There were so many different Japanese guitars made during the 60s, and even though I’ve been playing them for many years I still haven’t seen them all. Almost every week I see something new, which is really cool. A perfect example is this Stagemaster guitar. It’s the only one I’ve ever seen.Now these pickups I have seen before, and these switches. They’re identical to the Douglas guitar I used to own, and for my money epitomize the lo-fi sound often attributed to vintage Japanese electric guitars. Dano coined the term (he coins a lot of terms) of the “empty beer can sound” as that’s a pretty accurate statement. These pickups have a rather low reading, with the neck pickup reading at 3.92k, but they tend to get plenty microphonic. They pickups also have this eerie, echo-like quality as well. So where some might scoff, others embrace this tone.This guitar and my old Douglas guitar most likely came from the same maker, but as of now it’s unknown. I will say that there is a definite novice build quality to these guitars. Like the pickguard for instance, was hand carved. Like, carved with a knife! Seriously! Also the pickguard material is this really strange cellulose material that I’ve only seen used on early 60s imports. Hoshino Gakki also used the same material on their earliest imports, but I think that’s the only connection between these and other Hoshino Gakki guitars.So there’s that Stagemaster nameplate screwed on there. Again, I’ve never seen that name before. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a blue painted nameplate before! The shape of this headstock is also the same as the Douglas guitar, as are the tuners.The body of this guitar is plywood, and the neck is nice and chunky. Pickups were wired in series so at least you got some juice out of both pickups when they’re turned on. Another cool feature of the electronics is the Rhythm/Solo switch. Most of the time, those switches are totally worthless. But on this guitar, the switch offered a HUGE boost in overall tone and output. Weird.Check out that big ol sticker on the back of the headstock. Stickers were commonly found on imports back in the day, but they always fell off over time. See, there was another sticker up there at the tip, and I wish it was still there. Clues man, clues! Anyway, to hear the empty beer can sound in action, have a listen.
9 thoughts on ““Empty Beer Can Sound” – 1960s Stagemaster Guitar”
I also have an empty beer can Stage Master…. It’s pickguard is hand cut out of what looks like circuit board material. The little sticker on the back tip of the headstock says “MADE IN JAPAN”.
email me if you’d like some pics 🙂
Picked up a StageMaster bass, pinkish red, short scale, single pup. Plays well.
hi-i like the sound.thanks i play it again.stig
I like you Stig!
By comparing the Stage Master pictures and the pictures of the 3 mic equipped Douglas (on this site) to my own Douglas, it looks like I own a mix between them. My Douglas has the neck of the Stage Master with the stickers “MADE IN JAPAN” on the back of the head stock and the sticker “Steel reinforced neck” and also the exact same type and shaping of metal plate. Under the metal plate there is a single bolt neck screw, just like the similar mounted on the Stage Master. On the front I have 2 white knobs instead of black and the Sticker (if it was a sticker?) “Douglas” is gone. The three switches for the mic´s on/off and the Rizm/Solo switch are white with black letters. So it seems that I might have a unique version of Stage Master and Douglas combined in one… All in one so to speak ; )
Best regards Paul Sweden
Just finish a guitar like yours,never seen another one before,mine got white buttons and black vol and tone,its the only one i have to deal whit rust on,the neck has one bolt holding it,your missing decal read on mine made in japan,what ellls,the sound is different indid,no trace off a nameplate,i put a kingston label on it so far,Best regards Lars Sweden.
Regards from the USA!
I just bought one exactly like the Stagemaster. I´ve had the hardware from my older Brothers guitar that he bought from a Ellos or Hallens catalog in Sweden in 69 or 70. The buttons are White and the pickguard has a sharper “back horn”. I couldn´t resist when this “almost” lookalike came along!
I have another “Japanese” guitar. The guitar is impossible to find by name or an image but is very similar to Douglas and Stagemaster. Close to that guitar described by Micke but mine have black volume / tone knobs and the strange solution with only one bolt neck plate. Pickup and some bridge parts are gone.
Regards Lars, Sweden