Claescaster

Tag: Japan guitars

Vorg by Pearl

Vorg by Pearl Telecaster Made in JapanVorg by Pearl, built in Japan by Matsumoku in the mid 1970’s

I recently got myself a Vorg Telecaster. These where built by Pearl in the Matsumoku factory and named Vorg for the German market. The previous owner claimed that it was built in 1977 since the serial starts with 7 which could be true, it’s built in the mid 1970’s for sure. It’s all original except for the machine heads which has been upgraded to a set of Schaller. The guitar has been converted to a string through with bushings on the back instead of being top-loaded something that obviously improved the sustain and overall tone. The original pickups looks like they were made by Maxon, something that makes perfect sense for a Matsumoku built guitar of that time. The neck is fantastic, really chunky for being a Japanese guitar. It’s a great sounding and playing Japanese Telecaster that I unfortunately can’t keep. I bought it for my birthday last month but the same week I found another late 1970’s Fender Telecaster so this Vorg has to go. It’s for sale here.

Vorg by Pearl Telecaster Made in Japan

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

 

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

 

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

Cimar D-320

Cimar D-320 by Ibanez, Made in JapanCimar D-320, Made in Japan in the mid 1980’s by Ibanez

I recently helped my friend Tomasz to find a nice Japanese acoustic and we ended up with this Cimar D-320. Cimar were made by Ibanez in the 1980’s as their cheaper brand and even though you seen them for sale quite often, I had actually never tried one. Ibanez is owned by Hoshino Gakki and based in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. Hoshino Gakki also had semi acoustic, nylon and steel stringed acoustic guitars manufactured under the Ibanez name. Most Ibanez guitars were made for Hoshino Gakki by the FujiGen guitar factory in Japan up until the mid-to-late 1980s and from then on Ibanez guitars have also been made in other Asian countries such as Korea, China and Indonesia, taken from Wikipedia. I have a feeling this Cimar would be one of the last ones to have been made in Japan and I’m still struggle to see how they could be making inexpensive guitars in Japan in the mid 1980’s, I had a feeling that everything had already been moved to Korea or some other cheaper country. They guitar seems to be pretty solidly built and has a lot of swanky details like the snowflake inlay and herringbone binding which looks great from a distance. The best part is still the sound, I would never have expected it to have such rich bass and great response, especially not for being fully laminated. A pretty great guitar for the price. If you want to know more about different Japanese guitar brands then check my previous post.

Cimar D-320, Made in Japan in the mid 1980's by Ibanez
Cimar D-320, Made in Japan in the mid 1980's by Ibanez
Cimar D-320, Made in Japan in the mid 1980's by Ibanez

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.

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.

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