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Tag: Eko

VOX, Made in Japan

VOX Les Paul Made in Japan 1970'sVOX Les Paul Made in Japan 1970’s 

I recently found a nice looking VOX Les Paul copy that I couldn’t resist. I had decided not to buy any more Les Paul’s after I sold my Westone a few weeks ago but this was just too nice to miss out on. It has a bolt on neck, which you could either hate or love, I’m fairly indifferent myself and you can read why here. The good part with bolt on necks is that they are so easy to adjust. It’s fairly common that older Les Paul and SG guitars with set necks gets a hump over the neck joint, something that can cause buzzing and you have to either raise the action or level the fretboard to get rid of it. The bad part with bolt on necks is the second hand value, a lot of people are still a bit racist when it comes to Gibson copies with a bolt on neck even though Gibson built a few themselves in the early 1980’s. What I fell in love with on this VOX was the flame top and the thickness of the neck, it’s so nice. It feels even fatter than my Tokai Love Rock LS-55 which has a fairly accurate 59′ Les Paul neck. This VOX even have the small head as the real Gibson of the late 1950’s and the pickups sounds pretty close to my old Westone. The only thing that is annoying me a bit is that I haven’t figured out who built it yet. There is no info about VOX in my list of Japanese guitar brands, well there is a Magnavox and a Univox but that’s not the same. The only thing I know is that when VOX stopped making guitars in the UK they moved to Italy before they ended up in Japan. The build quality is not as good as my 1991 Tokai Love Rock LS-55 or my 1980 Greco EG-600C, but it’s easily on the same level as the Westone which was built by Matsumoku. Even though I really enjoy this Les Paul I have too many guitars and is therefore up for sale.

VOX Les Paul Made in Japan 1970'sVOX Les Paul Made in Japan 1970'sIf anyone happens to have more information about Japanese made VOX guitars please get in touch

 

How to… crown and polish frets

Last week I got all the parts needed to try to refret my Tokai, Since I have never done any form of fret work before I thought it was a good idea to practice on some guitars before I got down to business on my beloved Les Paul. The first thing did was to crown and polish the frets on my EKO Ranger VI. It was a bit scary, like always when you do things for the first time, but I soon realised that it wasn’t harder than anything else I done in the past.

How to crown and polish frets
I masked the fretboard and then crowned the frets with my Uo-Chikyu medium fret crowning file. I read that was good to use 400, 600 and 1200 grit sandpaper to polish the frets but I could only find 400 and 800 here in Barcelona. Either way, it felt like the main difference was made by the last step, the wire wool.

How to crown and polish frets
Once the frets was shiny on smooth from the wire wool I went over them one last time with a cloth and some metal polish and the removed the masking tape and oiled up the fretboard with lemon oil. I decided to change the machine heads as well, I had a set of open back grover copies that seemed to suit fine. I think the neck almost looks like new now.

Eko Ranger VI

Eko Ranger VI

I went for a walk this Saturday and ended up in a Cash converter, as I usually do, and found myself with a Eko Ranger VI. I’ve been pretty curious about these and have kept an eye on eBay for one but they tend go for a lot more than I’m willing to pay but now the price was right. I took it home and gave it a good clean, oiled the fret board and restrung it. It’s a quite weird guitar, the neck feels like a Les Paul neck so it’s really easy to play solo on but it’s a bit thin sounding when strumming chords. I’m not sure if its’ because of the wood or the fact that it has a bolt on neck. I have a 12-string Eagle back in Sweden, a German made guitar from the 1970’s that has the same system and that one feels pretty similar. I’ve seen quite a few Framus and even some Japanese Epiphone’s with the bolt on so it must have been fairly common back then.

Eko Ranger VI I’m not sure if she has spend two decades in the sun or what happened to the pickguard. I will try to find a replacement and change that.

Eko Ranger VI It doesn’t say what model it is but I assume it’s a Eko Ranger VI.

Eko Ranger VI There are quite a few cracks in the lacquer all around and the nut has come off and been badly glued back by the previous owner.

Eko Ranger VI I guess it’s a 1970’s model since the headstock is not black but it’s a lot darker then these Rangers and has a black logo instead of white. Taken from OffsetGuitars

Eko Ranger

Jimmy Page Eko guitar
Hopefully now when I have my own Eko Ranger I can be as awesome as this guy. I still don’t get why Jimmy Page played on Eko’s since they are not the worlds best sounding guitars. Maybe it was for the flat neck that makes it feel a bit like Les Paul.
EKO sold
Update 2013-09-05 EKO got a new dad, a real Italian dad. This is how happy Gyo was when he picked up his new guitar.

Set neck or bolt on

A lot of people I have met over my 20 years of playing guitar have told me how horrible bolt on guitars are. This is the general opinion amongst guitar players and it can easily be seen in the second hand value of old Les Paul or SG copies for an example. “Oh it has a bolt on neck, well then I’m not interested.” I think it’s important to remember a few things. Most guitars were bolt on in the beginning, especially Japanese guitars up until 1973-74. It seems like it was only Gibson and the American makers that knew how to make set necks or maybe it was just too expensive to copy for brands in Europe and Asia. If you look at all the amazing German guitars from the Sixties like Hohner, Höfner or Italians like Eko, or even Swedish like Hagström, they will most likely be bolt on up until the early 70’s. My Hagström HIIN OT that was made in Sweden in 1975 has a bolt on neck, this was standard for a lot of brands back then. This was not a cheaply made instrument and back in the day it was good enough for both Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix. It’s an amazing guitar and I doubt it would be any better if it had a different neck joint. With a set neck I think they would have had to make both body and neck thicker, which would be hard for Hagström to sell since they were known for having the fastest necks in the world. A combination of thin necks, special H truss rods and amazing Swedish wood was their selling point when they broke in to the American market in the late Sixties. I don’t think that Frank Zappa thought his Hagström guitars were useless just because they had a bolt on neck.

Frank Zappa Hagstrom guitars

For me the quality of the guitar in general and what type of wood is being used is way more interesting than if the neck is screwed on or glued. There is a lot of discussions whether set necks has greater sustain or not and again, it’s probably more down to the wood than which type of neck joint the guitar has. I guess there could be a slight difference in sound depending on how the neck is joined together, at least if you are going to believe this Guitar Player article. Then again, it’s not really fair to compare a Gibson guitar with a Fender guitar. I think pickups, body shape and wood has more to do with why a Telecaster and a Les Paul sounds differently, not the fact that the necks are joined differently. It would make more sense to compare two Japanese Les Paul copies of equal age and quality, one with a set neck and one with a bolt on. I doubt that you could hear the difference.

If we are going to trust the old, set necks has more sustain, then all Fender instruments should have less sustain. I would have to say that I disagree since I have played and heard Stratocasters with amazing sustain. Again, I believe that the quality of the wood is causing the sustain, not the glue or screws. The most important part, as always, is to play what you like and don’t care what other people say. I’m 100% sure that a Japan made Les Paul copy from the 1970’s with bolt on neck that cost ¥50 000 back then sounds better than any modern far east made copy with a set neck. It’s all about the quality of the instrument, not how the neck is joined to the body.

Westone Les Paul Made in Japan MatsumokuMy bolt on Westone Les Paul copy from the 1970’s made by Matsumoku in Japan.