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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.

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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1977 PENCO LES PAUL CUSTOM Electric Guitar W / case Matsumoku Japan

1977 PENCO LES PAUL CUSTOM Electric Guitar W / case Matsumoku Japan

Bellingham, Washington, 982**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Another quality brand made by Matsumoku. Most of these were made by Ibanez (Hoshino) but this is clearly a Matsumoku. Exactly made like a 77 Aria AE-325. Has electronics control board for trouble free sound. This one has plenty of wear and tear but mostly around the body on the with edge finish cracks through the poly including neck pocket. Several areas but all cosmetic. Neck is nice with only minimal fret wear. Upgraded Gotoh tuners leaving old holes exposed. Was set up as a baritone so with ... more
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Univox Custom 1968 w / Bigsby & Taylor Hard shell Case

Univox Custom 1968 w / Bigsby & Taylor Hard shell Case

Bristol, Virginia, 242**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Univox Custom 1968 w / Bigsby & Taylor Hard shell Case. Plays great, sounds great!! Some cosmetic flaws due to age and use
... more
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1970s Epiphone ET-285 Electric Bass with OHSC - 3 Tone Burst - Vintage

1970s Epiphone ET-285 Electric Bass with OHSC - 3 Tone Burst - Vintage

Evansville, Indiana, 477**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1970s Epiphone ET-285 Electric Bass with OHSC - 3 Tone Burst - Vintage. Condition is Used. Shipped with USPS Ground Advantage.... more
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1973-75 Bradley Greco Ibanez SG Matsumoku Vintage Made In Japan Refinish Lawsuit

1973-75 Bradley Greco Ibanez SG Matsumoku Vintage Made In Japan Refinish Lawsuit

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


1973-75 Bradley Greco Ibanez SG Matsumoku Vintage Made In Japan Refinish Lawsuit.
I just finished another mid 1970??s SG style guitar
These were made by Matsumoku in Japan and badged with several brands, the most popular were Greco, Burny, and Ibanez. There are probably 40 other badged brands of the same guitar
All of the poly coating has been removed and left open pored and stained with dark walnut and coated with lacquer. It was then wet sanded fairly smooth on the alder caps and ... 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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1970s Epiphone ET-285 Electric Bass with OHSC - 3 Tone Burst - Vintage

1970s Epiphone ET-285 Electric Bass with OHSC - 3 Tone Burst - Vintage

Woodbury, New York, 117**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1970s Epiphone ET-285 Electric Bass with OHSC - 3 Tone Burst - Vintage
For sale, a 1970s Epiphone ET-285 in very good vintage condition - functionality and playability are perfect whereas the cosmetic condition is pre-loved showing surface scratches and minor indentations. The original bridge pickup was swapped by the previous owner sometime ago, and was replaced with a now vintage Dimarzio J Bass Split Coil pickup. This pickup choice gives the bass even more of a nice well rounded sound ... more
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Epiphone ET-285 Bass, 1970s Made in Japan

Epiphone ET-285 Bass, 1970's Made in Japan

Blackwood, New Jersey, 080**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This bass is in good shape for being about 50 years old! There are two screw holes in the body (pictured), assuming that was for an ashtray-style bridge cover that we do not have
Weight: 9 29 lbs... 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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Epiphone EA-250 Riviera 1972 - 1974 Cherry  /  Rare Cherry neck

Epiphone EA-250 Riviera 1972 - 1974 Cherry / Rare Cherry neck

Estes Park, Colorado, 805**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Refurbished Vintage Beauty
Epiphone EA-250 Riviera 1972 - 1974 Cherry / Rare Cherry neck
Very rare red cherry neck, most EA-250's have natural maple necks
Refurbished Epiphone EA-250 Riviera by Cat Caster Guitar Shop
DEMO VIDEO LINK / played clean through a Fender Blues Jr , no fx pedals
https: / / drive google com / file / d / 1wNrhqd0avjqSwBIpthDukv5MyvZDUkaj / view?usp=sharing
This beauty took a little work, a barn find that was literally a ... more
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Mid Sixties Japanese-made Ventura-V-10 w / NEW Case (ZERO Fret)

Mid Sixties Japanese-made Ventura-V-10 w / NEW Case (ZERO Fret)

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


This is a Ventura V-10, a 40 inch Japanese clone, with X-bracing. It has a 25 5 / 8 inch scale lenth. the lower bout is 15 inches at its widest point. I am guessing this was made in 1966. It has an abalone inlay on the headstock that says "Ventura " , and is fully two inches long. That sort of craftsmanship ended long before the 1970s. It also has the "ZERO" fret. (see pictures )
The condition is remarkably very good. This guitar is more than fifty years old. The white binding is ... more
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1969 vintage univox ulm 6 tube guitar amplifier amp

1969 vintage univox ulm 6 tube guitar amplifier amp

Painesville, Ohio, 440**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Very nice vintage 1969 Univox Ulm 6 tube amp in good condition! Sounds amazing, takes pedals really well. Known as the ?fender champ killer?? everything works. Sold as is thanks... more
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1970s Univox Coily 4 string Bass Guitar Vintage NOW U CAN HEAR IT

1970's Univox Coily 4 string Bass Guitar Vintage NOW U CAN HEAR IT

Olmsted Falls, Ohio, 441**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1970's Univox Coily 4 string Bass Guitar Vintage NOW U CAN HEAR ITThis guitar has a great history was played by a member of the mushroom heads I was asked to sell his guitar but only if it was made like new by professionals Well it was taken apart, new wiring and a new rheostat, neck put back to it's proper place, buffing, replace a piece of plastic edge trim, and adjusting the resonator Etc. and last 4 new strings Last tested, made to go through it's scales, as you can see and hear in the video... more
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Univox Vintage Guitar Amplifier (Amp) U-235-PB

Univox Vintage Guitar Amplifier (Amp) U-235-PB

Collegeville, Pennsylvania, 194**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Welcome. Thanks for stopping in. Up for sale is one of my Univox U-235-PB Amplifier restorations. This unit is SN42791 manufactured in Japan in the late 1960s, most likely 1967-68. This amp is fully restored and in excellent condition
Originally sold as a Bass Amp, this amp is also good for guitar. It has Bass, High, and Low inputs, Deep and Sharp switches, and incorporates the James tone stack which uses Bass and Treble controls. This amp sounds great, has low noise, has been burned in, and... more
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1970s Ventura ES-175 Natural

1970's Ventura ES-175 Natural

Nazareth, Pennsylvania, 180**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Just in is this killer Japanese made 70's Ventura ES-175 copy. This was made right along side the ibanez guitars and sold under the Ventura brand
Quick Details
weight 7 2lbs
Nut width 1 11 / 16th
Depth at 1st fret 0 86
Depth at 12th 1 06
This is a killer Lawsuit era Ventura ES-175 Guitar
This guitar was rescued from being up in an attic for years. The strings still had tension on them so the Glue in the neck loosened up when it was hot so we had it reset and now it is in ... more
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1974 Electra 2275N Stratocaster Style Guitar Refinished Ash Body Japan Matsumoku

1974 Electra 2275N Stratocaster Style Guitar Refinished Ash Body Japan Matsumoku

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


Here is a nice example of a mid 1970??s Stratocaster copy made in Japan at the Matsumoku factory. These were considered by many to be better quality than the Fender??s put out by CBS at the same time
The body had quite a few nicks, dings, but mostly checking to the original clear finish.
I thought about refinishing it natural again, but went a different direction and I??m glad I did. This thing really came to life. The grain on the guitar is amazingly beautiful. I left it open pored and ... 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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1970s ARIA SG Electric Guitar Matsumoku Japan W / OHSC

1970s ARIA SG Electric Guitar Matsumoku Japan W / OHSC

Bellingham, Washington, 982**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This vintage 70s Aria SG is a relic to the old style rock that defined an era. In fairly good cosmetic condition and excellent playability it will rock the night away. Being 50+ years old it does have several nicks and scratches over it??s long career as shown. The slim neck profile is very nice with only a little fret wear. The pickups sound killer with the ??Ac / Dc type rock sound. Really cut thru the mix and are nice and heavy. Comes with nice OHSC.

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Ventura Model V-1586 Acoustic Classical Guitar Burled Mahogany Handmade JAPAN

Ventura Model V-1586 Acoustic Classical Guitar Burled Mahogany Handmade JAPAN



VENTURA V-1586 CLASSICAL GUITAR. This Vintage Guitar was designed in the U S.A. and Hand made in Japan in the early 80's and its in Very Nice Condition. This Ventura V-1586 Classical guitar has a Solid Spruce Top " , a "Select Antique Burled Mahogany" Back & Sides and a Nice Hi Gloss Finish. it was Handmade in Japan. This is a nice example of Hi quality Japanese manufacturing from the late 1970s-80s. This is the era when Japan began to make guitars better than the Big Companies and ended up... more
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Univox Vintage Guitar Amplifier (Amp) U-320-APB

Univox Vintage Guitar Amplifier (Amp) U-320-APB

Collegeville, Pennsylvania, 194**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Welcome. Thanks for stopping in. Up for sale is one of my Univox U-320-APB Amplifier restorations. This unit is SN-37997 manufactured in Japan in the late 1960s early 1970s, most likely 1969-1970. This amp is fully restored and in excellent condition. Intended for guitar, this amp's tone circuitry and effects remain true to the original designer's intentions. This amp sounds great
This amp has been completely restored and is in excellent condition. This amp is equipped with two (2) channels,... more
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1960s Hofner copy Beatle vintage bass guitar Univox or Tiesco

1960s Hofner copy Beatle vintage bass guitar Univox or Tiesco

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


This is a nice Hofner copy of the Beatle Bass Paul used. We believe it to be a Univox or Teisco 1960's. Electronics all work however the tone just has a little static noise when you turn it volume works great and so does the tone other than that drop of static while turning (probably a very good electronics cleaning is in order). There are a few extra screw holes in the headstock some shown in pics. There is a ding on the fingerboard shown in pics at the 4th fret. Selling as is with the ... more
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1971 Selmer guitar catalogue

1971 Selmer guitar catalogueScan of 1971 Selmer guitar catalogue showing the range of electric and acoustic guitars distributed by the company: guitars by Gibson, Yamaha, Selmer, Hofner and Suzuki. 1960s Selmer had always placed Hofner at the front end of their catalogues, no doubt these were the better sellers - but into the 1970s Hofner were slipping somewhat and only appear at the tail end of this publication, pride of place going to Gibson, and to a lesser extent Yamaha. In fact this is the last Selmer catalogue to include the many Hofner hollow bodies (Committee, President, Senator etc) that had defined the companies output for so many years - to be replaced in the 1972 catalogue by generic solid body 'copies' of Gibson and Fender models. A number of new Gibson models are included for the first time: the SG-100 and SG-200 six string guitars and the SB-300 and SB-400 basses.

1968 Selmer guitar catalogue

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1961 Hofner Colorama I

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1971 Commodore N25 (Matsumoku)

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1960 Hofner Colorama II

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1971 Epiphone 1820 bass (ET-280)

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1968 Shaftesbury 'Electric Guitars' catalog

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

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1971 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns' catalog

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1972 Fender Precision bass

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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.