“N” is for NORMA!! 1968 Norma EG421-4 Guitar

Norma EG421-4 1

Oh, did you say you like lots of switches and pickups and knobbies?  Hell, welcome to our club!  Yes, the Norma 421-4 was the proverbial “king” of the catalog from 1968 to around 1970.  Similar guitars were sold in Japan at this same time, mostly carrying the brand name Liberty.Norma EG421-4 2This model was sold alongside a 12 string (EG412-2T) with a tremolo(!!!!!), a bass (EG467-2B), and a two pickup version (EG450-2).  Reading the catalog from 1968 is a real trip!  Here’s the description of the 412-4:

The ultimate in superb workmanship, total versatility. This deluxe 4 pickup electric will be played with pride by the most experienced performer.  Four simulated split pickups make possible virtually unlimited sound combinations. Powerful magnetic pickups are height adjustable. Ultra fast steel reinforced neck. Head and Rosewood fingerboard bound in White. .22 Nickel Silver frets (plus zero fret), 8 “N” shaped pearl position markers, 4 volume controls, 3 position rotary tone control (high-medium-low), Rhythm-Solo-Switch, 4 slide pickup switches.  Advanced type tremolo arm.  Chrome adjustable roller-type bridge.  Highly polished yellow-to-red-to-black sunburst finish.  Size 41″x14″.

Norma EG421-4 3

Norma branded guitars all came from the import/distribution company Strum and Drum located in Wheeling, Illinois.  Lots of people think Norma came from Norma Jean (Marilyn Monroe), but actually the Norma name came from the owner of the company, Norman Sackheim!  Norman and his son Ron began to import Japanese guitars around 1965, and continued into the mid 70s.  Initially all Norma guitars were made at the Tombo factory in Japan, but by 67 there were at least 8 different suppliers of Norma guitars!Norma EG421-4 4Build quality and construction really varied greatly with Norma guitars, but Norman and Ron did have a good eye for unique designs and many Norma guitars featured some of the coolest shapes of the 60s!  Just like this 4 pickup monster!  What I always liked about Norma guitars were the cool features like neat inlays and interesting pickups.  These darn things just had style!Norma EG421-4 5While I was in Japan in 2013, I met with the Japanese buyer of Norma guitars.  A close friend of the Sackheims, this gentleman travelled Japan during the 60s and searched out cool guitars to supply to Strum and Drum.  It was a unique arrangement, and it was simply fascinating to listen about the old days of Japanese guitar production.  When you peruse Norma catalogs, you’ll often see models come and go quickly.  And there were always lots to choose from, year to year.Norma EG421-4 6

So there you go kiddies, a little primer on Norma and some of the coolest Japanese guitars from the 1960s!


19 thoughts on ““N” is for NORMA!! 1968 Norma EG421-4 Guitar

  1. JAMR says:

    it has a zero fret, so it should be comfortable to play. Yes ok I have a fetish for zero frets, double and triple binding, triple canted or not canted pickups, can’t help it, it’s an “acquired taste” from years of playing.

  2. Darren says:

    Yeah it’s cool, butI just can’t help but think, if they’d just added one more pickup, and maybe a few more knobs and switches!

    Definitely an acquired taste but yes, very cool none the less.

  3. Darren says:

    It would be a pretty bring world if we only had Strats and Les Pauls though wouldn’t it.

    I’m not adverse to the odd Japanese classic, I picked up an Auditiion branded guitar at the local markets here in Australia last year for $20. Seems to be one of the Tiesco family of guitars sold under numerous brands back in the day.

    Some might gasp but the sunburst finish was a bit naff, so I re-finished it in a kind of aged shell pink, which I think looks pretty good.

    As bought, missing strings, chewed out tuner bushes etc.

    As it sits now, re-finished, new tuners.

    For a $20 guitar, it has an amazingly “interesting” sound, and for aplywood special, it has bags of sustain which I think is more to do with the massive steel bridge and tremolo assembly. Pick up close by the bridge and it’s twangs’ville, and with a good dose of reverb it’s Surf City here we come!


  4. Ted Bashin says:

    I have a Norma single pickup electric guitar with 1 volume and the 3 position tone switch. Someone tried to repair the wiring (w/o soldering) so it didn’t work when I found it. I did some simple wiring/soldering and got it working and the pickup sounds great but I cant figure how to wire it so the tone selector works. Any help or a diagram would be great.

  5. Ted Bashin says:

    Thanks. It sounds good without tone shaping ability but I wanted to hear the original sounds. It now has 2 capacitors tied together from the volume pot to 1 tone leg. I am guessing the original tone switch was wired with one cap. for the low & one cap. for middle and the 3rd tone leg was straight wired for treble high. I also wonder how the ground sweep worked on the tone selector?? I just need to know. I’m a DIY guy.

      1. Ted Bashinski says:

        My bad. i was going to ask about what bridge cover would have came with my single pup Norma but found a picture. Its going to be hard to find one of those. Thanks


  6. graeme thompson says:

    Hi I am looking for a wiring diagram for a Norma EG421 – 4 pickup electric guitar. Even a photo of the wiring would be a big help. Restoring a Norma that I picked up at a sale. Half the wiring was either missing or broken off and I am not sure how it all goes due to all the switches.

  7. graeme thompson says:

    Hi. I have a Norma EG421-4 that I am restoring. The wiring has been either ripped out or broken so I need some help working out how it goes. Could you help me with a wiring diagram or a photo of the wiring. My guitar has 4 pickups, 4 volume pots, 4 slide pickup switches, a rhythm / solo switch, and a 3 position tone switch. Thanks Graeme

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