Claescaster

Tag: Mr. Hidesato Shiino

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.

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

H.S. Anderson Mad Cat

H.S. Anderson Mad Cat

I have always been gay for the H.S. Anderson Mad Cat. I’m not even a Prince fan, this is the guitar that Prince made famous and used during the first half of his career, it’s something else. I think I really like it because of the unique look, it’s a bit too much of everything, a “all in” kind of guitar. The leopard pickguard should be too much but for me it just looks awesome, actually it reminds me a bit of Prince, but in a good way. If an African dictator, you know the ones with huge palaces in marble while the people are starving, needed an electric guitar, this would be it. I’m sure that Gaddafi had a couple in his guitar collection. H.S. Anderson was created by Mr. Hidesato Shiino and distributed and crafted by Moridaira who made Morris. Morris have always been seen as one of the better acoustic guitar builders but their electric guitars were fairly poor in the early 1970’s. When Shiino started H.S. Anderson in 1973 it was meant as a high quality custom shop brand aimed at the professional Japanese market. Here is some more information taken from Music-trade in Japan:

Mr. Shiino said that the original design of MADCAT came from the Takahiko Ishikawa who is top guitarist here in Japan (Maybe Mr. Ishikawa played over 10,000 songs…!!! He is mainly playing the acoustic guitar). Anyway, when they have a drinking, Mr. Ishikawa just wrote the original design of MADCAT. A few weeks later, Mr. Shiino added his idea and made the prototype of MADCAT. Well, about Mr. Shiino, you could check my JV history page. The logo mark was designed by Mr. Atsuro Yamada who is currently Managing director of Gramco Ltd – Top Strategic Brand Consulting Company. Mr. Shiino and Mr.Yamada were a good friend, and Mr.Yamada designed the logo mark and even MADCAT illustration. The Morris factory for H.S. Anderson was independent from Morris Acoustic guitar factory in Nagano. I’ve heard hat 3 craftsmen (Mr.Shinoda, Mr.Imafuku – He is Fujigen manager currently and other craftsman) made H.S. Anderson brand guitars. Early days (1973 -1974) made Madcat hasn’t got the serial numbers and signature in cavity. Later day (after 1975), H.S. Anderson guitars have their signature of these builders somewhere – PU cavity. Of course, Mr. Shiino left already (He established the ESP in 1975).

Music-trade has a beautiful Mad Cat in their collection that is unfortunately not for sale, which I can understand. I have actually never seen a real H.S. Anderson Mad Cat on eBay, only later versions made by Hohner, they were made in the Moridaira factory too, at least the first versions. The later Hohner “The Prinz” guitars that came in the 1980’s were most likely made in Korea by Cort. There has been numerous re-issues of the original H.S. Anderson Mad Cat, some better than others. Now there is one called Vintage re-issue Mad Cat made by Moridaira, the plant that made Morris and H.S. Anderson back in the 1970’s. Here is a review from Premier Guitar.

H.S. Anderson Mad Cat
I do love the H.S. Anderson cat

HS Anderson Mad Cat aka Prince's Hohner tele
Prince back in the days with his H.S. Anderson Mad Cat