Claescaster

Month: June, 2014

Video of the day

Hohner, Made in Japan

1970's Japan made Hohner TelecasterMy new Hohner Telecaster, made in Japan in the 1970’s most likely by Morris in the Moridaira factory.

This weekend I received a 1970’s Japan made Hohner Telecaster. These old Hohner’s have a nice solid feel to them and good resonance even though the bodies are made out of plywood, or some form of wood sandwiched together. Having said that, this Telecaster is extremely heavy so maybe they sandwiched a chunk of mahogany together with an ash or alder top layer. This would have put me off if I wasn’t so gay for my old beat up Hohner Strat. This was one of the first Japan made guitars I bought, I found it in a charity shop in Camden in London for £50 in 2009. It’s not the best Strat I have ever played but the neck is really chunky and the pickups sounds really good. It’s the same with the new Hohner Telecaster, pretty nice neck and great pickups. The neck pickup actually sounds a bit like the in-between neck and middle position on a Strat. I would have preferred that the Telecaster neck was a wee bit thicker, but it’s still very playable. Hohner only produced guitars in Japan for a couple of years during the late 1970’s and later moved to Korea like a lot of other brands. I really enjoy this Telecaster but I have too many guitars at the moment and therefore it’s up for sale.

1970's Japan made Hohner Telecaster1970's Japan made Hohner Telecaster

According to my previous post about Japanese guitar brands they were made by Morris in the Moridaira factory. I took my list from Who Made My MIJ Guitar so I hope we can trust his research.

Moridaira (Morris Guitars)
Founded in 1967 by Toshio “Mori” Moridaira, the Moridaira factory produced high-quality guitars, including the infamous Morris badged guitar. Moridaira also produced badged guitars for Hohner including Coronado, Futurama, H.S. Anderson, Lotus (some) and Sakai.

One thing that would prove the Hohner connection to Moridaira would be Prince’s Telecaster. He used to play a a H.S. Anderson Mad Cat, as I mentioned in a previous post. Hohner later copied the Mad Cat, first in Japan and later as the Prinz guitar made in Korea by Cort. Those early Mad Cats under Hohner was made by Moridaira. “A little over 500 Mad Cats were made during the ‘70s, including a small batch made OEM for Hohner USA with a Hohner logo in the H.S. Anderson style. Pop artist Prince discovered one of these rare guitars early on in his career, and used it live and on countless hit-records like Purple Rain, 1999, Controversy, etc. for over 30 years now.” Taken from the history page at Mad Cat guitars

1970's Japan made Hohner TelecasterI took the guitar a part to look over the electronics and give it a good clean and set it up properly. The Switch is a bit worn so I will order a new one and replace that but the Japanese 500k pots are crackle free so I will keep the rest. This one is wired in an even weirder way than my Greco, with the ground from the bridge going to the first post on the treble pot. There were two big chunks on the back of the neck that was either worn or sanded down, which I didn’t like. I applied some Nitrocellulose lacquer with a sponge for not getting any sharp edges around, which worked pretty well, and then sanded it smooth with 2500 grit paper.

1970's Japan made Hohner Telecaster Update: August 30, 2014 I got around to change the 3-way switch so now I finally got to hear the bridge pickup, not bad at all. I also bought 6 new screws that I cut since the original ones were really annoyingly long. When I got this guitar the action was too low for me and when I raised the saddles the screws that are holding them in place almost touched the strings so I decided to replace them with something shorter. I really starting to like this Telecaster now, it has a great twang and feel to it. 

1970's Japan made Hohner Stratocaster
1970's Japan made Hohner StratocasterMy beat up old Hohner Stratocaster, bought cheap in London back in 2009. Notice that the logo is different on these two.

How to… install a treble bleed

Claescaster New, Mighty Mite bodyThe Claescaster, put together in May 2013 out of a Mighty Mite Swamp ash body, Tonerider Vintage Plus pickups, Wilkinson hardware and a cheap but fairly fat China neck.

Last night I decided to change the pots and install a treble bleed on my new Claescaster, I never liked the feel of the CTS pots I had on. I’m still not sure if I like the new changes or not, in my head it sounded better before but I stupidly forgot to record it so I can’t compare the before and after. I think it had a clearer sound with more highs, now I feel that the neck pickup is more muffled. I’m not sure if this is down to cheaper pots, the treble bleed or the wiring. I changed the wiring too from a more standard wiring to Seymour Duncan’s suggestion for a ’66 wiring which matched what I had seen for the treble bleed. Maybe it has more to do with the changes in wiring than the actual treble bleed because before I had an old 50′s vintage wiring to help with the lack of treble at lower volumes and I was pretty happy with that. I’m so confused with all the different wiring options, I have no idea who’s doing what to whom, and where? I might just have to redo it again and copy the original wiring on my Greco TL-500 or my Fender TL52-75, they both sounds great.

How to... install a treble bleed, Telecaster, ClaescasterThe new Claescaster got a treble bleed and the ’66 wiring, bottom right photo shows the original wiring on my 1979 Greco TL-500

Claescaster, Telecaster,  50′s vintage wiring
Update: December 27, 2014,
Since I had the soldering iron out to fit the electronics in my new home built Claescaster I took the treble bleed out in this one and changed the wiring back to it’s original 50′s vintage wiring

Photo of the day

The Band by Elliott LandyThe Band by Elliott LandyThe Band in Woodstock, NY by Elliott Landy. Landy is the photographer behind most of the iconic photos of The Band from the Woodstock era and he just started a Kickstarter project to found his new book with all his photos of The Band and reached $193,626 even though his goal was just $65,000. You can watch a video about the book project here.

Video of the day

Japanese guitar brands: Greco

Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N, Greco Les Paul Custom EG-600C, Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500The Greco family, Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N 1977, Greco Les Paul Custom EG-600C 1980, Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500 1979

I’m so in love with my Greco‘s, every time I pick one up it hits me how good they feel to play. They might not be the best built guitars to ever come out of Japan but they all have something special, here is a list of Japanese guitar brands. I only have 3 in the 500-series and I have never tried anything in the 1000-series so I can only speak about the cheaper Greco models. I would say that the best built Japanese electric I own is my Fender TL52-75 and the best acoustic would be the K.Yairi TG-40 or my Morris W-40. Having said that, there is something that makes me like my Greco’s more than all the others, more than my Fender, my Tokai LS-55 and even the fabulous Fernandes RST-50 I sold that I really liked, and still miss a bit. There is a resonance in the wood on my Greco’s, especially on my Greco TL-500, that I haven’t felt in my other Japanese guitars. I’m not sure if it’s down to the brand, the factory or their age. All three were made in the late 1970’s by FujiGen, I have actually never tried a Matsumoku made Greco, they changed factory around 1974-75. In my opinion FujiGen built better guitars than Matsumoku, having said that this could be down to years rather than factories, read about it here: Are all Japanese guitars good? I have two Westone guitars made by Matsumoku and three Greco’s and one Fender made by FujiGen and I feel that later are way better, again could be down to brands and years rather than factories. The Hohner Strat I have might have been built by Morris, but out of the cheapest materials around, before they started up H.S. Anderson and all of that. Now I’m seriously considering extending the Greco collection with a nice late 1970’s Strat, ideally a Greco SE-500 in a three-tone sunburst, just like my Claescaster.

Japanese guitars, MIJ, Made in JapanI have sold some of my Japanese guitars so this is more or less what’s left, from left to right: Fender Telecaster TL52-75 1987, Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N 1977, Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500 1979, Greco Les Paul Custom EG-600C 1980, Tokai Love Rock LS-55 1991,  Westone Les Paul 1970′s, Jazz Bass 1978, Hohner Stratocaster 1970′s, Westone Stratocaster 1979, K.Yairi TG-40 1977, Morris WL-40 1973, Morris WL-35 1980′s

National Day of Sweden

Kung Carl XVI Gustaf 1973Today it’s the National Day of Sweden so let’s celebrate with a picture of the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf from 1973

Jack White – Lazaretto

I just saw this video from Jack White‘s new album Lazaretto. I like the video, but I’m not that impressed by his music any more. I used to love The Raconteurs but maybe that’s what’s missing, the influence of Brendan Benson and the others. At least he is still playing his Randy Parson guitar.

Daniel Romano

Daniel Romano

Araceli and I are very excited about seeing Daniel Romano live in September. He is doing his first European tour and is planned to play Rocksound here in Barcelona on Araceli’s birthday, the 30th of September 2014.

Juan Estruch, Barcelona

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
The 1960’s Juan Estruch Barcelona guitar before and after I cleaned it up.

I recently bought an old Juan Estruch guitar for my friend Rafa. He has mentioned numerous times, actually since the day that I found my Francisca Montserrat, that he would love to have an old Spanish guitar. So for his birthday Araceli and I went to all the Cash converters we could think of an eventually found a beat up Juan Estruch for him. The brand was founded here in Barcelona by Juan Estruch Rosell in 1880. This guitar seems to have been made between 1960-1969, according to the label, and has a solid top. There was a few things that needed to be sorted to get it playable but I could tell straight away, even with strings missing, that it had a nice tone and great projection.

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
This is what it looked like when I bought it

Here is some info about the brand taken from Wikipedia, unfortunately in Spanish for you English readers: Guitarras Juan Estruch es una marca de guitarras y otros instrumentos musicales de Barcelona. La compañía fue fundada por Juan Estruch Rosell en 1880, siendo maestro de otros luthiers de fama como Enrique Sanfeliu1 de quien exponen una guitarra en el ministerio de educación de Uruguay. Después de la guerra civil, su hijo Joan Estruch Sastre se hizo cargo del taller de la calle Ample continuando con la construcción artesanal de guitarras siguiendo la tradición familiar. A su muerte (1970), su hijo Joan Estruch Pipó, se hizo cargo de la empresa hasta su muerte en 1989. Hoy en día la empresa sigue en Rubí, con el nombre ESTRUCH Luthiers , a cargo de la viuda y el antiguo encargado del taller Rafael Montes que entró a los 14 años, aunque la mayor parte de su producción es para la exportación. En los años sesenta muchos de los cantautores de la nueva canción catalana fueron clientes del taller de la calle Ample haciendo un lugar de encuentro con animadas tertulias.

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
The normal cleaning, polishing frets and oiling the fretboard

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
I wasn’t really sure how to fix the missing binding. In the end I decided to do a MacGyver and just use what every I could find at home. First I closed the gap between the side and top with fish glue and then I filled it up with wood filler. When it was dry I sanded it in to shape, got it smooth and then painted it black to match the original plastic binding.

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
Unfortunately I had to change the machine heads since one was broken, I would have loved to keep it all original

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
The final result, a fully playable birthday present for my friend Rafa

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
Rafa from the band Cobarde with his new Juan Estruch guitar

Guitarras Juan Estruch Barcelona
Sr Chinarro came around and tried it too

1965 Tienda de construcción de guitarras del Sr Estruch en la calle Ancha
1965 Tienda de construcción de guitarras del Sr Estruch en la calle Ancha