The founder of Eko Guitars, Oliviero Pigini of Italy, has roots in the accordion business as a decorative craftsman. (pictured below)
Fascinatingly, after WWII there was a great boom in the accordion industry due to returning American troops longing for the sounds they heard in Europe (and ancestral heritage).
Once the economy started roaring in the late 40s and accordion production ramped up in response to demand, prices came down. Accordions were popular enough that door-to-door salesmen peddled them across suburbia and they found their way prominently into every genre of American music.
For Pigini that meant a good export business. However, rock n’ roll was about to take over the world and Pigini took notice -- there was not an electric guitar builder in Italy.
Therefore in the late 50s he began assembling a dream team of European luthiers, one of which happened to be Wenzel Rossmeisl. Wenzel’s son was ROGER ROSSMEISLl. Yes, that guy of Gibson, Rickenbacker and Fender fame (who had already migrated to the U.S. by this time).
In 1960 Eko was born and the company produces electrics and acoustics, amplifiers, and combo organs. Some of the guitars made it to the U.S. by way of the LoDuca Brothers distribution company.
It didn’t stop there, Vox amplifiers contracted with Eko to produce a line of electric guitars in the 60s as well. Some of the Eko/Vox models were Vox’s most famous… Phantom VI and Mark VI.
Eko went on to become the largest European guitar manufacturer of the decade.
The electric guitar distribution channels with LoDuca and Vox dried out by the early 70s and Japanese imports were not helping things. Eko turned their focus on acoustics which had been in the line-up since the beginning, just not a priority.
Another smart move, across Europe demand of Eko’s signature Ranger series was through the roof.
At some point Jimmy Page became a fan and played an Eko Ranger VI and XII. Led Zeppelin circles debate as to what songs a Ranger was used in the studio for Led Zeppelin II… “Ramble On”? “Thank You”? Below is a picture of him playing the VI while recording “La-La” and (not) pictured in concert in Australia playing an electric acoustic XII (1972).
1972 Ranger XII specs: All laminate, Bolt on neck, Aluminum saddle, Ornate stenciled rosette, Killer pickguard
Bob, let me do some digging and I’ll get back to you. It may be a day or two…
I have just acquired an EKO j52 guitar.
I believe it’s from the early 60’s, but not sure.
Serial number is: 93741.
Does anyone know when it was made?
The neck is glued in not bolted.