Claescaster

Tag: Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500

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.

Guitars for sale

I’ve decided to thin out my electric guitar collection as well so if you see anything you like, just get in touch claesgellerbrink@gmail.com

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtailFender Stratocaster, Made in USA, Fullerton plant 1979, 1650€ SOLD
A late 1970’s hardtail Fender Stratocaster in a classic 3-tone sunburst. The neck is stamped with 1978 but body, pickguard and pickups says 1979, very common on late 1970’s Fender. All hardware is original but the volume pot and 5-way switch has been changed and the middle pickup is a bit of a mystery, neck and bridge are original Fender and stamped 1979. It’s in really good state for its age with just a few marks to the body, the grain is amazing and it looks like it’s a one piece ash body. The back of the neck is in great shape just like the original jumbo frets and fretboard. It sounds and feels awesome. You can read more about the guitar here and here and watch this Youtube clip.

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500, Made in Japan 1979, 800€ SOLD
This is as close to a vintage Japan made Fender Telecaster you can get, built in the same FujiGen factory just before Fender gave the contract to build the first JV, Japan Vintage, series there. Greco is well known for their build quality and the sound of their Maxon pickups. This is an all original Greco TL-500, built in August 1979. The neck and frets are in great shape but there are some chips and marks around the body. You can read more about the guitar here.

Tokai Silver Star SS-36 Made in Japan 1979Tokai Silver Star SS-36, Made in Japan 1979, 750€ SOLD
This is a beautiful looking Tokai Silver Star with great grain showing through the 3-tone sunburst. It’s all original and in really good state for its age with hardly any marks. Tokai together with Greco was without any doubt the best Japanese copies in the 1970-80’s and the reason why Fender started to produce guitars in Japan, first through FujiGen and later the Tōkai Gakki factory. It has great sustain and together with the legendary grey bobbin pickups it sounds amazing. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Tacoma Stratocaster Made in Japan 1970'sTacoma Stratocaster, Made in Japan 1970’s, 400€ SOLD
This great looking Tacoma Stratocaster was made in Japan in the late 1970’s, most likely by FujiGen since it’s so similar to a Yamaha Super r’n Roller. It’s all original and in really good state for its age with hardly any marks. Neck, fretboard and frets are fine, it has great sustain and the pickups sounds great. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Greco Les Paul Custom EG-600CGreco Les Paul Custom EG-600C, Made in Japan 1980, 750€ SOLD
This is as a great looking FujiGen built Greco Les Paul Custom copy with gold hardware. It’s all original and in great shape for it’s age. Greco is well known for their build quality and the sound of their Maxon pickups. The neck, fretboard and frets are in great shape and there is hardly any marks to the body.  These Greco’s are of course set neck Les Paul copies and of way better quality then all the bolt-on neck guitars built by Matsumoku and other factories. You can read more about the guitar here.

CG Winner AO-410 Made in Japan Neck trough late 1970'sC.G. Winner AO-410, Made in Japan, early 1980’s, 350€ SOLD
A great sounding C.G. Winner AO-410, a well built double cutaway neck trough guitar made in Japan. The brand was created by Clarence Griffith Winner (C.G.Winner), an American luthier and close friend of Leo Fender and built by Matsumoku in Japan, the same factory as Ibanez and Aria Pro II. These guitars are supposed to have Di Marzio humbuckers but I can’t see any markings on them so there might be normal Maxon pickups in this one. It has an awesome baseball bat neck, really fat and nice and plays really well. The hardware is a bit tarnished but it’s in overall really good shape for the age, the neck is straight and frets are fine. You can read more about the guitar here and watch this Youtube clip.

Westone, Made in Japan

 Westone Stratocaster Made in Japan, Matsumoku 1979
Westone Stratocaster copy, made in Japan by Matsumoku in 1979

This weekend my Westone Stratocaster found a new owner. It felt kind of sad, I don’t normally miss guitars that I sell, well that’s I lie, I have missed all of the guitars I’ve sold but normally not this much. Oh well, I needed to make room for my new Tokai Silver Star SS-36 so it had to go. I have had two Westone guitars, a Strat and a Les Paul copy and I really liked both of them. Westone built Fender and Gibson copies in the late 1970’s before they started on their own heavy metal influenced creations of the 1980’s that owned the brand it’s name. You can read more about the brand Westone here. I have to say that the quality was pretty good for being a less known brand from the Matsumoku factory. I’ve always claimed that FujiGen was better than Matsumoku but I start to think that might have been more about when and not so much where. There was a huge change in Japanese guitars around 1975, not just the quality but perhaps more about how well they managed to copy the big American brands.Therfor a Greco guitar from 1978 would be better built than one from 1972, not just because the first was made by FujiGen but because it was made after 1975. You can read more about in my earlier post, Are all Japanese guitars good? I think what I would miss most of the Westone Strat is the Sen ash body, the wood was amazing and without any doubt the heaviest and most solid Strat I have ever seen with a fantastic sustain. The pickups were pretty great too, not Grey Bobbin pickups like on my Tokai Silver Star SS-36, but still, pretty sweet sounding. The pickups were pretty great in the Westone Les Paul too, maybe there was something special about these late 1970’s Matsumoku built Westone guitars.

Westone Les Paul, Made in Japan, Matsumoku 1970's
Westone Les Paul copy, made in Japan by Matsumoku in 1970’s

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. Taken from my previous post about Japanese guitar brands

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.

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500
Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500, Made in Japan by FujiGen in August 1979

Yesterday the newest member of my Greco family arrived from Japan. I went a bit bananas last week when I saw that my favourite eBay seller Tokyowax was selling a Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500 so I bought it straight away. These Greco TL-500 are pretty rare, there are about 3-4 Greco TE-500, the Thinline version, for sale on eBay at the moment but I have only seen 2-3 Greco TL-500 for sale in the last two years. I’m not sure if they produced more Thinline copies in late Seventies than normal Telecasters or if people refuse to sell them, but you rarely see these and when you do they are normally very expensive. I got mine fairly cheap since one of the string ferrules on the back was missing. Well I shouldn’t really call it cheap and now the import tax from Japan had increased as well, I had to pay 95€ instead of the normal 75-80€.  I didn’t have to do much to her, everything was pretty well set up already. The frets looked pretty bad so I polished them, oiled the machine heads, tightened all the screws and restrung her. She plays amazingly, even better than my old mistress, my Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500 Thinline copy. It might seem weird that I put my old “Nancy”, my Fender Telecaster TL52-75, up for sale and then bought a new one the same week. The truth is that even though I love my Japan made Fender, I don’t dare to use it since it’s in such a good state. I prefer guitars that are older than me and have a couple of battle scars already. I guess I’m also a bit gay for late 1970’s Greco guitars.

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500
The body has quite a few marks on it but the back of the neck is like new and that’s the only thing I really care about.

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500
The frets looked pretty bad so I masked the fretboard and polished them with 400 and 800 grit and then wire-wool. It looked like they had put the frets on before they applied lacquer to the neck and then after 35 years of playing half of it had worn off. The electronics seemed to be in good order and the guitar sounded awesome when I plugged it in so no reason to mess with that.

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