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Matsumoku Electric Guitars and Basses

Instruments produced at the legendary Matsumoku plant

Japanese guitars are pretty well regarded today, but at the start of the 1960s, manufacturers producing guitars in Japan were pretty much non-existent. The market was dominated by American and European makers, many with decades of experience, and producing very fine instruments. It is, then, a testament to Japanese skill and ingenuity that by the end of the decade these same makers were contracting a large part of their manufacture to companies in Japan, with the majority coming from one place, the Matsumoku factory in the city of Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.

Although Matsumoku were relatively new to guitar manufacture, the company were well regarded in cabinet building, for televisions, amplifiers, sewing machines and traditional Japanese furniture. The name Matsumoku derives from "Matsumoto Mokko" - translating to "Matsumoto Woodworking Company". Electric guitar production began in the mid 1960s, and continued through to 1986.

Matsumoku and Aria

Initially, Matsumoku didn't build and market their own guitars - as was the case with their sewing machines, Matsumoku were subcontracted by other companies, the most important being Aria. Aria designed a series of instruments, some quite original, some clearly based on guitars by existing manufacturers; and although available with Aria branding, the same guitars were re-badged for different guitar distributors across the globe. The guitars were effectively identical, using many of the same parts (see Matsumoku guitar parts), but with plastic peghead logos pinned in place.

Re-badged Matsumoku guitars

From around 1966 Merson/Unicord distributed Aria/Matsumoku guitars labelled Univox, with the best known-model, the Mosrite-styled Hi-Flier appearing in 1967/68. David Wexler of Chicago badged them as Conrad, C. Bruno as Ventura, L.D. HEater as Lyle, and Maurice Lipsky as Domino. In the United Kingdom many were imported branded as Eros (Rosetti), Angelica (Boosey & Hawkes), and Commodore. Over the next five or six years there were numerous other examples: Electra, Granada, Tempo (Merson), Toledo, Jedson (Dallas), Arbiter and Shaftesbury (Rose-Morris) to name just a few.

1971 Epiphone 1802T / ET-270 solid body electric guitar
1971 Epiphone 1802T (ET-270)

Matsumoku Epiphones

But the best known Matsumoku guitars of the early seventies were those branded Epiphone. Aria struck a deal with Gibson to start production of Epiphone guitars in Japan in late 1970. Whilst functionally the same instruments these guitars were a step up from the previous offerings, having Epiphone-style headstocks, with inlaid logos and branded scratchplates / truss rod covers. Initially the Epiphone models kept the original Aria model designations, but these were soon revised to differentiate these guitars from the numerous similar models out there. Perhaps one of the best known of these early Japanese Epiphones was the ET-270 solid body later wielded by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana

Gretsch and Dorado

But Gibson was not the only Big American company to offer a Matsumoku-made 'entry level' version of its guitars. In 1973 Gretsch attempted the same approach, offering a very nice version of Epiphone's ET-270 solid body as the Dorado 5985.

In 1975 Aria guitars were sold as Aria Pro II. The brand had gained in confidence and there was a distinct move away from copies towards more original designs.

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Early 80s Epiphone Riviera Wine Red Japan Matsumoku Noel Gallagher Oasis

Early 80's Epiphone Riviera Wine Red Japan Matsumoku Noel Gallagher Oasis

Englewood, New Jersey, 076**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


If you're looking at this you probably know what this is. It's the real deal not some cheap Chinese reissue. I purchased this guitar from Ebay Uk about 8 years ago. It was very hard to find and I had to pay an arm and a leg to have it shipped here. The seller lied to me about this guitar but I'm actually going to be honest about it because that's just the way I am. I asked the seller if the frets were ok and he said they were fine. When I received the guitar the first 3 or 4 frets were worn down... more
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1980 Epiphone Casino Vintage Guitar Sunburst w /  Case, Japan Matsumoku

1980 Epiphone Casino Vintage Guitar Sunburst w / Case, Japan Matsumoku

Seattle, Washington, 981**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Up for sale, a 1980 Epiphone Casino in exceptional, 100% original condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original hardshell case. Produced in Japan at the Matsumoku factory, this Casino is a rare and early Epiphone reissue produced decades before the ??Elitist?? line was introduced
This Casino has a smooth and lively acoustic tone with plenty of warmth faithfully captured by the stock Maxon-made dogear P-90 pickups. The pickups have the midrange bark and percussive cut ... more
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1968 Epiphone El Dorado FT-90 Sunburst Vintage

1968 Epiphone El Dorado FT-90 Sunburst Vintage

Brooklyn, New York, 112**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This listing is for a 1968 Epiphone El Dorado FT-90 Acoustic Guitar. This is a lovely playing and sounding instrument that was made by Gibson in Kalamazoo in 1968. The guitar would be considered a player grade guitar and has had some past repairs but is playing great now and is ready to go. The guitar plays great with low and comfortable action and the neck is straight. I'm not sure exactly why but the truss rod is very difficult to turn and does not adjust easily. Currently however it is ... more
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Epiphone FT-90 El Dorado 1968

Epiphone FT-90 El Dorado 1968

Fort Myers, Florida, 339**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Vintage guitar with original case. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or make an offer. Thank you
... more
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Westone X910 WA Super Headless Bass Guitar,  , Matsumoku Built

Westone X910 WA Super Headless Bass Guitar, , Matsumoku Built

Westborough, Massachusetts, 015**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This is the Westone X910 WA ,Model RC Super Headless Bass Guitar, which was built in the renown Matsumoku factory.
These Super Headless basses are beautifully crafted and were the top of the line basses from Matsumoku
Very nice cosmetic condition
Stained Birdseye maple body
Magnaflux RB dual coil pickups
Original hard shell Westone case
More details of this bass on Westone guitars website
... more
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1980 Aria Pro II SH-800 Neck Through Semi-Hollow w /  Case, Japan Matsumoku

1980 Aria Pro II SH-800 Neck Through Semi-Hollow w / Case, Japan Matsumoku

Seattle, Washington, 981**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Up for sale, a 1980 Aria Pro II SH-800 in exceptional condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original hardshell case. This rare, premium Aria Pro II model was crafted at the Matsumoku factory in Japan, designed by their top luthier Nobuaki Hayashi (H. Noble). This particular example is loaded with the original pair of MH-1 humbuckers and has been augmented with a Phase switch
This Aria features five-ply maple / walnut neck through construction paired with carved / hollow ... more
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REDUCED 10% Late Sixties Japanese-made Rosewood Lyle F-520 w / Case BLUEGRASS

REDUCED 10% Late Sixties Japanese-made Rosewood Lyle F-520 w / Case BLUEGRASS

Limestone, Maine, 047**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This is a late Sixties Japanese made Rosewood Lyle with X-bracing. The guitar has been set-up, and is ready to play. This guitar comes bundled with a nice, though used, serviceable, fully functioning, case without the key. (Sorry! I never had the key )
As with many of these craftmanship-intensive Japanese-made clones, this guitar straight from the factory had excellent tonal quality, and played like a dream
This guitar measures 40 and 1 / 2 inches top to bottom excluding the strap ... more
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Westone X900TPR  Super Headless Bass Guitar, Rare , Matsumoku Built

Westone X900TPR Super Headless Bass Guitar, Rare , Matsumoku Built

Westborough, Massachusetts, 015**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This is the Westone X900TPR Super Headless bass which was built in the renown Matsumoku factory.
These Super Headless basses are beautifully crafted and were the top of the line basses from Matsumoku
This is the rare light oak version not mentioned in US price lists or shown in the catalogues but mentioned in the catalogue( see photo)
Beautiful cosmetic condition
Mag a bass V pickups
Original hard shell Westone case
More details of this bass on Westone guitars website
... more
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Aria Pro II RS-750 1981 - Pristine example of golden age Matsumoku

Aria Pro II RS-750 1981 - Pristine example of golden age Matsumoku

Stockton, California, 952**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This 1981 RS-750 can only be described as amazing. The condition is truly collector's quality. A time capsule of early Matsumoku history. Very little evidence that this has ever been played. It comes in its original hard shell case with case candy, including the original warranty card and hang tag. There is even the original red string used to hang the tag in the case and still attached to the low E string tuner. The brass throughout is pristine. You can see from the photos how special this find... more
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Univox Hi-Flier Phase 2 White Vintage Japan Solid Body Guitar Phase II

Univox Hi-Flier Phase 2 White Vintage Japan Solid Body Guitar Phase II

Fall River, Massachusetts, 027**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Vintage Univox Hi-Flier Phase 2 Guitar in White. Very hard to come by. Please view pictures for condition, thank you.
... more
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1984 Quest ATAK A-6TX By Vantage Explorer Destroyer Matsumoku Japan Very Rare

1984 Quest ATAK A-6TX By Vantage Explorer Destroyer Matsumoku Japan Very Rare

Flower Mound, Texas, 750**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1984 Quest ATAK A-6TX By Vantage Explorer Destroyer Ash Body Trans Blue Burst Rare.
Here is a rare guitar out of the hay day of Japanese guitar building and quality
Made in 1984 by Matsumoku, Quest was a subset of Vantage guitars. I would say more of their hard rock / heavy metal orientation
This one is the shape of an Explorer crossed with a Destroyer
It has a solid figured Ash bound body with a 3 piece Maple set in neck. The neck has some beautiful flaming in the maple that is... more
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1970s Univox Ripper Clear Electric Guitar Made in Japan

1970's Univox Ripper Clear Electric Guitar Made in Japan

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 333**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1970's Univox Ripper clear coated Electric Guitar Made in Japan.
Proceed with caution . This guitar is guaranteed to bring out your inner rock god! The body has an A- / B+ condition with a few signs of use as shown in the pictures. One of the screws holding down the pickguard is absent. Two of the three humbucker pickups are original to this guitar. A whammy-bar came with this guitar, and although it shows similar signs of patina, we are unable to confirm its provenance. The pictures of ... more
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Vantage VP795 Rare California Translucent Blue Matsumoku Japan

Vantage VP795 Rare California Translucent Blue Matsumoku Japan

Bordentown, New Jersey, 085**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1980's Vantage Japan Double Cut, high quality build with amazing pickups coil tapping gives great tonal range. the neck is flat with low fast action great condition with minor finish blems for the age of the guitar. One of my personal favorites .
Ask all questions before you buy , NO refunds and NO partial refunds... more
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Aria Pro II PW-25 Early 70s - Natural W /  Hardcase - Matsumoku Factory

Aria Pro II PW-25 Early 70's - Natural W / Hardcase - Matsumoku Factory



The item pictured is the actual item you will receive!
At Texas Tone Factory, we take actual pictures of each instrument and make sure they are fully set-up and ready to play before we ship them. Each instrument goes through a multi-point inspection, followed by a set-up process by our Luthier.
This inspection Includes Cleaning and Refreshing all the parts of the instrument, Electronic, Pots, Switch, Jack, Frets, New Strings And full Setup With low Action.
This is a really ... more
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Late 60s Univox High Hi Flyer Bass 3-Tone Sunburst Matsumoku-Made w /  Early Logo

Late 60s Univox High Hi Flyer Bass 3-Tone Sunburst Matsumoku-Made w / Early Logo

West Babylon, New York, 117**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Late 60s Univox High Hi Flyer Bass 3-Tone Sunburst Matsumoku-Made w / Single Coil Pickups, 30?? Scale
For Sale, we have this late 1960s Univox Hi-Flier Bass, a classic that embodies the spirit of rock and roll. With its distinctive sunburst finish and unique body contours, this bass not only turns heads with its looks but also offers a rich, resonant tone that's hard to find in contemporary models
This Hi-Flier boasts a comfortable 30" scale length, making it an excellent choice for ... more
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Classic 1977 Aria Pro II Stagecaster - Matsumoku - Ash Body! - Made in Japan

Classic 1977 Aria Pro II Stagecaster - Matsumoku - Ash Body! - Made in Japan

Pompano Beach, Florida, 330**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1977 Aria Pro II Stagecaster
Lawsuit Era '50's Stratocaster Style Copy
Serial 771218
Nut Width: 1 62 "
Neck Thickness at 1st Fret: 0 83 "
Neck Thickness at 12th Fret: 0 91 "
Radius 7 1 / 2
U Shape Maple Neck Shape
Comes in Original Hard Case with Tremelo Arm
$$$ Professionally Set Up and Dialed in for Immediate Rocking. Truly Stage or Studio Ready / Worthy! (Fret work, Action Set, Truss Rod Adjusted & Intonation is Spot On)
Top tier quality straight from the... more
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1981 Electra X935 Very Rare! Anniversary Edition OHSC Matsumoku Japan Build! 

1981 Electra X935 Very Rare! Anniversary Edition OHSC Matsumoku Japan Build! 

Wilmington, Delaware, 198**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1981 Electra X935 Very Rare! Anniversary Edition OHSC Matsumoku Japan Build!.
The Holy Grail of Vintage Electra! A very Rare 1981 Version of the 1982 Anniversary Edition Model! With Placard on back of Headstock!
This is #35 of the limited Edition Models! She also Has the Very Rare and quite Cool "Coke Bottle" Style Machine Heads!
All Original Guitar w / OHSC! Frets have Been Perfectly Dressed Leveled, Crowned and Polished at 85% Life ... more
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1973-75 Ventura ES-335 Style Semi Hollow Guitar Flame Maple Trans Red W / OHSC

1973-75 Ventura ES-335 Style Semi Hollow Guitar Flame Maple Trans Red W / OHSC

Flower Mound, Texas, 750**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Ventura Semi Hollow ES style electric guitar in excellent condition with original case
This guitar is very rare and nice. The gold hardware is still in great condition, and the finish is nice. It has two cracks on the rear of the body adjacent to the inspection cover (see pics)
The frets show minimal wear, and the guitar has just been cleaned, polished, and setup
The electronics are all original, and have the highly sought after Maxon pickups. The guitar was manufactured at the ... more
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1970s Ventura ES-175 Natural

1970's Ventura ES-175 Natural

Acworth, Georgia, 301**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Early 1970's pre lawsuit Ventura copy of a Gibson es-175. Amazing condition for an almost 60 year old guitar. This one has upgraded pots, tuners, wiring and Gibson 57 Classic pickups, really nice, full, round sound when plugged in. Your chance to get into a decent jazz box at a nice price! All sales are final. It comes with the hard case.
All sales are final. 89 00 Domestic shipping. See instructions for International shipping.

... more
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1981 Electra X-420 Semi Hollow ES-335 Lucille Black Matsumoku Japan Recent Setup

1981 Electra X-420 Semi Hollow ES-335 Lucille Black Matsumoku Japan Recent Setup

Flower Mound, Texas, 750**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1981 Electra X-420 Semi Hollow ES-335 Lucille Black Matsumoku Japan Recent Setup.
Here is a very rare Electra X-420 that is very similar to a Gibson ES-335 Lucile played by BB King
It has a semi hollow maple body, with a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard
It has a solid brass bridge and nut, sealed Electra tuners, two volume and two tone pots, black speed knobs, a 3 way switch, and MMK 61 pickups
This thing is amazing to play and is very resonant
It has some dings and light ... more
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1971 Selmer guitar catalogue

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1968 Selmer guitar catalogue

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1960 Hofner Colorama II

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1971 Epiphone 1820 bass (ET-280)

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1970 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns Celebrated Classics' catalog

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1972 Fender PrecisionA detailed look at an early 1970s Fender Precision bass guitar in custom black finish, with rosewood fretboard. 1972 list price, $307.50. The Fender Precision had been shipping since at least very early 1952 - with just one re-design circa 1957. This example, then, shows a model already two decades old, but barely changed since the '57 revamp. Fender got it right first time around, and although there are numerous minor cosmetic differences, the essence of this bass is effectively the same as it was in '52: a simple, single pickup instrument with a GREAT sound. Check out the demo video through an old Ampeg B15. It's no wonder this is the bass that everybody wants!

1967 Vox Stroller

1967 Vox StrollerThe Vox Stroller was the brand's entry level electric solid body guitar, fitted with just one pickup and a fixed tailpiece. Although aimed at student guitarists, it wasn't a terrible instrument, but did lack somewhat in adjustability, having no accessible truss rod and only a floating rosewood bridge. But this example is actually quite an improvement on earlier versions, with a standard 1/4" jack and a solid mahogany body. 1967 price £18 2s. JMI ceased UK guitar production in late '67, and combined with decreasing demand for the Stroller, this surely must be one of the last examples shipped.

1963 Vox Clubman Bass (left handed)

1963 Vox Clubman Bass left handedA nice example of the Vox Clubman II bass, built by JMI in Dartford, Kent in 1963. This is a lightweight bass, short (30") scale and very easy to play. It is an early example, and as such has a thin black scratchplate and side mounted, coaxial output jack. JMI offered left handed examples of their solid body Vox guitars and basses at 10% premium. Production numbers are unclear, but left-handed examples rarely come up for sale

1977 Gibson ES Artist 'prototype'

1977 Gibson ES Artist prototypeNot to be confused with the Gibson ES Artist launched by Gibson in 1979; this ES Artist was an early model designed by the Gibson research and development team in Kalamazoo in 1977, the instruments themselves constructed by Gibson artist Chuck Burge. It was planned for launch as a high end semi acoustic with 335-style construction (central maple block) and innovative circuitry - but was pulled at the last minute, being deemed too expensive. Apparently, several examples were produced with varying specifications, though exactly how many actually left the Kalamazoo plant is unclear. Certainly two guitars were sold to LaVonne Music by Gibson in around 1980. Read more about the development of this guitar, with details from Chuck Burge and the story of it's sale to LaVonne music

1959 Hofner Committee

1959 Hofner CommitteeThe Hofner Committee was a truly beautiful guitar produced in Germany, primarily for the UK market. It was a large bodied (initially 17 1/2") guitar with a carved spruce top, available as an acoustic or electric guitar. By the early sixties the carved top was replaced with a laminate, and although still a very fine guitar, the earlier carved top examples, with frondose headstock (like the example shown here) are far more highly prized amongst musicians and vintage guitar collectors.

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins TennesseanThe Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean, or model 6119 was Gretsch's best selling hollow body of the 1960s. This wonderfully faded example from 1965 was originally Dark Cherry Red, but has turned a mid-orange brown. The original color, however, can be seen underneath the pickup surrounds. 1965 specs: maple body, two-piece neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard and Hi-Lo 'Tron single coil pickups. Nickel plated Gretsch Bigsby tailpiece.

1965 Gretsch 'For the Spectacular Sound of the Times' guitar and amp catalog

1965 Gretsch catalogThe 1965 Gretsch catalog, or catalog #32, featured 10 hollow body electric guitars, including the newly launched Gretsch Viking; four solid body electrics, including the Astro Jet - making it's only catalog appearance; just one bass, the single pickup PX6070; nine acoustics and 12 tube amplifiers. Pride of place went to the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman that adorned both the front and back covers. 24 pages, six of which are in full color.

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret ends

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret endsLoose frets are especially problematic in certain old guitars, but are generally very easy to fix. You'll be amazed at the difference you can make with just a few tools, a bit of knowledge, and a little time. Fixing loose frets can eliminate fret buzz, remove sharp fret ends, and greatly improve the tone of any guitar. If your luthier bill will be greater than the value of your guitar, definitely time to have a go yourself!

1966 Hagstrom 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog (Merson USA)

1966 Hagstrom guitar catalogHagstrom guitars were distributed in the mid-1960s United States by Merson of USA. This eight page 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog, printed in two-colors contained six solid body electrics, three solid body basses, two electric acoustic guitars, two electric acoustic basses and five acoustics.

1965 Hofner President

1965 Hofner PresidentThe President was produced by Hofner in Bubenreuth, Germany, specifically for Selmer, who distributed the brand in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other commonwealth nations. The President was a hollow body electric acoustic, available as a full body or thinline, and with blonde or brunette finish. It was a great playing guitar that sold fairly well in the second half of the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, and into the very early 1970s. The example shown here is a full-body depth guitar in blonde - and as a 1965 guitar, one of the last to feature the rounded Venetian cutaway. From late 1965 until 1972, the President sported a sharp Florentine cut. Naturally, such an electric acoustic suggests jazz and blues, but many of the original British Hofner President players were part of the rock 'n roll, skiffle and beat scenes of the late 50s and early 60s.

1963 1964 Fender catalog

Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.