Claescaster

Category: Made in Japan

How to… carve a bridge

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973K. Yairi YW-1000 a Martin D-45 copy made in Kani, Japan in 1973

It’s been a while since I posted anything in my little DIY series, How to…, like me previous post about How to… reset a Levin neck or remove a bridge. I did carve a little floating bridge for my Levin 65 over a year ago but now it was finally time to carve a proper ebony bridge for my K. Yairi YW-1000.

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973I thought about getting a pre-made Allparts ebony bridge at first but felt that it would be more fun to make one myself from scratch instead. I ordered some rosewood and ebony blanks from Madinter, it thought it could be good to have some extra at home, and got started. First I removed the old bridge, it had two screws that was a bit tricky to get out but eventually I figured it out. I removed the bridge with a spatula that I heated on a normal clothes iron, it works like a charm every time. Start in a corner and work yourself towards the middle and be careful when it starts to loosen up so you don’t break it off and chip the top, it should come off slowly and without force. I planed the ebony blank and then used a cabinet scraper to get it even. I copied the old bridge and drilled the holes straight away. It felt easier to do this before the bridge was shaped, it would also have saved me a lot of time in case I messed up the holes and had to start all over again. Luckily everything went fine.

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973Once the bridge was sawed in to a good size, I made it a couple of millimetres bigger on all sides, I drew the outlines of the final shape. I mounted the bridge blank on a piece of scrap wood with two screws so I could more easily work all around with the bridge firmly secured. I used a chisel to carve out the shape on the sides and from the top down towards the wings. I got a good round shape with a half round rasp and then it was just a hell of a lot of sanding to remove all the lines from the rasp and to get it smooth and nice.

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973I glued the bridge on and after 3 days I strung up both E-strings and used a drill as a saddle so I could move it around until I got the intonation right, I forgot to take a picture of that. I marked out the saddle and then sawed a 3 mm slot. Next step was to create a bone saddle to match and string it up. Easy peasy, well it was a hard days work but it was easier that I thought.

Cherry & Wolf

Cherry & Wolf - La Sonora de Gràcia 10 Oct 2015Cherry & Wolf with me on guitar, La Sonora de Gràcia 10 Oct 2015. © Araceli Perez

Last Saturday I got a chance to play with my friends Cherry & Wolf again. It turned out to be great fun and it seems like I have a few more gigs lined up with them this autumn. Now you can see where the Luxor Dove copy went, it’s Wolf’s main guitar and I’m playing on my beloved Morris W-50.

Ibanez V 637

Ibanez Vintage 637 BS Made in Japan 1978Ibanez Vintage 637 BS, made in Japan by Fujigen Gakki in 1978

I managed to find another a Ibanez Vintage, just like the Ibanez V 300 BS that I got for my friend Miki back in July, but this time it’s a Ibanez Vintage 637 BS. I’m not really sure what the difference is between the V 300 and V 637 because they feel, look and sound very much the same but I assume this one should be a bit better since the model number is higher. Unless they used the old 600-series number for them in 1978 like the used on the Concord earlier and then changed in 1979 to a 300 series. Either way it’s a beautiful and very well sounding guitar. This guitar is now sold.

Ibanez Vintage 637 BS Made in Japan 1978Ibanez Vintage 637 BS Made in Japan 1978I only had to clean her up, polish the frets, oil the fretboard and machine heads and change the nut and saddle to bone and she was ready to go

Fuji F310

Fuji F310, Kurosawa by Matsumoto Made in JapanFuji F310, made by Kurosawa guitar in Matsumoto, Japan

I recently found a little Fuji F310, a 000-sized Japan made acoustic. The guitar was made by Kurosawa guitar in the Matsumoku factory in the late 1960’s. It says Matsumoto factory on the label and that seems to have been the original name of the Matsumoku factory before they grew too big and had to move, the old Matsumoku factory was in the city of Matsumoto. It’s in great shape for the age and has a great tone, these folk sized Japanese acoustics are pretty hard to come by, especially here in Spain. It’s made with really nice looking tone woods, the rosewood back is beautiful and so is the fretboard. The neck is really fat and feels great, a bit like a 58′ Les Paul and if I needed another 000 I would have kept it myself but I have three Levin guitars in this size. I bought the Fuji F310 for my wife but her hands are too small for the neck and therefore it’s up for sale.

Fuji F310, Kurosawa by Matsumoto Made in JapanFuji F310, Kurosawa by Matsumoto Made in JapanA changed the bridge pins and put in a bone saddle, straightened up the neck and polished the frets. There was a pretty nasty dent on the back of the neck, close to the body, that I filled, painted and lacquered over.

 

Luxor 42-274

Luxor 42-274, Dove copy made in Japan by Ibanez 1970's Luxor 42-274,  Dove copy made in Japan by Ibanez 1970’s

A few weeks ago I got myself my first Luxor guitar, just like C.G. Winner it’s a brand that you see a lot of in Germany but no one outside have ever heard of it. It’s a really well built Dove copy from the 1970’s in great shape, most likely made in the Matsumoku factory in Japan by Ibanez. What we know for sure is that Luxor was a made by Ibanez and imported by Musikhaus Otto Manfred Hack, Göttingen, Germany. This was pretty common in the 1960-70’s that guitars, especially Ibanez, were imported without a brand name on them since it was cheaper and then the importer put their own chosen name on them, like Penco in the US, imported by Philadelphia Music Company, or Antoria or CSL in the UK, imported by Charles Summerfield Ltd, just to name a few. Penco, Antoria and Luxor are all linked to Hoshino Gakki, the owner of the Ibanez but they all claim to have been made in different factories, this is a bit of a problem with Ibanez since it’s just brand, not a factory. Ibanez produced guitars both in the Matsumoku and FujiGen factory, and probably in some others too, so it’s very hard to know what was made where. Ibanez and Cimar, a sub-brand of Ibanez, claims to have been made by FujiGen, while Luxor and a lot of other brands owned by Hoshino Gakki were made by Matsumoku. Having said that, the quality of this Luxor is made with Ibanez standards and not like a lot of the no branded inferior ones that Matsumoku mass produced in the 1970’s. Here you can read more about Japanese guitar brands. Either way, it’s a fabulous looking Dove copy, a pure joy to play and it sounds great. Unfortunately I managed to buy a couple of more guitars than I first intended over the summer so this Luxor 42-274 is for sale.

Luxor 42-274, made in the Matsumoku factory in Japan by Ibanez in the 1970'sLuxor 42-274, made in the Matsumoku factory in Japan by Ibanez in the 1970'sLuxor 42-274, made in the Matsumoku factory in Japan by Ibanez in the 1970’s. Imported to Germany by Musikhaus Otto Manfred Hack in Göttingen

 

K. Yairi YW-1000

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973K. Yairi YW-1000, made in Japan in 1973

Since it’s my 35th birthday today I’m going to post this guitar even though it’s not 100% ready yet, it was my birthday present to myself. As I mentioned earlier I recently became the proud owner of a 1973 K. Yairi YW-1000. It’s something I’ve dreamed of for many years and after a bit of hassle it finally arrived. The previous owner didn’t really give much of a description so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Luckily it sounds at least as good as I had hoped for, if not better and it’s structurally fine. Having said that, there were a couple of things that I wasn’t overly excited about, like the bridge and the scratches on the top. I don’t mind worn guitar but there is one big scratch that is still a real eyesore for me, I’m sure I will get used to it and not even see it in a few weeks. The bridge is a chapter for itself, I really don’t know what has been going on there. It has been removed at some point and re-glued, it also has two screws that I doubt were supposed to be there and on top of that someone has added a bit of rosewood to make it higher and topped it of with a fret as the saddle instead of a normal slot and bone saddle. As soon as the wood shops open again here in Barcelona, a lot of shops are closed in August, I will get a piece of ebony and create a new bridge from scratch. Since I couldn’t wait a whole month to play the guitar I lowered the bridge and cut a saddle slot and installed a bone saddle for now, which has worked fine. It’s a beautiful guitar, it’s smells wonder full and sounds even better. This is my third K. Yairi and I have to say that it’s without any doubt the best Japanese acoustics I’ve played so far. I really love my K. Yairi YW-130 and K. Yairi TG-40 but nothing sounds as good as this K. Yairi YW-1000.

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973It’s worn and has few scratches but nothing too serious, except for the bridge as mentioned before. I changed the machine heads to Wilkinson WJ28NGD open gear in gold, the original ones were in gold too but most of it had worn off and on top of that they were really heavy. I love all the abalone binding and the hexagon inlays in the ebony fretboard. I’m so gay for bling on guitars, the more the better, perhaps I’m the Liberace of guitars.

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973As soon as I got the guitar I removed the fret, lowered the bridge by sanding it down and then I cut a proper saddle slot. Apparently the top of the bridge is rosewood on an ebony base so I had to paint the top black to match the rest. The bridge works fine but I’m not happy with how it looks so I will try my best to carve a new one in ebony and replace it.

The fist video is with the old makeshift rosewood bridge that the guitar came with, the second video is with the new ebony bridge that I carved myself from scratch, you can read about it here.

C.G. Winner

CG Winner AO-410 Made in Japan Neck trough late 1970'sC.G. Winner AO-410, Made in Japan 1980’s

About three years ago I came across the brand C.G. Winner for the first time. It was a German eBay seller that had one of these neck through double cut away guitar for sale and even though I wasn’t crazy about the design, I loved the name. My name is Claes Gellerbrink so any brand that has my initials and then the word winner after in their logo must be for me. Years later I stumbled upon one of these and in a weak moment bought it. I didn’t really know what to expect but I actually really like it. The neck is perhaps too long for me, just like an SG, I get confused when 12th fret is almost in the middle of the neck. Having said that, this is the fattest neck I’ve ever held in my hand, that I haven’t made myself, it’s a proper baseball bat. It’s a pretty well balanced guitar and doesn’t feel too neck heavy, like some do. I haven’t had time to play it properly through my Fender amp or played with any effects but I have a feeling this might be a monster with a bit of distortion. After some research a few Germans mentioned that these came with Di Marzio humbuckers, not sure if it’s true, mine are not stamped so it might be plain old Maxon’s. Either way, I’m pretty sure that C.G. Winner were made by Matsumoku in the early 1980’s alongside Aria Pro II, Vantage and Ibanez, which makes perfect sense since all three brands made neck through models very similar to this C.G. Winner. Here is the full story that I found reposted in quite a few Ibanez collector and Matsumoku based forums.

“Clarence Griffith Winner (C.G.Winner), was an American luthier. He was a close friend of Leo Fender, with whom he also worked until the beginning of the eighties, when Leo Fender founded G+L. Around the same time, Winner also founded his own enterprise. He created own collections of guitars, mostly inspired by Gibson. They were produced by Matsumoku of Japan (Aria Pro II, Vantage, Ibanez). Unfortunately Winner was a bad salesman, he refused to invest any money in marketing and advertising, so his guitars ware only known to insiders without a realistic chance on the market. Only a few years later Winner hat to give up his business. In the US C.G. Winner Guitars are well known amongst vintage-collectors, in Germany they are mostly unknown.” Found at the Ibanez Collectors

CG Winner AO-410 Made in Japan Neck trough late 1970'sCG Winner AO-410 Made in Japan Neck trough late 1970'sI only had to clean it up, put on a bone nut and replace the bridge and the knobs

 

K. Yairi YW-1000

1973 K. Yairi YW-1000K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973, Taken from my Instagram

I did it, finally I found myself a K. Yairi YW-1000. This has been a goal of mine for years, or at least since October 2013. You never see them for sale in Europe and to buy one from the US or Japan would set you back at least $1500-2000 plus import taxes and the risk that it gets confiscated in customs, some countries are really picky about Brazilian rosewood crossing their boarders. This K. Yairi YW-1000 was made in the 48th year of Emperor Shōwa, meaning 1973, I love the Emperor based serial numbers. I will write a lot more about this guitar when I got it all set up, I need to re-glue the bridge first.

Tacoma Stratocaster

Tacoma Stratocaster Made in Japan 1970'sTacoma Stratocaster, made in Japan in the late 1970’s

I haven’t paid much attention to electric guitars lately but then I saw this beautiful looking Tacoma Stratocaster and I couldn’t resist. I actually had a natural wood coloured Japanese Westone Strat that I really liked but sold last year since the neck profile was a bit too flat for my liking. This Tacoma has a neck profile right up there with my Tokai Silver Star SS-36 and my Fender Stratocaster, both made in 1979. I got confused when I bought this Tacoma, the auction was ending and I didn’t have time to do my research. I really thought that Tacoma had something to do with Tama for some reason, but apparently not. The only thing related to Tacoma that I have found so far is that Wutzdog guitars in Germany has two Strats from the mid 1970’s for sale and neither match mine. Mine has a fancy pants real inlay logo on the headstock while theirs have printed logos but then at least one of theirs have grey bottom pickups which I wished mine had too, my Tokai Silver Star SS-36 has that and they sound awesome. This Tacoma has some weird looking brass plate in the bottom but that might good too, I haven’t had time to play this properly through my Fender amp yet. Either way I really like this guitar and the neck is just a pure joy to play.

Tacoma Stratocaster Made in Japan 1970'sTacoma Stratocaster Made in Japan 1970'sI assume the guitar is from the late 1970’s considering the big head and feel of it, but who knows, they might have made Fender copies in the early 1980’s too. There is an American guitar company called Tacoma but I doubt that they have anything to do with these old Japan made guitars. If anyone knows anything about Tacoma then please get in touch.

Tacoma Stratocaster Made in Japan 1970'sThe wood is in great shape and it has a nice weight to it. This is the first time I’ve seen single coils with those heavy brass plates.

Tacoma Stratocaster Made in Japan 1970's pickupsAfter a bit of research I’ve come to think that perhaps my Tacoma was made by FujiGen. The guitar on the left is a Yamaha Super r’n Roller SR-400 and what I gathered they were made by FujiGen in the 1970’s. The guitar in the middle is an early 1970’s Matsumoku built Univox Strat. On the right we have my Tacoma and even though all three looks very similar I still think that the Tacoma and the Yamaha has the most in common.

 

Ibanez V 300

Ibanez V300 BS Made in Japan 1979Ibanez V 300 BS, Made in Japan by Fujigen Gakki in 1979

Last month I was asked to find a guitar for my friend Miki’s birthday. His girlfriend Laura thought that I was the man to source an old Japanese acoustic for him, well I found it and she picked it. Last night he received the guitar so now the surprise is over and I can write about it, he seemed very pleased to be a part of the vintage Japanese guitar club. It’s pretty similar in shape and sound to the Ibanez built Cimar D-320 I got for my friend Tomasz back in May. Even though they have a lot in common, this Ibanez felt both fancier and more solidly built. I really like the sound of these 1970-80’s Ibanez and they look pretty unique since they aren’t an obvious Gibson or Martin copy. I can highly recommend them if you find one for a descent price, they tend to be more in the Morris price range than Suzuki which I guess could be because Ibanez is such a famous brand.

Ibanez V300 BS Made in Japan 1979An extremely well kept 1979 Ibanez V 300 BS, built in Japan and after spending 36 years in France now lives happily in Barcelona

Ibanez catalogue 1983-84Ibanez catalogue 1983-84 take from Ibanez Guitars