Holy rocket ship!! Ahh, the wonderment that is the late 1960s Japanese guitars…I just can’t get enough! This is just one of the coolest and most bizarre of all the Japanese guitars from the late 1960s! At this time in Japanese guitar history, Kawai had already purchased Tiesco, and for whatever reason the Kawai guitars being made were just WACKY! I think this is one of the coolest times in 1960s. There are so many odd body shapes, finishes, and pickups to be found in this era!
To be fair though, this guitar is a very close copy of the Italian Eko Rokes guitar. The Eko version of this guitar came out around 1965 and was attributed to the beat band of the same name, and was exported for a short time to the states using the Roket, and later, Rok names. This guitar model can be seen in late 1960s catalogs with the brand Kingston, or with no brand name. And they’re probably more rare than the Eko version, only made for about two years! These Japanese guitars were marketed as “The Flying Wedge”. Good grief man!
The pickups in this Flying Wedge are rather typical of the time and read out in the 2k range, but this guitar was wired in series so when both pickups are turned on the output DOUBLES!! Another weird factory screw up was the neck and bridge pickups were installed in the wrong positions. See, the pole piece spacing is slightly different for the bridge and neck pickups, and they were switched around and installed wrong at the factory! Thankfully I sent this guitar to Dave D’Amelio to fix all the above! The tremolo is very typical of the late 1960s Kawai guitars, and is also found on the Kawai Concert guitar of the same period. The headstock is also identical to the Prestige Tiki Mask guitar on my Guitars page. The cool thing about these “cooler” pickups is that they handle high gain really well, and they’re not microphonic!
This particular example is pretty clean with only wear in the expected places, mainly on the horns of the body. Kawai did put a small rubber “stand guard” on each of these horns, which I think is cool. And even though the body has those straight lines, there is a belly cut-out on the back! Here’s how one catalog described the guitar:
“New Flying Wedge. The hit of the season. Large solid body. Exclusive guaranteed adjustable Canadian maple neck. Inlaid rosewood fingerboard. Adjustable bridge. Hard lacquer finish provides durable protection. 20 frets. Tone and volume control No. V2T two pickups w/ tremelo..$54”
Once again, the Japanese just out priced everybody at the time. And that hard lacquer finish has held up pretty well. There is a dab of glue up on the headstock but I believe this is one of the brand-less guitars that were sold since there aren’t any nail holes. I have seen these guitars with the Kingston logo, which was one of the brands used by the Westheimer Importing Corp. of Chicago. On a side note, Jack Westheimer is responsible for a lot of the Japanese guitars that came upon these shores in the 1960s!
This guitar set up very well and plays pretty darn good! The truss rod worked fine, and after Dano Dave went through this rocket, it became an everyday player. The biggest problem with this guitar was setting up the neck angle. It was a real challenge and took a loooong time taking the neck on and off to get just that right angle for a low, level action. Not many people are willing to put that kind of time in!!! Of course the guitar is a little weird to play sitting down, but no more or less than a Flying V.
Of course you all want to know how this sounds! Well, here is Mike Dugan ripping it up! Check it!