Adventures in Baritone – 1965 Kingston FVN4 Japanese Electric Guitar

 

Since I’ve been talking a lot about scale length lately, I thought I would profile a very strange, very rare guitar.  It’s strange because the scale length is a full 27 inches!!  Not 26.5″, not 26″, but seriously, for real, not kidding, 27″!!!  It’s also strange because of it’s body design and shape, which has never been seen before or since.  Now for the rare part, this one is labeled Kingston, but it’s not a Kawai and it’s not a Teisco.  Why is this rare?  Well, those were the only two known suppliers for Westheimer Music.  Not anymore, because my friends, this guitar was made by Fujigen. For sure, no doubt, confirmed by yours truly.  And you know I wouldn’t steer you wrong…

 

This model seems to date from 1965, and the guitar is big, solid and powerful!  The four pickups all read out strong in the high 4k-high 5k range, and the pickups are wired in series for that full-out power surge with everything turned on.  Also, I LOVE these tremolos! It’s a copy of a Hagstrom design, and it’s a really good copy.

 

So this baritone thing…what makes a guitar a baritone?  Well, in my mind it was always a guitar with a longer scale length than normal.  Danelectro is said to have produced the first baritone guitar in the late 50s, and it’s longer scale length allows for different tunings, usually in the lower registers of the range.  What I’m trying to figure out is if these guitars were being made as true baritone guitars, or were they a mistake on the designers’ part (who were still learning about scale length)?  I’d love to hear from all of you regarding this question.

 

These types of guitars are perfect for big dudes with big hands!  This guitar has a nice big neck, and a big ol body!  I find it fascinating that one of Fujigen’s first electric guitars was a baritone!  Fujigen made some really excellent guitars during the 70s and 80s, carrying the Ibanez, Greco, and Fender names.  Yup, Fujigen made all (or most) of the Japanese Fender guitars starting in the early 80s, up to the later 90s.  You know, the REALLY good Japanese Fenders?  Anyway, for our video we Mike played in regular tuning with regular strings.  But after fiddling around with this beast I realized heavy gauge strings really sound best.  So there you go peeps, and let’s hear from you baritone fans!

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16 thoughts on “Adventures in Baritone – 1965 Kingston FVN4 Japanese Electric Guitar

    1. Tim MacKenzie says:

      i am looking for one of these for my friend Hank.. Was his first gigging guitar in 1968 when we were in high school. Do you know of any for sale?

  1. Paul says:

    i have one of these with a modified fixed bridge and the neck truss rod is busted – electronics are working fine – is it worth anything to anyone?

  2. Donald Fieber] says:

    A lot of guitar companies are making 22 and 24 fret guitars these days .. But the early guitars are hard to make out .. even now older guitars all depends on Scale length and wood and wiring

  3. Paul says:

    I’ve got one. Had it partially rebuilt and now plays like a dream. All original electronics – would send pic if o could figure out how.

  4. MarcusV says:

    I have a great one of these strung up with heavier strings and tuned B to B. Missing one of the pairs of pickup selector switches if anyone has a set… Buddy Miller uses one of these. When he was touring with Robert Plant he had a Kingston like this AND a Danelectro/Jerry Jones baritone going on. Maybe one E to E and one B to B. Thanks for all the info btw. I love this website.

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