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Who built this guitar?


Mad Max
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Hi, I'm new here :-)

 

I would like to find out what firm built my guitar. I've had it for some years, it must be at least 25 years old, more likely over 30. It's a very detailed Hummingbird copy, but has no name, brand, logo or stickers on it whatsoever (nor inside either). Just a tiny one on the back which just says "made in Japan" but I don't know whether that has always been on the instrument, no name on the tuners, but they, too, are of high quality, guitars keeps it's tune superbly.

It has Mahogany back and sides with fine grain, pine front with very fine and ruler-straight grain, not laminated. Rosewood bridge and fretboard. Craftsmanship is very good, the details are very Gibson-Style (headstock-shape, pickguard, inlays, circles around the hole...) I thought it might be a Lyle, but they surely always put their name on their guitars... Sounds and plays sweet. The bridge is adjustable.

 

So my question is: Who copied Gibson Hummingbirds 30 years ago to the very number of inlayed (not painted) rings around the hole in highest quality, and then forgot to put his name on it?

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated, I'm just curious, I've never seen any guitar of that quality without a brandname on it...

 

THX,

 

Max

 

headstock.jpg

 

front.jpg

 

bridge.jpg

 

inside.jpg

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The first and foremost Japanese company that copied Gibson guitars back in the seventies was Ibanez, and they were very well built guitars. In fact, some people say that Ibanez built better Gibsons during that period than Gibson did.

 

They were very good copies, down the the smallest detail, especially the "vintage" instruments. They also proudly said Ibanez on the headstock and were never passed off by the company as Gibsons, although some tried that after they got to the states. Gibson eventually had to file and international patent lawsuit and indeed did stop them from making them.

 

It's very possible your guitar is one of these "Lawsuit" Ibanez copies with the headstock logo removed.

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I've thought about the "removed logo"-theory, too, but even with a very close look there's no way that anything has ever been removed from the headstock. If so, then the whole of the headstock would have to have been stripped and refinished, as there are no marks of any new paintwork or anything. Even with a magnifying glass.

The next thing is: I live in Germany, and I don't think the instrument has ever been in the States, except maybe right after production. And even in those days Ibanez had a European base (if I'm not mistaken), so I guess shipping from Japan would have gone straight to Germany, which would have avoided the logo-issue...

 

And I've never seen a Hummingbird without the Logo of some firm for sale or anywhere...

 

I'm not intending to sell it, as it's a really good instrument, outplays a good deal of the "modern" guitars for tone and action... Action is nice, intonation perfect, no flat spots. I like it, even if it's not an original "bird" :-) But I would like to know what make it actually is ;-)

 

Did the Ibanez (or other lawsuite models) have any other marks by which they could be identified? Like the shape of the tuners or bridge? The trussrodcover?

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Max, right down to the machineheads your Hummer looks the doppelganger of an early '70s Kiso Suzuki Hummingbird I owned a few years back...I technically till own it, but it's on permanent loan to a good friend now.

 

The adj. bridge looks identical, the trussrod cover etc...mine had a fine gold tranfer logo on the headstock that read "Kiso Suzuki Violin Company" and was formatted to look very similar to the Martin logo.

 

Tone-wise, it was a KILLER guitar. My Gibson 'bird is better, but not by a huge margin. It was a real gem.

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It appears by the last pic, that it is ladder braced on top. Could be paralax or my astigmatism actin' up. It looks for the world like the Aria / Matsumoku built Epis of the "Fools Golden Age" of Gibson/Epiphone.

 

The truss rod cover looks over exagerated, the adjuster looks like my Epi. The bridge, though, looks big enough to be used on a 12 wire... unlike my 6 wire Epi.

 

Got a better view of the top bracing and the back? Is it a bolt-on neck?

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Thanks a lot for all the detective work, we might be getting there

 

Here are some more pictures, the first one is the one I'm riddling about most, as the neck has a pointed connection to the body, that might be a clue...

 

The top bracing is a big "X" under between hole and bridge with a couple of cross bits. The bridge is pulling a bit, but I think they all do... I'm not completey sure about the bridge material, it might be ebony, looks very dark and has much finer grain than the fretboward, which is rosewood, but I might be mistaken...

 

And thanks for asking about the photos of the bracing, now I know that it's cracked :- So now I know why the bridge is pulling... Got to get that repaired soon...

 

The headstock isn't Epi-sytle, they had slimmer headstocks with more curvature at the top. The headstock angle is 12 degrees, I think the Gibsons had 14 or 17. Anyway of telling the firm by other measurements like depth or scale?

 

Any more pictures needed?

 

rear.jpg

bracing.jpg

hsback.jpg

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It's not really bugging me that much, I'm just curious. I like it and I'm going to keep on playing it no matter who built it =P~

 

The most curious thing about it is the missing logo on the headstock. All pre- or post-lawsuit models I could find still have the logo (whether that would be Ibanez or Lyle or Ventura...).

 

The tuners and V-shape colouring on the back of the headstock make would it an Ibanez, the pointed part where the neck and body join would make it an early one, the Gibson "moustache" would make it a pre-lawsuite model (i.e. pre 1976), no serial # anywhere either...

 

Just the missing of any kind of identification makes it a mystery...

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It's not really bugging me that much' date=' I'm just curious. I like it and I'm going to keep on playing it no matter who built it =P~

 

The most curious thing about it is the missing logo on the headstock. All pre- or post-lawsuit models I could find still have the logo (whether that would be Ibanez or Lyle or Ventura...).

 

The tuners and V-shape colouring on the back of the headstock make would it an Ibanez, the pointed part where the neck and body join would make it an early one, the Gibson "moustache" would make it a pre-lawsuite model (i.e. pre 1976), no serial # anywhere either...

 

Just the missing of any kind of identification makes it a mystery...[/quote']

 

the logos could have been a result of the lawsuits that gibson filed against them...

 

during the time when they were actually trying to pass themselves off as gibsons i would imagine they would prefer no headstock logo in order to help facilitate the copy!

 

you cant mistake a ventura for a gibson...but you could possibly a no name for a gibson!

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  • 11 years later...

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