I’ve been wanting to write about this one for a while now, because it’s just such an endearing guitar. It’s not endearing because of where I found it, or because I have a connection to it, or because it’s a rare guitar…… I like this instrument because of what I found on the headstock.Somewhat delicately impressed in the wood is the word “Fender.” Now, you all know this isn’t a Fender but rather a mid 60s Japanese made electric guitar. A lot of kids wanted a brand new Fender back in the day, but most parents didn’t have the means to buy a professional level guitar so it was a Japanese electric instead. But get this, I bought this guitar in Japan. See, even in Japan there were similar dilemmas for the guitar-playing youth. What’s even more interesting to me, is how the closely the “Fender” script is copied on there. That stylized Fender script has become so timeless, I wonder if that really was how Leo wrote his name?During the 1960s, Japan was a great place for affordable labor because the exchange rate was so favorable. But this also meant that people in Japan paid a premium for imported goods. An American Fender electric guitar and amplifier could cost close to $800 in 1965 money, which was the equivalent of a month’s salary for a large company executive! So you see, if your parents in the states thought a Fender guitar was expensive, then imagine what Japanese parents thought!This guitar doesn’t even look like a Fender! But what I like about it this guitar is to think about the kid in Japan who once owned this one. All these old guitars have a story to tell, and I’ve just always liked to imagine what the back story of this one is all about. What I’ve learned after many years of research and visiting/talking with people in other countries is that the lust for guitars and the desire to create music is the same. You know how it goes, first guitars are sometimes like your first love. Nothing else compares, even if the passage of time glosses over the bad parts.With this particular model, there’s a lot of mystery. I don’t know the company who made this guitar, but I’ve owned about six different guitars all made at the same factory. All the guitars feature great sounding pickups and cool pick guards. Also that headstock shape was somewhat of a trademark for the factory. In the states, I’ve seen similar guitars with the brand names Givtone and Shelley.So peeps, let’s all raise our glasses and give a toast to all the kids and families who couldn’t afford a real Fender, but made do with what they had and what they could afford. Anyone who finds contentment with what they have, deserve to be celebrated. And may you all get your real Fender someday, or find your first love again after all these years.
6 thoughts on “Faux Fender – 1960s Unknown Japanese Electric Guitar”
Looks like a Zen-on to me. The bridge is a giveaway. I have a Zes-170 Zen-on in need of parts,(1966), and there are a number of similarities.
I love this kind of stuff as well. And so many collectors would be disappointed the guitar has this carved into the headstock. It detracts from the value right??? It’s the memories it stirs in us that makes these so cool today. My kids does do not think it’s cool. A Fender yes, but a inexpensive guitar from this era NO. I would bet in that guitars history it has never been played like Mike is playing it!
Salute to youth!
Reblogged this on Lianne's Picks – best of the blogs and commented:
Fascinating – I love tidbits like this.
I am 39 years old, have been playing for 35 years, collecting and working on them for as long as I can remember. You sir, are a kindered spirit. I love guitars… Always have, always will. It is an obsession I must have satisfied, if not, I can’t see how I could survive. I’ve collected Fenders, Gibsons, and Martins for years, but like you, it is the thrill of the hunt with pawnshop guitars. Every guitar has a story to tell, and I always love to hear it. I came across your site by accident, and was smitten by your thought process with rare, “cheap”, and not-so-famous guitars. The oddball guitars you find are sometimes the most pleasurable, especially when they have obviously been uncared for. It’s such a joy to get these guitars to the workbench and tinker with them, to bring them to their greatest potential. A solid, functional guitar (of any brand) can and should be appreciated and respected for what it is. Thanks for a wonderful and fun to browse site my friend! Keep the hunt alive and well!
Oh yeah, that’s great to hear! I used to think I was the only person who dug this stuff!