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Tag: Morris Guitars

Morris W-50

Morris W-50 1970's Made in JapanTF Morris W-50, Made in Japan around 1979

I managed to find another Morris W-50, this time with hexagon inlays instead of snowflakes as on my earlier Morris W-50. They sounds pretty similar, very rich and full tone with clear highs. I guess the 3-piece back is adding to that full sound and of course it makes them very pretty to look at too. In my opinion these TF Morris guitars are almost up there with K. Yairi and the best Japanese builders. It doesn’t look like Brazilian rosewood, but it has some really nice figured dark rosewood back and sides with quilted maple in the middle and a solid spruce top.

Morris W-50 1970's Made in JapanMorris W-50 1970's Made in JapanThe guitar came from a collector in Scotland and was ready to play when it arrived, I didn’t have to do anything to it.

Morris W-50 1970's Made in JapanThe two TF Morris W-50 together, the left one from around 1976 and the right from about 1979

Morris Japan catalogue 1979Morris Japan catalogue 1979Morris Japan catalogue 1979Morris Japan catalogue 1979

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.

K. Yairi YW-1000

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973K. Yairi YW-1000, made in Japan in 1973

Since it’s my 35th birthday today I’m going to post this guitar even though it’s not 100% ready yet, it was my birthday present to myself. As I mentioned earlier I recently became the proud owner of a 1973 K. Yairi YW-1000. It’s something I’ve dreamed of for many years and after a bit of hassle it finally arrived. The previous owner didn’t really give much of a description so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Luckily it sounds at least as good as I had hoped for, if not better and it’s structurally fine. Having said that, there were a couple of things that I wasn’t overly excited about, like the bridge and the scratches on the top. I don’t mind worn guitar but there is one big scratch that is still a real eyesore for me, I’m sure I will get used to it and not even see it in a few weeks. The bridge is a chapter for itself, I really don’t know what has been going on there. It has been removed at some point and re-glued, it also has two screws that I doubt were supposed to be there and on top of that someone has added a bit of rosewood to make it higher and topped it of with a fret as the saddle instead of a normal slot and bone saddle. As soon as the wood shops open again here in Barcelona, a lot of shops are closed in August, I will get a piece of ebony and create a new bridge from scratch. Since I couldn’t wait a whole month to play the guitar I lowered the bridge and cut a saddle slot and installed a bone saddle for now, which has worked fine. It’s a beautiful guitar, it’s smells wonder full and sounds even better. This is my third K. Yairi and I have to say that it’s without any doubt the best Japanese acoustics I’ve played so far. I really love my K. Yairi YW-130 and K. Yairi TG-40 but nothing sounds as good as this K. Yairi YW-1000.

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973It’s worn and has few scratches but nothing too serious, except for the bridge as mentioned before. I changed the machine heads to Wilkinson WJ28NGD open gear in gold, the original ones were in gold too but most of it had worn off and on top of that they were really heavy. I love all the abalone binding and the hexagon inlays in the ebony fretboard. I’m so gay for bling on guitars, the more the better, perhaps I’m the Liberace of guitars.

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973As soon as I got the guitar I removed the fret, lowered the bridge by sanding it down and then I cut a proper saddle slot. Apparently the top of the bridge is rosewood on an ebony base so I had to paint the top black to match the rest. The bridge works fine but I’m not happy with how it looks so I will try my best to carve a new one in ebony and replace it.

The fist video is with the old makeshift rosewood bridge that the guitar came with, the second video is with the new ebony bridge that I carved myself from scratch, you can read about it here.

K. Yairi YW-130

K. Yairi YW-130 Made in Japan 1977K. Yairi YW-130 a Martin D-28 copy made in Kani, Japan in 1977

I recently came over a 1977 K. Yairi YW-130, a beautiful Martin D-28 copy. I’ve been looking for a D-28 copy for a while, just out of curiosity to see the difference between the D-35 and D-42 copies that I have. The Morris W-40 and Morris W-50 both have a 3-part back which gives them a lot of bass and punch in the middle so perhaps a Japanese made D-28 copy would be more bell like and balanced, like a real Martin, and I was right. The K. Yairi YW-130 sounds amazing, really clean and even all over, with awesome overtones that sneaks up on you if you let it ring out. It has a solid spruce top, rosewood back and sides with a simple ebony bridge and fretboard. I do love my Morris guitars and I think it’s a great brand, but nothing comes close to K. Yairi. The old K.Yairi TG-40 that I got a year a go is awesome too, but I think I prefer the sound of the new one. Perhaps my acoustic guitar preferences has slightly shifted from the Gibson sound to Martin.

K. Yairi YW-130 Made in Japan 1977K. Yairi YW-130 Made in Japan 1977I didn’t have to do anything to the guitar when I got it, I just changed the machine heads to Wilkinson WJ28NGD open gear in gold which I love. It’s a bit worn and have a few dents in the spruce top that I’m planning to figure out how to soften a bit.

K. Yairi YW-130 Made in Japan 1977I’ve really come to love guitars with the typical Martin volute, just like my Morris W-50, and the double dots on the 7th fret, it’s just beautiful. There is nothing better than a black Ebony fretboard on an acoustic guitar. I thought ebony was like rosewood until I got my Goya T-18 two years ago and it just blow my mind, there is no nicer fretboard material.

K. Yairi YW-130 1970's catalogueK. Yairi YW-130 in a late 1970’s Canadian catalogue, taken from AlvarezYairi

Morris W-50

Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan

I recently got myself a Morris W-50, my third Morris and it sounds as good as the other two. Solid spruce top and it looks like the back and sides are solid Brazilian rosewood and quilted maple. It was pretty beat up when I got it from Guitar Hiro in Madrid with plenty of dents and a cracked back but now I’ve fixed it up a bit and it’s playable again. It’s a nice Martin D-42 copy with snowflake inlays and the typical Martin volute where the head and neck meet. Nice inlays all around and a beautiful 3-piece back with flamed maple and rosewood. I guess it was made around 1976 since they changed to hexagon inlays in the 1979 catalogue and then renamed them from W-50 to TF around 1983.

Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan
Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan
Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan
TF Morris W-50, Made in Japan around 1976

Morris catalogue Japan 1976Morris Japan catalogue / catalog 1976
Morris Japan catalogue 1976

Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan
There was a bit of work needed on this guitar. The back was cracked in the binding just below the heel which made the whole neck tilt forward causing a pretty high action. I cleaned out the crack, someone had put some super glue in there, filled it with fish glue that I let really sink in and connect with the neck block, clamped it and left if for 48 hours. Now it seems really solid and the action got so low that I had to make a new higher bone saddle for it. There was a lot of dents and marks on the back of the neck so I filled them with nitro lacquer and sanded it smooth and buffed it up with metal polish, here you can read more about how to repair lacquer damage. The only thing left now is to ad some gold machine heads so I ordered a set of open back Schaller ST6 this morning and will fit strap button and an endpin jack tonight.

Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan
I recently changed the machine heads on my 1970’s Japan made Morris W-50 to Wilkinson WJ28NGD open gear in gold and I couldn’t be happier

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.

Morris W-50, Morris W-40, Morris WL-35 Made in Japan
The whole family, Morris W-50, Morris W-40 and Morris WL-35

Hohner, Made in Japan

1970's Japan made Hohner TelecasterMy new Hohner Telecaster, made in Japan in the 1970’s most likely by Morris in the Moridaira factory.

This weekend I received a 1970’s Japan made Hohner Telecaster. These old Hohner’s have a nice solid feel to them and good resonance even though the bodies are made out of plywood, or some form of wood sandwiched together. Having said that, this Telecaster is extremely heavy so maybe they sandwiched a chunk of mahogany together with an ash or alder top layer. This would have put me off if I wasn’t so gay for my old beat up Hohner Strat. This was one of the first Japan made guitars I bought, I found it in a charity shop in Camden in London for £50 in 2009. It’s not the best Strat I have ever played but the neck is really chunky and the pickups sounds really good. It’s the same with the new Hohner Telecaster, pretty nice neck and great pickups. The neck pickup actually sounds a bit like the in-between neck and middle position on a Strat. I would have preferred that the Telecaster neck was a wee bit thicker, but it’s still very playable. Hohner only produced guitars in Japan for a couple of years during the late 1970’s and later moved to Korea like a lot of other brands. I really enjoy this Telecaster but I have too many guitars at the moment and therefore it’s up for sale.

1970's Japan made Hohner Telecaster1970's Japan made Hohner Telecaster

According to my previous post about Japanese guitar brands they were made by Morris in the Moridaira factory. I took my list from Who Made My MIJ Guitar so I hope we can trust his research.

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.

One thing that would prove the Hohner connection to Moridaira would be Prince’s Telecaster. He used to play a a H.S. Anderson Mad Cat, as I mentioned in a previous post. Hohner later copied the Mad Cat, first in Japan and later as the Prinz guitar made in Korea by Cort. Those early Mad Cats under Hohner was made by Moridaira. “A little over 500 Mad Cats were made during the ‘70s, including a small batch made OEM for Hohner USA with a Hohner logo in the H.S. Anderson style. Pop artist Prince discovered one of these rare guitars early on in his career, and used it live and on countless hit-records like Purple Rain, 1999, Controversy, etc. for over 30 years now.” Taken from the history page at Mad Cat guitars

1970's Japan made Hohner TelecasterI took the guitar a part to look over the electronics and give it a good clean and set it up properly. The Switch is a bit worn so I will order a new one and replace that but the Japanese 500k pots are crackle free so I will keep the rest. This one is wired in an even weirder way than my Greco, with the ground from the bridge going to the first post on the treble pot. There were two big chunks on the back of the neck that was either worn or sanded down, which I didn’t like. I applied some Nitrocellulose lacquer with a sponge for not getting any sharp edges around, which worked pretty well, and then sanded it smooth with 2500 grit paper.

1970's Japan made Hohner Telecaster Update: August 30, 2014 I got around to change the 3-way switch so now I finally got to hear the bridge pickup, not bad at all. I also bought 6 new screws that I cut since the original ones were really annoyingly long. When I got this guitar the action was too low for me and when I raised the saddles the screws that are holding them in place almost touched the strings so I decided to replace them with something shorter. I really starting to like this Telecaster now, it has a great twang and feel to it. 

1970's Japan made Hohner Stratocaster
1970's Japan made Hohner StratocasterMy beat up old Hohner Stratocaster, bought cheap in London back in 2009. Notice that the logo is different on these two.

Gibson J-45 / J-50

1955 Gibson J-45My new dream guitar, an old Gibson J-45

A year ago when I started to buy acoustic guitars I had no idea what the difference between a Gibson or Martin was or how different body shapes, models and tone woods affected the sound. I could easily have told you who was playing a Telecaster, Stratocaster or Les Paul while listening to a song but I could never have told you if someone was playing an acoustic Gibson, Guild or Martin. Over the year I have added 6 Levin guitars to my collection and 5 Japanese acoustics, two of them sold by now, and played a lot of new made Chinese and Korean guitars and I have come to following conclusion. My favourite acoustic guitar is an old Gibson J-45. This is nothing new, I realised that last summer after seeing Kris Kristofferson, I did a post about it with some great acoustic guitar demo’s to prove my point. There is something very special with the old Gibson Jumbos, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a J-45, J-50, Southern Jumbo or Advanced Jumbo, they all have that special booming bass sound. If you listen to any acoustic Jackson Browne, early James Taylor or even Bob Dylan you will understand what I mean straight away. There was a lot of Country players that favoured this sound before the singer and songwriters of the Sixties and Seventies. Two modern examples that I really like is Gillian Welch and Daniel Romano, he is actually playing something more modern like a Gospel but the bass is still there. If you listen to Dan Tyminski and hear his 1946 Martin D-28 I’m sure you would want a wartime Martin straight away but still, there is something special with the Gibson Jumbo sound. I’m not even sure if I would prefer a Gibson J-45 or a J-50, actually I really like the Southern Jumbo too with their fretboard inlays, so I guess as long as it’s old, worn and sounds like a Gibson Jumbo I would be happy. I mentioned earlier that I recently ordered a 1977 K.Yairi TG-40, which I have very high hopes for. I bought it straight from Japan and unfortunately it got stuck in the Spanish customs and has been there since the 12th of April. The Yairi TG-40 is a Guild D-40 copy, which was introduced in the Sixties as a competitor to Gibson’s J-45. The Guild D-40 became famous as the Bluegrass guitar for their even response over all the strings and I really like the sound of them, it’s actually not too far off from a Sixties Gibson J-45. With a bit of luck the customs will release my guitar soon and with even more luck it’s going to be an awesome Yairi copy of an Guild which might sound a bit like a Gibson.

Bob Dylan Gibson J-50
Bob Dylan with his worn old Gibson J-50 in the early Sixties. The Gibson J-45 and J-50 is more or less the same guitar, it was just that they used nicer looking wood for the soundboard on the J-50 so they wouldn’t have to paint it in sunburst to cover up any imperfections.


Enjoy the sound of James Taylor’s Gibson J-50

Morris

Morris WL-35 and Morris W-40
1970’s Morris WL-35 and a 1973 Morris W-40

I’m still trying to figure out what I like and what I’m after when it comes to acoustic guitars. It’s a quite new thing for me, to play acoustic. I mentioned in an earlier post that it’s a bit like understanding and appreciating fine wine, you need to train your pallet and know what you are looking for, otherwise wine just taste like wine and acoustic guitars sounds more or less drang drang. I’m not sure if all Morris are as good as the two I got but these sounds better than pretty much anything I have ever heard before. I love the look of the Morris W-40 but it’s not as well sounding as the WL-35. I guess the W-40 has that typical Martin D-45 sound, a really dark bass and still nice highs, but a bit weak on the treble side for me. It’s not that good for finger picking, it’s lacking a bit of volume on the high E and B string, something that might be because of the light string gauge, I’m using 11’s at the moment. I’m going to string it with 12’s and see if the volume improve. The Morris W-40 still has one of the best sounds for open chords playing that I’ve ever heard, so much warmth and body, I guess because of the Brazilian rosewood. The Morris WL-35 is probably a better all-round guitar, finger picking, chords, solo playing, everything sounds good on it. I’m just struggling a bit since it’s so big. I think it’s based on some old Guild model, at least the head looks very Guild inspired. Anyway, I can strongly recommend Morris as a brand to anyone looking for a good sounding high quality built Japan made acoustic.

Morris W-40 1973

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.

How to… fit a LR Baggs M1

Morris W-40 1973 My new Martin D-45 copy, a Morris W-40 Made in Japan by Terada in 1973

There was a bit of work that needed to be done when I first got my Morris W-40. First of all I polished the frets, cleaned her up and oiled the fretboard. Then I needed to take care of the action which was too low, imagine that on an acoustic guitar. There was a slight forward-bow on the neck which made a bit of rattle when I played solos in the middle of the neck, at least when I hit the strings hard. I adjusted the trussrod and gave her a slight bow the other way, meaning that cowboy chords still sound beautiful and the action is still very low for being an acoustic around the 12th fret. I changed the machine heads to a pair of Grover tulip copies in gold, maybe not the best ones but it looked so much nicer than the original plain ones in chrome. Then I fitted a strap button in gold, I can’t stand having to tie the strap to the head of the guitar. I’m still waiting for the Nitrocellulose lacquer I ordered so I can fill in the three dents on the back of the neck, which is going to be a new adventure since I have never done anything like it before. Last step was to fit my new L.R. Baggs M1 soundhole pickup. I’m getting pretty used to fit endpin jacks on acoustic guitars now so it was pretty straight forward even though it was a bit more hard work on this one. I’m not sure if it was because the wood is older, or the type of wood used in this, it’s Brazilian Rosewood and maple in the 3-piece back, Now it plays and sounds amazing, I’m really pleased with it.

Fitting LR Baggs M1
I prefer to fit the endpin jacks by hand, with a small round file and then even out the hole with sandpaper when it’s big enough

Morris W-40 1973
Morris W-40 1973

Morris W-40 Made in Japan by Terada in 1973, just look at that Brazilian Rosewood and maple 3-piece back

Morris W-40

Morris W-40 1973
Morris W-40 1973

My new found love just arrived to the office, a 1973 Morris W-40. I have been looking for a Japan made Martin D-45 copy for a while and I’m really glad I went for a Morris. I have never played a guitar that sounds this good, amazing tone with really low action. She is a bit more worn than I expected, which doesn’t really bother me that much since the wood looks so good. I might put some gold tulip machine heads on her tonight, if my Gibson PMMH-025 fits. This Monday is just getting better and better. First I got to celebrate my girlfriends birthday, which meant getting up at 5.45 am and prepare breakfast in bed for her, and then I got this baby delivered and she arrived in one piece. Thank you Monday.