This is one cool old guitar! A full hollowbody, on the smaller side, this littler bugger combines hot pickups and a severely resonant body. Holy crap man, this guitar just wants to take right off! It takes a steady, skilled player to control a guitar like this but back in 1964, guitar players were strumming similar Gibson models and learning the ropes of good tones. When you’re willing to put in a little work, of course! Isn’t that where the best playing comes from anyway?Both pickups read out identical at 3.95K, but these early single coils have a unique construction and just sound super raw, very touch sensitive. Real good vocal range. So many people scoff at these old Japanese pickups, but so many of them sound so good! If you think about it, designing and winding a pickup isn’t really that sophisticated. But hey, I’m not here to convince you, just enlighten. Or something like that…anyway, the knobbies and pickguard are dead giveaways for a Kawai guitar. In fact, this model is listed in the 1963 Kawai catalog.
I’m not sure if Kawai actually made this one in their factory, or farmed it out, but either way the guitar is built really well. In fact, very well when you consider the time it was made. Kawai had several similar models like this during the early to mid 60s, but these models were soon shelved. Basically, if you ever find one of these you can safely bet it’s pre-1965.
The set-neck construction had a solid joint but a non-adjustable truss rod. But alas, the combination of time and heavy gauge original strings strung to pitch just wreaked havoc on this poor neck. I’d almost given up on getting this old gal playable, until Dano got a hold of this one. WIth some wood clamps, a heat gun, a can of beer and a prayer, friggin’ Dano saved this wonderful guitar from a life of wall hanging! Everything is totally serviceable on this guitar, even the tuners! Hey, I guarantee someone could spend the rest of their lives picking away on this guitar and be totally happy. With a slide, this thing just sings. Using a slide on this guitar is a good thing too since you have almost constant contact with the guitar. Believe me, this one’s a howler! The pickups aren’t really microphonic, but the body just vibrates with sound….it’s crazy! I’ve never played a guitar like this. Maybe the closest would be my old Gibson ES125? It must be the small body, but this guitar just resonates wonderfully.Good ‘ol St. George is up there on the headstock, and that name belonged to George’s Music Stores in upstate New York and Hollywood. They imported a ton of Kawai made guitars throughout the 60s, and this is one of the earliest models. So there it is, another great old guitar salvaged by a mad genius and played by the man with the biggest heart this side of the Mississip! BIG thanks to Dano at Happy Guitar Repair and Mike Dugan for showing what this guitar is capable of.