Ah yes, the Japanese brand name game can usually result in total confusion as people struggle to figure out who made their mystery guitar. What I’ve learned over the years is not to focus on the headstock name, but rather, focus on the build clues to figure out the maker. Take for instance this old Kawai made electric. On the headstock, there was just a remnant of a logo that showed SE…., and the rest was torn off.
So which name was it? Years ago I would’ve focused on solving that mystery. Like, who was this “mysterious” Segova dude? Or was Sekova a factory in Japan? Let me tell you peeps, it don’t matter a hill of beans! What’s more important is to notice the pickups, knobs, and neck plate on this guitar to learn where it was born. And from there, this old geetar could’ve had any number of names on the headstock.Check out that 5 screw neck plate. We always called those “tombstone” plates, and Kawai used them a lot in the early 60s. It was kind of a bad design, since the necks and bodies were attached, like a pseudo set-neck, the finish was applied, and then the neckplates were screwed in there. And that one screw set right into the neck heel. So why was this a bad design? First, the reinforcement rods were not adjustable. So if the neck goes screwy, it cannot be removed easily without ruining the finish around the joint. Later on Kawai stopped finishing the joint area and that allowed for much easier adjustment. But in the early days, this is what they used.
The sad part of that design was when a guitar’s neck went sideways, people either ruined the guitar trying to fix it, or the guitar simply went into the trash. People are always talking about old guitars like these as “slide monsters“. Of course, you know what that means! But if you have a good, old-time tech in your area, or within shipping distance, these necks can be saved. And to bring an old guitar like this back to life again is a noble deed, dude!
Now the real beauty of these guitars can be found in the pickups. You know, there’s a common conception that these old Japanese guitars used poor electronics with really microphonic pickups. But in the early days of Kawai, they used really good electronics and nice wiring. And the pickups, there were plenty of guitar makers in the US, UK, and Europe that used totally poor pickups. You have to remember that the 1960s were still the early days for many guitar makers who were still honing their craft. Anyway, these particular pickups sound great and can be found on a few different Kawai made guitars. People always talk about gold foil pickups, but these pups come from the same era and sound every bit as good. AND they have none of the cache’, so you can buy these much cheaper and get your own sound! Here’s Mike jamming out to an old Joe Cocker tune, check it out! Those pups sound great!