Lil Rocker – 1960s Cameo Deluxe Japanese Electric Guitar

Yep, this is one lil rockin’ guitar!  It’s another great example of the hidden gems out there in cheap guitar world.  Most of the time I see Cameo guitars come as hollow bodies, but this beastie is a good example of a later 60s solid body.  I believe this guitar was made by Sakai woodworking in Japan, and the slightly Mosrite shaped body combined with a solid one-piece neck makes for a cool guitar.

But where this guitar truly impresses is the pickups!  These pups are found in a few late 60s models, and I’ve seen similar pickups in 70s Harmony guitars.  But I’ve examined both, and I feel the pickups on this guitar are different from the Korean Harmony guitars.  Either way, these pups are just so cool!  Both pickups read out in the low 5k range, but they really have an articulate and powerful clean tone, combined with a growly and edgy dirty tone! Total rockers!

About that Cameo name, no one is sure who branded these, but there was a Cameo Company located in Oaklawn, Illinois during the 1960s.  This Cameo Co. was known as a maker of drums and drum accessories, so maybe this Cameo may be related to the drum company?  The Kustom Company bought out the Cameo drum co. in 1971, so it could be assumed that the Cameo name lasted until at least the early 70s.  Of course, as of now it’s all speculation.

The Cameo Deluxe has a great neck joint and used good electronic components, especially when compared to it’s time and peers.  During the late 1960s, big companies like Kawai were still chugging along even after the guitar boom of the 1960s was ending, but to see a guitar like this, that probably wasn’t made by Kawai, is really cool.  So many Kawai guitars used the same pickups, so a nice example like this Cameo with it’s super cool pups is just a neat find.  Current production guitars in this price range (under $300 all day) cannot even come close to the soul this guitar has!

Of course this guitar suffered from the dreaded neck angle issue, so after spending many hours on this one, Dave D’Amelio was able to sort out all of it’s quirks and turn a closet queen into a superb player.  I seriously believe that almost every vintage guitar like this one has amazing potential when someone takes the time to work out the kinks.  It’s just a rewarding experience to resurrect a guitar like this, and when Mike Dugan plays this Cameo Deluxe, it’s just like a reaffirmation of the little good things in life!  Well, at least in my life!

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28 thoughts on “Lil Rocker – 1960s Cameo Deluxe Japanese Electric Guitar

  1. inverted81 says:

    i recently bought one of these little gems. i love the tone of this guitar puts me in the mind of a 70’s punk sound. i was really wanting to get an idea of the value of it. but i don’t know where to look.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I got to jam on one back in the 90s (highschool garage jammin’) that was in prime condition and fell in love. Through the cheap solid-state amps and effects we were using, it was sweet, loveable garbage. It could get ugly, but it was responsive as hell. I saw one at a pawnshop a couple years down the road and had to grab it. $30. Still gotta fix some wires and put good tuners in it, but $30 is worth it for the pickups alone. Only thing I don’t like about the guitar is the weight of the body isn’t in proportion with the neck. I’ll probably hide some sheets of lead or cut up some galvanized box blanks to try to even it out.

  3. Jerry S. says:

    I have a question regarding the electronics of this particular guitar.
    Can you tell me what the value of the pots are? I’m really curious to find out.
    I’ve seen some with 500 K value, but others I’ve seen had weird values like 100 K for tone.
    I think that part of the great sound also has to do with the values of the pots.
    I also like the fact that most of these pick ups are quiet microphonic, though it seams many folks wax dip ’em.

    1. drowninginguitars says:

      I checked my photos on this one and I didn’t take a clear shot of the pots so I can’t say for sure regarding pot values. I think this one had 50k pots? Some people really dig that off-value sound, but in my experience whenever I put a bigger value in there the guitar often comes alive.

  4. Anton Schoeman says:

    Hi, I’ve got a guitar EXACTLY like this one but it doesn’t have the cameo branding on it. The guitar is in very good condition and I would like to find out the price of it. What could be the cause of no branding? It certainly never had any name on it that was removed.

    1. drowninginguitars says:

      A lot of times there was a sticker on the headstock, which always seems to fall off with time. This particular model isn’t worth a huge amount, probably $100-$200. Somewhere in that range…

  5. ScottA says:

    Great site. I have a guitar and I’ve been trying to guess at its manufacture since I got it. At first I thought Guyatone but now I think it might be the same as this Cameo as it has the same sort of bridge, truss rod adjustment and scalloping around the control knobs. I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts (you can see it here: http://scottsunderwater.imgur.com/all/ )

  6. mathieu says:

    Hey hi good information you have there ! I would like to know what it worth ? Becose im about to buy one ? Thanks in advance !

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi there, does anyone know how to take off the metal cover at the bottom of the guitar so it can be re strung ?

      1. Anonymous says:

        Thanks for that, lovely guitar, I think its the deluxe version I have with the wammy bar.
        Jamie.

      2. Pez says:

        Many thanks, think its the deluxe version with wammy bar.
        Doesn’t work when amped up but looks very nice.
        Cheers
        Jamie

  8. eric says:

    I need a picture or diagram for this guitar. I have one I took the pot out of . 2 yrs later forgot how to wire the switches . I could really use the schematics for the wiring. Thank

  9. ray says:

    Although this is a old topic, I did a lot of foot work and found out when going to one local old shop, the guy said they came under a few names, mostley a mid range student guitar. when I got home I decided I was gonna clean it up and hang it but started working on it, noticed the cameo deluxe tag came up as I polished it. went ahead and ripped it off and it was a globe with a ribbon that said global. found this name as a possible Montgomery wards brand. my speculation, wards could have backed off of some orders or someone bought a lot and tagged over. it’s a little rocker, almost like the one pictured except a fuller pick guard.

  10. Joe Johnston says:

    I had this model of Cameo junior-size guitar when I was a kid in the late sixties. Very nostalgic to see it now.

  11. Jacob says:

    Hey man great video, I really like your playing. So I found this article because I was trying to research/locate any pics or info I could related to 1950s/1960s electric guitars that were made in Japan. Reason being is that I purchased an incredible tobacco colored electric guitar from my nearby thrift shop yesterday and there are no markings on it other than a circular metal embossed “made in Japan” quarter sized piece located on back of headstock. It’s smaller/lighter than average electric guitar and looks like it was built in 50s or 60s. The 2 humbucking pickups sound so freaking unbelievable especially clean and they are the unique thick silver pups that were used on early 60s Japanese guitars. This thing has soo much soul and character, I just wish I had the knowledge and know how to fix the details so this beauty will stay in tune and better playability because the sound it gets is like nothing I’ve heard. Would you be interested in helping me to get it in great working condition? Email me at Jacob.samano@dia-food.net. Thanks!

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