Here’s an interesting (they’re all interesting to me!!!) guitar that shows the evolution of Matsumoku made guitars. Even the earliest solid body electrics that came out of the Matsumoku plant were made of solid wood and displayed really good wood craftsmanship! Lots of start up companies went to Matsumoku in the early days because the plant had proper wood drying facilities (if the wood wasn’t dried properly, the guitars often became seriously messed up during the import trip across the ocean).
The pickups on this guitar are really cool and not found on any other model that I’ve seen. They are really loud single coils reading out at 5.58k at the bridge, and 5.90k at the neck. The pole piece screws even have some “gold foil” surrounding them, which is really cool and not usually seen. These pickups sound very close to vintage American p90s, and they have this loud, articulate, sparkly clean tone combined with a really grindy dirty tone. These pups are special, seriously! Also, those switches were standard fare through the late 60s on most Matsumoku guitars.
As an aside, people talk about “gold foil” like it’s some sort of rare mineral! I see auctions all the time dropping words like “GOLD FOIL” pickups, and “As played by Ry Cooder!!!” So far, I’ve identified 12 different kinds of pickups that had gold foil somewhere on them, and many of them are made differently! What’s the point? Don’t buy the hype!! You have to play these guitars, or check out our videos to get an idea pertaining to sound. Poor Ry Cooder gets attached to every darn gold foiled guitar ever made, geesh! And I don’t even know who Ry Cooder is!
This body and headstock shape are identical to my Nivico Balladeer, and both guitars are real keepers. This truss rod cover would become the standard curved plastic type seen on many Matsumoku-made guitars for the next 10 years. Of course the Palmer badge is missing, but the Palmer name (as it pertains to Japanese imports) was being used as early as 1964. I’ve seen Kawai S80s badged with the Palmer name. If you do a search for vintage Palmer guitars, you’ll come up with all sorts of hits but you probably won’t see too many guitars like this one. These were probably made for one or two years, and I’d bet the pickups were sourced from local Matsumoto.
And see that neck plate? Soon it would have the standard “Steel Reinforced” text. That text and the rounded corner, rectangular neck plate are real tell-tale signs of Matsumoku. Also, check out the very slight belly contour. That was also a first for Matsumoku.
I wish I had a cool story to attach to this guitar, but really this one is a history lesson regarding the development of Japanese guitar manufacturing. Plus, it’s an example of some rare component combinations (like the pickups) that make guitars like these worth buying. THEY’RE SO CHEAP!! Hell, buy one of these for $200, send it to Dano and sink another $100 into it, and you’ll have yourself one hell of a player! It’s like recycling, dude.