In 1959, Bozo Podunavac emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Chicago, where he began working in the repair shop of a now-defunct musical dealer and manufacturer. In 1964, he struck out on his own and began building handmade guitars with his name on the peghead. In the old-world tradition of his homeland, Bozo specialized in highly ornate, unique designs that demanded skill and precision throughout the build process. Bozo’s eye-catching guitars have been played on the stage by Leo Kottke, Johnny Cash, Reverend Gary Davis, Peter Lang, Bob Gibson and many other artists. While their over-the-top stylings definitely get the audience’s attention, Bozo’s guitars are also great-sounding instruments. In particular, his 12-string builds achieve a level of balance and articulation that is hard to find. In today’s vintage market, examples of Bozo’s guitars often sell in the $10,000-20,000 range.
In the 1970s and ’80s, Bozo contracted with a Japanese builder to license some of Bozo’s designs. Because these instruments were never marketed on a wide level, sales were slow, and until recently, these Japanese-made guitars were the most accessible way to buy a guitar built to Bozo’s specs.
In 2011—towards the end of his life—Bozo again partnered with an Asian manufacturer to build guitars under the Bozo name. This time, he looked to China, and even though the guitars show excellent build quality and the price-point was extremely reasonable, these guitars were still slow to sell. Through and through, Bozo was old school. Even though these guitars could be mass produced, customers still had to buy one directly from Bozo, and the only way to reach him was over his land-line shop phone. Ultimately, only 29 were ever made.
This 2011 Bozo Bell Western B-75 12-String is one of the 29 Bozo-licensed Chinese-made guitars. The “Bell Western” is essentially Bozo’s version of a dreadnought body, and this one has a cutaway for expanded access into the upper register. It features a AAA Engelmann Spruce top and AAA Mahogany back and sides. It is a massive-sounding 12-string, rich in detail and harmonics. Its tone is chimey and articulate, prominently displaying all of those shimmering treble frequencies that make the 12-string what it is. Plus, the word “ornate” doesn’t accurately describe the level of detail involved here… The aesthetics are over the top, as you would expect from Bozo. The build quality is also on par with Bozo’s high standards.
This 2011 Bozo Bell Western B-75 12-String is near mint condition, showing minimal signs of play and use. No scratches, no dings, no repairs, no issues. It comes complete w/its original hard shell case.
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