Marlin Sidewinder, Slammer and Bass guitars

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leithesleithes Frets: 2
edited September 2017 in Guitar Reviews

So, I, as most people, are used to hearing almost nothing but bad things about Marlin guitars. I am also well used to there being little very actual information about them - Planet Botch being one of the few notable exceptions:

https://planetbotch.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/marlin-sidewinder-forgotten-legend.html

and

http://planetbotch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/early-non-korean-marlin-guitars-obscure.html

So this is my attempt to add a little to the sum of Marlin knowledge through my own experiences and guitars. I think most of the bad press received for Marlin Strat copies probably arises due to the later Korean made guitars. I suspect that the earliest Korean-made models (pre-Hohner acquisition) and the rare first-year-of-production East German-made ones actually are surprisingly good and solid, for what were essentially budget guitars.

I own, in order of acquisition, a black Marlin Sidewinder (Korean made, but almost certainly pre-Hohner) bought second hand for £50 in around 1991, as my first guitar (and has remained my main guitar to this day), a red Sidewinder bass which was given to me free in the late nineties by a friend, a red Marlin East German Sidewinder, which I sacrificed on the alter of investigation somewhat when I turned it into a travel guitar, and finally a white/cream Marlin Slammer, also East German. All of these can be seen together in this album:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774165156790.1073741918.624466789&type=1&l=9780e28544

In order here are th features of each guitar.

1. The Black Marlin Sidewinder - Korean

This was my first guitar and it has "suffered" a fair few mods over the years. Its original specs are a plywood body, wax-filled pickups (HSS), locking nuts and fine tuning with a vaguely Floyd Rose style trem. Over the years I fully scalloped the neck, removed the middle pickup, replaced the 5-way selector with a 3-way and finally two years ago the crappy dark grey alloy trem block crumbled to dust and I replaced it with a rolled steel one. And the guitar sounds so sweet, even more so with the steel block increasing the sustain. The pickups are quite high output, higher than any of my other guitars, and the neck I now realise is that of a "super-strat", in that it is thinner than your average strat neck, and quicker to move the fingers around.

2. The Red Marlin Sidewinder Bass - Hohner vintage.

I must confess this is the guitar of least interest to me. This year the electrics went a bit wobbly, so I just bought a new fully loaded scratch plate and replaced the original one. It's a bass. It plays.

3. The Red Marlin Sidewinder. This was an interesting guitar which I bought this year from a seller on eBay for £16. My intention was to buy a guitar I didn't mind sacrificing, in order to make a fold down travel guitar which fits in my suitcase
(you can see the process in this album https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154643692756790.1073741917.624466789&type=1&l=3de46339bf).
But, as soon as I saw it up close I realised  it was a different beast from my first Sidewinder. This was obviously (from what was contained in the Planet Botch post) a rare, year one, East German sidewinder. It has a solid basswood body, traditional pickups (SSS) but of East German manufacture backed by Russian magnets, and a much thicker neck, again much more like a traditional Stratocaster. The headstock was also considerably larger than the later Korean sidewinder. The trem block was also better than the later model, in this case being zinc.  The investigation of this sidewinder can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154634668701790.1073741916.624466789&type=1&l=1d96d8d4e8

4. The White/Cream Marlin Slammer. After butchering the red East German Marlin to make it a travel guitar I fancied an intact equivalent to add to my collection. And so I managed to obtain this Slammer off ebay for £40 a few weeks ago. You can see my initial investigation here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774376666790.1073741919.624466789&type=1&l=e8d9c23e3b
The Slammer was almost identical in construction to the East German Sidewinder with two notable differences. 1. the headstock was smaller; not as small as the Korean Sidewinder but smaller than the East German Sidewinder. However the neck was just as think as the other East German. Both East German Marlins have 21 fret fretboards while the Korean Sidewinder is 22 fret. 2. That second major difference between the two East German guitars is that the Slammer came with a steel block! As far as i can tell from fit this is original. So, it -seems- that, in these year one guitars, the Slammer may have been designed as the slightly higher end option, while the Sidewinder was slightly lower in features. That said both are -very- close in sound, play and weight. Both the East German guitars have a more raw, traditional strat sound on the bridge pickup down to the single coil there versus the humbucker on the Korean Sidewinder.

So there you have it

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Comments

  • ICBMICBM Frets: 48571
    We had an early Korean Sidewinder in the shop about a year ago - it was surprisingly nice, and not just 'for a Marlin', it was a pretty decent guitar. It didn't seem to be afflicted by the collapsing bridge block syndrome - which I've experienced personally, one literally spontaneously self-destructed while the guitar was on a wall hanger in the workshop! - and although the electrics were a bit ropey, I sorted it out and it played and sounded really quite good. We sold it for something like £180 :).

    I think the bridge problem may have killed quite a lot of them, which may be why you don't seem to see them around much now - there's no direct replacement for it, so without a lot of work, the body then becomes a write-off. And without the body, who wants a neck with a very cheap-looking locking nut (or the screw holes from it) and a fish inlay on it? :(

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • leithesleithes Frets: 2
    edited September 2017
    ICBM said:
    We had an early Korean Sidewinder in the shop about a year ago - it was surprisingly nice, and not just 'for a Marlin', it was a pretty decent guitar. It didn't seem to be afflicted by the collapsing bridge block syndrome - which I've experienced personally, one literally spontaneously self-destructed while the guitar was on a wall hanger in the workshop! - and although the electrics were a bit ropey, I sorted it out and it played and sounded really quite good. We sold it for something like £180 .

    I think the bridge problem may have killed quite a lot of them, which may be why you don't seem to see them around much now - there's no direct replacement for it, so without a lot of work, the body then becomes a write-off. And without the body, who wants a neck with a very cheap-looking locking nut (or the screw holes from it) and a fish inlay on it?
    Hi! Yes, the steel block I used to replace the exploded one in the Korean Sidewinder didn't -quite- fit with the trem plate; the trem bar hole in the plate only -just- aligns with the one in the block, but fortunately just is enough. And all the block attachment holes to the plate lined up fine and were the right size in both. The cavity did need a few extra bits shaving off to give it full movement. But it wasn't the most arduous thing I've ever done This was the block btw: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Guitar-tremolo-block-solid-steel-including-screws-52-5-string-spacing-/391810583861?hash=item5b39bb0d35
    Might help save a few more Marlins
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  • P.S. The Zinc and Steel blocks in the East German ones were a -real- surprise, I suspect they may survive 'til the end of time! :D
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  • I had one as my first electric guitar in about 1988/9. It was a an off-white/cream affair with a maple neck/black inlays setup. The curious thing I remember about it was that the bridge pickup was a single blade (or at least looked like it). I'm sure the plastics were black too. 

    It was definitely "pre-hohner" as I remember the adverts stating that they'd taken the brand over and that was when the bridge HB pickups seemed to appear along with metallic finishes and locking trem/nut arrangements.  

    It was ok from what i remember but the ravages of time have long-since kicked in a distorted my memories. I also had a Marlin "10L" amp that was made from chipboard. 


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  • I had one as my first electric guitar in about 1988/9. It was a an off-white/cream affair with a maple neck/black inlays setup. The curious thing I remember about it was that the bridge pickup was a single blade (or at least looked like it). I'm sure the plastics were black too. 

    It was definitely "pre-hohner" as I remember the adverts stating that they'd taken the brand over and that was when the bridge HB pickups seemed to appear along with metallic finishes and locking trem/nut arrangements.  

    It was ok from what i remember but the ravages of time have long-since kicked in a distorted my memories. I also had a Marlin "10L" amp that was made from chipboard. 


    Hi! Pretty sure that all the Sidewinders after year one (1985-early 86?) were HSS. Only the "rare" East German 85 ones were SSS. My own Korean sidewinder has the -kind of- Floyd Rose trem system with the fine tuning nuts and the locking nuts at the headstock, and the bridge pickup is a double rail humbucker with the same size and shape as a single coil unit, and it, along with the two single coil pickups, are all wax filled. There seems to have been a wide range of styles of humbuckers used on the bridge pickups over the years, possibly even within any given year's range of options. 
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  • Here are all the Marlins in my "Marlin Museum" pictured together, side-by-side, for your enjoyment: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774165156790.1073741918.624466789&type=1&l=9780e28544

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  • leithes said:
    ICBM said:
    We had an early Korean Sidewinder in the shop about a year ago - it was surprisingly nice, and not just 'for a Marlin', it was a pretty decent guitar. It didn't seem to be afflicted by the collapsing bridge block syndrome - which I've experienced personally, one literally spontaneously self-destructed while the guitar was on a wall hanger in the workshop! - and although the electrics were a bit ropey, I sorted it out and it played and sounded really quite good. We sold it for something like £180 .

    I think the bridge problem may have killed quite a lot of them, which may be why you don't seem to see them around much now - there's no direct replacement for it, so without a lot of work, the body then becomes a write-off. And without the body, who wants a neck with a very cheap-looking locking nut (or the screw holes from it) and a fish inlay on it?
    Hi! Yes, the steel block I used to replace the exploded one in the Korean Sidewinder didn't -quite- fit with the trem plate; the trem bar hole in the plate only -just- aligns with the one in the block, but fortunately just is enough. And all the block attachment holes to the plate lined up fine and were the right size in both. The cavity did need a few extra bits shaving off to give it full movement. But it wasn't the most arduous thing I've ever done This was the block btw: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Guitar-tremolo-block-solid-steel-including-screws-52-5-string-spacing-/391810583861?hash=item5b39bb0d35
    Might help save a few more Marlins

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/8qmwrz86qni89rs/PHOTO_20171008_134908.jpg?dl=0
    It seems impossible to attach images to posts properly on this forum, but hopefully you can see a pic showing how tight it is for the trembar going into the hole on the block through the plate. However, believe it or not, it is still completely free to swing around wildly if you prefer it loose (or give it another turn for a stiffer bar). :)




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  • I had a sidewinder, must have been around late ‘88/89.
    I thought it was a great guitar but the trem was always sending it out of tune, so i never used that.
    That said, i bought it out of the catalogue paying monthly, and it was never set up properly.
    Honestly cant remember what i did with it.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 48571
    There's another one in the shop just now - a nice dark metallic blue.

    It's a good guitar, more or less. It plays well and sounds pretty resonant unplugged, and the neck is a nice profile. The bridge block has not (yet!) collapsed, the locking nut is tight and works properly and it stays in tune well even when using the trem. The pickups aren't great, it has to be admitted - the single coils are thin and scratchy-sounding, and the humbucker is extremely muddy when not split and a bit dull when split. That said, a pickup upgrade is not considered unusual even on many more expensive guitars.

    I really don't get the level of hate and derision they seem to attract… it's not the best guitar in the world, but for £129 - the same price as they were new if I remember rightly, and so much cheaper in real terms now - it's fair value for money, along with a big chunk of nostalgia if you were a beginner in the late 80s. It's no worse than a low-end Squier which sells for the same price now, and if anything (discounting the known bridge block problem) probably more solidly made.

    I did wonder about buying it and posting a NGD just to amuse everyone :). But no, although I like it I have to be honest... my Aria is better.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • ClashmanClashman Frets: 173
    I had a Marlin Sidewinder years ago but I sold it for £35 to a shop in York it has a dent on the back of
     the neck from my Brothers attempt to break it if anyone has it I'll buy it back for £50...
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  • leithesleithes Frets: 2
    There have been a few more additions to the Marlin Museum; another Korean sidewinder for my "music shed", and three amps! 50W reverb, a little 10W and a 25W Bass amp!

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774165156790.1073741918.624466789&type=1&l=9780e28544



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  • SnagsSnags Frets: 2227
    At the risk of thread necromancy, I never realised people hated these at all.

    I remember them coming out, and a friend getting one, and the rest of us being insanely jealous as we were all playing things that were infinitely more horrible, but couldn't afford the luxury of a new guitar.
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  • leithesleithes Frets: 2
    I never hated mine :)
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  • LegbaLegba Frets: 2
    I have a white Sidewinder and P style white bass... they both have suberb necks.  Two of the guitars I learnt on to set up guitars and IMO were very good value for money at the time.  My two white Marlins are keepers even if I don't really play them much these days :)
    "Oh, I can get us there real quick!"
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  • TuffNutTuffNut Frets: 1
    I used to have one of the German sidewinders, I didn't realize how good it was at the time! I was about 14 Years old. It was a brown and cream fade with 3 single coils and 6 screw trem. It had alnicos which I didn't know at the time, it's downfall came when I tried to fit a locking tremolo and split the wood! I played a later one and was not impressed with the plywood body.
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  • TheMarlinTheMarlin Frets: 3065
    I had one, and loved it (until I played a proper guitar). 
    I wouldn’t shut up about it when I got it in 85/86. 
    Hence the nickname, which persisted long after the guitar had gone. 
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  • TuffNutTuffNut Frets: 1
    leithes said:

    So, I, as most people, are used to hearing almost nothing but bad things about Marlin guitars. I am also well used to there being little very actual information about them - Planet Botch being one of the few notable exceptions:

    https://planetbotch.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/marlin-sidewinder-forgotten-legend.html

    and

    http://planetbotch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/early-non-korean-marlin-guitars-obscure.html

    So this is my attempt to add a little to the sum of Marlin knowledge through my own experiences and guitars. I think most of the bad press received for Marlin Strat copies probably arises due to the later Korean made guitars. I suspect that the earliest Korean-made models (pre-Hohner acquisition) and the rare first-year-of-production East German-made ones actually are surprisingly good and solid, for what were essentially budget guitars.

    I own, in order of acquisition, a black Marlin Sidewinder (Korean made, but almost certainly pre-Hohner) bought second hand for £50 in around 1991, as my first guitar (and has remained my main guitar to this day), a red Sidewinder bass which was given to me free in the late nineties by a friend, a red Marlin East German Sidewinder, which I sacrificed on the alter of investigation somewhat when I turned it into a travel guitar, and finally a white/cream Marlin Slammer, also East German. All of these can be seen together in this album:

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774165156790.1073741918.624466789&type=1&l=9780e28544

    In order here are th features of each guitar.

    1. The Black Marlin Sidewinder - Korean

    This was my first guitar and it has "suffered" a fair few mods over the years. Its original specs are a plywood body, wax-filled pickups (HSS), locking nuts and fine tuning with a vaguely Floyd Rose style trem. Over the years I fully scalloped the neck, removed the middle pickup, replaced the 5-way selector with a 3-way and finally two years ago the crappy dark grey alloy trem block crumbled to dust and I replaced it with a rolled steel one. And the guitar sounds so sweet, even more so with the steel block increasing the sustain. The pickups are quite high output, higher than any of my other guitars, and the neck I now realise is that of a "super-strat", in that it is thinner than your average strat neck, and quicker to move the fingers around.

    2. The Red Marlin Sidewinder Bass - Hohner vintage.

    I must confess this is the guitar of least interest to me. This year the electrics went a bit wobbly, so I just bought a new fully loaded scratch plate and replaced the original one. It's a bass. It plays.

    3. The Red Marlin Sidewinder. This was an interesting guitar which I bought this year from a seller on eBay for £16. My intention was to buy a guitar I didn't mind sacrificing, in order to make a fold down travel guitar which fits in my suitcase
    (you can see the process in this album https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154643692756790.1073741917.624466789&type=1&l=3de46339bf).
    But, as soon as I saw it up close I realised  it was a different beast from my first Sidewinder. This was obviously (from what was contained in the Planet Botch post) a rare, year one, East German sidewinder. It has a solid basswood body, traditional pickups (SSS) but of East German manufacture backed by Russian magnets, and a much thicker neck, again much more like a traditional Stratocaster. The headstock was also considerably larger than the later Korean sidewinder. The trem block was also better than the later model, in this case being zinc.  The investigation of this sidewinder can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154634668701790.1073741916.624466789&type=1&l=1d96d8d4e8

    4. The White/Cream Marlin Slammer. After butchering the red East German Marlin to make it a travel guitar I fancied an intact equivalent to add to my collection. And so I managed to obtain this Slammer off ebay for £40 a few weeks ago. You can see my initial investigation here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774376666790.1073741919.624466789&type=1&l=e8d9c23e3b
    The Slammer was almost identical in construction to the East German Sidewinder with two notable differences. 1. the headstock was smaller; not as small as the Korean Sidewinder but smaller than the East German Sidewinder. However the neck was just as think as the other East German. Both East German Marlins have 21 fret fretboards while the Korean Sidewinder is 22 fret. 2. That second major difference between the two East German guitars is that the Slammer came with a steel block! As far as i can tell from fit this is original. So, it -seems- that, in these year one guitars, the Slammer may have been designed as the slightly higher end option, while the Sidewinder was slightly lower in features. That said both are -very- close in sound, play and weight. Both the East German guitars have a more raw, traditional strat sound on the bridge pickup down to the single coil there versus the humbucker on the Korean Sidewinder.

    So there you have it

    I used to have a marlin sidewinder one of the earlier ones, I must have been about 14 yrs old. I didn't realise until years later that the pickups were alnico. I stripped it down and resprayed it for a while , it's downfall came when I tried to install a locking trem and split the wood. The earlier ones had nice solid necks and bodies definitely a Squier beater, I played a later one and was not impressed at all and could not beat an egg!!

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  • TuffNutTuffNut Frets: 1
    leithes said:

    So, I, as most people, are used to hearing almost nothing but bad things about Marlin guitars. I am also well used to there being little very actual information about them - Planet Botch being one of the few notable exceptions:

    https://planetbotch.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/marlin-sidewinder-forgotten-legend.html

    and

    http://planetbotch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/early-non-korean-marlin-guitars-obscure.html

    So this is my attempt to add a little to the sum of Marlin knowledge through my own experiences and guitars. I think most of the bad press received for Marlin Strat copies probably arises due to the later Korean made guitars. I suspect that the earliest Korean-made models (pre-Hohner acquisition) and the rare first-year-of-production East German-made ones actually are surprisingly good and solid, for what were essentially budget guitars.

    I own, in order of acquisition, a black Marlin Sidewinder (Korean made, but almost certainly pre-Hohner) bought second hand for £50 in around 1991, as my first guitar (and has remained my main guitar to this day), a red Sidewinder bass which was given to me free in the late nineties by a friend, a red Marlin East German Sidewinder, which I sacrificed on the alter of investigation somewhat when I turned it into a travel guitar, and finally a white/cream Marlin Slammer, also East German. All of these can be seen together in this album:

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774165156790.1073741918.624466789&type=1&l=9780e28544

    In order here are th features of each guitar.

    1. The Black Marlin Sidewinder - Korean

    This was my first guitar and it has "suffered" a fair few mods over the years. Its original specs are a plywood body, wax-filled pickups (HSS), locking nuts and fine tuning with a vaguely Floyd Rose style trem. Over the years I fully scalloped the neck, removed the middle pickup, replaced the 5-way selector with a 3-way and finally two years ago the crappy dark grey alloy trem block crumbled to dust and I replaced it with a rolled steel one. And the guitar sounds so sweet, even more so with the steel block increasing the sustain. The pickups are quite high output, higher than any of my other guitars, and the neck I now realise is that of a "super-strat", in that it is thinner than your average strat neck, and quicker to move the fingers around.

    2. The Red Marlin Sidewinder Bass - Hohner vintage.

    I must confess this is the guitar of least interest to me. This year the electrics went a bit wobbly, so I just bought a new fully loaded scratch plate and replaced the original one. It's a bass. It plays.

    3. The Red Marlin Sidewinder. This was an interesting guitar which I bought this year from a seller on eBay for £16. My intention was to buy a guitar I didn't mind sacrificing, in order to make a fold down travel guitar which fits in my suitcase
    (you can see the process in this album https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154643692756790.1073741917.624466789&type=1&l=3de46339bf).
    But, as soon as I saw it up close I realised  it was a different beast from my first Sidewinder. This was obviously (from what was contained in the Planet Botch post) a rare, year one, East German sidewinder. It has a solid basswood body, traditional pickups (SSS) but of East German manufacture backed by Russian magnets, and a much thicker neck, again much more like a traditional Stratocaster. The headstock was also considerably larger than the later Korean sidewinder. The trem block was also better than the later model, in this case being zinc.  The investigation of this sidewinder can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154634668701790.1073741916.624466789&type=1&l=1d96d8d4e8

    4. The White/Cream Marlin Slammer. After butchering the red East German Marlin to make it a travel guitar I fancied an intact equivalent to add to my collection. And so I managed to obtain this Slammer off ebay for £40 a few weeks ago. You can see my initial investigation here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774376666790.1073741919.624466789&type=1&l=e8d9c23e3b
    The Slammer was almost identical in construction to the East German Sidewinder with two notable differences. 1. the headstock was smaller; not as small as the Korean Sidewinder but smaller than the East German Sidewinder. However the neck was just as think as the other East German. Both East German Marlins have 21 fret fretboards while the Korean Sidewinder is 22 fret. 2. That second major difference between the two East German guitars is that the Slammer came with a steel block! As far as i can tell from fit this is original. So, it -seems- that, in these year one guitars, the Slammer may have been designed as the slightly higher end option, while the Sidewinder was slightly lower in features. That said both are -very- close in sound, play and weight. Both the East German guitars have a more raw, traditional strat sound on the bridge pickup down to the single coil there versus the humbucker on the Korean Sidewinder.

    So there you have it

    The slammer also had a flat fret board almost like a classical guitar, a friend of mine had or it was not nice.
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  • TuffNutTuffNut Frets: 1
    leithes said:

    So, I, as most people, are used to hearing almost nothing but bad things about Marlin guitars. I am also well used to there being little very actual information about them - Planet Botch being one of the few notable exceptions:

    https://planetbotch.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/marlin-sidewinder-forgotten-legend.html

    and

    http://planetbotch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/early-non-korean-marlin-guitars-obscure.html

    So this is my attempt to add a little to the sum of Marlin knowledge through my own experiences and guitars. I think most of the bad press received for Marlin Strat copies probably arises due to the later Korean made guitars. I suspect that the earliest Korean-made models (pre-Hohner acquisition) and the rare first-year-of-production East German-made ones actually are surprisingly good and solid, for what were essentially budget guitars.

    I own, in order of acquisition, a black Marlin Sidewinder (Korean made, but almost certainly pre-Hohner) bought second hand for £50 in around 1991, as my first guitar (and has remained my main guitar to this day), a red Sidewinder bass which was given to me free in the late nineties by a friend, a red Marlin East German Sidewinder, which I sacrificed on the alter of investigation somewhat when I turned it into a travel guitar, and finally a white/cream Marlin Slammer, also East German. All of these can be seen together in this album:

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774165156790.1073741918.624466789&type=1&l=9780e28544

    In order here are th features of each guitar.

    1. The Black Marlin Sidewinder - Korean

    This was my first guitar and it has "suffered" a fair few mods over the years. Its original specs are a plywood body, wax-filled pickups (HSS), locking nuts and fine tuning with a vaguely Floyd Rose style trem. Over the years I fully scalloped the neck, removed the middle pickup, replaced the 5-way selector with a 3-way and finally two years ago the crappy dark grey alloy trem block crumbled to dust and I replaced it with a rolled steel one. And the guitar sounds so sweet, even more so with the steel block increasing the sustain. The pickups are quite high output, higher than any of my other guitars, and the neck I now realise is that of a "super-strat", in that it is thinner than your average strat neck, and quicker to move the fingers around.

    2. The Red Marlin Sidewinder Bass - Hohner vintage.

    I must confess this is the guitar of least interest to me. This year the electrics went a bit wobbly, so I just bought a new fully loaded scratch plate and replaced the original one. It's a bass. It plays.

    3. The Red Marlin Sidewinder. This was an interesting guitar which I bought this year from a seller on eBay for £16. My intention was to buy a guitar I didn't mind sacrificing, in order to make a fold down travel guitar which fits in my suitcase
    (you can see the process in this album https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154643692756790.1073741917.624466789&type=1&l=3de46339bf).
    But, as soon as I saw it up close I realised  it was a different beast from my first Sidewinder. This was obviously (from what was contained in the Planet Botch post) a rare, year one, East German sidewinder. It has a solid basswood body, traditional pickups (SSS) but of East German manufacture backed by Russian magnets, and a much thicker neck, again much more like a traditional Stratocaster. The headstock was also considerably larger than the later Korean sidewinder. The trem block was also better than the later model, in this case being zinc.  The investigation of this sidewinder can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154634668701790.1073741916.624466789&type=1&l=1d96d8d4e8

    4. The White/Cream Marlin Slammer. After butchering the red East German Marlin to make it a travel guitar I fancied an intact equivalent to add to my collection. And so I managed to obtain this Slammer off ebay for £40 a few weeks ago. You can see my initial investigation here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774376666790.1073741919.624466789&type=1&l=e8d9c23e3b
    The Slammer was almost identical in construction to the East German Sidewinder with two notable differences. 1. the headstock was smaller; not as small as the Korean Sidewinder but smaller than the East German Sidewinder. However the neck was just as think as the other East German. Both East German Marlins have 21 fret fretboards while the Korean Sidewinder is 22 fret. 2. That second major difference between the two East German guitars is that the Slammer came with a steel block! As far as i can tell from fit this is original. So, it -seems- that, in these year one guitars, the Slammer may have been designed as the slightly higher end option, while the Sidewinder was slightly lower in features. That said both are -very- close in sound, play and weight. Both the East German guitars have a more raw, traditional strat sound on the bridge pickup down to the single coil there versus the humbucker on the Korean Sidewinder.

    So there you have it

    I used to have a marlin sidewinder one of the earlier ones, I must have been about 14 yrs old. I didn't realise until years later that the pickups were alnico. I stripped it down and resprayed it for a while , it's downfall came when I tried to install a locking trem and split the wood. The earlier ones had nice solid necks and bodies definitely a Squier beater, I played a later one and was not impressed at all and could not beat an egg!!

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  • TuffNutTuffNut Frets: 1
    leithes said:

    So, I, as most people, are used to hearing almost nothing but bad things about Marlin guitars. I am also well used to there being little very actual information about them - Planet Botch being one of the few notable exceptions:

    https://planetbotch.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/marlin-sidewinder-forgotten-legend.html

    and

    http://planetbotch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/early-non-korean-marlin-guitars-obscure.html

    So this is my attempt to add a little to the sum of Marlin knowledge through my own experiences and guitars. I think most of the bad press received for Marlin Strat copies probably arises due to the later Korean made guitars. I suspect that the earliest Korean-made models (pre-Hohner acquisition) and the rare first-year-of-production East German-made ones actually are surprisingly good and solid, for what were essentially budget guitars.

    I own, in order of acquisition, a black Marlin Sidewinder (Korean made, but almost certainly pre-Hohner) bought second hand for £50 in around 1991, as my first guitar (and has remained my main guitar to this day), a red Sidewinder bass which was given to me free in the late nineties by a friend, a red Marlin East German Sidewinder, which I sacrificed on the alter of investigation somewhat when I turned it into a travel guitar, and finally a white/cream Marlin Slammer, also East German. All of these can be seen together in this album:

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774165156790.1073741918.624466789&type=1&l=9780e28544

    In order here are th features of each guitar.

    1. The Black Marlin Sidewinder - Korean

    This was my first guitar and it has "suffered" a fair few mods over the years. Its original specs are a plywood body, wax-filled pickups (HSS), locking nuts and fine tuning with a vaguely Floyd Rose style trem. Over the years I fully scalloped the neck, removed the middle pickup, replaced the 5-way selector with a 3-way and finally two years ago the crappy dark grey alloy trem block crumbled to dust and I replaced it with a rolled steel one. And the guitar sounds so sweet, even more so with the steel block increasing the sustain. The pickups are quite high output, higher than any of my other guitars, and the neck I now realise is that of a "super-strat", in that it is thinner than your average strat neck, and quicker to move the fingers around.

    2. The Red Marlin Sidewinder Bass - Hohner vintage.

    I must confess this is the guitar of least interest to me. This year the electrics went a bit wobbly, so I just bought a new fully loaded scratch plate and replaced the original one. It's a bass. It plays.

    3. The Red Marlin Sidewinder. This was an interesting guitar which I bought this year from a seller on eBay for £16. My intention was to buy a guitar I didn't mind sacrificing, in order to make a fold down travel guitar which fits in my suitcase
    (you can see the process in this album https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154643692756790.1073741917.624466789&type=1&l=3de46339bf).
    But, as soon as I saw it up close I realised  it was a different beast from my first Sidewinder. This was obviously (from what was contained in the Planet Botch post) a rare, year one, East German sidewinder. It has a solid basswood body, traditional pickups (SSS) but of East German manufacture backed by Russian magnets, and a much thicker neck, again much more like a traditional Stratocaster. The headstock was also considerably larger than the later Korean sidewinder. The trem block was also better than the later model, in this case being zinc.  The investigation of this sidewinder can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154634668701790.1073741916.624466789&type=1&l=1d96d8d4e8

    4. The White/Cream Marlin Slammer. After butchering the red East German Marlin to make it a travel guitar I fancied an intact equivalent to add to my collection. And so I managed to obtain this Slammer off ebay for £40 a few weeks ago. You can see my initial investigation here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154774376666790.1073741919.624466789&type=1&l=e8d9c23e3b
    The Slammer was almost identical in construction to the East German Sidewinder with two notable differences. 1. the headstock was smaller; not as small as the Korean Sidewinder but smaller than the East German Sidewinder. However the neck was just as think as the other East German. Both East German Marlins have 21 fret fretboards while the Korean Sidewinder is 22 fret. 2. That second major difference between the two East German guitars is that the Slammer came with a steel block! As far as i can tell from fit this is original. So, it -seems- that, in these year one guitars, the Slammer may have been designed as the slightly higher end option, while the Sidewinder was slightly lower in features. That said both are -very- close in sound, play and weight. Both the East German guitars have a more raw, traditional strat sound on the bridge pickup down to the single coil there versus the humbucker on the Korean Sidewinder.

    So there you have it

    The slammer also had a flat fret board almost like a classical guitar, a friend of mine had or it was not nice.
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 285
    I had a Marlin Sidewinder in about 1986, and played it until about 1989/90. I don't know where mine was made, but it was black, with 3 single coils, and a 6 screw trem. I'm guessing it might have been one of the East German ones.

    My recollection was that the basic playability was good. I had it setup with a pretty low action, with no buzzing, and that the amplified tone was OK. The trem was cheap crap, though. The arm on mine disintegrated, and was some kind of cheap pot-metal.
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  • legoheadlegohead Frets: 3
    edited March 26
    leithes said:


    1. The Black Marlin Sidewinder - Korean

    This was my first guitar and it has "suffered" a fair few mods over the years. Its original specs are a plywood body, wax-filled pickups (HSS), locking nuts and fine tuning with a vaguely Floyd Rose style trem. Over the years I fully scalloped the neck, removed the middle pickup, replaced the 5-way selector with a 3-way and finally two years ago the crappy dark grey alloy trem block crumbled to dust and I replaced it with a rolled steel one. And the guitar sounds so sweet, even more so with the steel block increasing the sustain. The pickups are quite high output, higher than any of my other guitars, and the neck I now realise is that of a "super-strat", in that it is thinner than your average strat neck, and quicker to move the fingers around.


    This Marlin was my first electric guitar and I've had it these last 35 years. As you can see, I made a few mods including a custom stainless steel pickguard and replacement Ernie Ball chrome volume and tone knobs. Everything else is original and it's still one of my favourites to play.

    But today, my tremolo block disintegrated as I was playing. I didn't know this was a thing and I'm now seeking out a suitable replacement. Given the uniqueness of this trem block, I can either painstakingly make one to the original dimensions or replace the whole bridge. I was hoping to use the original posts which are approx 70mm apart but can't find anything close enough. I did find a Floyd Rose assembly with a 74mm spacing that I could probably modify. The other option is to do away with the tremolo all together as I never use it but it's kind of part of the character of this guitar and so I'd like to keep it. In addition, I don't really want to start putting new holes in the body.












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  • legoheadlegohead Frets: 3
    I bought one of these cheap ($20) ebay Floyd Rose bridges for now until I find a way to repair the original. Seems to do the trick although you can see the void beind the bridge. Also, the tremolo arm needed an extra few mm but I didn't want to start shaving the cavity. I never use the trem anyway and just wanted something in the style of the original...




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