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Japan had a golden era in guitar manufacture during the now-famous 'lawsuit' years - an era during which they got things so right that the American big boys got worried, which was the basis of the threatened 'lawsuit' (which applied to copies of USA models which were getting too close to the real thing - in fact some, including me, say they exceeded the real thing at that time), but they also made some models which took liberal doses of 'inspiration' from various sources, but were far from being a slavish copy.

This guitar is an example of that. It boasts a solid Spruce top, and Mahogany back, sides and neck, while the fretboard is Brazilian Rosewood and the bridge Ebony. It's a funny mix of styles, quite typical of the Japanese at the time. The back is arched (I arranged the lighting to clearly show it), rather than flat and braced, and I think this is a big factor in the guitar's sound (which is a LOT bigger and louder than one would expect). The headstock is a somewhat extrovert shape, more usual on high-end American arch-tops and jazz guitars than on flat-top acoustics, while the headstock and fretboard inlays show very strong Gibson influences.

A few years earlier, the result may have been - let's be kind - quaint and cool in a sort of 'retro' way (just check out some of the Japanese guitars from the late '70s we have sold over the years!), but by 1981 it is clear they were getting a firm handle on the issue of style. I personally think this guitar looks both classy and individual.

And on playing the guitar it is also clear they had a firm handle on the issue of guitar acoustics! This almost 30-year-old vintage Japanese guitar sounds fantastic, and the neck is extremely playable and responsive. It is also incredibly well-sorted harmonically, with the original bridge being factory-compensated for the different strings. The staggered bridge does not show up well in the photographs, but shows up well in playing, with very good intonation all the way up the neck.

This example is in ridiculously good condition, and would very rarely have been taken out of its case. There is almost no sign on the original frets of any wear, and the beautiful Brazilian Rosewood fretboard has no signs of wear at all. The craftsmanship in this guitar is amazing, with quadruple binding on the top edge, double binding on the back, and a fully bound fretboard. The neck is gunbarrel straight. The trussrod on this guitar adjusts from just inside the sound hole. Serial number of 800417 indicates a production date of 1980 (the early acoustics followed a totally different serial number series than the electrics).

This is a very affordable, very rare (I could discover nothing about them on the internet or my extensive library), very playable, very cool acoustic guitar! And it comes in its original hard shell case.

Sold to Ian


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