The REAL George Jetson!! – 1960s Super Astrotone Electric Guitars

WIth a name like Astrotone, don’t you think these should be called the “real” George Jetson guitar?!?!?  I mean, come on!  Astrotone!!  Riding the wave of Japanese import guitars of the 1960s, these models seemed to arrive solely on the west coast because every one I’ve seen seem to originate from California. These guitars are total enigmas, and just totally cool!These two guitars represent some of the coolest styling ever to come out of Japan during the 60s.  And you know something, the maker is totally unknown!  These weren’t made by any of the big time guitar factories of the time.  I’ve been trying to figure out who made these but I’ve had no luck.  It’s a shame because these guitars are just really unique with that offset design.  Whoever made these guitars, there were at least two distinct models.  I’ve owned many of these, but only recently did I notice the tiny differences between these guitars. Let’s compare!!!OK, so on both guitars we find plywood bodies, solid necks, zero frets, truss rods at the heel.  Both guitars have surface mounted pickups, two pickup switches, a preset tone switch, and three knobs. But now look at the sharper cuts of the black guitar versus the smoother lines of the sunburst.  Then check out the pick guards of the two…notice how the black guitar’s pickguard has a sharper point up there on the horn?  And then check out the differences in body size.  The sunburst one is bigger!  How did I not notice these things before!?!?!So check out these two headstocks.  See the subtle shape differences?Now check out the backs…I’m really hoping this article finds its way in front of somebody who was involved with selling these or importing these.  The build design is interesting because the pickguard hides the electronics and wiring (that in itself is pretty common) but normally the pickguard runs right up against the pickups so that there doesn’t have to be any drilling through the wood.  But with these guitars there’s a gap there, between the pickups and the pick guard.  Maybe I’m the only person who notices stuff like this?  I’ve also noticed that these came in white, black, and sunburst finishes.So there you have it, space car guitars from the 60s!  Leroy Jetson would surely approve! I feel these Super Astrotone guitars are some of the finest sounding guitars from this time period, and I can’t quite explain why.  This type of pickup is only found on these Atrotones, and the pickups always read out in the high 5k range.  The black guitar reads at 5.73k and 5.46k, and the sunburst guitar reads at 5.96k and 5.32k.  Both guitars are wired parallel.  Check out the videos of Mike Dugan playing each one!

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24 thoughts on “The REAL George Jetson!! – 1960s Super Astrotone Electric Guitars

  1. Paul says:

    Tres Cool! I’ve got two of these… one is identical to your sunburst. But the other, also a ‘burst, but with a full pickguard that encloses both pickups. It is a huge piece if metal, but style-wise, i like it better that these other smaller guards. I’ve yet to string these up and hear them- one has a dead neck pickup… 😦 I think the standout thing, is the necks! Each one has the different headstock shapes as well, one with “SUPER ASTROTONE”, one without. hmm….

  2. Anonymous says:

    My very first guitar was this sun burst astro tone. My parents got it for me back in 1973. Didnt know what i had! I recently discoverd it at the warehouse in some back room at my place of business. I always thought it was crap, but what did i know. So it was in its original case to. It hasnt been played on over 34 years. Had the original strings on it. So i got it set up with nice new strings and it sounds amazing!! I love it!!

  3. Suave Eddie says:

    My very first guitar was the sunburst version of this. My parents bought it for me in the mid ’60s in L.A. I’ve never seen one since–I’m surprised you actually have two of them.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Wow just dug up this site again — sorry for the late reply. We got mine at Wallach’s Music City in West Covina. It was probably 1966-67.

  4. Francisco Cabada says:

    I have one of those!!!!! But its discolored 😦 and i’m trying to restore it to its original state but its so amazing!!!! I’m glad my dad got this guitar along time ago!!! And by the way on one of those guitars you don’t have the original tuners just saying but it would look great if it had all of the original parts

  5. Nathan says:

    I recently just picked one up for about $400 and it is incredible! It is missing the whammy bar though, would you happen to know where I might be able to find one for sale? I have tried ebay, but it has come short.

    -Nathan

  6. tom says:

    are you joking? It’s clearly a Teisco. I collect these buggars. They made hundreds of models with 30 different headstock labels, or no labels. Designs were changed at whim with no rhyme or reason. These two are very rare!

    1. drowninginguitars says:

      OK, here we go…”clearly a Teisco?”…let me break it down for you like this…
      1. People are always assuming that most vintage Japanese electric guitars are all Teisco. The main reason is that Teisco guitars actually were sold with Teisco logos. Teisco wasn’t an OEM maker but rather they had their own factories and made their own guitars. Don’t assume when it comes to Teisco. We know more about this company than any other.
      2. Almost every Teisco guitar is well documented from catalogs. Teisco was very unique in this aspect. It’s the reason why there aren’t any mystery Teisco guitars. We know what they all look like! From the years of 1958-1969 there were yearly Teisco catalogs that covered all their models. No other Japanese company did this, not even Guyatone!
      3. These Astrotones use plywood bodies. Teisco guitars never used plywood bodies.
      4. These pickups were sourced from the Matsumoto area of Japan. I even met the dude who wound these very pickups. Teisco had several electrical engineers and never had to source pickups during this era. They made everything in-house. And they competed with many companies from Matsumoto, so Teisco never used these pickups. Not even during the Kawai-era.
      5. If you come to me with an opinion, back it up man. Don’t just believe what you read on the net. There’s so much misinformation out there, it’s part of the reason I started this site. Just because you spend your bread on these guitars, or because you can do a web search, don’t make you an expert. Dig?

      1. Scott says:

        excellent answer!! i appreciate your knowledge. I have one of these and i love this guitar!! My first guitar! Cheers.

  7. eddie says:

    I just got mine out of storage. I have not seen it for many years.
    Purchased at a Sears store in NJ 1964-65. Original strings,strap and case.
    It has no markings, but shares many of the components.
    Would be happy to send you photos for your opinion.
    Thanks for your postings..

  8. Peter - Los Angeles says:

    Great website!
    I had one of the white ones of which you speak. It was my first electric guitar. My Dad bought it for me for around $60 I think. It was 1971.
    Yes, the action was terrible, but it got me out there. Played the hell out of it. Did two or three gigs with it! Same 10 or 12 songs all night long. Extended versions. Tell Mama, House of the Rising Sun & Jumpin Jack Flash were fan(?) favorites. Loads of fun.
    I wish I still had it.
    Cheers!

  9. Marquis Junque says:

    I just picked up a sunburst version. Never saw one before and didn’t know anything about it but knew I had to have it. As soon as I got home I went straight to this site to find out more about it. This site is always my first stop to identify those oddballs that pop up now and then. I even sent a friend of a friend this way to identify a odd ball he got as a gift. Sure enough, it was on the site.
    I am really surprised at how playable it was and how great it sounded right away. I swapped out the tuners for some Kluson clones because what was on there was rusted and seized up. I also added a tune-o-matic on a plate base so I can intonate. The bridge mod is reversible so I can go back to stock if need be.
    Cool looks and sounds with great playability.

  10. breakthrough40 says:

    Just bought a Sunburst on the Offer Up app for $80. Iranian lady sold it to me and said her Dad gave it to her to give to her young son. Top pick up is not working and I’m praying it’s an easy wiring fix… Worst case scenario just the looks and age will look good hanging as 60’s Art… I’m in SoCal

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