This guitar reminds me of the old pinball machines, because when you banged on them and tried to manipulate the trajectory of the ball a sensor inside the machine would recognize your caveman attempt and stop play with a lighted “TILT.” I remember that because I was a total meathead back in the day! But this guitar might have been the first to encourage the “tilt” by offering a moveable pickup. In fact, this Guyatone may have been the first solid body electric guitar to offer this novel idea.
This model was introduced back in May of 1966 and was really only offered to the Japanese market. It was an ambitious design for the time. The body was reminiscent of the Kent guitars offered here in the states, but the electronics were totally unique for Guyatone. Check out those mini switches above the pickups. They offer options such as “cool” and “hot”. But really what they did was offer the player some tonal options such as phasing, tone cut, and pickup selection. Those simple two switches really provided a lot of tonal options, in addition to selecting the pickups. But then of course you had the option of the moveable neck pickup!
That moveable neck pickup was attached to the guard via two screws and allowed for a rotation that accentuated the bass or treble tones. Really, the change was subtle but still cool and innovative. But there were problems with the design because the pick guard on these often cracked with enough tilting, and the wiring was really prone to disconnect after many rotations of that neck pickup. That was the case with this guitar, and it needed to be rewired at the neck connections.
Otherwise, the LG120T featured some typical Guyatone design cues of the time such as a solid wood body and decent tuners. This model clocked in at the lower end of the price range, costing 16,000 Yen back in the day. In comparison, the awesome LG180T Telstar was priced at 32,000 Yen. The tremolo was sorta unique on this model, and featured a cool tremolo arm with a rounded end. It’s a little detail, but I liked it! This model also featured the roller bridge found the on the much more expensive Guyatone Sharp 5 model. But man, those old Guya roller bridges can be tough to set up!
There were two types of pickups featured on these LG120 guitars, but in essence there are the basically the same. This particular one featured the plastic covers with a “slit” where the later models had a more open design where you could see the magnet slugs. I guess it’s all a matter of taste, but man these guitars are hard to find anymore… and really hard to find in working condition.
These LG120T guitars only lasted for a year or two and seemed to be made in rather small numbers. I’ve never seen on of these for sale in the states (except this one!) and are rarely seen in Japan anymore. I liked this guitar quite a bit! By 1967 Guyatone seemed to have shifted much of the wood manufacturing for electrics to other factories, and were really starting to struggle in the guitar market. Guyatone guitars were still popular, but they were being relegated primarily to the Japanese market in the late 60s. It’s sort of a shame because in the mid-60s the company had invested in many factory upgrades, but they couldn’t see the coming lag in the guitar market during the later 60s. It’s sort of a bummer but that’s business I suppose. But of course for history-sake, here’s the one I owned for all to see and hear.