This is a Ural 650 that was made in the Soviet Union in the late 1970s. There were about 25,000 of these made at that time (according to an article from Premier Guitar).
Playability (we’ve worked on it)
Most of these, from what we can ascertain, are not very playable. And when we got this one, it was not much different. The action was crazy high due to how the neck was set, and the output jack was an old 70s midi style output (I’ve never seen anything like it!). It was apparently used to allow the control of multiple amps and/or channels with the buttons on the guitar.
We though, in true The Local Pickup fashion, wanted the guitar to be playable. So, we changed out the output for a 1/4″ jack, reset the neck, and did a little fret leveling. Not to mention, we cleaned all of the electronics, and did a professional set-up with a nice set of 10 gauge strings.
So, the guitar is now very enjoyable to play. It has great action, no buzzing, and an easy and smooth neck. So, now we can really discover what the heck is going on with all of these buttons (and what kinds of great sounds can we make from pushing them all in different combinations).
Everything works, and the guitar is very structurally sound with no cracks or repairs of any kind. The guitar is covered with about 1mm of varnish, which is cracked in a couple of places on the face of the guitar and in multiple places running the back of the guitar. These cracks are only in the varnish.
The guitar is all original (except for the output jack being changed out to 1/4″, and we kept the old midi one with the guitar, so if any future owner wants to put it back to the original).
Here’s a demo of a Ural 650 by Drowning in Guitars on YouTube. If you skip through this video, you can hear variety of sounds that you can create with the different available combinations of buttons. It’s pretty amazing – clean jazzy, clean country, old-school tube-ish distortion, newer-school scorching distortion, in-phase, out-of-phase, and surely something I’m leaving out.
A Ural of course is a great item for the collection because… Soviet Russia, what are you kidding me. And this guitar is (now the it’s been worked on to make it so) a great player for the musician who wants something really unique in story, look, and sound.