(Conservative Review) -- As Matt Kibbe likes to say, rock and roll is all about freedom, and what would rock and roll be without that rockingest of all instruments — the electric guitar? If you lived in the Soviet Union for the first several decades of its existence, chances are you could only wonder, as Western goods (including guitars) were largely outlawed. Yet, for anyone who still pines for the days of socialism and roses, the history of the Soviet Union’s first internally produced solid-body electric guitar is as instructive as it is entertaining.
In the early 1970s (the exact year is unknown because of poor recordkeeping) the Party bosses at the Soviet Union decided it was time to get in on this new rock and roll fad that was sweeping the world. Sure, the West had been building electric guitars for nearly 40 years by then, Elvis was fat, and the Beatles had broken up by then, but hey, better late than never, I guess.
Thus was born the Tonika guitar, the Soviets’ eccentric and hilariously inept attempt at rocking out. The main problem was that the guitar makers (luthiers is the technical term) had not only never built electric guitars before, they didn’t really have any examples from which to copy. You couldn’t just go buy a Stratocaster or a Les Paul to tear apart and figure out how it worked. They were evil products of decadent Western capitalism, and therefore forbidden. As a result, the Tonika was basically built from scratch by people who had no idea what they were doing.
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