Here’s a nice little gem from the mid-60s. Many people would take a look at this and think it was just another import, but hold that horse man!! I want you to check something out. Take a look at the pickups on this.
These skinny little buggers are flat out killers!! They’re skinny and look like they belong on a vintage car, like old turn signals or something!?!? Right? One thing I find fascinating are pickup designs from the 1960s. To use the Japanese as an example, the earlier designers didn’t really follow a template or flat out copy other designs. Stuff like these pickups show some creativity and Japanese artistic aesthetic. At least in my mind! By the way, I really dislike the tremolo on this guitar. It was a popular model found on many guitars, and it never works right!
I’m not sure who made this guitar, but these exact electronics did appear on Kawai guitars for a short time. But this guitar isn’t Kawai made. So it’s a good lesson regarding how guitars were built in Japan at this time. One factory often made the wood portions (like the body and neck) and then another factory attached the electronics, which were often drop-in ready to go. If you study the pickguard on this guitar, you’ll see it appear on numerous guitars and have numerous pickups attached.
A guitar like this can be had relatively cheaply, but be on the lookout for models without a truss rod. They can be bears to set up! This one had all the typical problems associated with vintage Japanese guitars. The neck angle needed serious work, the truss rod needed serious work, the frets needed serious work, and the electronics needed a little work. Happy Guitar Repair did everything this guitar needed, and it came out great!
I’ve seen these guitars labeled as “Fuji” and “Ralston” and probably others that I can’t remember at the moment. This big bar string retainer is seen on quite a few other guitars, and it was a common accessory. Notice how this guitar doesn’t have a zero fret? That means the nut had to be cut properly for this thing to play right. And you know what? It wasn’t! In fact, the nut slots were cut rather poorly. But now that it’s all sorted out, man, what a player!
Check out these pickup readings: bridge=7.29k, middle=7.30k, neck=6.79k. AND this guitar is wired in series so with all pickups turned on you get over 20k output! Geez Louise!! The Rhythm/Solo switch also adds a punch to the sound, but these switches can get funky and often need to be rebuilt. On this guitar, you have to be sure the R/S switch is pressed down all the way or it can get weird. There is a part of the video where you can hear this. Anyway, check out the video with Mike Dugan wailing away on a Led Zeppelin tune. I’ve been getting better at editing these videos!!