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How Long have the Japanese made guitars?

bloozcat 27 Jan 01 - 01:55 AM
Amergin 27 Jan 01 - 01:58 AM
bloozcat 27 Jan 01 - 02:01 AM
catspaw49 27 Jan 01 - 02:26 AM
catspaw49 27 Jan 01 - 02:38 AM
bloozcat 27 Jan 01 - 02:42 AM
bloozcat 27 Jan 01 - 02:50 AM
mkebenn 27 Jan 01 - 08:13 AM
catspaw49 27 Jan 01 - 08:38 AM
Edmund Flynn (inactive) 27 Jan 01 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,mkebenn@work 27 Jan 01 - 11:42 AM
Jon Freeman 27 Jan 01 - 11:46 AM
Bernard 27 Jan 01 - 12:05 PM
wildlone 27 Jan 01 - 01:16 PM
catspaw49 27 Jan 01 - 01:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Jan 01 - 02:38 PM
Terry K 28 Jan 01 - 03:55 AM
Allan C. 28 Jan 01 - 07:44 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Jan 01 - 09:43 AM
bloozcat 28 Jan 01 - 09:56 AM
Jim Dixon 28 Jan 01 - 12:31 PM
Peter T. 28 Jan 01 - 01:15 PM
Gypsy 28 Jan 01 - 05:14 PM
Lanfranc 28 Jan 01 - 05:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Jan 01 - 06:35 PM
sian, west wales 29 Jan 01 - 07:08 AM
Jon Freeman 29 Jan 01 - 07:50 AM
GUEST,jon tooley 01 Sep 08 - 07:53 AM
Leadfingers 01 Sep 08 - 08:36 AM
GUEST,Richard 01 Sep 08 - 01:41 PM
GUEST,Jack the Sailor 01 Sep 08 - 01:50 PM
GUEST,Kiwi Guest 01 Sep 08 - 04:04 PM
skipy 01 Sep 08 - 05:54 PM
Peace 01 Sep 08 - 06:19 PM
Beer 01 Sep 08 - 06:24 PM
mayomick 02 Sep 08 - 03:40 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Sep 08 - 04:02 PM
skipy 02 Sep 08 - 04:26 PM
Phot 02 Sep 08 - 04:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Sep 08 - 04:42 PM
GUEST,Brisbane Girl 01 Dec 08 - 11:35 PM
GUEST,Jim P 02 Dec 08 - 12:40 AM
vectis 02 Dec 08 - 05:20 AM
Bryn Pugh 02 Dec 08 - 05:49 AM
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Subject: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: bloozcat
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 01:55 AM

Howdy cyber pals,

I,ve been playing the spanish guitar for about 30 years now....my handmade japanese guitar called a "Rolif" was bought second hand In about 1971 here In London (its not top quality,but puts out an acceptable quality sound)..

Can anyone of you geniuses out there tell me firstly roughly when the japanese first started manufacturing guitars....Secondly can anyone give me any Information on the rolif guitar brand (its history etc)..

I will be eternaly grateful for any help you can give me..as i have long wondered about the origins of my beloved guitar..

bloozingly yours...

bloozcat....London...England http://communities.msn.co.uk/bluesandfolkmusic

On the advice of a reasonably wise JoeClone, I softened the thread title a bit. Hope nobody minds. If you do, let me know.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: Amergin
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 01:58 AM

Uh, Bloozcat, I don't mean to knock you or anything...but the word Jap is seen as a derogatory term here in the States.....


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: bloozcat
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 02:01 AM

Apologies I did not wish to offend any Japanese friends...I Was simply trying to squeeze I a header for my question...

My sincere apologies If I have hurt anyones feelings..

yours.

bloozcat

http://communities.msn.co.uk/bluesandfolkmusic


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 02:26 AM

Thanks for the "Jap" apology.............As to Rolif, they are known as a pick, string, and gear supplier, and my guess would be they contracted for somebody to put the name on an import more as a promo, a not uncommon practice, but one which is a total crapshoot as to quality. Short of contacting Rolif directly, I wouldn't know what else to tell you. I located someone in England who might have there address or other info as they don't seem to have much on the web. Highly Strung in Oxfordshire.

Good luck.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 02:38 AM

BTW, on how long? There have been luthiers in Japan for many years and the instrument was known there several centuries ago. If the question is when did they start exporting the "copies" we have come to know, probably in the late 50's. There was some growth in that market during the folk scare and by the late 60's there were a lot of cheap copies and such floating around here in the states. The 70's brought on the high quality copies that often played and looked better than the "real thing"...witness, the Takemine version of the Martin D-18. By the late 70's and early 80's the American manufacturers began to sublet their own "Second Lines" to factories in Asia or to actually build their own. In this same period the Japanese builders began to produce some fine guitars under their own labels...Alvarez/Yairi, Takemine, Yamaha, etc......some fine instruments in their own right.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: bloozcat
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 02:42 AM

Thanx Spaw,

You must be a cyber insomniac like myself ha ha..yes i've seen that website for rolif ...it seems far removed from my beloved old chord cruncher......i also had a look under the history of japanese guitar making under google...but i only seemed to find out about guitarists rather than manufacturing....i just wondered if my guitar could be as old as me..i'm 40 now...

So If any other of you geniuses out there can give me any further Info I shall be in your debt til the day I die.

regards....

bloozcat....

http://communities.msn.co.uk/bluesandfolkmusic


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: bloozcat
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 02:50 AM

Dear Spaw,

Looks like i'm inyour debt....thanx a million pal...yes my brother has had an excellent Takamine since the early 1970's....as you do to your younger brothers...I used to taunt him ....and keep on claiming my old beaten up Rolif was better than his guitar..In the hope he'd swap...He's now living In western australia....and I still try it on sometimes when we talk on the phone ha ha...Actualy as my guitar was bought for me for 12 quid by my late great dad.I would never realy part with It for any money or other guitar....

bloozingly yours...

bloozcat...London...England.

http://communities.msn.co.uk/bluesandfolkmusic


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: mkebenn
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 08:13 AM

Spaw, Takemine makes decent guities, but "better than a D-18"? Not in MNSOH..Mike{unofficial,unpaid Martin shill}


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 08:38 AM

LOL...Okay Mr. Martin...........What I was referring to is not to today's Taks or Martins, but to something that caused the Martin folks to get litigious but also "wake up" back in the 70's. At that time Takemine built no home grown designs. They did one of the things the Japanese are so good at......take a proven thing and build their own that is an exact copy or often even better than the original......and that's what Takemine did with Martin. If you see one of these old Taks, play it and take a real good look at it, inside too with a mirror. You'll find it IS a Martin and is more finely finished then the Martin product. Adding insult to injury, Takemine sold these guitars for under $300!!! A lawsuit ensued but soon Martin was taking a lot more pains with their instruments than they had before. If you recall at the time, Martin had become pretty complacent and the guitars they were building were kinda' rough around the edges, some really slipshod work.

Today Takemine builds nice guitars, but no they're not Martins. They are very popular though and the elctronics package has made them a favorite with a lot of Country Music people. I suspect it is one of these old Taks that bloozcat's brother has......and I'm happy to say I have one myself. I bought it after I had several guitars stolen from my house and I was "guitarless." A local music store was going out of business and I bought it for $125 as I recall. It looked good and played great, but I figured it would "do" til I got something else. I've had several "something elses" since then, but I would never let go of the Tak. She has aged well and I have treated her badly, but I can't find a D-18 that plays or sounds better.


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: Edmund Flynn (inactive)
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 11:28 AM

My Japanese guitar is an Aria ... classic ... I've never played anything else, so have no comparison . is it known? is it rated well or poorly?
I've been afraid to try a good guitar for fear of becoming dissatisfied with my own. Maybe now is the time to face the music.
Edmund


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: GUEST,mkebenn@work
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 11:42 AM

'Spaw, Well, I did have to have my '70 D-35 Compleatly reglued about 15 years ago, and was told at the time that it was the only example of that vintage the man had seen that didn't play like a truck{his words}, so maybe I was lucky. Perhaps Takemine had the same effect on Martin that Nissan and Toyota had on Ford. Mike, backpeddling and ducking


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 11:46 AM

I don't know about the classical ones but I have come across some very nice Aria accoustics.

Jon


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Subject: Japanese...
From: Bernard
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 12:05 PM

As I understand it, Yamaha have been making pianos for about 150 years (originally copying Steinway).

Suzuki have been making violins for at least that long (I think), and Takemine was a spin-off - there used to be Suzuki guitars, but the Takemine name took over in the mid '70's.

Ibanez started making cheap copies, but got their act together and started producing original instruments, again in the mid '70's.

That would be around the time all the 'big' manufacturers successfully prevented cheap copies of their instruments being produced.

Except Fender (CBS) - they started producing their own cheap Japanese copies 'under licence'!!


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: wildlone
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 01:16 PM

As I have said before I have an 70s Ibanez "Gibson Dove" copy I swapped for a two week old Hondo and £40 it is a bit worn around the edges but of all the guitars I have tried in the shops the only ones that compare cost in the region of 5 to 6 hundred pounds


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 01:39 PM

Mike, I don't think you have to duck! The Japanese gave a wake-up call to a lot of industries and certainly the automakers may be at the top of the list. The first cars they exported here were pretty pathetic, but they spent their time and money having a good look at the market and then addressing it. I'm sure the folks in Detroit got a good laugh over some of the earlier entries, but it was the last laugh they had.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: How Long the Japanese been making guitars?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 02:38 PM

Since there's so much knowledge around, can anyone shed light on this?

My favourite guitar is one called an Angélica, and inside it says made in Japan, model number 2854, serial number 226, and that's all I know about it, excepty that it's great to pklay, since I bought it about six or seven years ago in a charity shop for £10 (which was more than they asked for it).

So anyone know anything when it might have been made or whatever?


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Terry K
Date: 28 Jan 01 - 03:55 AM

Yamaha made their first musical instrument - a reed organ - in 1887. They made their first upright piano in 1900. (I have a Yammy upright and everybody thinks I must mean an electronic keyboard!).

I also have a Yamaha guitar - I just looked in the catalogue because I'm sure I read that they made their first guitar in 1961, but I couldn't find confirmation. They have most of their guitars made in Taiwan now, only the two or three very top models are still made in Japan.

Cheers, Terry


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Allan C.
Date: 28 Jan 01 - 07:44 AM

Their guitars have come a long, long way since I picked up my first Japanese guitar back in the very early 60's. I cannot recall the brand name at all. What I do recall is that the frets were way far off the fingerboard and were so sharp on the edges that little playing time passed at all before my fingers bled.

The good news was that it belonged to somebody else.

I went to work in a piano shop years later. They sold Yamaha pianos and the first Yamaha guitars. I was impressed. Their guitars have been among my favorites ever since then.

For those who remember it, the Adventure guitar is a Yamaha FG-160 (refinished and modified by yours truly). However, the label indicates that this one was made in China.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jan 01 - 09:43 AM

There's some crap guitars made in every country.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: bloozcat
Date: 28 Jan 01 - 09:56 AM

Catspaw my brothers Takamine Is a classical one and sounded lovely to me...The tuning keys were a bit fragile though and kept snapping off.....the finish on that guitar was excellent....sounds like there is some slight conflict of facts regards exactly how long the Japanese have been In the field of guitar manufacture...I seem to remember 150 years being quoted then the 1890's...anyway It sounds like they have been doing It longer than I expected.....

Thanx all you lovely people for your help on this matter.

bloozingly yours.

bloozcat... http://communities.msn.co.uk/bluesandfolkmusic


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Jan 01 - 12:31 PM

Thanks, Joe, for changing the title of this thread. Anyway, How Long is Chinese, not Japanese. :~)


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Peter T.
Date: 28 Jan 01 - 01:15 PM

Does anyone know if the Japanese makers took anything from their own Japanese string instruments -- whether style, materials, or craftsmen -- or have they always been strictly segregated? Might be an interesting sociological study...
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Gypsy
Date: 28 Jan 01 - 05:14 PM

I add my thanks for the switch on the title. This is a far better thread than I thought it would be, reading the original title.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Lanfranc
Date: 28 Jan 01 - 05:39 PM

My first guitar was a Japanese-made Antoria f-hole (c 1957, I was told) - action like a double bass and all the tone of a cheap cigar-box. This could be analogous to early Japanese attempts at car making.

My next Japanese guitar was a 1967 Aria John Pearse copy of a Guild Dreadnought, brilliant action and superb tone - I should never have got rid of it. I was later told that the "John Pearce" Arias were in fact made under supervision of Guild luthiers. Does anyone know if this was true? At this point the automotive analogy reaches the early Toyota Land Cruiser or Honda S600.

I have since owned Takamine, Yamaha, Yairi, Daion (Mugen) and Washburn Japanese-made guitars, all of which were and are excellent instruments, but my all-time favourite is still my 1968 Martin D18, which is just better for reasons I cannot define, and not just because of the decal on the headstock. I could part with all the others (except, perhaps, the 1968 Yairi classical that the lady who is now my wife allowed me to buy that year instead of an engagement ring - we're still married, and I'd like to keep it that way) but not the Martin.

So, in answer to the thread question - I don't know, but at least 50 years, I would think, but steer clear of most early examples, I've not heard many enthusiasts for anything before about 1965. Early Japanese cars were often kit-built English Austins - nuff said?


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jan 01 - 06:35 PM

Noone got any enlightenment on my Angélica then? I'd guess it's about 1960, from what someone told me who used to have one.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: sian, west wales
Date: 29 Jan 01 - 07:08 AM

I have a Harmony Sovereign made in the USA. It came into our family second hand (first my sister, then me) around 1965 and was probably with the previous owner 2 or 3 years before that. We were told that it was one of the last made in the USA before moving to Japan ... but I never checked the story out. And I've never played a "made in Japan" model so can't compare. Bloody (literally) high action on the strings - always referred to as the Old Cheese slicer. At least it was always safe at parties - good tone, but painful!

sian


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 29 Jan 01 - 07:50 AM

I once had a Harmony tenor banjo. I'm not sure where it was made. Weird thing was the rim and resonater were made out of some bakelite type material. I wouldn't say that it had the best tone in the world (I have heard far worse sounding banjos though) but it played well. The last time I saw it (it changed hands a few times - I swapped it for a goretex jacket), it had been fitted with a cittern type neck and a resonater made out part of a warming pan - even weirder...

Jon


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,jon tooley
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 07:53 AM

Hi McGrath of Harlow,
I too have an Angelica 2584 also bought from a charity shop!.The only info I can find is from the Vintage Guitar message board.
Instruments previously built in Japan from circa 1967 to 1975.
The Angelica trademark is a brand name used by UK importers Boosey & Hawkes on these entry level guitars and basses based on classic American designs. Some of the original designs produced for Angelica are actually better in quality, (Source: Tony Bacon and Paul Day, The Guru´s Guitar Guide).
Angelica instruments were not distributed to the U.S. market. Some models may be encountered in the U.S., but the average price for these guitars ranges around $100 to $150.

You may have already found this info, but I post it here just in case.
Mine came strung with nylon strings and sounds very sweet but I'm going to fit some Martin acoustic bronze and compare.Had to pay £25 for mine but it's in amazing condition. Jon


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 08:36 AM

I missed this thread the first time round ! Yamaha started coming in to UK in the early sixties , and I gather the first fifty of each
model were hand finished , and sold at a loss to get the marque established ! Steve Benbow picked up an early FG350 for about £50 , spent £100 getting it set up , and finished with a really nice instrument .


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Richard
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 01:41 PM

Re. Sian's Harmony Sovereign; I bought mine (USA built) in UK in 1970. Shortly after, I saw my first Japanese one (Asian anyway - were they Japanese?) God, it was horrible, no attempt made to hide the plywood! My American one was like yours, it seems. Reasonable sound, but an absolute pig to play. Wish I still had it, though.
Richard


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Jack the Sailor
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 01:50 PM

>>>In general, the Yamaha Corporation manufactures a wide variety of products. Among these include Yamaha line of acoustic guitars. They have a lot of experience and have been building instruments since the late 1800s. Today, people know Yamaha as a Japanese company that is known for its products, including their instruments and acoustic guitars.

>>Finally, in 1942, they debuted their first acoustic guitar. <<

yamaha history


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Kiwi Guest
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 04:04 PM

I believe that as well as factory guitars. There have long been individual luthiers in Japan producing very high quality hand built instruments. The Kona classical guitar was and still is considered to be a very fine instrument. Also Yamaha built some extremely high quality hand made steel string dreadnoughts many years ago. In every way these seem to be the equal of any of the top of the line American guitars.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: skipy
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 05:54 PM

I believe that they once make one 7 foot long!
I make that statement in the memory of someone who would have made it or something simmillar, who sadly, so sadly is no longer with us.
RIP Scrump.
I always loved your humour & always tried to spot the chance to be first with a "wisecrack" or pun.
Skipy


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Peace
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 06:19 PM

Hey, Skipy. Saw the thread title and came over to say just about what you said.

This is not a good sign.

Hope things are good out your way.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Beer
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 06:24 PM

My Yamaha 180 I purchased in 1963.
Beer (adrien)


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: mayomick
Date: 02 Sep 08 - 03:40 PM

Wasn't the original Yamaha symbol based on a tuning fork ? Somebody told me once that they were instrument makers before they became car manufacturers.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Sep 08 - 04:02 PM

Daion/Mugen were the tuning fork symbol. Or Longhorn steer head.

Suzuki (ah, but which Suzuki?) were making some fine guitars by the early 60s.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: skipy
Date: 02 Sep 08 - 04:26 PM

Peace things here good at the mo. but could get scary.
Skipy


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Phot
Date: 02 Sep 08 - 04:30 PM

On a slightly different tack.

I have an ESP 800 series (Telecaster look alike, Japanese, not Korean) Clear purple laquer finish with gold hardware, machine heads, jack socket, and neck bolt cover, Rosewood fret board. From the research I've done I think they are quite rare, and about 12-15 years old. I let one of the guys who I was on course with last year play it (I can't!!) and he said it had a really good action, it certainly sounded good from where I was sitting!

Wassail!! Chris

PS, Its only been played about 50 times from new!


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Sep 08 - 04:42 PM

Hi jon tooley - I'm glad someone came up at last with more about that Angelica. A lovely guitar.

Mine has always had steel strings, since I rescued it, and sounds pretty good with them. I later put in a bridge doctor I got from StewMac, because I had a notion the front was bellying up a bit round the bridge, and I think it sound seven better now. (Only a few quid to buy it, and a very easy job to put it in.)


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Brisbane Girl
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 11:35 PM

All makes for interesting reading....I have a Japanese made guitar LUNA Model LG-70 made in Okayama, Tokyo and no one can tell me how old it is. Even the current LUNA folk in the US don't know.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Jim P
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 12:40 AM

I have two "lawsuit" era Takamine "Martins" (I have been told that the lawsuit is a myth, but whatever) and they are fantastic. The 12 string holds tune even in the notorious micro-climate changes here in the Bay Area, and has the sweetest action of any guitar I've ever tried. I had a bit of a buzzing problem over the summer (it was exceptionally hot and dry) but a humidifier cleared it right up. Someday I may get a Taylor or whatever, but I'm very well satisfied with my old Taks for now.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: vectis
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 05:20 AM

I own a Yamaha FG140 from about 1969/1970 ish. It is wonderful and I haven't found a guitar with a better sound in the last 40 years. I also bought a Suzuki classical in 1972 and that one matured beautifully too. I eventually (reluctantly) sold it for a very good price but still miss it.

The legend went that during WW2 Yamaha and other furniture and instrument makers effectively shut down their warehouses and wood stores. When they came to manufacture the guitars of the 1960s and 1970s they had warehouses full of pre war timber that had been maturing away for thirty years. The early guitars were, therefore, built of high quality, well matured timber. Nowadays that store has long gone and instruments are built using newer timber. Maybe that really is why the early guitars were so good and continue to sound so good.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 05:49 AM

Apart from my Far East build Epiphones

( I have had, and parted with, five - the first in 1971 - 72. She would have been £47 except that I pt ex'd my small bodied Harmony Sovereign on her)

and two Far East build Telecasters, I have had to my knowledge two Japanese built guitars.

One was a small bodied Kimbara, and she was a beaut. I wish I still had her.

The other was a Kasuga, and I have yet to play a worse plank. I must have been pissed when I bought it.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Phil B
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 07:23 AM

Hi Vectis
I too had a yamaha FG140 when they came out and my then musical partner Colin Wilson had a 150. This was in the days of a great old time music shop in Exeter called Bill Greenalgh's where we had little HP books and went in on saturday mornings to pay the next installment!!
These two guitars were sensational. I foolishly sold mine on. Colin still has his. It plays and sounds as well as any top range guitar and has even weathered perfectly. The story I heard was that it was a deliberate ploy on the part of the manufacturers to make these guitars with solid tops and then, having created the market, they subtly downgraded the material quality with referring to it anywhere. The subsequent guitars were still nice but not a patch on the first generation.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Tangledwood
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 05:43 PM

Not as old as many mentioned here, but I have a Japanese made Hohner 12 string bought new in 1980. Lovely tone and the luthier I took it to recently for some adjustments was very complimentary about it.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Betsy
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 06:16 PM

After WW2 I understand some far-thinking Japanese business men bought forests suitable for wood for pianos . Obviously the acoustic guitar wasn't REALLY popular at that time but Elvis was coming with his Martin. When time moved on, the Japanese were in a prime position to churn out guitars which looked like Elvis's.At he end of the 60's I, and many others bought Yamaha FG 180 ( being unable to afford the very highly priced (in the UK) Martin D28.
I don't wish to be libelous , but , the Japanese at that time simply copied the best which was around and the FG 180 was as good a copy of the D28 that they could afford , but they DID do a good job on it. In order to get into "the market " they put a lot of good work into them.
I know a group the Teesside Fettlers who used to travel to gigs with them on car roof racks in cheap cases , through all sorts of British weather and they never warped or misbehaved.
A few in the thread mentioned the FG 140 which was almost the same as the FG 180, but the FG 140 had plastic machine head finish whereas the FG 180 had metal.
Someone also mentioned FG 150 but this one must have been a "special" or nylon strings - as I have never seen one.
At their time they were a good ,accurate, good-sounding affordable workhorse of a guitar and mine is still still eminently playable although I have moved on in taste .


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Bernard
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 06:21 PM

I've just found this website which has a book on the history of Yamaha guitars, and it suggests the first prototypes were built over sixty years ago.

They've been making pianos for well over a century. I seem to remember reading somewhere that they started out by copying Steinways.

What a lot of people don't notice is the Yamaha logo isn't made up with three of the letter 'Y', but three tuning forks...


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 11:21 AM

The Spanish and Portugese both visited Japan, beginning in the mid 16th Century, and did some early trading. This was during the time various Shoguns, or warlords were vying for preeminence. It is likely that the Japanese' first exposure to "western" string instruments occurred around that time. When they began to copy the style of the Spanish guitar and manufacture their own is another question. My guess is that the industry really sprang up in response to a 20th century demand for pianos, violins, guitars, etc.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 11:37 AM

I remember going down to lower Manhattan to buy a cheap guitar with a friend who was a beginner. He bought a Japanese guitar called a Zim-Gar for about $20. This was around 1964. It seemed like a decent guitar but I've no idea how it held up.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Phil B
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 02:55 PM

On the subject of Harmony guitars, both myself and Steve Knightley have acquired vintage sovereigns in the last two years. Steve had one thirty years ago and always regretted passing it on. We've seen a few Japanese models over the years and none of them in any way capture the sound of the original. The secret of its unique sound lies solely in the lightness of its construction which is why relatively few good ones survive. They've literally fallen apart!!. mine was badly damaged but has been expertly restored by David Oddy and is now permanently by the studio console. Its recording properties are superb. Well balanced, very focused and no woolly undertones to deal with. I've just used it almost exclusively on the new Mick Groves album and am utterly delighted with it.

Phil Beer


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Warwick Slade
Date: 04 Dec 08 - 07:53 AM

Interesting thread but I do not wish to be pedantic but regarding Bernards comments that Takemine were originaly Suzuki is debatable. Takemine were founded in 1962 and were in line to make Martin's Sigma range in 1968 before shacking up with Kaman.
Takemine make guitars under other names and in 1968 luthier Mass Hirade joined them and their classical range carried his name.
I know of no link with Suzuki but am happy to be proved wrong


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Musket
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 03:35 AM

In terms of years since etc, I have nothing to add.

However, I always say I was lucky in that I bought a Yamaha guitar in the late '70s and can never find a Yamaha anywhere near as good since. One or two dealers tell me that they were still smaller production in a Japanese factory then, and the more mass produced ones are built elsewhere.

I have no idea if this is true, but the tone is great, it keeps in tune all night, and best of all, being a cheap one at the time, has a plywood belly. Had an accident with a mic stand many years ago and it hasn't altered a thing other than the visual. (Try that with a solid top.)


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Blueref
Date: 25 Dec 08 - 01:26 PM

I have an Angelica 2854 SN 967 that I bought new in 1971 in London. It's always had steel strings.
I thought there's be more information on these guitars than there is!


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Guest 'T' in Canada
Date: 25 May 09 - 11:02 PM

whats really triping me out is i have a (Raven) guitar & i cant find out how old it is i've seen similar models but not the same ones really would'nt mind knowing more on it pls... it was made in japan (Raven mod.E1B.)????????????????


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Peace
Date: 26 May 09 - 06:39 PM

Acoustic? Electric? Nylon?

Serial number?

Where'd you buy it?

When'd you buy it?


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Peace
Date: 26 May 09 - 06:42 PM

Good possibility here.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Peace
Date: 26 May 09 - 06:50 PM

"That was a tough one bear with me here, here's a little bit of info about the Raven guitar, the Mann Guitar and the Raven Guitar were as far as I know made in Japan in the same place some were labeled Mann some were labeled Raven and imported to Canada there's a question mark on whether Matsumoku made them and there is also a rumour that Ibanez were behind them but this is hard to confirm apparently the early ones were awesome but the quality dipped a bit in the later models. I've put a load of Reviews on for the Mann guitar/Raven Guitar one of the reviewers collects these and has both Ravens and Manns,

Mann and Raven Guitars were labeled and imported to Canada by "Great West Musical Imports" of Vancouver BC in the 70's and 80's. There were a huge success and these low cost but fair to good quality Guitars are still seen in the marketplace regularly today.(gear Archive)

Mann Les Paul Copy: Harmony Central User Reviews

I couldn't find a picture of the Raven Lawsuit so here's the Mann, hope this info helps a little, good to see you around "

from

http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:lybDOtiigMIJ:www.guitarforbeginners.com/forum/guitar-gear/19596-raven-guitar/+%22raven+guitar%22,&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 May 09 - 07:44 PM

I remember my dad buying a Suzuki Classical for a schoolmate in 1964 - it was very nice for the money, and my dad used to build instruments himself, so he knew a thing or two about it.
I sold my Daion Legacy 999 in the early '90s and have regretted it ever since.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 May 09 - 09:27 PM

bloozcat
I hope this helps you to get more oriented.

Art


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,rogerj
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 07:44 AM

Quote "From: Blueref
Date: 25 Dec 08 - 01:26 PM

I have an Angelica 2854 SN 967 that I bought new in 1971 in London. It's always had steel strings.
I thought there's be more information on these guitars than there is!"

I Found this thread while researching my own Angelica and noticed this contribution from Blueref. I also have a model 2854 and the serial number is also 967 !! so much for serial numbers..


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,9crs2
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 06:21 PM

I just picked up a classical guitar at my friend's neighbor's garage sale today. It says it is a "de Gama" and that it was made in Japan around 1972. Do any of y'all know anything about these de Gama's?


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,lhuckoby
Date: 18 Jun 10 - 02:31 AM

i also have came across a guitar which says de gama 5102 and cant seem to find any info on it. any suggestions?


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Subject: Bolero Japanese made guitar model # G703?
From: GUEST,Bob B
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 07:12 PM

Has anyone heard of this brand


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Guest Betsy
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 07:51 PM

The Japanese started buying forests (from anywhere) after WW 11 . It was part of an ethical mind-set they adopted in order to manufacture musical instruments.
They copied the Martin D28 and produced a Yamaha FG 180 etc ,etc
Also note how Yamaha seemed to replace the Steinway as the professional pianists' preference


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Ian the Dog
Date: 04 Aug 10 - 03:11 AM

Interesting thread! Having recently acquired a Yamaki-made Jedson FW913, I've been doing some research on Yamaki. Their trajectory mirrors that of other Japanese manufacturers (Yamaha, Yairi) who came to prominence in the early '70s, by building high-quality Martin-esque acoustics, mainly from solid woods. By the mid-70s all but the top models were laminated and are now seen as less desirable.

Back to the question. In 1964, Martin produced only 6,298 guitars. In 1971 production peaked at 22,636 units. Somewhere between these two dates, the Japanese got the message, and a trickle of dubious-quality guitars became a flood of high-quality copies of classic USA designs. 'Badge engineering' abounded, and Yamaki examples turn up under the Fernandez, Canyon and Thumb (!) brands as well as Jedson (UK) and Daion (USA). They also made Washburns at one point.

So how good were they? An American luthier and guitarist recently sold a 1972 Yamaki F125 on Ebay for over $400. He commented that he played every Taylor guitar (around 30) in his local store, and 'none came close'. I hear the same comments from many sites where these early MIJ guitars are finally gettting the respect they deserve.

By 1981, musical tastes had changed, Martin's output was back at 1964 levels, and by the mid-80's the golden age of MIJ (made in Japan) acoustics was over.

Best wishes from Dubai!


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,GA - Aust
Date: 18 May 11 - 06:58 AM

I thankfully own a Takamine, Yasuma and a Cats Eyes - all Japanese and made in the early '70s. They are all Martin D-10 look alikes and sound real sweet.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 May 11 - 05:05 AM

I just got a Belero model number is hard to read.
made in japan


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: josepp
Date: 21 May 11 - 05:22 PM

The 70s Washburns were made in Japan. Probably anything from Japan before then was poor quality. By the 70s was when Japan came into its own. Washburns are made in China today and they're not too bad--I own one. My Gretsch archtop was made in Japan and that is a high quality guitar. My Takamine is actually made in Korea.

My drums, synth and much of my sound equipment is Japanese also.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: bubblyrat
Date: 22 May 11 - 09:07 AM

Unlike some Oriental guitar brands , copying English or Irish -sounding names, Ibanez was , apparently , a genuine Bedouin Spanish maker , bought by a Japanese gentleman ( Yari ?) before being shipped back lock stock and barrel to Nippon. Early Ibanez models are supposed to be of very high quality. ---NB pronounced "ee ban yeth " , my Spanish-speaking partner tells me !!
                   I remember the early Yamaha guitars well ; they were on sale in Singapore around 1967/68, and one of my fellow "band " members from HMS Eagle bought one , and a fine instrument it was , too , although it caused a few problems with Malaysian customs officers when we went across the causeway to Johore Bahru to play gigs ! Also, I knew a man in Poole a few years back ,a good singer / songwriter ,who still has his late sixties / early seventies Yamaha (Orange label inside ); it sounds wonderful !
                Both the grand piano and the "clavinova" in our music-room are by Yamaha , naturally !


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 22 May 11 - 05:38 PM

'Catter Bo has a wonderful old Takamine which seems identical to my Martin D18 in looks and quality, but which produces a completely different tone - not worse, just different.

My recently-acquired '70's Mugen twelve-string (made in the Yamaki factory, I believe) is a dream to play, makes a big noise, and stays in tune all evening. It cost £2 in a boot-sale. With my Italian mandolin, Mexican Tele, Portuguese guitarra and Chinese uke and Epiphone Les Paul, I'm doing my bit for world trade.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Fossil
Date: 23 May 11 - 12:48 AM

This thread has been going quite a while now and it's nice to catch up with it again, seeing as I own a very nice Japanese-made Sigma D28-12R, which of course is basically a Martin D28-12 made by Martin's (then) Japanese suppliers, ostensibly as a middle-market copy. But in reality, the Japanese took the Martin specs and just duplicated the guitars with lovely quality woods and top-notch quality control.

But that's not the reason I am responding here. A friend of mine who lives in Auckland showed me a guitar he had bought many years previously (mid- '60's I think) in order to learn to play classical guitar. He had no success at all and when I stayed at his house and he got it out for me to play, I found out why.

It was a classical shape, made of obviously high quality wood, a "made in Japan" brand inside the sound hole. The headstock was a typical Martin square-ended shape, but instead of proper tuners, there were wooden tuning pegs which went straight through it and were held in place in their holes merely by friction. Needless to say, it was totally impossible to get into tune, or to keep in tune, even with nylon strings.

It seemed such an unlikely thing: the body was so obviously well-made by a good luthier but with this abortion of a headstock. Surely, if they were doing a copy, they would've copied the classical slotted headstock and put geared tuners on it? I have often wondered about that.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jun 11 - 08:42 AM

Update to previous thread -
Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,GA - Aust
Date: 18 May 11 - 06:58 AM

I thankfully own a Takamine, Yasuma and a Cats Eyes - all Japanese and made in the early '70s. They are all Martin D-10 look alikes and sound real sweet.
Just scored an Angelica (Made in Japan) and it has a great sound and is well made - have to say that a man can't own (and love) enough circa early 70s Japanese made guitars.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Tomthumbuk
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 11:54 AM

I have a Rolif Super which dates from 1951. It is a good guitar and is I believe solid top. Japanese guitars are generally very good value as they are very well made and goood to play.
My guitar teacher plays one and he is a classical guitarist so I trust his judgement.
I also have an old Suzukiclassical, from 1971 and it's a lovely guitar to play and soundwise.
I have had Admira guitarnot a very good guitarists, Concert, Capricho and Almeria and I prefer the japanese ones. I also have a Japanese Suzuki copy of a Guild D55, which is a beautiful guitar,with Abalone inserts,
When Japanese made things back then they did it right, think motorbikes,cars and Pianos.
Cheers, Tom


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 05:30 PM

From the last post here in 2008:

I also have a model 2854 and the serial number is also 967 !! so much for serial numbers..

During "Japanese Industrial Recovery" after WWII a lot of "copies of things" were made. Several people were arrested, some convicted and did jail time, based on "their gun" being found at a crime scene, before it was discovered that the Japanese had made some 3,500 (IIRC) copies of the M19911A1 handgun, shipped to and sold in the US, all with the same serial number as the one they copied. Markings of the original manufacturer of the one they copied were also copied - identically. (There's a fine line between a "copy" and a "counterfeit?)

While it's unlikely you'll go to jail if someone steals someone else's guitar - maybe, the "lesson" here would be that no matter how confident you are that your item is "completely identifiable in original condition," it's probably a good idea to add a unique and identifiable mark of your own so that you can unambiguously testify as to whether the item is yours and not someone else's "look-alike."

You already, of course, have photos of all your "significant treasures" but the photos should show something unique about each item in order to be very useful.

Serial numbers can be defaced or removed, and new ones can be created if the item is worth the effort. Even the dings in the neck from when you got drunk and fell on the speaker stand, if properly documented, could be the more credible identification, if it comes to needing unambiguous proof, although a unique marking that can be described and be recognized by others is more likely to be helpful.

John


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Subject: hohner 12 strings
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Apr 12 - 03:49 PM


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Commander Crabbe
Date: 17 Apr 12 - 07:22 PM

I have a Suzuki three S which I bought in Doha in 1978 for about $600 although I may be wrong. In looking for a bit of history I found on the net an excel spreadsheet of Suzuki guitar models. The earliest date record is 1907.

That said the spreadsheet is in Japanese so, not being the worlds best Japanese speaker it is fairly hard to understand. That said, if anyone wants a copy, or anyone knows how to translate the text in the spreadsheet if they PM me I can send them the excel file.

Chris


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: mayomick
Date: 18 Apr 12 - 06:17 PM

They are usually about three foot long.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Mat guest
Date: 10 May 12 - 06:44 AM

Hi, I too have a 'bolero guiter' model 70 made in Japan and I can't find any info on it. Any help would be appreciated. I picked it up at a pawn shop cheap cause the condition was pretty good. Any ideas?
On the top it has a symbol and s8510 then a serial I think 366018

Thanks for your help
Mat


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,DJParadigm210
Date: 19 May 12 - 12:24 PM

Hi,

I just found a De Gama 5103 and was wondering if anyone has any information on it?

Thanks


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,bluto
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 03:40 PM

No clue! Have one from the 30"s though. Is an aluminum bodied Electric, Mfrg. by Knicard. Aside from a picture on the net(of a simular ,though appeared to be 50"s/60"s model.)Can not seem to find any info & would appreciate whatever u may know,or where to go 4 same.      Thanx Alot!!!   John.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: mayomick
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 08:47 AM

How hi is a Chinaman


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,GUEST.Angus
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 02:21 PM

DJParadigm210,
I was given a De Gama 5103 this past weekend (sans case); steel string, slot neck; action is high. It does not appear to be a quality instrument. I guess the fact that it came without a case would be a tip off.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 11:03 AM

Japanese Hitoki wood was as much sought after soundboard material for stringed instruments over the centuries. The closest thing we have for straightness of grain and evenness of difference between spring summer winter fall spacing between rings. chet atkins in the late 60's early 70's picked up a de Gama classical guitar made in Japan to Hitoki soundboard precision but of American Cypress, an equally straight grained wood. He was so impressed with the sound he bought it and played it as part of a television concert. I figured if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me. 44 years later I am still playing it.the faceboard is a little soft sustained a few dings in international travel but it has sustained the humidity and heat of Singapore and American air conditioning without damage. I am putting a new set of stings on it D'Agg. med. tension. which are still too bright or stiff to cause reberb in all the cross length radial tubes between the rings the actual reverberating "soundboard". I think I am going back to Hamach's low tension. After wound and tuned the string needs to have about 1/2 in flex when pulled straight up from the fret nearest the soundboard (90 deg angle) with thumb and forefinger gently. the guitar cost $360.00 in 1968. I am 60 and have never had a problem. and dropped the capo and slide years ago


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,Re: Hitoki Chet Atkins
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 11:17 AM

The case offered was $70.00 The guitar stays tuned for years in the box. and the deflection moment does not alter the tone. The fret spacing in the rosewood neck is perfect all the way to the soundboard opening. Guitars owned. Fender Strat with wammy bar, Gibson metalstring and ukelele. Want to sell it?


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 11:34 AM

I don't know when they started, but the Tama I bought in 1974 and played for ten years or so (including on the Roseville Fair LP) was Japanese. It sounded very like a Guild. People used to peer at it wondering what on earth it was and why I wasn't playing something they'd heard of (like a Guild or Martin), but they were always impressed by its sound.

In 1985, I replaced it with a Taylor jumbo (then also an unknown brand) that I still have because I wanted a little more bass. The Tama remains in the ownership of a friend.

wg


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Chris/Darwin
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 10:10 AM

I have a Vorg I purchased new in about 1974 for $380. It has a good thump for sessions, but is sweeter than my 1971 D28 for finger picking - a lot easier to play too. I have never seen anyone else with one. It has a bound neck and similar appointments to a D41 or similar. It remains my favourite guitar, and I know nothing about the brand except it says on the label that it was made by the Pearl drum company. It has a solid spruce top that looks like Sitka, and a laminated rosewood back and sides.

I have a Suzuki 12 string I bought in 1971 for $50, and it makes a great sound, but has a neck like a tree trunk!

I also have an Ibanez banjo I bought second-hand in the 80s. It appears to be a copy of a top line Deering, with rock maple neck and tone ring, ebony fret board etc. - it sounds great.


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 11:02 AM

Couple of weeks ago I noticed a Suzuki 12 in a 'cash converters' type shop for approx £150.
Didn't look in too bad condition,
but the action was alarmingly high at the 12th fret.

Maybe a few years ago at the worst of my GAS syndrome
I might have taken a chance at haggling for it.

But I've got less money to waste these days,
and these type of shops usually refuse to budge from their unrealistic prices.

.. and I've already got too many unfinished 'fixer up' project guitars gathering dust...


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Chris/Darwin
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 08:54 AM

One thing about the Suzuki 12 having a thick neck is the action is still low after 41 years and I have never had to adjust it. You can't say that about Martins of the same vintage!


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Subject: RE: How Long have the Japanese made guitars?
From: Commander Crabbe
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 06:53 PM

Correction to my previous post.

Haruo has kindly done a bit of translation on the spreadsheet for me and it turns out that 1907 is the earliest that The Suzuki Violin Company made Violins, Violas, Cellos and double Bass.

They started making Guitars, Ukeleles, Mandolins, Mandolas and Mandocellos inn 1914.

Chris


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