Understanding Early Boogie Bodies
(and Charvel) History
Contributions by: Jim Shine, The Guitar Historical Archives, Don Ward.
Disclaimer: This page is a work in progress and information is compiled from multiple sources and may not be 100% accurate. That being said, this is probably the most comprehensive and due-diligent explanation of Boogie Bodies on the entire internet, and if you have any information/photos that may help in aiding the quest for accuracy, please contact me via facebook or email.
Boogie Bodies were a guitar parts manufacturer most famous for building guitar necks and bodies from 1976-1979 for a variety of high profile artists during the era. The company technically still exists today, but there were dramatic changes after 1980, and by 1985, no original builders were associated with the original company. Eddie Van Halen often used (and still uses) BB parts for a variety of his guitars prior to 1982 (Ed signed with Kramer Guitars in 1982). The most well known era is from 1976-1979 when Lynn Ellsworth teamed with Jim Warmoth, but there are an extreme amount of transitional periods which become convoluted, especially after Lynn Ellsworth and Jim Warmoth split in 1980.
The history of Boogie Bodies (and Charvel) is far more complex than most people realize, mainly because it’s easy misconstrue the involvements between Charvel and Mighty Mite in relation Boogie Bodies. Keep in mind Boogie Bodies and Charvel are separate companies, although they worked together during a short period of time. When relating to Van Halen lore, the general population hears talk of “Boogie Bodies” when referring to the parts used to build Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat. Ed technically used Boogie Bodies parts to build his Frankenstrat starting in 1977, but if you’re a continuous reader of this website, you know it’s not that simple.
For one, Eddie had multiple Boogie Bodies necks made by Lynn Ellsworth, but the first neck he ever put on Frankenstrat was actually from his 1961 Strat. Furthermore, the Frankenstrat body was built using a Dave Schecter template (not a Lynn Ellsworth template).
This is another topic that is best discussed by understanding all the main players in Boogie Bodies during that time.
Above is Wayne Charvel (middle) with Tony Dukes (right, a guitar collector), and Seymour Duncan’s wife (left) during the 1977 NAMM show. Notice how Wayne is a distributor of both Boogie Bodies and Shecter parts during this time.
The Big Picture and Companies/People Involved
Lynn initially built guitar bodies for Wayne Charvel under the name “First Impressions”, circa 1975. He then teamed up with Jim Warmoth in 1976 to create Boogie Bodies. Jim helped with machinery and templates for production while Lynn supposedly did most of the finishing work. Lynn and Jim would split the company in 1980 and went their separate ways. Lynn made a variety of necks for Eddie Van Halen during the late 70s/early 80s.
Wayne started his guitar shop in 1974 and refinished guitars for Fender. He built a client base and started making his own parts. Wayne hired Lynn Ellsworth in 1975/’76 to create guitar bodies to sell at his shop in California. Lynn started out as “First “Impressions” and eventually named his company (with Jim Warmoth) “Boogie Bodies” in 1976 and would continue to sell BB parts to Wayne until 1978. Lynn and Wayne would work together briefly from 1980-1981 and create their own “Charvel/Ellsworth” guitar necks, although it was very short lived.
Jim helped Lynn by building templates and machinery in order to speed production of BB parts from 1976 to approximately 1980. Jim especially helped in allowing the company to start producing necks. Lynn and Jim split the company in 1980. Jim’s son, Ken, would continue creating parts and eventually create the “Warmoth” parts company known today.
Boogie Bodies would create and sell their bodies and necks to Dimarzio for a brief time (6 months), and eventually the Grover Jackson-owned Charvel era in 1978/79 would create and distribute bodies to Dimarzio. However, Boogie Bodies would continue to supply necks to Dimarzio due to Charvel not initially being able to produce necks upon the Grover buyout.
Like Dimarzio, Boogie Bodies also did OEM work for Mighty Mite for a brief time (approximately 9 months) and sold necks/bodies to them which Mighty Mite would later rebrand. The Grover-owned Charvel in 1979 would then start supplying bodies to Mighty Mite in 1979.
Dave Schecter helped Wayne Charvel build 100 bodies in 1976 from Dave’s templates. One of these bodies was sold as a to Eddie Van Halen in 1977 at Wayne Charvel’s shop. This body is what Ed used for his Frankenstrat. All Boogie Bodies at that time made by Lynn Ellsworth in 1976 were created from a different template, and hence, different shape (more of this discussed later in article). This is supposedly Dave Schecter’s only involvement with BB, but he played a role in Wayne Charvel teaming with ISA.
(International Sales Associate)
ISA was a distribution company that handled part of Schecter’s operations. ISA would make a contract with Wayne Charvel to build bodies and/or necks for the company sometime in 1977/’78. Wayne Charvel did not follow through with this deal, and this would result in a lawsuit which eventually resulted in Wayne having to sell his company (Charvel) to Grover Jackson.
Grover Jackson purchased Charvel Guitars from Wayne on November 10th, 1978. When Grover took control of Charvel, he started making his own bodies in house (but not necks initially. He still requires BB’s help for necks). Grover Jackson then started to supply bodies to Dimarzio and Mighty Mite until he Charvel started create their own guitars in house sometime in 1979. Grover would eventually create “Jackson Guitars” while also owning the rights to the Charvel name.
Other people to know (that worked with companies/people above at some point)
Floyd was friends with Lynn Ellsworth, and Lynn was a big proponent in using early Floyds (FRT-1 and 3 model) on early Charvel and BB guitars in 1980. It’s possible Lynn introduced Floyd to Eddie Van Halen. Floyd and Lynn would promote Lynn’s Boogie Bodies guitars at the 1980 NAMM show featuring the new FRT-1 model on Lynn’s 23 fret prototype guitar, but Fernandes would offer Floyd a contract at the same show, essentially creating a different path for Floyd.
Karl Sandoval (right)
Karl was a luthier who worked for Wayne Charvel in 1977/1978 and created the Megazone guitar for Eddie Van Halen. Karl also helped assemble Ed’s VH-II “Bee” guitar and built Randy Rhoad’s “Polka Dot” guitar. Karl supposedly left Charvel soon after Grover’s purchase of the business.
John helped Lynn Ellsworth build guitars in his shop, especially the fully one-piece guitars in 1976 and 1977.
Jerry and Grover Jackson were childhood friends. Grover brought Jerry into Charvel after he bought the company. Grover was making the bodies for Mighty Mite. Eventually, Jerry defected. He copied Grover’s templates and was given a wood shop to run at Mighty Mite to cut Grover out of the mix. Jerry was also responsible for many early Charvel builds in 1978.
1974-1975: “First Impressions” Era
An early ad for “Charvel’s Guitar Repair” which started in 1974. Wayne Charvel was friends with Lynn Ellsworth and recommended he start making guitar bodies for him to sell.
A “First Impression” ink stamp on what seems to be a transitional body. Few photos exist of bodies made during this era.
Wayne Charvel started his “Charvel’s Guitar Repair” shop in Azusa, California shop sometime in 1974. Wayne, a talented painter, did refinish work for Fender and often got various high profile guitars to paint, such Tommy Bolin of the band “Deep Purple.” Eventually, more artists heard Wayne was doing custom work, and his name spread among other high profile artists which lead to further growth. During this time, Wayne also sold various upgraded guitar hardware, such as tremolos, jack plates, etc.
Lynn Ellsworth, a childhood friend of Wayne’s, was a talented wood worker but never built a guitar before. Wayne eventually got Lynn involved in making early bodies for him. The earliest incarnation of Lynn creating bodies was called “First Impressions” and not much was known about it this early incarnation. However, the name was short-lived, and it didn’t take long before Lynn changed the name to “Boogie Bodies.” In the early stages, Lynn could only make bodies because he didn’t having the tooling to make necks.
1976-1979: Boogie Bodies
(Lynn teams with Jim Warmoth)
Lynn Ellsworth holding a rare BB guitar made entirely out of one-piece.
Above is one of the few pictures seen of Jim Warmoth during this era. Jim was already in his 70s by the time he started Boogie Bodies with Lynn. They were neighbors, and Jim was vital in enabling Boogie Bodies to build their necks by use of the tools and jigs he created.
Lynn Ellsworth officially created Boogie Bodies sometime in 1976 and partnered with Jim Warmoth, a retired watch maker and steel worker, to help create templates and machinery to increase production, especially in the neck department. Boogie Bodies supplied bodies to mainly Wayne Charvel but also briefly to Dimarzio and Mighty Mite.
BB would supply bodies to Dimarzio and Mighty Mite for approximately 9 months – Mighty Mite for 6 months. However, BB continued to make necks for Grover-owned Charvel in 1979 due to Grover not having he ability to procure their own necks yet (more on this later). Dimarzio and Mighty Mite would use their own stamps/logos on the Boogie Bodies supplied to them from Lynn and Jim. Most of the Boogie Bodies during this era (except the Dimarzio and Mighty Mite stamped versions) have a burn-stamped “Boogie Bodies” logo in cursive writing.
And early newspaper clip from March 9th, 1977 discussing the early beginnings of Boogie Bodies.
An early Charvel ad (Wayne Charvel ownership) from circa 1976 featuring the sale of Boogie Bodies.
Most Boogie Bodies parts during the ’76-’79 era featured the script/cursive stype stamp logo burnt into the neck, neck pocket, or control cavity.
1976/1977: Wayne Charvel/Dave Schecter briefly team to fulfill ISA contract
(Leads to creation of 100 “Azusa” Bodies from a Schecter template, EVH buys one)
Above shows the truss rod access route and and other characteristics of a Dave Schecter template (bare body) compared to Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat.
Wayne Charvel and Dave Schecter sign a contract with Internation Sales Associate (ISA) to produce body and neck orders. ISA was a company Dave Schecter used to distribute and sell his guitars and parts. Supposedly, Wayne Charvel did not produce what was required in the contract, and a lawsuit would eventually arise, eventually crippling Wayne Charvel and forcing him to sell the company to Grover Jackson on November 10th, 1978.
After hearing about the ISA issue with Wayne Charvel, Dave Schecter helps Wayne create 100 bodies in one weekend. Some of these bodies would be sold in Wayne’s shop, although they were not created with Lynn Ellsworth templates (or considered “Boogie Bodies”). They used Dave Schecter’s body templates for the batch. One of these bodies would eventually be purchased by Eddie Van Halen in 1977 to create the most famous rock guitar in music history: The Frankenstrat.
So in a technical aspect, Ed’s guitar body was realistically a Schecter body that was possibly marked “Boogie Bodies.” According to second hand accounts, Chip Ellis claims there is a BB stamp on the guitar (but no clear evidence or photo of it exists). Others argue the body probably isn’t even stamped “Boogie Bodies” due to all other Schecter template bodies of the era (called “Azusa” bodies) do not feature a BB stamp. They instead have no stamp or an “Azusa” stamp. In any case, the Frankenstrat body is made from a Schecter template.
Above is an “Azusa” body which is one of the 100 ash bodies Dave Schecter and Wayne Charvel made in one weekend. This one is #22 and has the Azusa stamp in the control cavity. Ed’s body supposedly came from this batch.
Charvel catalog mail order from 1977. The bodies and necks are made by Boogie Bodies.
Another Charvel catalog showing the Schecter/ISA connection.
The first Schecter catalog. So hurried together, there are used/flawed parts photographed inside.
Trivial items: Two alternate Charvel logo concepts Blankenship had made (there are about 6 alternates). These did not make the final cut. The ISA relationship to Wayne Charvel.
Late 1978-1979: Grover Jackson Purchases Charvel
Upon Grover Jackson purchasing Charvel Guitars in November 1978, Grover attempted to create products in-house, assumingely to save money. Boogie Bodies was only needed to supply necks due to Grover only having the ability to create bodies when initially starting up. But by March 1979, Grover would eventually build his own necks as well. In essence, Grover built bodies for Dimarzio from 1979-1980 and Mighty Mite in 1979. By October 1979, Grover had the ability to sell complete guitars and eventually grew the company while also creating “Jackson Guitars” in 1980 (but that’s another story in itself).
Grover did continue fulfilling orders to Mighty Mite and Dimarzio early on. Boogie Bodies was not involved with Charvel/Grover during this time but would continue building guitar bodies and necks.
Above is a circa early 1979 “Charvel” neck that is actually a Boogie Bodies, as you can see from the extended fretboard and script logo stamp. Grover could not immediately start creating necks upon buying out Wayne Charvel and had to resort to using Boogie Bodies necks.
Michael Anthony’s “Charvel” bass is actually made of Boogie Bodies parts, as seen by the neck.
Above is Michael Anthony’s “Charvel” bass is actually made of Boogie Bodies parts, as seen by the neck.
Above are “Charvel” guitars at the 1979 NAMM show which feature Boogie Bodies necks (logoed as Charvel)
Grover Jackson, Joanne, and Mike Eldred (just hired) at the spring 1979 NAMM show. In the background are Charvel bodies with Boogie Bodies necks (that are logoed as Charvels).
Although vintage Charvels notorious for having great playing necks, they initially did not have the tooling to create them, as seen above in this early ad showing a Charvel Explorer sporting a 1960s Danoelectro neck. Dano necks were used by Karl Sandoval, and Eddie Van Halen often liked them.
1979: Disagreements in Boogie Bodies
(Tension between Lynn Ellsworth and Jim Warmoth)
At some point in time, Lynn Ellsworth sold 50% of the Boogie Bodies stake to Jim Warmoth for approximately $5,000. Although stories differ between self-accounts, it appears Lynn and Jim did not agree on various aspects of the company’s future after the Grover Jackson purchase at Charvel, and a split of the company seemed imminent.
One aspect that created division, according to Lynn, is the Warmoth’s refusal to sign an exclusive deal with Floyd Rose to use his new “ROSE” FRT-1 tremolo on their guitars. By Lynn’s personal account, he greatly regrets giving Warmoth 50% share, although we will never hear Warmoth’s side of the story because Jim and Ken Warmoth have both passed.
Another issue BB had was that (according to Lynn), some companies were not paying them for the bodies/necks they were supplying.
Turtle Boogie/Warmoth logo on headstock which happened in late 1979 right before the Ellsworth/Warmoth split.
These went into production shortly before the split of Warmoth and Ellesworth in the Boogie Bodies era so the date is late 1979 – very early 1980. Warmoth branded the headstocks of a batch of these necks – wasn’t received well by the public and was not repeated.
Noteworthy that the Strat headstock on these necks would now be a trademark infringement as this neck isn’t a “replacement for…..” but rather a specialty piece – a moot point since the neck was made prior to licensing agreements with Fender.
1980: Lynn Ellsworth and Jim Warmoth split BB
(Lynn continues BB name, “Warmoth” is created)
Continued tensions and disagreements eventually resulted in Lynn Ellsworth and the Warmoth’s going their separate ways. Lynn would take some body and neck stock upon the closure, but it seems the Warmoths took most of the machinery and templates, and Jim’s son, Ken, would continue creating bodies and necks under the “Warmoth” name, creating one of the largest guitar part suppliers we know today.
Lynn would continue selling his own version of Boogie Bodies after the split, but due to the Warmoths taking all the tooling necessary to create the parts, Lynn had to essentially start from scratch. However, Lynn did acquire some old inventory during the split which he resold using a variety differing logos, due to the fact that Warmoth took the logo creators away upon the split.
Lynn would also briefly partner with Wayne Charvel and try to make their own guitars under the “Charvel – Ellsworth” moniker. Lynn, a believer in the new Floyd Rose system used on a variety of 1980 Charvel guitars during the era, also briefly partnered with Floyd Rose at the 1980 NAMM show to showcase Lynn’s new 23 fret prototype which sported the new “ROSE” FRT- tremolo. However, Floyd would ironically receive talks from Fernandes at the same (or similar) show and offer Floyd a contract to have Fernandes exclusively offer and create Floyd’s systems (this is before the Kramer contract). More of this at vintagefloydrose.com
1981-1985: NOS part builds, some new builds, sell-off.
Lynn would occasionally build a guitar from his old parts stock or even build a new guitar during this era. Most of the guitars in this era were stamped “BOOGIE BODIES” in capital letters somewhere in the neck pocket or body. There were also various logo redesigns during this era.
1986-2012: Semi-inactive years
It seems Lynn went back into working in the medical field but also had a shop near Gig Harbor, WA throughout the 1990s where he still occasionally built and sold guitars. Lynn still held the “Boogie Bodies” name rights.
2013-Present: Name/Rights sold
More research is needed on this era, but it seems like Lynn sold the “Boogie Bodies” other name rights to two companies. Elio J. Guitars now owns “Lynn Ellswroth Guitars” while Adam Rivera of FU tone is currently selling parts under the “Boogie Bodies” name.
Identifying Early Boogie Body (and Warmoth) logos and parts
- Possible transitional First Impressions/Boogie Bodies ink stamp. Block lettering on body (Body from 1975/1976). This body is matched with a pearl inlay “Boogie Bodies” neck, and hence, a newer neck could have been put on this body. Not many “First Impressions” bodies are known today.
2. Cursive lettering stamp on neck (1976-1979). These stamps were prevalent in Lynn Ellsworth/Jim Warmoth era Boogie Bodies.
Cursive Stamp on body
The same stamp can be seen on various bodies of this era as well. On this bass, it has the same script style with “Boogie Bodies” in the pickup cavity.
Hand-written style logo, unknown years. This logo is different than the other script logos, and it’s unknown when this logo was in use.
One-off pearl inlay logo by Mike (Circa 1977). Burled top and Pearl Inlaid Logo done by Mike Pearce
of Pearce Jewelry in Tacoma for Boogie Bodies. This was the only Boogie Bodies to have this.
Turtle logo on headstock with “BOOGIE” stamp in neck pocket (Late 1979/early 1980): These went into production shortly before the split of Warmoth and Ellsworth in the Boogie Bodies era, so the date is late 1979 – very early 1980. Warmoth branded the headstocks of a batch of these necks – it wasn’t received well by the public and was not repeated.
3. Burned large letter stamp: two rows (1981-1985).
Lynn Ellsworth went back to using the large lettering Boogie stamp after the Warmoth split in 1980. However, Lynn sometimes used old parts from the Warmoth era to stamp during this time. In essence, it’s possible you could have a 1976-1979 BB part with this style. Notice the forstner bit used for the pickup legs cavity. This seems to be common in post-Warmoth era Ellsworth bodies.
Burned large letter stamp: One row (post 1980, possibly ’76-79): This style burn logo is one row.
“Charvel/Ellsworth” gold/black Boogie lettering (1981/82):
6. “Charvel/Ellsworth” ink stamp with large BB lettering (Circa 1982). This was also a transitional logo used when Lynn and Wayne briefly worked together after the Warmoth split.
4. Stencil lettering, post Jim Warmoth (Circa 1981/82) This logo was transitional. It was used between the Warmoth era black and gold logos, and before the “Boogie Bodies Ellsworth/Charvel” version decals came out. There are Wayne Charvel decaled guitars from this same era as well with a couple different logo styles. Wayne also used this same odd decal font in the 80’s on some guitars. They just say “WC”. This was after he was told to stop using his own “Charvel” decals (with the big V).
5. “Wayne Charvel” logo with same stenciling (Circa 1981/82). This is possibly likely a post-Warmoth neck built by Lynn Ellsworth. Notice is features similar stencil lettering as the previous neck.
2013+ headstock with non-Fender style headstock.
Modern “Roadster” Boogie Bodies neck made recently.
Fu-Tone-owned Boogie Bodies logo with wings (2016-Present?)
The Boogie Bodies (and Mighty Mite) name was purchased by FU Tone sometime in the last 5-8 years and currently sells bodies and necks online. These have the “winged” logo seen above.
Earliest Warmoth Logos
Warmoth Logo with Turtle on headstock (Circa mid-1980s?) This is possibly an early Warmoth logo from the 1980s.