The Kustom Connection? – Late 60s Greco GR973SP Japanese Guitar

Greco GR973 1

Now most of us know about the popular Kustom amps of the 70s.  You know, those cool “tuck n roll” pleated vinyl jobbers reminiscent of old diner booths and the back seats of huge 1970s cars?  Well, this particular guitar has an interesting label inside that reads…

“Model GR973 SP, GRECO”

“Designed, Serviced, and Adjusted by Kustom Electronics, INC.”

 “Serial Number 27780”

Greco GR973 2

So how about that?  Rarely do I ever see an intact label inside a guitar, and I’ve never seen a label that read “Kustom Electronics.”  It’s just like I always say, when you think you’ve got it all figured out…well you still have a lot to learn.  I read plenty of forum posts all the time and I wonder at the confidence of some dudes and what they believe as truth.  Coming back from Japan, I realized that some of the guys who MADE the guitars, the guys who spent years doing the same job over and over, the guys who sold these guitars, can’t even remember every detail and every guitar!  So be humble folks, just a little advice.Greco GR973 3

Take this guitar for example, most people think all the late 60s Greco guitars were made by Fujigen, and that’s just not the case.  For sure, this oldie wasn’t made by Fujigen.  So who made it, who knows?  This guitar has more similarities with the Crown Durango 12 string and the Kent 820.  And as of now that factory remains a mystery.  But let’s throw aside the quest for the maker, and ponder that Kustom connection.  I know the Kustom company made amps, and sold a guitar that was pretty cool.  But maybe Kustom started selling imports during the late 60s?  Greco GR973 4

The design is super cool, and the guitar is definitely of Japanese origin.  That Greco name was used on guitars starting in the later 60s, but in all the catalogs I’ve ever seen, this model never shows up.  Maybe it was a Kustom “exclusive”?  I wonder if the guys who started Kustom are still around?Greco GR973 5

The guitar was built rather well and whoever owned this guitar really loved it, as it had plenty of genuine playwear.  It lived an honest life!  Not too shabby!  The pickups read out at 5.13k and 4.86k but the wiring was a true rat’s nest that took many hours to sort out.  The neck was also bent this way and that, and again many hours went into this guitar.  Sometimes, these wear me out!  Thankfully Dano is the man as usual, and if it weren’t for him, many of these guitars would end up as wall-hangers.Greco GR973 6

In the end, the guitar didn’t come out too bad and now has a home in Tennessee!  Lovely place to make music!  Now, I’m asking y’all if you can help with the Kustom connection.  I’m going to “hunt that bird” as my grandpa would always say, but if anyone knows some of the Kustom dudes, then let’s come together and figure out a mystery!  And who knows, they may even remember the factory that made this old viola!Greco GR973 7

And here’s the video of the Greco GR973 in action, thanks to Mike Dugan


16 thoughts on “The Kustom Connection? – Late 60s Greco GR973SP Japanese Guitar

  1. Ernie Mckibben says:

    Frank, The sixties / seventies got a little wierd with a lot of companies, Including Fender &Gibson. To be specific, upper management started to let the sales and marketing groups have more say and clout about what the company should be doing. Think Fender and ultra linear designs and solid state amps. This was NOT the fault of the engineers. This was the sales group screaming we need this or that to compete. I know this goes against all of the common folklore(snake oil, b.s.). But this has happened for decades and is still happening today. Just look at some of the terminology in the propaganda rags/sales lit. That comes out. No self respecting engineer would use terminology like that. My term for this is a company losing it’s way, forgetting what made them the company they are or where. Sales people should never be give that much latitude to influence upcoming products. Biggest sales disasters have always been salesperson designs being implemented.

    Sent from my enohpi

  2. JAMR says:

    yes it shares the triple binding or “striping” of the Kent 820. One thing I’ve been told over and over since the 1960’s: some of these guitars were made in Italy, not Japan, but hey what do I know? All I know is that it has a Zero Fret and THAT is good enough for me.

  3. Tom says:

    I just discovered your site. TOO COOL! I live in Kansas and feel this odd connection to anything ‘guitar’ that was made or passed through the state… Mossman, Kustom, Holman, Paris, Bud Ross, etc. I have a Greco Shrike guitar and while researching it, I found information about a Kustom Greco/Goya connection. If memory serves me right Kustom distributed these brands in 1968, right before they introduced there own guitars. Seems I saw a brochure posted somewhere with Greco and Goya guitars with the Kustom name on the back.

  4. says:

    That was awesome! Hey u have some really Fab pieces in your collection, I am so jealous but alas I still have yet to find one that’s exactly like the one I’m researching; the one Mike is playing here is somewhat reminiscent to the one I salvaged from a dumpster! I can’t seem to find ANYWHERE on it any sort of labels or names of any of the pieces. So my search continues! Thanks for all your hard work that you have obviously put into your site!!

  5. Gaetan says:

    Hi, I recently found a mysterious Greco SG lawsuit model with model number “AJ-600s” ? This number was printed over a small foil label. The Greco logo on it is same as your GR model. I really don’t know anything more about this guitar, but it is really well done and sound pretty good! If you want, I can send you pictures of mya guitar, if helpful for you?
    Montreal, Canada.

  6. Gregg says:

    Hey I am working on a Greco Shrike 10 string model 961 (same as the 960 but with 10 string option). I can’t find much on them except they were offered for one year. Anyone ever seen one or have any info to share? The only thing I can find is a copy of the catalog page showing it offered.

    The Guitar Medic

  7. Matt says:

    Hey man, great collection. I have a Greco very similar to this one. Mine has the body of Paul’s bass but is a 6 string with a whammy bar-floating bridge ordeal that’s imposable to keep tuned for more than 10 minutes. Story goes my dad got it for graduating Jr. High some time around 68-70. I have never seen another like mine no matter how much searching I’ve done. For all i know its a 1-off and worth a million bucks.

  8. Tyler Scott says:

    My grandfather has a GR973SP that looks exactly like the one in this article…ive spent many many hours crawling the web looking for info on this guitar(because he has already informed me that once his arthritis no longer lets his fingers travel the neck, the guitar is mine) and this is the only article I’ve found so far. His guitar still plays flawlessly, and sounds absolutely amazing. He purchased it in a local shop here in Cambridge, Ohio. I’m trying to get the guitar sooner than later so that i can take it in and talk to the shop owner(who just happens to be the same person who sold my grandfather the guitar) so that I can hopefully find, and share, some more info on it.

  9. Tim says:

    Great site recently purchased a guitar at auction with tag GRECO Model #GR-623 designed and serviced by Kustom Electronics Inc. Serial #36714. I live in Kansas and I know about Kustom based in Chanute Ks. Beautiful looking and sounding 6 string acoustic. I can’t find any info on this model. It’s a plain Jane but very nice sound. Does anyone know anything about this model?

  10. Murray says:

    Anyone know what to expect inside 1968 Greco 980 (dual single coil)? Planning on helping a friend who has his late brother’s guitar with no sound output (apparently there is an OFF switch position between R & S, so that could be a no-brainer, or oxidized switch contacts. The pickups look like Imperial in the list here.

    1 or 2 pickup switch: does that put them in parallel? In ‘1’ position, R/S wouldn’t make sense.


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