1967 Japanese Sekova Mentor Guitar

Oh boy, I miss this one!  I sort of wish I didn’t sell it but sometimes you just gotta let it go!  It now resides in a NYC art studio!  Anyway, this was a Craigslist find that turned out to be one of the few cool Craigslist discoveries I’ve had.  The original seller had a few blurry pics to look at, but once I saw four pickups, well, I just had to venture out to the boonies and buy this sucker!  Talk about bizarre, huh?  This guitar was in kinda sorry shape.  It only had a few pieces of the original trem left, and what was left had been messed with.  The wiring, jack, and most of the pots were shot, and the guitar was covered with stickers and autographs.  The seller said that the guitar was his brother’s, and said brother flew the coop and wasn’t coming back so the seller was “gettin’ rid of his shit!”  OK, so here’s what Dano and I did to this beauty!

  1. I save trem units whenever I can find them so I had a NOS unit for this guitar.  It’s a pretty common unit similar to the Hagstrom trems of the 60s and early 70s.  They’re almost identical except for the screw hole alignment.
  2. The massive upper “control center” had on/off switches for each pickup and volume/tone controls for two pickups a piece.  Like I mentioned earlier, all this was shot and pretty much the only thing holding it all together was the chrome! Thankfully, Dano has a bunch of vintage parts!  He fixed up all the wiring and pots. The jack was also bad.  In fact, jacks are almost ALWAYS bad on vintage Japanese guitars. The lower switch was supposed to be a rhythm/solo switch but it really deadened the sound in both positions so we just bypassed it.
  3. The pickups were a pretty cool design, but unfortunately they looked a lot better than they sounded.  They had that typical weak output, somewhere in the 4-5 range, and they were all pretty much microphonic.  At least they were height adjustable!
  4. The neck needed a lot of shims to get that proper angle but after a good set-up it played pretty well!
Those exaggerated horns and the huge body style were just so awesome!  The guitar balanced pretty well and wasn’t “head-heavy” at all.  I still don’t know why I sold it!
The binding was all intact and the bridge was useable.  The tuners were the standard open gear types and it held a tune OK.  Still don’t know who made this one but one day I was searching through some old catalogs and found this exact model, I believe it was from 1966-68 range.  I found out it was called the Sekova Mentor.  In 1967 list price was $149, and it was the most expensive guitar in the catalog.  Here’s what they said in 67:
“US-29 ‘Mentor”- Professional solid body four pickup model that is sharp, sleek, solid superiority loaded with drive and looks and SPECTONIC PROJECTION.  Deluxe rosewood, celluloid bound oval fingerboard with inlaid markers; violin shaped double cut-a-way to make those high ones easy; deluxe heavy chrome plated individual machines.  This model has the “exclusive” 12 screw adjustment on each pickup for the ultimate in sensitivity and unexcelled reproduction.  The four pickups have fingertip wheel controls for volume and tone; 4 slide switch pickup controls and 2 solo and rhythm switches.  heavy chrome-plated metal adjustable bridge and control panel; contrasting black pick guard with white underlay.  40″ long, 13.5″ wide.  Mirror satin, polyester lacquer-gloss finish.  This model only available in JET-RED SUNBURST and EBONY BLACK.”
Dontcha just love those old ads?!?!  I wonder what other brands cost in 1967?  $149 seems a bit pricey for the times?  I know Sekova and Kimberly guitars are sort of related, and I’m pretty sure Kawai made the Kimberly guitars, so on a hunch I’m going to say this was Kawai made.  I’m not 100% sure though.
I know a lot of guys can figure out the maker by looking at the neck plate, and this one has that “tombstone” neck plate I’ve seen on some other Japanese guitars.  And check out that red burst finish!!!  Lovely!
I suppose what I miss most about this Japanese beauty is that I’ve never seen these pickups on any other guitar.  Who knows, they’re probably the same as a bunch of others, except for the covers.  I’m all about weird looking pickups!  C’mon people, add your knowledge!
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16 thoughts on “1967 Japanese Sekova Mentor Guitar

  1. Steven Leek says:

    Hi!

    I have one of these. I am a guitar tech of middling abillity, and after having done everything in my talent range to this guitar, it still sounds and plays wierd. I wish Eastwood or somebody would build a functional example because nothing but nothing looks like a “Mentor.”

    1. drowninginguitars says:

      I totally understand that sentiment! An Eastwood copy just wouldn’t feel the same. I know, I’ve been down that road before. I could go on and on with tech tips, but if you really want to turn your Mentor into a player, contact Dano Dave. This guy is the best with oddball guitars, AND he’s nice!

  2. solidpine says:

    a few years ago in art school I found one of these completely disassembled and up for grabs. No serial number, logo or markings on it whatsoever. I’ve been scouring the internet trying to figure out what it was for quite some time, so glad i found this post! it had no pickguard and the finish was in terrible shape, so i made a new guard, stripped the entire thing and gave it a stain and a new finish. Turns out it’s all plywood (even the neck).

    Still swapping out some of the dead electronics and trying to figure out how to wire the damn thing. It the wackiest pickup layout i’ve ever seen. I know it’s a long shot, but any chance you know where I can get my hands on a schematic or diagram?

    Thanks for the post, much appreciated!

    1. drowninginguitars says:

      That’s a great story, and I’m glad you found my site! Dano fixed up my Mentor when I had it, so he probably has some insight to the wiring. He’s been fixing oddball guitars for years. His link is on the home page here.

  3. eric freeman says:

    I found a mentor in pastel yellow. I’m in the process of having a custom neck made. for those of you that have one and you want to make it sound better, instead of bypassing the Rhythm- Solo switch altogether do this:The output for all the pickups goes to the R-S switch on the rhythm side (rhythm position) then out to the input jack. using a soldering gun, eliminate the capacitor between the rhythm side and the solo side of the switch. (this cap really dulls the sound- signal going out). Next, find the hot and negative leads from the bridge pickup or whatever pickup you want to hear in the solo position.( what we are going to do here is mainline this pickup–call it the bridge pickup, to the solo side of the R-S switch then out to the input jack. I followed the hot lead from the bridge pickup to the bridge pickup selector switch.I soldered from that terminal continuing the lead to the bridge tone pot then out to the solo side of the solo switch, then out to the input jack.You will also need to make sure the pickup negative lead (ground )is dedicated to the input jack.(Understand this:when you slide the switch to solo position you get every bit of power the pickup has straight to the jack–mainlined, no volume pot just the tone pot if you want it. Then when you switch back to the rhythm selection, everything is back to normal, all pickups have their own switches volume, tone etc.This trick is known in tech circles as volume boost. It makes this guitar sound much better.That capacitor in the R-S switch is whats killing the tone. Eric Herco75@live.com I know when you first look at all the wiring of the mentor it’s a bit daunting, but if you look at it long enough it becomes much easier, if fact basic.

  4. Bob says:

    I found a Sekova round hole acoustic 12 string Model # 2020 or 202 hard to read.Been played a lot worn between frets.Needs 2 chrome adjusting knobs.Any help here?

    1. Anonymous says:

      You should try to do your best in finding the proper knobs on ebay. Go to teisco guitar parts and look there. Most parts sellers list there under the teisco banner. Do your best. Eric

  5. Anonymous says:

    Do any of you know what this guitar would be worth? If I’m looking for one- and I’m guessing there aren’t that many out there- how much do you think it’d go for?
    Also, I have heard that these have a baritone scale (around 26,75”-27”), is that true?

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