Oh boy, this one’s a doozy. Let me tell you something straight off, trying to research guitars like this is truly maddening. Fun, but mostly maddening. I’m not sure why I try sometimes, but right now I just can’t help it! Check this out:
That darn ol’ nameplate right there is a hard one to pin down. I mean, it clearly says “Crestwood” and it hasn’t fallen off, so what’s the big deal? Right? Well, that Crestwood name has appeared all over the place and for some odd reason over the years was really popular, even today. Just doing a quick search you’ll find at least two versions of the Epiphone Crestwood electric guitar (which is totally unrelated to this guitar and it’s Crestwood name). Search a little further and you’ll find there are new guitars being made with the Crestwood name (cheap Strat copies and totally unrelated to this guitar). Search a little more and you’ll probably see a reference to Jack White of the White Stripes and his “1970s era Crestwood Astral II” (MAYBE related, but his is probably from the late 60s).
But you can’t stop there! Of course, I can’t! I’ve found violin basses, Les Paul copies (even a gold top!), nylon string acoustics, steel string acoustics, hollow bodies, mandolins, banjos, and fuzz boxes all bearing the Crestwood name! And you know, I don’t think any TWO of them came out of the same factory in Japan!! This is the problem with badged imported guitars of the 1960s. There were so many badges, sold through so many forgotten outlets, bought through so many distributors, shipped through so many importers, that it’s just about impossible to figure out.
Well, at least we know this guitar was made in Japan. I believe there were at least two or three types of electric guitars bearing the Crestwood badge during the guitar boom of the 1960s. What I do know is that La Playa Distribution of Detroit imported Crestwood guitars (probably not this one). There were Crestwood guitars made by Guyatone (not this one), and Crestwood guitars similar to the 1960s Ibanez guitars (not this one), and then there were Kawai made guitars with the Crestwood name (probably this one). There is even reference to a Milwaukee WI grocery store named Sentry Foods, who had a bakery division named Crestwood in West Allis Wisconsin. Well, apparently that Crestwood name was also used on guitars and banjos sold right in the grocery store aisles!!!!!!!! Could you friggin’ imagine?!?!
When I was a kid the local IGA had crummy Funk and Wagnall’s encyclopedias! And my family somehow missed out on that one book and never even had a complete set! I even remember it was book number 22! Occasionally they had some commemorative plate sets, and maybe some pots and pans as “special” merchandise. That IGA also had the WORST toys ever! I didn’t even venture into the “toy” section, and I was a toy FREAK! BUT I NEVER SAW A GUITAR!! Geez man, I would’ve NEVER whined to my mom when I had to go grocery shopping! Now I’m not saying this guitar here was sold out of Sentry foods, but guitars in grocery stores DID HAPPEN!! And all you people who call the 60s the era of your childhood, and happened to be aspiring guitarists during the 60s, all I can say is YOU LUCKY %$#&!@*@#s!!!!!!
OK, I took a couple deep breaths. So I really love this guitar. It plays so nicely and no matter what gauge strings I use, the strings always have this “slinky” feeling and playing this one is really effortless. The pickups are strong (MIC #1 bridge 4.90K, MIC #2 is 4.99k, MIC #3 is 4.93k, and MIC #4 is 5.07k). Plus this guitar has the wonderful series wiring so when all pickups are turned on the output is 19.15K!!!!! This one has a nicely shaped one-peice neck with a working truss rod, a respectable tremolo system, and nicely contoured body, stable tuners, chrome flashiness, and neck binding. What else could a kid ask for? Dano also gave this one a re-fret and worked out a few kinks in the wiring. I also put a replacement trem arm on here to round out everything.
I really like these types of neck joints. They’re typically tight and don’t allow for much side to side movement. I’ve seen these same neck joints before, and I believe the Domino Baron I had years ago had the same neck joint. I think that neck joint is telling of the maker, but I can’t say for sure as of yet.
So there you have it kiddies. Another great little guitar, possibly from a grocery store! I have seen one other version of this exact guitar. It was a two-pickup version with a slightly different pick guard, and if I remember correctly the two pickups were at the neck, and not at the bridge. That was a weird design. There’s probably one and two and three pickup versions sitting in closets all over the US right now! Listen to Mike Dugan play mine and maybe you’ll want to crack open that chipboard case!
And I’d love to hear from people regarding where they bought their guitars in the 1960s!