Claescaster

Tag: Fender Japan

Greco TE-500N

Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N 1976Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N, Made in Japan by FujiGen in 1976

I managed to find another Greco TE-500N, unfortunately later that week I found my new Nancy, the Greco TL-800. Hence why I’ve decided to sell the Greco TE-500N, I can’t stop playing my Greco TL-800 so I really don’t need two late 1970’s Greco Thinline copies. The Maxon pickups sounds great, still Tele like but with a fullness that is amazing. If anyone is interested then send me a mail. This guitar is sold now.

Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N 1976
Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N 1976

Greco TE-800

Greco TE-800 , Made in Japan, FujiGen 1981Greco TE-800, Made in Japan by FujiGen 1981

I finally found my “Nancy“, this has taken forever or at least four years. I used to have an amazing sounding and looking late 1980’s Japan made Fender Telecaster TL52-75, a great ’52 re-issue that I could never get used to the thin neck on. Then I found myself a 1979 Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500, equally great sounding but not in a mint state like the Fender, same problem there the neck was way too thin. So since 2013 I’ve been trying to find a nice Japan made ’52 re-issue with a thicker neck but without any luck. I don’t have large hands or anything, it’s just that since I mainly play old Levin acoustics from the 1960’s I’m kind of used to thicker necks than what’s standard on Japanese electrics. The solution turned out to be a an early 1980’s Greco TE-800 since they came with a pretty decent V-neck. It’s not the thickest neck I’ve seen or anything, it’s actually quite shy in thickness even though it’s a V-profile, but it’s far better that all the other Japan made Telecaster necks I’ve tried from the 1970-80’s. I’ve seen a few Crafted in Japan Fender ’52 re-issues from the mid 2000’s that has nice V-necks but nothing before that. The USA made Fender American Vintage ’52 Telecaster didn’t have it’s fat U-shaped neck until 1998 either, so this seems more like an 1980-90’s problem than purely a Japanese problem. I blame all the slick fast playing guitarists in the 80’s that wanted super thin necks, the ruined everything for the rest of us. The previous owner of the Greco TE-800, a really nice German man called Lennart, and I have had quite long mail conversations regarding this mythical creature, the unicorn of necks, the V-neck on Japan made Telecasters. In his expertise the V-profile appeared on the high-end Tokai, Greco and Fernades models around 1980-82. Something that I have had confirmed from early 80’s Tokai’s, both Strats and Teles I’ve seen for sale on eBay. This Greco TL-800 lost it’s original bridge at some point, with the serial number, but according the Lennart it must be from 1981. He has had a few other Greco TL-800 in his life and they apparently stopped with the V-shaped necks in 1982.

♪ ♫ ♪ Roy Buchanan – CC Rider

Greco TE-800 , Made in Japan, FujiGen 1981
Greco TE-800 , Made in Japan, FujiGen 1981Greco TE-800 , Made in Japan, FujiGen 1981I really don’t mind how worn this Greco TL-800 is, it’s so beautiful in my eyes. Everything from the chipped fretboard to the cigarette burn on the back of the neck, I’m not sure how someone managed with that. The only part I don’t like is the Wilkinson bridge, it’s actually what I use on the Claescasters but on this guitar I would have preferred something older, more worn and perhaps Japanese. The Greco TL-800 has, beside the V-neck, Nitro lacquer and a Maxon neck pickup and the legendary DiMarzio Pre B-1 in the bridge. I’m not 100% sure that the DiMarzio is for me, it seems a bit too hot for my liking but I will try it with the band first and see how it works in a louder setting.

Fender Telecaster Japan TL52-75

Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan
Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan by FujiGen between 1987-1989

In loving memory of Nancy, my Fender Telecaster TL52-75, that was sold last night. I miss her already but I’m glad she went to a good home. She lives in Zaragoza now with Juan and I’m sure she will get more love than I could ever give her. Two guitars have left me in the same week, I think I’m still in shock, sad but kind of happy at the same time.

Fender Japan TL52-75

 

Tokai Silver Star SS-36

Tokai Silver Star SS-36 Made in Japan 1979
Tokai Silver Star SS-36 Made in Japan 1979

When arrived to the office on Monday morning I noticed that Yuma, one of the eBay sellers that I follow from Japan, had added a new guitar, a 1979 Tokai Silver Star SS-36. I’ve always admired, well admired is not strong enough, I’ve always been totally gay for the 3-tone sunburst that Fender used in 1970’s. I even built the Claescaster because of this, since I couldn’t find a Telecaster with the right colour I decided to assemble one myself. For the past two years I’ve been looking at different Japanese big headed Stratocasters with the 3-tone 1970’s sunburst and black pickguard and was pretty convinced that a Greco SE-500 would be my next electric guitar or perhaps a late Seventies Fernandes Burny but they never seemed to have necks that were fat enough. I was in touch with a couple of the Japanese sellers and asked which brand had the fattest neck and got this reply, none. One seller explained that most Japanese guitars have fairly flat necks since the Japanese have small hands, which sounded a bit racist but whatever the reason is, most Japan made guitars had soft profiled necks up until now. I’ve played a couple of Crafted in Japan Fenders with great V-profile but that’s just in the last couple of years, none of the Japanese guitars that I’ve tried from 1970-80’s has had any baseball bat necks. This was a beautiful looking Tokai Silver Star with great grain showing through the 3-tone sunburst. I asked the seller about the neck and he replied that it wasn’t super fat, more of a soft U-profile, well that sounded close enough to me. The truth is that I’ve really missed the sound of the Fernandes RST-50 ’57 that I had for a short while. The Grey Bobbin pickups just sounded so amazingly good but I could never really come to terms with the small head or the fact that the guitar was black. Eric Clapton’s Blackie in all honour but they look pretty bland and boring to me, I like wood coloured or 3-tone sunburst guitars. My head started to think, well what could be better than Greco’s Maxon pickups, well the Ferndandes grey bobbin pickups, any day. Who was making Fernades in the late Seventies, well Tokai. Does that mean that this Tokai Silver Star will have some form of similar pickups? I tried to do some research but before I had even come to any conclusion I was the happy owner of a 1979 Tokai Silver Star SS-36. It was a Monday morning, I was a bit hungover, most of my guitar purchases has been made in that state, or perhaps when I’m drunk. I tend to be really concerned about money, I like to plan ahead, save for a rainy day, and then suddenly I sit there in front of the computer drunk or hungover without any filters whatsoever and just thinking GAS, GAS, GAS.

Tokai Silver Star SS-36 Made in Japan 1979
Tokai Silver Star SS-36 Made in Japan 1979

To be honest I didn’t know that much about Tokai, a part of me has always classed it like Ibanez, kind of bellow Greco in terms of quality. Then again, I can’t really say that I have felt a huge difference in quality between the Fender Japan made by FujiGen or the ones by Tokai, but everyone seems to prefer the Made in Japan to the later Tokai built Crafted in Japan. I have a 1991 Tokai Love Rock LS-55 Les Paul copy that is awesome but that doesn’t mean that an entry level Strat from 1979 would be equally good, but luckily it was. The Tokai Silver Strat SS-36 was the cheapest in the line of the late Seventies Fender copies that Tokai made but I think the main difference between the top and the bottom was if they had 3 or 4 screws bolt-on-necks, how many pieces of wood was used for the bodies and the quality of machine heads and hardware, and less about the pickups. Or perhaps these are the shittiest pickups Tokai produced and they still sound awesome.

Tokai (Tōkai Gakki)
Tōkai Gakki was founded in 1947 and is based in Hamamatsu, Japan. Tokai began production of acoustic guitars in 1965 and by 1968 was producing electric guitars for the American market. Tokai still exists as guitar manufacturer. Tokai made guitars for Fernandes, Mosrite and Fender Japan. Tokai badged guitars included the house brand Tokai as well as Cat’s Eyes, Conrad, Drifter, Hondo, Love Rock, Mosrite, Sigma and Silver Star. Possible badges include Artist Ltd., Gaban, Gallan, Gession and Robin. It’s suggested that Tokai made Hummingbird acoustics as well, but if these were related to those made by Humming Bird I haven’t quite sorted out yet. Taken from my previous post about Japanese guitar brands

Fender replicas were started in 1977 officially. These were great guitars too. Using good quality wooden material with great craft man ship. “Springy Sound” Stratocaster replicas and the “Breezy Sound” Telecaster replicas are superior to the original Fender. Tokai has own factory and has built guitars for many famous known brands such as Fernandes and Fender Japan. For that mean, Tokai is only one original electric guitar manufacturer in Japan. (Note: Fender Japan used many sub constructors such as Fujigen, Dyna, Tokai, and Terada. The JV and E serial were made by Fujigen. Tokai made has “Made in Japan” under serial number in cursive handwriting). Taken from Music-Trade Japan

Tokai Silver Star SS-36 Made in Japan 1979
The guitar has a really nice soft U-shaped 1-piece maple neck with a nut width of just 40.6 mm, which didn’t feel that different to me. The body is 4 pieces Sen (Japanese ash) with poly lacquer in the classic 1970’s Fender 3-tone sunburst, which I truly love. I’m not sure if the pickups are similar to the L-5000 Vintage Arched PP Grey Bobbin pickups that the Fernandes RST-50 ’57 had or just some other grey bottom pickups. I tried to find some more information about them but they are just refereed to as grey bottom Tokai PU at Music-Trade Japan. Tokai Was building Fernandes at this time so I assume they would have used similar pickups for both. Either way, I love the pickups in this Tokai and it sounds almost as good as the Fernades did. I added an extra spring to the tremolo block since I never use the wammy bar and prefer a more solid hardtail feel, just like a real late 1970’s Fender Stratocaster.


I will try to get a new video up soon where I play a bit louder so you can hear the pickups properly, I was worried about the neighbours, and ideally play a bit better.


Well here it is, I might not play any better, but at least it is a more of it. I changed the string to 010, always Ernie Ball Regular Slinky, raised the action and fitted a 4th spring to the tremolo. Not sure what difference it made sound vice but it made it felt better to me playing.

 

 

Guitars for sale

I have a couple of more guitars for sale now so if you’re interested or have any questions just send me an email claesgellerbrink@gmail.com or give me a call 639586158.

Hohner Telecaster Made in Japan 1970s Hohner Telecaster, Made in Japan, Moridaira factory, 1970’s, 500€ SOLD
A great Telecaster copy in a good shape for age but with some dings to the bottom of the body. Frets are in great condition and there isn’t a single mark on the back of the neck. It’s a pretty heavy Telecaster with great sustain and nice feel to it. The pickups sounds awesome and everything is working fine, all original except for the 3-way switch that wasn’t working properly so I replaced it with a new one. Really fast and smooth neck, lovely to play. A great sounding guitar with amazing sustain and great Japanese build quality. Made in Japan by Morris in the Moridaira factory, where H.S. Anderson made the Mad Cats that Prince uses. You can read more about the guitar here and here is a Youtube clip.

VOX Les Paul Made in Japan 1970sVOX Les Paul, Made in Japan, 1970’s, 350€ SOLD
This is the first Japan made VOX guitar I’ve found in Spain. It’s a pretty decent copy of a 1958′ Les Paul with a great feeling fat neck and narrow head. The body has a lovely grain and the guitar is in pretty good shape for the age with a couple scratches and a few dents. Frets show some wear but are still fine and everything is working perfectly. The humbuckers have a nice tone too them, not too heavy or muffled. A pretty versatile and nice guitar to play with great Japanese build quality. You can read more about the guitar here and here is a Youtube clip.

Maya F335G Made in Japan 1970sMaya F335G, Dreadnought acoustic, Made in Japan, 1970’s, 250€ SOLD
Japan made Gibson J-50 copy in a pretty good state for it’s age. I couple of marks on the spruce top and few knocks on the head but structurally very sound without any cracks. This Maya F334G was made by Chushin Gakki in Kobe, Japan, during the 1970’s. It has a really fat neck, it’s feels great to play, adjustable bridge with both bone nut and saddle. The sound is very full with a great booming bass, you can listen to it here. If you want more pictures  you can check the post I wrote about it.

Fender Telecaster Japan TL52-75Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue Made in Japan, FujiGen 1987-1989. 900€ SOLD
In mint condition, all original, without any doubts the best Telecaster I have ever played. Imported straight from Japan. The only reason for selling is because I prefer fat 70’s necks. There is no way to find the production year of these A-serial Telecaster with the serial number on the bridge plate. However, it must have been made between 1987 and 1989 since it’s a TL52-75. They were called TL52-70 between 1984-1986 and then changed to TL52-700 in 1990. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Westone Stratocaster Made in Japan MatsumokuWestone Stratocaster, Made in Japan, Matsumoku factory, 1979, 400€ SOLD
An amazing Stratocaster copy from 1979 made in Japan by Matsumoku. In really good shape for age but with some dings and scratches to the body. Frets are in great condition and there isn’t a single mark on the back of the neck. The wood in the body is amazing, without any doubt the heaviest and most solid Strat I have ever seen with fantastic sustain. Really nice tone in the pickups and everything is working fine, the original 3-way switch has been replaced with an Oak Grigsby 5-way switch. Really fast and smooth neck, lovely to play. A great sounding guitar with amazing sustain and great Japanese build quality. Here is some more info about the Westone brand. Here is a Youtube clip with the guitar.

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

Radius gauge

Understand radius
My Westone Stratocaster is getting the strings adjusted to the 7.25″ radius of the fretboard

I recently received my Understring Radius Gauge set from the friendly Portuguese luthier supplier Guitars & Woods. If I had only bought this before I ordered four new sets of Jescar frets from Philaluthiertools. I stupidly thought that most of my old Japanese guitars had a radius of 9.5″, they didn’t feel as curved as my Fender Telecaster TL52-75, which I knew had a radius of 7.25″. It turned out that both my Greco Teles and Hohner and Westone Strats had a vintage radius of 7.25″, so now I have to order new frets for them. I have never really cared about adjusting the strings after the radius, I read somewhere that Eric Clapton and others had the saddles flat so I thought I could have that too but when I received my Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500 back in September and it had really well adjusted action set after the radius I instantly fell in love. It’s such a difference on a Strat or Tele with a 7.25″ radius, you can really see and feel the curve. I adjusted all the guitars I could according to their radius and in most cases I had to raise the string height on the D and G string, which makes them really snappy and twangy, it sounds and feels awesome on my Telecasters.

Japanese guitar brands

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

I guess it will come as no surprise that I love Japanese guitars, especially Greco’s. I have over the years learned quite a lot about different brands and makers but it can get pretty confusing for me too. Luckily I found this great list of Japanese guitars brands, or rather a list of guitar makers. The list might not be complete but it’s a good start. Taken from Who Made My MIJ Guitar

Atlansia
This guitar manufacturer started out as a parts supplier in the early 1970’s. Atlansia didn’t begin production of guitars under their badge until infamous engineer and designer Nobuaki Hayashi of Matsumoku fame became the company’s president and chief designer in the late 1970’s. Since then, Atlansia has continued to produce cutting-edge guitar designs in Nagano, Japan. The company did not make any other badged guitars other than namesake Atlansia.

Chushin Gakki
Chushin is still in operation today in Nagano, Japan and does business with guitar giant Fender. I believe that Chushin may have been a member of the Matsumoto Musical Instruments Association listed further down because both companies produced Fresher guitars during different periods….with Matsumoto beginning production and Chushin ending it (perhaps because the Association was disbanded?). During the 1960-1980 period they were responsible for badges Bambu, Cobran, El Maya and Hisonus as well as some Charvel, Fresher and Jackson badges. The company may have possibly made some guitars with the Aztec, Maya and Robin badges, but that is not verified. Guitars made by Chushin from this period are well-made and appreciated by guitar enthusiasts worldwide.

Daimaru
Founded in the city of Matsumoto, Japan in the early 1960’s, Daimaru produced their own house brand, although they outsourced electric guitar production to Teisco during the 1970’s period. Daimaru appears to have gone out of business after 1980.

Dyna Gakki
Dyna Gakki began production in 1972 in the city of Nagano, Japan. They manufactured guitars for Fender Japan and Greco, so they couldn’t have been a terrible manufacturer as Fender is very choosy about outsourcing their product. Dyna was responsible for the JooDee badge and may have been a source for Japanese manufacturer Yamaki. Dyna also produced the infamous Ibanez badges for a short period of time.

Electric Sound Products (ESP)
Founded in 1975 by Hisatake Shibuya, this wildly-popular manufacturer focused on making quality basses for export as well as electric guitars. ESP survived the ‘copy’ era and is still in business today. Badges made by ESP included their house brand ESP as well as Navigator during the late 1970’s. A possible badge made by the company was Robin.

Elk Gakki (also known as Miyuki)
Makers of the Elk badged guitar from the early to mid 1960’s to 1975, although other sources indicate that the Elk brand did not stop production until the early 1980’s. Elk badged guitars came in clear acrylics in addition to colors in the early 1970’s, which was an attempt to copy clear acrylics designed by the legendary Dan Armstrong in the late 1960’s.

Fernandes
Fernandes Guitars started production in 1969 in Osaka, Japan. It grew and became one of the largest producers of Japanese-made guitars, rivaling competitors Fujigen and Matsumoku. Fernandes produced guitars with the Burny and Nady badges as well as house brand Fernandes. A possible badge made by Fernandes was the oddly named Orange guitar.

Fujigen Gakki
Fujigen Gakki began operation in 1960 as a classical guitar manufacturer, moving into the lucurative electric guitar markets in 1962. The company was the largest producer of Japanese guitars during the 1960-1980 period. They were known for producing high quality products, especially for the badged guitar market, which is why the company was selected by so many major American brands. It wasn’t until 1970 that the company began making products for the venerable Ibanez brand, which was an unqualified success. Fujigen Gakki was the main manufacturer of choice for Greco badged guitars in the 1970 to 1980 period. They also produced guitars for major manufacturer Yamaha. Badged guitars made by Fujigen include Antoria, Epiphone, Jason and Mann. Badged guitars that may have been made by Fujigen Gakki were Marlin and St. Moritz.

Guyatone
Guyatone produced electric guitars for major guitar manufacturer Suzuki. The company also produced their house brand Guyatone. Badged guitars produced by Guyatone include Barclay, Broadway, Coronado, Crestwood, Futurama, Howard, Hi-Lo, Ibanez, Ideal, Imperial, Johnny Guitar, Kent, Kingston, Lafayette, Marco Polo (electrics only), Montclair, Omega, Orpheus, Prestige, Royalist, Saturn, Silhouette, Silvertone, Vernon, Winston and Zenta, an impressive amount of names produced by a single company. Other badges that may have been produced by Guyatone are Beeton (not to be confused by the Beeton Brass Guitar company founded in 1994), Bradford, Canora and Regent.

Hayashi/Zenon
Hayashi was one of the premier acoustic guitar makers among Japanese manufacturers from this time frame. Hayashi bought out small manufacturer Zen-On in 1968 during a period of expansion for the company. Credited with making Pearl badged acoustic guitars, Hayashi was also responsible for making Cortez, Custom and Emperador acoustics.

Hitachi Gakki/Hitachi Musical Instruments Manufacturing
I’m unsure if this company existed or not, but since many major electronics manufacturers jumped into the electric guitar market in the 1970’s, it seems reasonable that Hitachi could have ventured briefly into guitar production. A seller of the badged guitar “Splender” claims it was made by this company. Yet another seller claims the badge Slendon was made by this company.

Hoshino Gakki Ten/ Tama
Hoshino Gakki were known primarily for producing Ibanez guitars during this time although that wasn’t the only badged guitar they made. Badged guitars produced by Hoshino include Cimar, Cimar by Ibanez, Penco, Howard. Tama Industries began guitar production from 1962 to 1967 as a factory of Hoshino, producing more badged Ibanez guitars as well as Continental, Crest, Goldentone, Jamboree, King’s Stone, Maxitone, Star, Starfield (some), Tulio and Jason. Tama eventually took over badged guitar production from STAR Instruments in the mid-1960’s. There’s some evidence that Tama began producing guitars under their own badge from 1975-1979. I’m unsure at this point if this Tama had any relation to the Tama that existed under Hoshino Gakki Ten.

Humming Bird
Little-known manufacturer in operation in the early 1960’s until 1968. Humming Bird made electrics that were copies of Mosrite guitars. It’s possible they also made acoustics.

Iida
Iida began manufacturing guitars in 1958 in Nagoya, Japan. Iida is still producing guitars, but mostly in their factory located in Korea. They were mainly responsible for producing acoustic and semi-acoustic rather than electric guitars for major manufacturers Ibanez and Yamaha. There is speculation that Iida may have assisted Moridara for a short period in making Morris badged guitars, but that is not verified.

Kasuga
Kasuga produced their own house brand in Kasuga guitars. For a brief period of time the company produced Yamaha acoustic guitars. Kasuga guitars were first sold in America in 1972. Unlike many Japanese manufacturers who outsourced their guitar production in other factories outside the main maker, Kasuga produced all their products in-house. Badged guitars known to have been made by Kasuga include Conrad, Emperador, ES-S, Ganson, Heerby, Hondo, Mei Mei and Roland. Kasuga went out of business in 1996.

Kawai Teisco
Kawai Teisco was founded by Atswo Kaneko and Doryu Matsuda. The company also produced the popular Ibanez badge in the 1960’s. Kawai Teisco made their own house brands Kawai, Teisco, Del Rey and Teisco Del Rey. Badged guitars produced by the Kawai Teisco factories include Apollo, Aquarius, Arbiter, Atlas, Audition, Avar, Ayar, Barth, Beltone, Black Jack, Cipher, Concert, Cougar, Crown, Daimaru, Decca, Diasonic, Domino, Duke, Emperador, Heit Deluxe, Hy-Lo, Holiday, Imperial, Inter-Mark Cipher, Jedson, Kay, Kent, Kimberly, Kingsley, Kingston, Keefy, Lindell, Marquis, May Queen, Minister, Noble, Prestige, Randall, Recco, Regina, Rexina, Sakai, Satellite, Schaffer, Sekova, Silvertone, Sorrento, Sterling, Swinger, Tele Star, Top Twenty, Victoria, and Winston. Possible badged guitars made by the company include: Astrotone, Demian, G-Holiday, Lafayette, Master, Orange, Tamaki and Trump.

Kyowa Shokai
This company, which may have been a distributor as opposed to a manufacturer, was a member of the Matsumoto Musical Instrument Association. They have been credited with Camel and Fresher badged guitars, although Freshers were also made by Chushin in the late 1970’s.

Magnavox/Ampeg
Ampeg was swallowed up by Japanese electrical giant Magnavox in 1971, when they wanted to get in on the electric guitar copy craze of the 1970’s. Magnavox produced electric and bass guitars under the Stud badge as well as the successful Ampeg brand. It’s been suggested that Magnavox was also responsible for producing Selmer acoustic guitar badges during this time, but that has not been verified. Selmer was sold to Magnavox around the same time they bought Ampeg, so it certainly seems plausible they could have made Selmer acoustic badged guitars as an offering for that market. Stud badged guitars were made until ’75, with Ampeg guitar production continuing until 1980. Opus was another badge made by the company. Magnavox lost their interest in Ampeg shortly thereafter and the brand languished until it was resurrected over a decade later by another American company.

Maruha Gakki
We know this company existed in the 1970’s in Japan because of stickers found inside repaired Maruha guitars. Maruha made high-quality acoustics, some of which are badged F. Hashimoto (some long lost master luthier?) along with the Maruha badges. These guitars are highly sought-after because of the overall quality.

Matsumoku
Matsumoku is one of the Japanese manufacturers that did not survive long after the heyday of the 1970’s guitar market despite having a long tradition of quality stringed instrument craftsmanship. Matsumoku produced guitars for major manufacturers Greco, Guyatone and Yamaha. Matsumoku made Arai, Aria, Aria Pro II and Aria Diamond badges, with Aria being their primary badge for a majority of this time frame. Badged guitars known to have been made by Matsumoku include Apollo, Arita, Barclay, Burny, Capri, Columbus, Conrad, Cortez (electrics only), Country, Cutler, Dia, Domino, Electra, Epiphone, Granada, Hi Lo, Howard, Ibanez, Lindberg, Lyle, Luxor, Maxitone (this guitar differs from Tama’s Maxitone badge), Mayfair, Memphis, Montclair, Pan, Pearl (electrics only), Raven, Stewart, Tempo, Univox ,Vantage, Ventura, Vision, Volhox, Washburn (in 1979 and 1980), Westbury, Westminster and Westone. Possible Matsumoku badges include: Bruno, Crestwood, Conqueror, Eros, Mako, Memphis, Orlando and Toledo.

Matsumoto Musical Instrument Manufacturers Association
The Matsumoto Musicial Instrument Manufacturers Association was the organization responsible for Fresher guitars. Little is known about this association, other than it did not have larger guitar manufacturers Matsumoku or Fujigen Gakki as members. Nakai Gakki was a possible member of the association. Fresher guitars began production in 1973 by the Kyowa Shokai Company, an association member, which was also responsible for the Camel badge. It’s interesting to note that Fresher guitars were eventually being produced by Chushin, which leads me to believe that they may have been an Association member along with Kyowa. The beginning production year was considered a low quality benchmark for the company. The Fresher brand continuously improved in quality until 1980.

Maya Guitar Company
Located in Kobe, Japan, this manufacturer made the famous Maya brand guitar. Maya guitars were in production from 1970-1980. It’s been suggested that Maya may have been responsible for the Aztec badge. You’ll notice that Maya has been attributed to a company known as Tahara. At this point I do not know if Maya assisted in production or if Tahara produced some Maya guitars as a subcontractor. Maya and El Maya badges have also been attributed to Chushin Gakki. More research is needed to clarify this point.

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.

Nakai Gakki
Little-known manufacturer from Osaka, Japan, this company is responsible for the oddly named John Bennet badge. Nakai has been mentioned as a possible Matusmoto Musical Instruments Association member in the past. The company still exists and is producing musical instruments, quite a feat in light of so many manufacturers who faded after the golden electric guitar age.

Shinko Musical Company
A very small, unknown company that is attributed to being the manufacturer of the Pleasant guitar from 1960 to 1966. Shinko later moved to Korea sometime in the early 1970’s where they produced the Drive guitar badge.

Shiro Musical Instrument Manufacturing Company, Limited
This little-known company is responsible for the St. George badge. This particular badge was made from 1963-1967. It also produced the rare Shiro guitar. It is possible that the company may also be responsible for the Pleasant guitar badge after 1966. This company may have been a small offshoot of Aria Guitar Company, founded by Shiro Arai, but that has not been verified as of today.

STAR Instruments
This company slowly merged into Hoshino/Tama but prior to their unification, produced instruments with the Star badge, mainly drums. They also produced guitars, including the infamous Zim-Gar badged electric and acoustic guitars. Over time, drum production was segmented to Pearl, while guitar contracts were taken up by Tama. Zim-Gar production was relatively short, as these were budget guitars made for K-mart between 1962 and 1968.

Suzuki Musical Instrument Manufacturing
Suzuki had two factories in Kiso and Hamamatsu where they made popular Suzuki guitars. The Hummingbird Suzuki guitar was manufactured in the Kiso factory. Suzuki is also credited with making the Canora and Takeharu badged guitars along with Marco Polo acoustics. Holly is another badge ascribed to Suzuki, although that has not been verified.

Tahara
Founded by a father and son, Ryohei Tahara and the unknown Tahara. I do not know which was the father and which was the son. The company existed until the late 1979 when it was bought up by Saga Musical Instruments. In all, the company existed less than a decade as Tahara. Both the Maya and El Maya badges are attributed to Tahara. Saga Musical Instruments exists to this day.

Takamine
Founded in 1962 in Sakashita, Japan, this manufacturer survived the copy era and is still producing guitars to this day. Takamine was among the first to make and export electric acoustics with their own house brand, although they are primarily known for their acoustic guitars. It is unknown if they made badged guitars.

Terada
Terada was one of the smaller Japanese manufacturers of acoustic guitars during the period of 1960 to 1980, producing products for Epiphone, Fender Japan, Grapham, Gretch and Vesta. Terada produced some Kingston badges until 1975. Other badged guitars produced by Terada include some Burny badges and interesting Thumb guitars. Terada has been in continuous operation since 1912.

Tokai
Tokai was founded in 1947 and is based in Hamamatsu, Japan. Tokai began production of acoustic guitars in 1965 and by 1968 was producing electric guitars for the American market. Tokai still exists as guitar manufacturer. Tokai made guitars for Fernandes, Mosrite and Fender Japan. Tokai badged guitars included the house brand Tokai as well as Cat’s Eyes, Conrad, Drifter, Hondo, Love Rock, Mosrite, Sigma and Silver Star. Possible badges include Artist Ltd., Gaban, Gallan, Gession and Robin. It’s suggested that Tokai made Hummingbird acoustics as well, but if these were related to those made by Humming Bird I haven’t quite sorted out yet.

Tombo
Tombo was the only Japanese manufacturer who produced Norma badged guitars. Tombo made Norma guitars from 1965 to 1970. Badged guitars produced by Tombo include Angelica, Asama, Columbus, Condor, Duke, Horugel, Kinor, Montaya, Queen, Regina, Schaffer and Yamato.

Toyota
Is there anything T. Kurosawa didn’t attempt to manufacture in the 1970’s? Yes, Toyota manufactured a high-end line of acoustic, electric and bass guitars from approximately 1972. Toyota ceased manufacturing guitars in a short span of time (probably because they didn’t sell), although exactly when in the 1970’s production ended, I’m not sure.

Yamaha/Nippon Gakki
Founded in 1946, Yamaha is still going strong in the electric guitar market as a manufacturer. During the timeframe this article covers (1960-1980) all Yamaha guitars were made in Japan, although not necessarily in their factories as they outsourced to other manufacturers.

Yamaki
Yamaki was founded in the 1960 by brothers Yasuyuki and Hirotsygu. Yamaki exists today as a major manufacturer of guitar parts for outside Japanese guitar manufacturers. Yamaki produced a house brand, as well as Daion, Dion, Grande and Jedson badged guitars.

Zen-On (see also Hayashi)
Little known Japanese manufacturer who was out of business by 1968. Zen-On made electric guitars with the house brand Zen-on badge, as well as Beltone, Morales and Zenon badges. Zen-On bought out Hayashi, but exactly when that took place is clouded in mystery.

Thanks again to Who Made My MIJ Guitar for the extensive research. Another great source is the Japanese site Music Trade, where you can read Koyama’s first hand experience with some more obscure brands. I have only tried Fender Japan (MIJ and CIJ), Greco, Tokai, Fernandes, Morris, Suzuki, Westone, Hohner, CSL and Teisco so if you have any questions regarding these brands your are more than welcome to get in touch. I did a previous post about the quality of Japan made guitars that can be found here, Are all Japanese guitars good? Here is the Japanese section of the Claes collection, however some of these guitars have found a new home now.

Japanese guitars, MIJ, Made in Japan
The Japanese collection at the moment: 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, VOX Les Paul 1970′s, Hohner Telecaster 1970’s, Hohner Stratocaster 1970′s, Tokai Silver Star SS-36 1979, Jazz Bass 1978, Fender Squier 1993, Maya F335G 1970’s, K.Yairi TG-40 1977, Morris WL-40 1973, Morris WL-35 1970’s


Fender Telecaster Japan TL52-75

Fender Telecaster Japan TL52-75
Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan by FujiGen between 1987-1989

I have thought long and hard about it and now decided to put “Nancy” up for sale. It’s going to be sad to see her go but sometimes you have to sell things you love for the greater good of the collection. I’m going to focus more on Greco and Levin from now on. I also have two guitars on their way so I need to make some room for my new babies.

Fender Japan TL52-75
Fender Telecaster TL52-75,
’52 re-issue Made in Japan, FujiGen 1987-1989.
900€ SOLD
In mint condition, all original, without any doubts the best Telecaster I have ever played. Imported straight from Japan. The only reason for selling is because I prefer fat 70’s necks. There is no way to find the production year of these A-serial Telecaster with the serial number on the bridge plate. However, it must have been made between 1987 and 1989 since it’s a TL52-75. They were called TL52-70 between 1984-1986 and then changed to TL52-700 in 1990.

Fender Japan Twang catalogue 1989
Fender Japan Twang catalogue 1989

Fender Japan TN72G-FT/MH SWH

FENDER JAPAN TN72G-FT/MH SWH

We went and saw Crosby, Still & Nash when they played here last Monday. They were like I had expected, old. Crosby and Nash did pretty well but Stills has lost the plot completely, but I think he did that 40 years ago with his cocaine fueled hubris. He can’t sing any more, which could happen to the best of us, so he decided to just play endless guitar solos instead. I’m not sure if he is in to free-jazz but the solos sounded horrible and they seemed to never end.

Crosby, Stills & Nash Setlist at Jardins del Palau Reial de Pedralbes, Barcelona, Spain 2013-07-08
They looked a bit like this

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151824462428714&l=994714882144620479
And they sounded a bit like this, without Stills of course. Please excuse the shaky hand of the camera man, he was trying to drink bourbon out of a hip-flask at the same time.

It was nice to see a couple Gretsch White Falcons on stage though, which reminded me of a pretty awesome new Japanese Telecaster I saw a few months back. The Fender Japan TN72G-FT/MH SWH, a Telecaster version of a White Falcon. I guess it could be a bit much for a lot of people with all the gold but I love it. However, I’m not sure if I’m willing to pay ¥230,000 for it, it’s about $2,270. They seem to be pretty hard to find in Europe but here is an eBay seller that sells them for 1740€ plus shipping and import taxes. I guess I have to wait a few years until they appear second hand for hopefully a bit less.

Fender Japan '72 Rissue Telecaster TN72G-FT MH