Tag: cheap japanese guitars

Suzuki Three-S F-120

Suzuki Three-S F-120 Made in Japan #780721
A really well kept Suzuki Three-S F-120. Built in 1978 by Suzuki Violin Co. LTD in Nagoya Japan.

I recently found another Suzuki Three-S F-120. These are great little Japanese built guitars that I can highly recommend. Really sweet tone and pretty descent build quality for being so inexpensive. Of course they can’t compare to Morris or K. Yairi but next to Aria, Maya, Shiro or the normally Suzuki’s they are great. It’s a simple Martin D-18 copy built in 1978 by Suzuki Violin Co. LTD in Nagoya Japan. What always surprises me with these Suzuki Three-S F-120 is how light they are compared to a lot of Japanese dreadnoughts from the 1970’s that can feel pretty heavy and bulky. Unfortunately this one was sold straight away so I only got time to fix it up and make a Youtube video of it before it was gone. If you want to know more about different Japanese guitar brands then check my previous post.

Suzuki Three-S F-120 Made in Japan #780721
Suzuki Three-S F-120 Made in Japan #780721

Suzuki Three-S catalogue USA 1979
Suzuki Three-S F-120 in an old Japanese catalogue from 1979. It has spruce top, might actually be solid, with a laminated nato back and sides. Nato neck with a really dark rosewood fingerboard and bridge, it almost looks like ebony.

Suzuki Three-S F-120

Suzuki Three-S F-120Suzuki Three-S F-120 Made in Japan in 1976

I recently came across this Suzuki Three-S F-120 that I have fixed up and it’s now for sale. It seems to be a copy of an early Martin D-18, it feels less bulky than most dreadnoughts. Built in 1976 by Suzuki Violin Co. LTD in Nagoya Japan. It’s a beautiful guitar in a really good shape for being almost 40 years old. It’s very easy to play with low action and it has a great tone, very warm and rich.

Suzuki Three-S F-120I took the machine heads a part, cleaned, polished and oiled them before I put them back together. I polished the frets and oiled the fretboard and then made a new compensated saddle in bone. Now it sounds and plays great.

Suzuki Three-S F-120Suzuki Three-S F-120
I have another Suzuki for sale, however, these guitars were not made by the same company. Both were originally building violins so both are called Suzuki Violin Co. LTD but they were based in different parts of Japan. Kiso-Suzuki manufactured guitars in the region of Kiso-Fukushima. Nagoya Suzuki manufactured guitars in the region of Nagoya. 

Suzuki Three-S F-120I finally found an old catalogue for it. It seems to be spruce top, nato back and sides and nato neck with rosewood fingerboard

China vs Korea

Buy American! The electric guitar was invented in the USA so there is no surprise that they used to produce the finest guitars in the world. However, in the Seventies as competition grew stronger Fender and the big boys started to focus more on market shares and suddenly quantity became more important than quality. At the same time the Japanese factories really stared to get a hang on building amazing copies of American instruments with more eye for details than the Americans themselves in some cases. Epiphone, Gibson, Fender and Grestch all moved part of their production to Japan for the amazing quality offered to a lower price. The list of world domination on the guitar building market used to be USA, Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China etc. Now things started to change and Japan took over a big part of both USA and Europe’s production. Japan was never really that cheap, well they did produce super cheap instruments too, but the top brands was still quite expensive so in order to increase their profit most of the Japanese manufacturers moved parts of the production to Korea in the Eighties. Suddenly a Japanese copy of and American guitar was now being produced in Korea. As the Eighties became the Nighties even the Korean workers started to feel expensive and production was moved to Taiwan, China or in some cases even Singapore, Indonesia or India. Japan is still the best guitar builders in the Far East but as their prices increased more and more people settled for number two, which used to be Korea but things have changed, again. The Koreans have become sloppy, and expensive so now Tokai and other companies have moved their production to China instead. China is the new Korea. I have to say that the two Tanglewood parlour guitars that my girlfriend and I have are amazingly built for the price. They are hand built in China and I doubt that anything built in Korea today could match that. Korean built instruments from the Eighties are still really good so I believe this change happened in the last 5-10 years. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when the Chinese built instruments gets the recognition they deserve on the second hand market. Today sellers just push for guitars being MIJ, Made in Japan, or MIK, Made in Korea. When will the MIC arrive and how much will they be worth?

Barnes & Mullins BJ500m 5 String Banjo

My Barnes & Mullins BJ500m 5 String Banjo built in China and set up in the UK