Episode 7: Ural 650 Soviet Era Rare Guitar

Episode 7: Ural 650 Soviet Era Rare Guitar


It’s back from the USSR. Why can’t I
put two S’s? U-S-S-R! C-H-R-I-S, U-S-S-R! Did you just spell your name? Yeah, I have to spell my name. Okay! This guitar was
made in the Soviet Union. Say whaaat? I know, the ’70s, the late
’70s. This is a Ural 650, and there were only 25,000 of these guitars made.
And then in the ’80s, they made a ton of them. But in the late ’70s, they
only made a certain amount of them. This is in the Soviet Union, USSR.
It was like blue jeans. Serious. Ural was like blue jeans? It was kind of forbidden, it was
representative of Western culture. They were scared it was
gonna lead to a revolution. So, like, the presence of the electric guitar
in Mother Russia was intrusive and… The same way that blue jeans were. You
know how every– I know if you remember that, but like every USSR teenager wanted
to get American blue jeans, and there was a hot black market for blue jeans
because they represented– A hot BLACK market for BLUE jeans? Yeah, exactly! In the RED…country? I guess it’s not “red state,”
that’s a different deal. Completely unrelated! So in the same way that blue
jeans represented Western ideals and American pop culture and
everything, the electric guitar did. And the electric guitar did that around
the world. You know, when the ’60s hit and the Beatles and the electric guitar,
it represented revolution, rock n’ roll, and, like, anti-establishment
and the whole deal. Yeah, it sounds that way. Still does. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean– and the
guitar still embodies that. You know, it embodies kind of a sexiness and
it embodies a rebellion, revolution, you know. So you know I’m a big fan of
electric guitars, obviously, but this one is a Ural, and most of these things
are terribly made. So, like, the Soviet Union, as you can imagine, was way behind because
they didn’t have access to anything. The engineers there, they were blocked
off from the world. And while Leo Fender and all these people were making these
amazing guitars in the United States, like, Russia was not
connected to that at all. Europe was. In Europe, there’s great guitar
makers in Europe. I mean, the guitar, Spanish guitar, comes from
Europe, you know, from Spain. The band in Europe had electric guitars. Right, yeah, exactly. Coincidence? And Asia also had electric
guitars. The band Asia. The band America also had electric guitars. And they
had the horse without the name, you remember. The horse without the name? Yeah. But, um… So, these Russian guitar makers are trying to catch up — on the quick —
on how to make an electric guitar, and there’s this Ibanez guitar that is
exactly this body shape, but it’s flipped. Like, the long horn is down here versus
up here. And they just flipped the design and made it, and when we got this guitar,
dude, instead of this quarter-inch input right here — which, you know, a quarter-
inch is how every guitar, you plug in a quarter-inch cable and play — it had, like,
this old, it looked like a MIDI input. Yeah, it was really weird. Yeah, it’s like multi-pin input,
and this is before MIDI existed. But it was like their
technology on how to plug in. And apparently all these buttons, which there
are many, were able to control amp effects through that multi-pin system. So
you could turn on, like, chorus or flanger. Wow, so what year is this? ’70s, late ’70s. Okay, that’s crazy. Yeah, it’s crazy. So in some ways it was, like, revolutionarily ahead of its time,
because that’s what guitars are trying to do now is, like, use MIDI to control
multi-effects and, you know, all that. And everybody’s into, you know, pedals and
different effects and computers in their music and stuff. But yeah, that definitely was
alive in the ’70s too, though. Well yeah, that’s true, yeah.
But, it was way, kind of, behind in the sense that they just didn’t know how to
make guitars, and they were throwing them together, it was under kind of secretive
circumstances. I mean, they had to be careful, the state could shut them down
at any moment, and so when we got this guitar it was completely unplayable. The
MIDI thing, of course, you couldn’t plug it in, but once we changed it out for a
quarter-inch — and I’ve got the original that I’m gonna keep with the guitar. But the
action was so high, and action, you know, is the distance between the strings and, the,
you know, the strings and fretboard. Somebody might know that, might not
know that. And if it’s too high you can’t press it down, you know. It was so
high, dude, it was just the way the neck was originally set. So the guitar, the
neck, was set at an angle like this and it was– like, up here you couldn’t even
press the strings down to the thing, so– Do you think that Russian
operatives were trying to remove the fingers of Americans by
shipping these guitars over here? Yes, and they, you know, they
didn’t really get out of Russia. At the time, like, every Soviet
teenage boy that got a hold of a guitar, it was gonna be a Ural. And
it was usually an ’80s, early ’80s model Ural because there were only 25,000
of the ’70s ones, these. But anyway– “I want my Ural!” Anyway, what we did was we changed out the input and we reset the
neck to make it completely playable. And now you’ve got all these buttons that
you can push to get different sounds. You mind if I experiment with the sounds here? It’s a very– the body is very heavy. It’s a good thing. And it’s crazy that you’ve
got all this, the language that I can’t understand. It’s not in
our alphabet, you know, and it’s really cool to see all that. If you can read that, you summon
a Russian demon into the guitar. If you read it three times? Like Beetlejuice. Beetlejuices. So, like, you’ve got… A real jazz thing, and then more rock
n’ roll, you know. And then, I don’t even know what most of these do. There are a lot of
buttons here, folks. Yeah, and a lot of them were supposed to control outboard effects
through the multi-pin system, so they don’t really do much on the guitar now.
But we made it really playable, and to me it’s a super cool collector’s
item because, I mean, first of all, it’s got neat stuff. Like, these
are cool-looking and um… And these are original? Yeah, yeah, all of it’s original, man. Yeah, it’s really cool. Because those are very, like, fine looking.
It looks like they would break easily. Yeah, I know, they look nice. They look like upscale. They look like Grovers,
but they’re not Grover tuners. You know what, there’s holes in here.
These actually are not original, dude, I’m just now… Exposed! I know, I just can’t believe I
haven’t looked at that. There’s other holes in here, so it looks
like these might not be original. Huh. But anyway, it’s got a, you know,
this pretty complex bridge system for a cheap guitar. And it has a– we’ve
got the tremolo arm on it too, but it just hangs loose, you know,
it’s one of those that you hold while you play, like a surf guitarist would hold. Yeah, that’s why it hangs loose. Yeah, hang loose, dude. But, to me, it’s a
great one for the collection because I’m fascinated with the social, historical
aspect of how rock n’ roll helped topple the Soviet Union. Yeah, it is interesting, and we
find with a lot of these, the way that electric guitars are very
cultural touch points. I mean, they all reflect, not just in design. It’s
interesting, there’s all these stories around them that led to the decisions
made around designing them, and
what they did and stuff, which is crazy. Absolutely, yeah. And you’ll see these with different– the pickguards are always something
real flashy, like this is a red sparkle pickguard, there’ll be, like, a green
pickguard or something. They just– that’s the way they’ve kind
of made them different. “We like red sparkly pick!” Sorry, guys. Is it Rocky IV? This guitar
reminds me of Rocky IV. Me too. So anyway, I think it’s super
cool, and I think Stalin would have hated it, so that
makes me like it even more. But secretly, like, probably loved it. You know he had one. He would’ve been thrilled and been like, “Yes!” Even though he was dead when
they made it. He still had one. His little ghost head was poking up
out of the grave and, like, checking it out. When nobody was looking, he
would’ve been like, “Sweet.” So that is the story of the Ural. Again,
the Soviet Union– Russia was late to get into the electric guitar craze
because of their oppressive government disallowed it, and when they jumped in
what they made were these Urals. Russia! Come on. And again, there’s only 25,000
of these late ’70s Urals, and we’ve got one of them here at The Local Pickup,
so we’re stoked to have it and we’ll be passing it on soon. Get it out in
the market, get somebody else to play it, and yeah, I guess that’s it. URAL! Alright, cool. Oh, and these have
single coil pickups, there’s three of them, you can switch back and forth, turn
them on and off with these things, with these buttons up here. And they’re real
hot, they would get real noisy if you turn up loud it’s like *STATIC SOUND* like, before you even play a note, you know *STATIC SOUND* But it’s got a cool, indie quality, you know, especially
since it’s just so obscure that it came from the Soviet Union.
That makes for a good indie guitar. Cool! Alright, well that’s the Ural 650. Hope you guys can find one for yourself if
you’d like one, and we’ll see you next time on The Local Pickup. URAL! You doing the under-the-leg fart noise
thing? I love it, dude! That was awesome. I don’t know what I was doing; that was weird.

23 Comments on "Episode 7: Ural 650 Soviet Era Rare Guitar"


  1. The guy with the guitar needs to stop riffing while the other speaks. It’s distracting and rude to all.

    Reply

  2. So look at the profile picture. Now anyone else know what album looks nearly EXACTLY like that??

    Reply

  3. Non of these pots and buttons supposed to control external equipment. Who told you that? Top row of buttons are on/off switches for each pickup. Buttons at the bottom are filters for each pickup. All potentiometers are volumes – one master volume and individual volume knobs for each pickup.

    Reply

  4. You should do a episode about charvette. I have 2 matching black ones. One with all singles and one with 2 singles and humbucker in the bridge. Man they are awesome!

    Reply

  5. Nice video.i would not recommend these guitars to anyone.they are completely awful, neat to look at maybe

    Reply

  6. Another "expert talk" on the dreadful Soviet "regime". It would have been great if you guys stuck to reviewing the guitar and its pros and cons instead of polishing the tongue-in-cheek antics. For your information, Mr.Broadwater, the production of electric guitar was not "secretive" and the state was not looking to "shut them down every moment" – in fact, the Soviet Ministry of Culture ordered the electric guitars to be mass-produced after guitar-based music became hugely popular in the 1970s. And there were a lot of pop, rock, jazz and even funk bands in the Soviet Union who played legally and openly and recorded albums and toured and so on. And this kind of clownery will do nothing but inspire more "in Russia you don't [any object] because [any object] does you"-kind of moronic responses in the comments.

    Reply

  7. I heard in another video done by Erik Wallen, those buttons actually control the pickups. The top row is the on/off switch for each pickup, and the bottom row is either a high pass filter or a low pass for each pickup, in order respectively. The neck pickup has an extra dark resistor (capacitor maybe, but he calls it a resistor) in it, like the Fender Esquire did, that gives it that jazzy tone. If you hit the button for the neck tone, it'll go to a more normal pickup sound

    Reply

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