedly weighs about the same as two Les Pauls.
A brass bridge aids some singing sustain, but many of the guitar’s intimate details remain shrouded in mystery. Rare, because there are so few Malmbergs about - all of which adds to the puzzle.