Claescaster

Tag: Matsumoku

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

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Cherry & Wolf

Cherry & Wolf - La Sonora de Gràcia 10 Oct 2015Cherry & Wolf with me on guitar, La Sonora de Gràcia 10 Oct 2015. © Araceli Perez

Last Saturday I got a chance to play with my friends Cherry & Wolf again. It turned out to be great fun and it seems like I have a few more gigs lined up with them this autumn. Now you can see where the Luxor Dove copy went, it’s Wolf’s main guitar and I’m playing on my beloved Morris W-50.

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.

 

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

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.

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

 

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