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.
The guitar came from a collector in Scotland and was ready to play when it arrived, I didn’t have to do anything to it.
The two TF Morris W-50 together, the left one from around 1976 and the right from about 1979
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.
It’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.
As 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 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.
I 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.
I’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 in a late 1970’s Canadian catalogue, taken from AlvarezYairi
I have said it before but it’s worth mentioning again, I really like Wilkinson hardware for my guitars. I have their vintage bridge with compensated brass saddles on numerous of my Telecasters and their machine heads on even more acoustics and electrics. So far I have tried the following models, WJ01GD, WJ44CRGD, WJ309GD and now WJ28NGD on my new Morris W-50. Wilkinson machine heads are cheap, good quality, accurate and the gold doesn’t seem to fade straight away. They are made in Korea and was first distributed through John Hornby Skewes & Co. Ltd. but now you can find them pretty much everywhere. I bought mine from Axesrus which turned out to be really nice and helpful guys. The best part is that now you can get Wilkinson machine heads with either 8 mm or 10 mm bushings which is perfect since a lot of the Japan made acoustics comes with 10 mm holes. I don’t just randomly change the machine heads on all my guitars but I can’t stand the horrible bulky 1970’s closed machine heads in chrome that most Japanese guitars comes with. How much nicer doesn’t the Morris W-50 look now with these delicate open gear tuners in gold?
Some guitars that got the Wilkinson treatment. Morris W-40 with Wilkinson’s WJ44CRGD which comes with cream buttons, not that horrible green tinted ones. My Levin 174 and K. Yairi TG-40 got upgraded with the amazing looking Art Deco inspired WJ309GD
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.
TF Morris W-50, Made in Japan around 1976
Morris Japan catalogue 1976
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.
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.
On Saturday I found myself a Maya F335G. As mentioned before, I’ve been after a Gibson J-45 or J-50 for quite a while so when I saw this Japan made Gibson J-50 copy I couldn’t resist. It was in a terrible state and strung with 4 nylon strings so I couldn’t test it but I trusted my gut feeling. It doesn’t sound like a Gibson J-50, I didn’t really expect it too either, but it does sound pretty good. I would say that it sounds better than the two Suzuki’s I used to have, the Kiso Suzuki WE-150 and Suzuki Three-S F-120, even though the build quality is pretty much the same. There is a huge step up to my Morris WL-35 and Morris W-40 and my beloved K.Yairi TG-40, both in build quality and sound. Having said that, there is something with this Maya that I really like, it has way more bass then the Suzuki’s and overall a pretty nice and full sound. The only downside is that it feels pretty stiff to play so I will probably put 011’s on it next time I change the strings. According to my previous post about Japanese guitar brands Maya was made by Chushin Gakki in Kobe, Japan, during the 1970-80’s. Even though I really like this guitar I have it listed for sale if anyone is interested in buying it.
Maya F335G made by Chushin Gakki in Kobe, Japan
The previous owner had used a collection of random oversized wood screws to keep the machine heads in place so the first thing I did was to remove them and fill the holes. I polished the frets and oiled the super dry fretboard and then put on a bone nut and saddle which improved the tone quite a lot.
The 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.
I 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
K.Yairi TG-40 a Guild D-40 copy from 1977. Every K.Yairi guitar is given birth in Kani, a small community in the beautiful mountainside area of Honshu, Japan.
My new K.Yairi TG-40 has finally arrived, after 40 days stuck in Spanish customs. I have mentioned earlier that it’s a lot easier to import things from Japan to Spain compared to buying things from the US, well that was a lie. I have bought three electric guitars, mainly Greco’s from an eBay seller called Tokyowax. They all arrived within 48 hours so I stupidly assumed that everything from Japan would arrive quickly and without any problems, but no. Tokyowax uses DHL Express and they tend to deliver things within 2-5 days and you pay the taxes straight to them when they deliver the guitar. It wasn’t that easy with EMS Japan, that package went straight to customs in Madrid and spent 40 days in their lazy company. How can anything take that long? K. Yairi could probably have built me a new guitar in that time, if he was still alive. It seems like the only option now when buying guitars on eBay is to use the Global Shipping Program, that worked for my Goya 163 at least. Anyway, the guitar is amazing so it was well worth waiting for.
It has a really nice tone with great bass response. It easily has the best bass of all my acoustics, even better than my Morris W-40 which has that Martin D-45 bass sound, this is nicer and a lot clearer. I guess it sounds like an old Guild D-40, at least if I can trust the Youtube clips I have seen since I haven’t had the chance to play one myself. It actually reminds me a bit of a Gibson Jumbo, like I mentioned in my Gibson J-45/J-50 post: “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 it’s going to be an awesome Yairi copy of an Guild which might sound a bit like a Gibson.”
I didn’t have to do much to it, it was ready to play when I got it. However, the pickguard was loose so I had to remove that, clean it up and then glue it back again with my trusty fish glue. When the strings was off I quickly polished the frets and oiled the ebony fretboard. I also installed a jack for my LR Baggs M1 and a strap button.
I bought this K.Yairi TG-40 from a really nice eBay seller called montebell86 who was a pleasure to deal with. The guitar was listed as “Taniguchi Gakki” Japanese guitar shop original model, very rare. Solid spruce top, sides and back in solid mahogany, neck in Honduras mahogany, bridge and Fretboard in black ebony. The label states it was made in 1977 but the serial number starts with 51 which was the 51st year of Emperor Shōwa and puts it to 1976.
I got this K.Yairi TG-40 fairly cheap since the pickguard needed to be reglued and one machine head wasn’t working properly. It also has two cracks, one on each side that has been professionally repaired and can’t be seen from the outside. Since the machine heads needed to be replaced I decided to change them for Wilkinson WJ-309 in gold, just like I did on my Levin 174
Here is a quick little comparison between the K.Yairi TG-40 and my Morris W-40, they sound pretty similar and I don’t think I would be able to tell them apart in a blind test. Well the Morris has a bit more bass and is a slightly weaker on the treble side, I feel that the Yairi is more even over all the strings.
K.Yairi TG-40in the Japanese catalogue from the late 1970′s. List price ¥60.000, around 420€, which must have been a fortune back in 1977. Then again, this was a fairly cheap guitar for being K Yairi, the top model cost ¥200.000, about 1400€.
I really like worn guitars, well it’s hard to avoid when most of my guitars are 30-40 years old, the oldest guitar I got is my little Levin from 1942. However, there is one thing that I can’t stand, marks and dents on the back of the neck. Some little imperfection that you feel every time you move you hand up and down the neck. I’m not sure if it’s related to my slight OCD but it annoys me so much that I tend not to play any of my guitars that doesn’t have perfect smooth necks. The worst used to be my Greco Les Paul, it had a dent in the neck and I complained so much when I bought that I actually got it cheaper. When I received my Goya T-18 and my Morris W-40 and realised that they both had really bad marks on the back of the neck I just wanted to cry. Then I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I can’t be the only one that has issues with this, so I checked some Youtube videos to learn how to fix it and then ordered everything I needed. It’s actually really easy to fix yourself, well as soon as you find good lacquer and sandpaper with a grit fine enough, that turned out to be impossible around here. I managed to find a eBay seller that sold Nitrocellulose lacquer fairly cheap and was willing to ship to Spain. The sandpaper I had to order from China, I couldn’t find anything finer than 800 in Barcelona. After a months waiting and some feeble practice runs on less loved guitars I was finally ready to try to fix all dents, marks and imperfections on the back of my guitar necks. It went really well, or as well as it could with just 2500 grit, ideally I would have liked to have something much finer for really getting the shine back, especially on flat surfaces like bodies, the necks looked pretty good anyway.
Before I started on any necks I decided to practice on the fairly roadworn body of my old Claescaster. The sandpaper I ordered from eBay came in 1500, 2000, 2500 grit and actually turned out to be made in Japan. I cut wine corks in half and glued sandpaper strips to them to get a straight sanding surface, remember to mark the grit on them otherwise it gets a bit confusing. Next step, apply the lacquer. It dries pretty fast, about 10 min, which is good because you normally need to apply lacquer more than once to really fill the dents. When it’s dry just cut off the access with a razor blade until the surface feels smooth. It’s good to tape around the blade, not only to avoid cutting yourself, but also to not scratch the surrounding surfaces.
Remember to dip the sandpaper in water before you start sanding, you can really feel the difference especially with the finer grits.I used 400, 800, 1500, 2000 and 2500 grit on my little wine cork sanding blocks. I would have loved to have something even finer. I tried everything I could think of that could have a bit of sanding effect but was finer than 2500 grit. Pencil eraser, sponges, different cloths, in the end I rubbed really hard with metal polish which seemed to work a bit. As a last step I applied a bit of Carnauba wax and a lot of elbow grease and then buffed it up with a fine microfiber cloth.
This is the back of the neck of my Morris W-40. The seller didn’t even bother to mention that it had deep cuts in the neck. This took quite a few fills with lacquer to even out the dents but in the end it worked pretty well. You can still see a slight colour change but you can’t feel the dents, which was the main thing for me. The last photo is not of the final polished result, it’s in the middle of sanding, I forgot to take a picture when I was done. I’m very happy with the result on all of the guitar necks I tried to fix. It was also a lot easier to get the sanding smooth and unnoticeable on the back of a neck compared to a guitar body.