Ok people, sit back and let me tell you about this wacky Japanese electric. A few years ago I found this in a backwoods pawn shop collecting dust. It had been there for years and it just intrigued me. I’m a lover of all wacky, bizarre guitars and this one just spoke to me, like “help!” Anyway it came in a cheap chipboard case (which I still have) and it was labeled “Plays Great”. Needless to say after a quick look-over this guitar was basically unplayable but I bought it anyway because it was just too cool!There were a few things that made this stand out right away! First, it had a ONE-BOLT NECK!!! In all my searching I have NEVER seen this except on some Valco guitars, but this Douglas design was sooooo primitive. Needless to say, we did a lot of shimming on this neck!
OK so here’s what Dano Dave did to save this guitar:
NECK- Truss rod worked and the neck could be adjusted for some really low action. I initially thought that the fretboard was maple since it was covered in so much crud! After removing the neck he sanded and cleaned the fretboard and lo and behold there was rosewood under there! He sanded out all the weird humps and bumps, removed the frets, and re-fretted with medium gauge wire. He got that string alignment spot on and set the neck and the correct angle
ELECTRONICS– Dano went over every solder joint and wire in this guitar! Check out the crazy switch with the “RIZM” label!! Pickups in this guitar are very interesting, they look like humbuckers but they’re single coil types with that awesome 60s garage sound. I call it the “empty beer can” sound! The pups have low output but somehow sound pretty grindy and raw at low volumes. It’s like they have some sort of natural echo thing going on. The pickups have not gone microphonic but as with all of these vintage beauties, super high gain is not really an option. A small overdriven amp with tons of reverb and you have the sound of 90% of the Nuggets bands!
PLAYABILITY- When I got this guitar, it had just a few sad remnants remaining of the original trem system. One year at the Philly guitar show I saw an identical guitar and I took pics of the factory trem system (btw, the dealer at the show wanted $599!!!) and after searching for years I found an identical unit!!! The original factory string alignment had the high e string totally off the fretboard so some adjustment needed to be done there. I also put on a different bridge of the same era. Tuners are the standard Japanese strip type and are OK, totally typical and hold a tune. The tremolo system is pretty crude and only useful for some wobbly work, like a bigsby.
BOTTOM LINE- The body had plenty of wear all over and this guitar DID NOT play like a Les Paul Custom! Some would call the wear “mojo” which is totally dumb, but what amazes me is that someone really played the hell out of this guitar back in the day, and it was SO UNPLAYABLE!! I love that someone loved this thing and the guitar earned the wear because of it. It’s probably the reason I had to save it from that pawn shop years ago. Listen, people collect and love these weird Japanese guitars nowadays, myself included. What most people don’t realize is that they often need a ton of work to get them stage ready. That’s what I want from these guitars, I don’t want wall hangers (although they do look lovely on a wall), but rather I want something I can grab and play right NOW. Anyway this guitar was ready to be loved again and I’m glad I saved it!