Such an inconspicuous guitar. Probably wouldn’t turn many heads, but of course yours truly just about flipped when I saw this one at the local pawn. The guys who work the counter always laugh when I get happy at the site of a vintage guitar, and just like an episode of “Cheers”, everybody knows my name!Let’s get down to this guitar….these Winston 449s were the last guitars to feature the Kawai pickups used on the early Hound Dog Taylor models. It’s so odd to me, these pickups regularly read out in the 2k range. Like on this guitar, they read 2.79k and 2.78k. But if you only look out output, you’d be missing out on some of the best sounding pups to ever come out of the early 60s!Once again Kawai produced this guitar, and Winston sold these to guitar shops in package deals. In 1966 you could buy 10 of these suckers for $54 bucks a piece! I suppose it was a great way to stock your store with “beginner” guitars, and this model even came in a few cool colors, including a gold finish!These lack an adjustable truss rod, but do have a reinforced neck and the profile is extra chunky and feels great! The rotary switch on these 449s is really cool too. Kawai was only using these rotary switches for a few years in the mid 60s, and sometimes you got “lucky” and the in-between position was an out of phase choice. Of course I say lucky because the way they wired these, it was all just a crap shoot. It all depended on which way the magnet was orientated I guess?Usually when I find a guitar this nice I think, “it must really be a bad player.” But not the case with this old gal. It plays wonderfully, and I really like the tremolo Kawai was using during this time. Winston was a brand name of Kent Musical Products, which itself was a subsidiary of Buegeleisen and Jacobson, Inc. Try saying that five times fast!
So there you have it, the last guitars to feature the awesome Hound Dog pups. People are currently paying big money for those old Hound Dogs, but Kawai was building much better guitars at this time, and these Winston 449s are much cheaper alternatives with the same sound. As always, Dano at Happy Guitar Repair dialed this one in, and Mike Dugan tears it up!
10 thoughts on “Last of the Hound Dogs – 1965 Winston 449 Japanese Guitar”
Hello! I have a Winston 449 that looks identical to the one pictured here. The only differences are that mine has what looks like an adjustable truss rod, a zero fret and the original pickup selector knob. However, I’m missing the tremolo arm. Anybody have one? I will probably be selling the 449 in the near future. Thank you for all the great information and pictures!
I have a version of this guitar in gold with one pickup!
I owned one of these in the mid-60s. My very first electric guitar. Purchased from a department store in the Buffalo, NY, area. $54.00 for it sounds about right. Sold it after I got a 1960s Hagstrom. electric.. but still wish I had my Winston 449. The finish was beautiful but the action was pretty high… good training, I guess. I’m still playing over 50 years later.
Thanks for sharing Bill!
Good day from Québec!!! There is a pawn shop in my city that is selling a Winston guitar that looks similar but more recent. There asking $250 CDN. Is it really from the sixties? By the way, I was born in 1965…great year! How can I post a picture of it?
You can’t post a pic in the comments, but thanks for the comment! Cheers!
I have a white one just like the one you have. The white has long faded to a light yellow but the chrome looks new. It plays very well but I keep it put away mostly because this was my grandmas before she past away. Nothing but a fantastic sentimental value.
Hey i have a gutiar exactly like this. My grandpa gave it to me expt mine is left handed is that rare. ? Anyway i was wondering what it was now i know thanks.
Just picked up a Winston 449 in an awesome gold finish today.$20.00 from a neighbors garages sale.It actually sounds off and plays fairly well.Need some setup but still a very nice find.