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Model labels on early 70s Matsumoku Epiphones


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I wonder if someone can help me research a question on these Matsumoku Epiphones post 1969. I am looking at a potential purchase and need to do my homework first. If anyone owns one of these and can post a picture of the paper label inside I will be grateful. Casinos, Sheratons and Rivieras are of interest. Its a long shot maybe but thanks in advance.

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Hi

 

Can't help you with the label but to be honest if you're looking to buy an Epiphone semi you'd be better off to buy a new model rather than one of the 70's models. The 70's Epiphones were pretty poor examples, with bolt on necks and very average pickups. I know some people love them but I think the general concensus is that they really aren't up to the Korean or Chinese made models.

 

JG

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No lable indications, but:

 

Matsumoku

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Matsumoku Industrial was established around 1900 as a woodworking manufacturer of various items but is best known as a manufacturer of high quality guitars and bass guitars.

 

 

1983 Aria Pro II, PE-R100Contents [hide]

1 History

2 Production

3 Aria

4 Epiphone

5 Distinguishing characteristics

6 End of Production

7 External links

 

 

[edit] History

Matsumoku began in Matsumoto, Japan, as a family owned woodworking business that specialized in building tansu and butsudan. Shortly after WWII, the Singer Corporation established the Singer Sewing Machine Company, Japan, and set up production facilities in Nagoya. Matsumoku Industrial was contracted to build its sewing machine cabinets, and in 1951, became a partially owned subsidiary of Singer, Japan. Matsumoku also built amplifier cabinets, speaker boxes and wooden cabinets for audio and television makers.

 

[edit] Production

 

Cutler Headstock

Label in Westone soundholeBy the mid 1950s, Matsumoku began to look into other woodworking markets and, as it had on its staff several skilled luthiers, ventured into guitar and violin production. Modest classical guitars, small steel stringed acoustic guitars, and violins were built and marketed. However, as other Japanese companies were producing similar instruments, Matsumoku set out to distinguished itself by producing high quality acoustic and electric archtop guitars. Several of Matsumoku's early archtop guitars survive, most owing their basic designs to Hofner, Framus, and Gibson. By the early 1960s, Matsumoku had acquired new mills, lathes and specialized presses and began to increase musical instrument production. Combined with its staff of skilled craftsmen, Matsumoku was able to mass produce guitars of high quality.

 

However, because it mainly manufactured guitars under contract, the role of Matsumoku was largely unknown outside of Japan's guitar making circles until its name began appearing on neck bolt plates, headstocks, and sound hole labels in the late 70s.

 

 

Matsumoku produced guitars, or parts of guitars, for Vox, Guyatone, FujiGen Gakki, Kanda Shokai (Greco), Hoshino Gakki, Nippon Gakki (Yamaha,) Aria, and Norlin (parent company of Gibson.) American owned Unicord contracted Matsumoku to build most of its Univox and Westbury guitars. St. Louis Music Company imported Matsumoku built Electra guitars. J. C. Penney sold Matsumoku built Skylark guitars through its catalog division. Matsumoku built many early Greco guitars as well as Vantage, Westminster, Cutler, Lyle, Fell, and no-name copies of Gibson and Fender guitars and basses. Washburn Guitars contracted Matusmoku to build most of its electric guitars from 1979 through 1985.

 

In 1979, Matsumoku began to market its own guitars under the Westone name.

 

By the early 1970s, Matsumoku had begun using CNC mills, routers, and lathes, one of the first guitar makers to do so. Even so, 60% of the guitar making process was still done by hand including planing, fretting, joining, and assembly. This machine cut, yet hand worked process yielded high quality instruments with unique character.

 

[edit] Aria

 

Aria Pro II, TS-600 with elaborate pickup switching

Back of TS-600 showing 5 piece neck through bodyShiro Arai founded Arai and Company in 1953 as an importer of classical guitars. In 1960, Arai contracted Guyatone to manufacture guitars. At the time, Guyatone was one of Japan's leading musical instrument manufacturers. However, Guyatone could not meet Arai's production requirements, and in 1964, Arai and Company contracted musical instrument manufacturing with Matsumoku.

 

Shiro Arai's early Guyatone produced guitars displayed problems when exported mainly caused by the dryer climates in America: bindings became unglued, backs split, and necks broke just below the headstock. These issues were addressed early on with Matsumoku. The solution was to use wood that had been dried for at least two years, stronger glues with longer clamp times, and one feature that remained throughout Matsumoku's production: the 3 piece maple neck.

 

The relationship between the two companies was both amicable and symbiotic. Aria focused on sales in both domestic and export markets and provided design development. Matsumoku devoted its energies on engineering and building guitars and other stringed instruments. Throughout its 22 year business relationship, Aria remained Matsumoku’s principal client. Matsumoku often preferred using Aria as its business agent, and many of Matsumoku's contracts were written by Aria with Matsumoku stated or implied as sub-contracted manufacturer.

 

Design engineer Nobuaki Hayashi (currently with Atlansia) became part of Matsumoku's engineering team in the mid 1970s. Hayashi's pseudonym, "H. Noble," appeared on many of the Aria Pro II instruments he designed. Aria's guitars that followed showed remarkable design innovation and a definitive move away from Gibson and Fender forms. Hayashi is best known as the designer of the Aria Pro II, SB-1000 bass and the Aria Pro II, PE series guitars.

 

Arai and Company guitars were briefly labeled Arai, and then switched to the familiar Aria around 1966. Aria Diamond was a name chosen for its early hollow bodied electric guitars. From 1975 onward, after the arrival of Hayashi, all guitars were labeled Aria Pro II. Aria had two factories that produced guitars besides Matsumoku, one which made classical guitars, and another that made medium grade and specialty guitars.

 

[edit] Epiphone

 

1983 Epiphone Casino, made by MatsumokuGibson decided to move Epiphone production to Japan in the early 70s, and chose Aria as its contractor. As a subcontractor to Aria, Matsumoku manufactured most electric Epiphones made in Japan from 1970 through 1986 (a few solid body electrics were made by other Japanese manufacturers and at least one model was made in Taiwan.) Models include the solid body ET series (Crestwood) the SC series (Scroll) and the Model 1140 (Flying V) as well as Epiphone's archtop electric guitars: 5102T/EA-250, Sheraton, Riviera, Casino, and Emperor.

 

Early Matsumoku made Epiphone archtops had bolt on necks. While production costs of bolt on neck guitars were less, guitarists regarded them as inferior instruments. Set neck archtop guitars followed in late 1975. Specifications on Epiphone archtops changed throughout the Matsumoku era.

 

Interestingly, Gibson changed the look and sound of Epiphone's best selling archtop, the Casino, when production shifted to Japan. Upon its introduction in 1964, the Casino was a strong seller with rock guitarists, but sales stalled in the late 60s. Gibson decided to remarket it toward jazz players and changed the tailpiece to one from a Riviera, and the pickups to mini-humbuckers. The result was a Casino that looked more like a short scale Riviera. The Casino was restored to its 1965 specifications around 1975, about the same time Matsumoku began production of set neck archtops.

[edit] Distinguishing characteristics

 

Back of Aria Pro II, CSB-400 showing 3 piece maple neck.Many Matsumoku built guitars, including Epiphone archtops, utilized a 3 piece maple neck with the center section's grain oriented 90 degrees from the side wood. This created a very strong neck not prone to splitting or warping. An often used variation of this is the 5 piece neck with two thin trim strips of walnut or ebony separating the 3 sections. Matsumoku made many neck-through-body solid body electric guitars and basses, most with 5 piece necks.

 

Matsumoku often utilized the Nisshin Onpa company who own the Maxon brand as a subcontractor for its pickups. Some Maxon pickups have Maxon's "M" logo stamped on the back.

 

The name Matsumoku appeared on the neck bolt plate of some guitars they built. Early Grecos and some 80s Aria Pro IIs have Matsumoku on the neck bolt plate. Other neck plates were blank or simply had the word "Japan" stamped on them.

 

Many Matsumoku set neck guitars and basses have the inspector's hon (name stamp) stamped inside the neck pick-up cavity.

 

[edit] End of Production

 

1983 Epiphone Casino, Hon (Name Stamp) "Kuro" - likely the name of the inspector. "78" is production number and not year.Gibson restructured after being sold by Norlin, and began to move its Epiphone production to other Japanese manufacturers and to Korea. By 1986, the home sewing machine market was in heavy decline and Singer was nearly bankrupt. Matsumoku could not afford to buy itself out of Singer and in 1987, closed down.

 

After Matsumoku ceased operations, Aria continued production of Aria Pro II guitars and basses through its own factories and other manufactures. Some top line and special edition guitars are still manufactured in Japan, however, most Aria guitars are now produced in Korea and China.

 

Information about Matsumoku's contribution to guitar making is better known now due in large part to the Internet. Matsumoku's products enjoy a strong following among devoted enthusiasts.

 

Players of Matsumoku guitars: Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Univox Hi-Flyer guitars, John Taylor of Duran Duran, Aria Pro II SB-1000 bass, Cliff Burton of Metallica, Aria Pro II SB-1000 bass, Elvin Bishop, Electra Model 2281, Neal Schon, Aria Pro II PE series guitars (several models.)

 

Note: There is often confusion between Matsumoku and Matsumoto. Matsumoto is a town in Japan's Nagano Prefecture where FujiGen Gakki, Gotoh, and other musical instrument companies have manufacturing plants. Matsumoto Musical Instrument Manufacturers Association is also the name of musical instrument manufacturing cooperative headed by Gotoh.

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Thanks

I have this information and most everything else on the web about these, the guitar I found seems to be something of an anomaly. As to the earlier comment, I would probably disagree - I already own a 1974 Matsumoku 'Casino'' and it is a brilliant player, thus my continued interest. It is worth noting that at this time 60% of the building process at Matsumoku was still done by hand, something the Japanese were much better at than the Americans at that time, although American craftsmanship has improved dramatically. It is true that sometimes the electronics on these are inferior, but mine and others I have heard sound just fine.

 

Here is a video link to a Matsumoku model - probably the date is wrong though as the Rivieras were not in production by Matsumoku from 1971-1975.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmEw4BXGFTM&feature=related -

this might in fact be a Casino, as they looked identical to the Matsumoku Rivieras with the exception of the absence of a center block inside, and they were built in 1974.

 

What I cannot find in my searching is pix of the labels of that era - the one on my Casino has fallen off, and most folks don't show them in their pride photos.

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The one I was looking at has exceeded a reasonable price - there are some very curious things happening with the bidding. That zero bidder seems really keen.....

http://cgi.ebay.com/RARE-VINTAGE-1970-EPIPHONE-RIVIERA-E-250-GUITAR-NO-RES_W0QQitemZ280432690857QQcmdZViewItemQQptZGuitar?hash=item414b1746a9#ht_934wt_975

 

As soon as I see a zero bidder being that agressive on a high ticket item, I walk away. The seller has set a reserve but doesn't want to pay ebay the required fee. You'll never get the item at a decent price from that seller.

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  • 9 years later...

Matsumoku was the manufacturer of many high quality guitars under various names.  Since this post was started, much more information has surfaced.

http://www.vantage-guitars.com/m-history-02/

In the late 60s/early 70s,  new Matsumoku guitars were priced the same as Gibson.  Not only did they produce Epiphone guitars, but also supplied parts for Gibson.  

Because they were a subcontractor, Matsumoku's are not well known and their price on the vintage market is artificially low. 

The best example would be the 5202T which is a hollow body version of the Gibson semi-hollow Trini Lopez.  This guitar was only available from Matsumoku.

 

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I would disagree that the prices of matsu guitars are artificially low. That would imply that the prices are being kept low on purpose to spur sales, which doesn't really work on the used market because there is no one entity deciding the value. Prices of 60s and 70s matsu guitars are generally low because much of the quality from that era of Japanese export guitars was low. But nowadays, those same guitars are creeping up in price, probably due to nostalgia. The 5102t had problematic necks and neck joints that were well known and the resale prices have generally reflected that until recently. The 5202t may have been a better guitar, I don't know for sure, but if the prices were oddly low, it was because of quality perception thanks to guitars like the 5102t and other low end Epiphones of the time.  And I envoke Epiphone because those are the matsumoku that most if us in the states were exposed to until the online used market cane into existence. That and stuff like Teisco and other low end brands sold for export to the US. Thats my take on it.

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Like most guitar companies, Matsumoku had its high and low end guitars.   Granada guitars were made by Matsumoku for sale in Canada, and they are not well known in the U.S.

The high end Granada 5202T was priced $150 new in 1969; this would  equate to $1,060 today ( https://www.dollartimes.com/inflation/inflation.php?amount=150&year=1969 ).


Yet the 5202T in the video above was sold recently by L.A. Music (https://www.lamusic.com/products/vintage5202t-used ) for $350 + $69 shipping ( https://reverb.com/item/1299659-vintage-granada-arch-top-electric-guitar-model-5202t-used ).  Realistically, this guitar should be worth about $2,000.  The person in the video got the 5202T at bargain price.

 

With its binding around the diamond holes, the 5202T is better looking than the 2014 Gibson Trini Lopez reissue, which is currently priced at $3,000 (https://reverb.com/p/gibson-trini-lopez-memphis-model-cherry-2014 ).  Let's hope the 2019 Trini Lopez has binding around the diamond holes.

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  • 1 year later...

I haven't posted anything for quite a while; I've been busy and have a life.  Others have complained when old threads are resurrected, but I like to see the history of a posted topic.  If you don't like it, don't read it.  There is too much hate in the world, and just like in the 1960's, all you need is love.  That being said I'll get off my soapbox, and with a nod to Stan Lee, get to the point.

While browsing old guitar forums on the best of Japan, ( https://www.guitarscanada.com/threads/the-best-of-japan.58548/page-3#post-589179 ) I came across an interesting post by "musickiller" in December 2014 (edited for spelling) about Granada hollow-bodies that describes exactly how I feel about my sunburst 5202T.

I have a Granada Thin Hollow-body with Starburst finish I bought back in the 80's. If you are trying to find its (Granada) linage, you have to remember Granada was shut down by Gibson. No disrespect implied towards Gibson, they were protecting their works. Therefore, the name / company Granada was banished in whole, of the face of the planet (Earth).
The guitar, from a techno point of view is phenominal. The strings wear faster then the guitar will loose tuning. The perfect stage guitar.
You can bend the neck in the middle of a song and she just bounces back. WoW!!!
Like the Gibson ES Guitar, she screams easily. I have used this ability (deficiency) as a trait, not a disadvantage. I play the guitar still and will not sell it for anything short of a Gretsch Country Gentleman" or Gibson ES HOLLOW body equivalent. I paid $898 for it new back in 1980. Even now, anything short of $ 6k would be an insult.
What would you pay here in 2014 for a guitar like this? Oh, don't bother making me an offer. She is like a good woman, or a Best Friend (if you shine her up every once in a while)...

A dirty little secret is that Matsumoku actually made Epiphones for Gibson in the early 1970's.  When the quality of these guitars exceeded the Gibsons upon which they were based, this alarmed Gibson enough to shut Matsumoku down.  The 5202T is a hollow-body Trini Lopez that Gibson never produced.  Due to the age of the pickups I've had to replace mine with Seymour Duncans, and have refused unsolicited offers from others to purchase it once they see my 5202T.  Hint to Gibson, you would be wise to make new Epiphone 5202T's with tremolo bar.  This would be different enough from the Trini Lopez so that it would not compete with it, and if priced around $2,500-$3,000 would be unique and a best seller.  Your customer service rep took my recommendation in November 2018 for Gibson to revive the Trini Lopez (I have the documentation to prove it, although I think it's prohibitively expensive), so you would do well to do follow my advice again with the Epiphone 5202T.

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"A dirty little secret is that Matsumoku actually made Epiphones for Gibson in the early 1970's.  When the quality of these guitars exceeded the Gibsons upon which they were based, this alarmed Gibson enough to shut Matsumoku down.  The 5202T is a hollow-body Trini Lopez that Gibson never produced.  Due to the age of the pickups I've had to replace mine with Seymour Duncans, and have refused unsolicited offers from others to purchase it once they see my 5202T.  Hint to Gibson, you would be wise to make new Epiphone 5202T's with tremolo bar.  This would be different enough from the Trini Lopez so that it would not compete with it, and if priced around $2,500-$3,000 would be unique and a best seller.  Your customer service rep took my recommendation in November 2018 for Gibson to revive the Trini Lopez (I have the documentation to prove it, although I think it's prohibitively expensive), so you would do well to do follow my advice again with the Epiphone 5202T."

Dirty little secret? It's  Epiphone History 101 that with the arrival of the Norlin era on December 19,1969 it was decided that it was no longer economically viable to attempt to compete with a saturated guitar market without an import tier guitar line to compete with the huge influx of Japanese imports while also supporting a second domestic line that had effectively become redundant. The bean counters at Norlin decided to cease domestic production of Epiphone and use the brand to sell a line of imports. Norlin had no manufacturing facilities in Japan so in 1970 they contracted with Matsumoto Mokkou to sell re-branded Aria models with superficial cosmetic changes as these new Epiphones.  As well as Aria guitars Matsumoto Mokkou made guitars under many brands including Greco and Arai Diamond. About 1970 Kanda Shokai  (who had owned Arai and Greco guitars) who was making a name for himself in Japan producing high quality Gibson knock offs contracted with Matsumoto Mokkou to manufacture some of his Les Paul  type of guitars under the Greco brand. The following year Matsumoto Mokkou shortened the name of his company to Matsumoku and began making the import line for Epiphone using the Aria guitar templates  (and even using the Aria nomenclature for the first year of Japanese Epiphones (1971) ) Just for accuracy's sake these Japanese Epiphones not only didn't they exceed Gibson quality, they weren't even very good Japanese imports. By the way, the model number for the Arai Diamond (Aria) Trini Lopez was 1232T...and Gibson NEVER shut down Matsumoku (the **** people pull out of their asses)...In fact, in 1974 Gibson recognizing the quality of the Greco Les Pauls then created Epiphone Japan and contracted with Matsumoku to create a near-Gibson quality level of Epiphones manufactured in Japan (Gibson had been precluded from selling their USA products in Japan due to taxes and import tariffs) as a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) exclusive line. This was somewhat successful and by 1980 the line had global distribution. Unfortunately due to the Japanese economy (over 25% inflation in the mid 70s) many manufacturing concerns went searching for cheaper productions costs. While the JDM Epiphone line remained in Japan much of their other production moved to Korea. One of the victims of the Japanese economic downturn was Singer Sewing Machine Japan which had been entwined with Matsumoku since when they made cabinets for the Singer machines going back to the 1950s.  By 1986 Japanese Epiphone production ceased and in 1987 Singer went bankrupt. Fortunately Gibson, which was also on the verge of bankruptcy, was purchased by Henry J and Company who contracted with Samick in Korea to revitalize Epiphone. At about the same time the JDM Epiphones were resuscitated when Terada and Fuji-gen  took over manufacturing in 1988. Now, concerning the Gibson Trini Lopez. In 1974 a girlfriend, my best friend (who had previously been the girlfriend's boyfriend-what can I say? It was the 70s) and I were in a music shop where my friend was buying an ES-335. He'd made his decision and they were taking care of business when she turned to me and said:"What are you buying?" I said:"nothing, I don't have any money at present for a new guitar". At this point she said:"You have to get a new guitar too. What do you want? How about that red one you guys were looking at? I like that one. Let me buy you that one." My friend and I were exchanging some very awkward looks because we both knew what she was doing. She was ingratiating herself with me while rubbing his nose in it. I finally said "No" and she used the "If you don't let me buy it for you I'll be very hurt". She then went to get the guy to bring that guitar back out and my friend says to me "Don't be an idiot. Let her buy you the guitar. I'm cool with it". So that day I became the owner of a cherry red 1966 Gibson Trini Lopez. My friend and I had what we called a "left handed compliment" about it.."It's a great blues guitar" (tongue firmly planted in cheek). I was so happy when the girl and I broke up about a year and a half later and within two week I traded it in on a Fender Super Reverb amp lol.. To say I hated the guitar would be too strong so let's just say I liked it very, very little.. I highly doubt your recommendation had anything with the Dave Grohl/Trini reissue that came out in 2014 if memory serves me. As far as the Dave's World of Fun Stuff "Granada" No mystery at all. Granada was one of a myriad brands Matsumoku guitars were sold under world wide. Granada was a UK brand...distributed by Dallas London a large musical instrument concern in the UK such as Selmer and Boosey & Hawkes who re-branded and sold instruments under their brands. If the guy paid $900 in 1980 for that there's probably a future for him being Trump's press secretary because he's either delusional, lying, or both. I bought a brand new white 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom in early 1975 and paid $600...$900 for an Asian knock off?? I don't think so. Also, you can't really adjust for inflation what the early 70s Epiphones et al sold for back then and how much that would be today because you can get a far, far superior guitar for the adjusted amount to what the 70s guitars were. There are those who'd like to believe these are some desired collectible but at the end of the day they are what they are. Sure, some premium for nostalgia but a thousand bucks today gets you an incredible guitar. I give Epiphone full credit for creating that situation.

 
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  • 1 year later...
On 1/10/2021 at 9:39 PM, Gralst said:

"A dirty little secret is that Matsumoku actually made Epiphones for Gibson in the early 1970's.  When the quality of these guitars exceeded the Gibsons upon which they were based, this alarmed Gibson enough to shut Matsumoku down.  The 5202T is a hollow-body Trini Lopez that Gibson never produced.  Due to the age of the pickups I've had to replace mine with Seymour Duncans, and have refused unsolicited offers from others to purchase it once they see my 5202T.  Hint to Gibson, you would be wise to make new Epiphone 5202T's with tremolo bar.  This would be different enough from the Trini Lopez so that it would not compete with it, and if priced around $2,500-$3,000 would be unique and a best seller.  Your customer service rep took my recommendation in November 2018 for Gibson to revive the Trini Lopez (I have the documentation to prove it, although I think it's prohibitively expensive), so you would do well to do follow my advice again with the Epiphone 5202T."

Dirty little secret? It's  Epiphone History 101 that with the arrival of the Norlin era on December 19,1969 it was decided that it was no longer economically viable to attempt to compete with a saturated guitar market without an import tier guitar line to compete with the huge influx of Japanese imports while also supporting a second domestic line that had effectively become redundant. The bean counters at Norlin decided to cease domestic production of Epiphone and use the brand to sell a line of imports. Norlin had no manufacturing facilities in Japan so in 1970 they contracted with Matsumoto Mokkou to sell re-branded Aria models with superficial cosmetic changes as these new Epiphones.  As well as Aria guitars Matsumoto Mokkou made guitars under many brands including Greco and Arai Diamond. About 1970 Kanda Shokai  (who had owned Arai and Greco guitars) who was making a name for himself in Japan producing high quality Gibson knock offs contracted with Matsumoto Mokkou to manufacture some of his Les Paul  type of guitars under the Greco brand. The following year Matsumoto Mokkou shortened the name of his company to Matsumoku and began making the import line for Epiphone using the Aria guitar templates  (and even using the Aria nomenclature for the first year of Japanese Epiphones (1971) ) Just for accuracy's sake these Japanese Epiphones not only didn't they exceed Gibson quality, they weren't even very good Japanese imports. By the way, the model number for the Arai Diamond (Aria) Trini Lopez was 1232T...and Gibson NEVER shut down Matsumoku (the **** people pull out of their asses)...In fact, in 1974 Gibson recognizing the quality of the Greco Les Pauls then created Epiphone Japan and contracted with Matsumoku to create a near-Gibson quality level of Epiphones manufactured in Japan (Gibson had been precluded from selling their USA products in Japan due to taxes and import tariffs) as a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) exclusive line. This was somewhat successful and by 1980 the line had global distribution. Unfortunately due to the Japanese economy (over 25% inflation in the mid 70s) many manufacturing concerns went searching for cheaper productions costs. While the JDM Epiphone line remained in Japan much of their other production moved to Korea. One of the victims of the Japanese economic downturn was Singer Sewing Machine Japan which had been entwined with Matsumoku since when they made cabinets for the Singer machines going back to the 1950s.  By 1986 Japanese Epiphone production ceased and in 1987 Singer went bankrupt. Fortunately Gibson, which was also on the verge of bankruptcy, was purchased by Henry J and Company who contracted with Samick in Korea to revitalize Epiphone. At about the same time the JDM Epiphones were resuscitated when Terada and Fuji-gen  took over manufacturing in 1988. Now, concerning the Gibson Trini Lopez. In 1974 a girlfriend, my best friend (who had previously been the girlfriend's boyfriend-what can I say? It was the 70s) and I were in a music shop where my friend was buying an ES-335. He'd made his decision and they were taking care of business when she turned to me and said:"What are you buying?" I said:"nothing, I don't have any money at present for a new guitar". At this point she said:"You have to get a new guitar too. What do you want? How about that red one you guys were looking at? I like that one. Let me buy you that one." My friend and I were exchanging some very awkward looks because we both knew what she was doing. She was ingratiating herself with me while rubbing his nose in it. I finally said "No" and she used the "If you don't let me buy it for you I'll be very hurt". She then went to get the guy to bring that guitar back out and my friend says to me "Don't be an idiot. Let her buy you the guitar. I'm cool with it". So that day I became the owner of a cherry red 1966 Gibson Trini Lopez. My friend and I had what we called a "left handed compliment" about it.."It's a great blues guitar" (tongue firmly planted in cheek). I was so happy when the girl and I broke up about a year and a half later and within two week I traded it in on a Fender Super Reverb amp lol.. To say I hated the guitar would be too strong so let's just say I liked it very, very little.. I highly doubt your recommendation had anything with the Dave Grohl/Trini reissue that came out in 2014 if memory serves me. As far as the Dave's World of Fun Stuff "Granada" No mystery at all. Granada was one of a myriad brands Matsumoku guitars were sold under world wide. Granada was a UK brand...distributed by Dallas London a large musical instrument concern in the UK such as Selmer and Boosey & Hawkes who re-branded and sold instruments under their brands. If the guy paid $900 in 1980 for that there's probably a future for him being Trump's press secretary because he's either delusional, lying, or both. I bought a brand new white 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom in early 1975 and paid $600...$900 for an Asian knock off?? I don't think so. Also, you can't really adjust for inflation what the early 70s Epiphones et al sold for back then and how much that would be today because you can get a far, far superior guitar for the adjusted amount to what the 70s guitars were. There are those who'd like to believe these are some desired collectible but at the end of the day they are what they are. Sure, some premium for nostalgia but a thousand bucks today gets you an incredible guitar. I give Epiphone full credit for creating that situation.

 

Fantastic post with perfect historical review.  Folks who wax poetically over early 70's bolt neck Matsumoku hollow's and semi-hollows as Gibson killers crack me up.  Are they cool guitars?  Hell yeah, I've owned several. But are they high quality superior vintage instruments?  Not even close.  Now the later built set neck Matsumoku Riviera, Casinos, and Sheratons were and remain super high quality guitars and are gaining a following and increasing in value.  They really were truly hand made with superior construction techniques such as non-kerfed solid linings which is more difficult to apply and takes longer and more precision,  but provides a stronger sides but less contact area of the top and back and subsequently better resonance per some expert luthiers.  Matsumoku's own brand, Westone,  produced similar quality semi-hollow guitars under the Rainbow model but these weren't produced until the early 80's and had a pretty short run since they were to go under a few years later.  Somewhat ironically, even in the 60's when japanese import guitars were generally kitschy crap (sorry Teisco fans) Japan had luthiers capable of building Set Neck very high quality hollow body guitars.  Check out Yamaha SA line.  These things were built incredibly well and most still great players some 55 years later.  The pickups were an engineering marvel as well with like a p90ish sound but rounder.  They were actually a humbucker but with a large main coil and much smaller second coil so no hum but able to get single coil sounds with he best of them.  I don't know if anyone stole this design and makes similar boutique pups now but if they haven't they should because those pups are amazingly versatile.     

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On 1/10/2021 at 7:39 PM, Gralst said:

"A dirty little secret is that Matsumoku actually made Epiphones for Gibson in the early 1970's.  When the quality of these guitars exceeded the Gibsons upon which they were based, this alarmed Gibson enough to shut Matsumoku down.  The 5202T is a hollow-body Trini Lopez that Gibson never produced.  Due to the age of the pickups I've had to replace mine with Seymour Duncans, and have refused unsolicited offers from others to purchase it once they see my 5202T.  Hint to Gibson, you would be wise to make new Epiphone 5202T's with tremolo bar.  This would be different enough from the Trini Lopez so that it would not compete with it, and if priced around $2,500-$3,000 would be unique and a best seller.  Your customer service rep took my recommendation in November 2018 for Gibson to revive the Trini Lopez (I have the documentation to prove it, although I think it's prohibitively expensive), so you would do well to do follow my advice again with the Epiphone 5202T."

Dirty little secret? It's  Epiphone History 101 that with the arrival of the Norlin era on December 19,1969 it was decided that it was no longer economically viable to attempt to compete with a saturated guitar market without an import tier guitar line to compete with the huge influx of Japanese imports while also supporting a second domestic line that had effectively become redundant. The bean counters at Norlin decided to cease domestic production of Epiphone and use the brand to sell a line of imports. Norlin had no manufacturing facilities in Japan so in 1970 they contracted with Matsumoto Mokkou to sell re-branded Aria models with superficial cosmetic changes as these new Epiphones.  As well as Aria guitars Matsumoto Mokkou made guitars under many brands including Greco and Arai Diamond. About 1970 Kanda Shokai  (who had owned Arai and Greco guitars) who was making a name for himself in Japan producing high quality Gibson knock offs contracted with Matsumoto Mokkou to manufacture some of his Les Paul  type of guitars under the Greco brand. The following year Matsumoto Mokkou shortened the name of his company to Matsumoku and began making the import line for Epiphone using the Aria guitar templates  (and even using the Aria nomenclature for the first year of Japanese Epiphones (1971) ) Just for accuracy's sake these Japanese Epiphones not only didn't they exceed Gibson quality, they weren't even very good Japanese imports. By the way, the model number for the Arai Diamond (Aria) Trini Lopez was 1232T...and Gibson NEVER shut down Matsumoku (the **** people pull out of their asses)...In fact, in 1974 Gibson recognizing the quality of the Greco Les Pauls then created Epiphone Japan and contracted with Matsumoku to create a near-Gibson quality level of Epiphones manufactured in Japan (Gibson had been precluded from selling their USA products in Japan due to taxes and import tariffs) as a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) exclusive line. This was somewhat successful and by 1980 the line had global distribution. Unfortunately due to the Japanese economy (over 25% inflation in the mid 70s) many manufacturing concerns went searching for cheaper productions costs. While the JDM Epiphone line remained in Japan much of their other production moved to Korea. One of the victims of the Japanese economic downturn was Singer Sewing Machine Japan which had been entwined with Matsumoku since when they made cabinets for the Singer machines going back to the 1950s.  By 1986 Japanese Epiphone production ceased and in 1987 Singer went bankrupt. Fortunately Gibson, which was also on the verge of bankruptcy, was purchased by Henry J and Company who contracted with Samick in Korea to revitalize Epiphone. At about the same time the JDM Epiphones were resuscitated when Terada and Fuji-gen  took over manufacturing in 1988. Now, concerning the Gibson Trini Lopez. In 1974 a girlfriend, my best friend (who had previously been the girlfriend's boyfriend-what can I say? It was the 70s) and I were in a music shop where my friend was buying an ES-335. He'd made his decision and they were taking care of business when she turned to me and said:"What are you buying?" I said:"nothing, I don't have any money at present for a new guitar". At this point she said:"You have to get a new guitar too. What do you want? How about that red one you guys were looking at? I like that one. Let me buy you that one." My friend and I were exchanging some very awkward looks because we both knew what she was doing. She was ingratiating herself with me while rubbing his nose in it. I finally said "No" and she used the "If you don't let me buy it for you I'll be very hurt". She then went to get the guy to bring that guitar back out and my friend says to me "Don't be an idiot. Let her buy you the guitar. I'm cool with it". So that day I became the owner of a cherry red 1966 Gibson Trini Lopez. My friend and I had what we called a "left handed compliment" about it.."It's a great blues guitar" (tongue firmly planted in cheek). I was so happy when the girl and I broke up about a year and a half later and within two week I traded it in on a Fender Super Reverb amp lol.. To say I hated the guitar would be too strong so let's just say I liked it very, very little.. I highly doubt your recommendation had anything with the Dave Grohl/Trini reissue that came out in 2014 if memory serves me. As far as the Dave's World of Fun Stuff "Granada" No mystery at all. Granada was one of a myriad brands Matsumoku guitars were sold under world wide. Granada was a UK brand...distributed by Dallas London a large musical instrument concern in the UK such as Selmer and Boosey & Hawkes who re-branded and sold instruments under their brands. If the guy paid $900 in 1980 for that there's probably a future for him being Trump's press secretary because he's either delusional, lying, or both. I bought a brand new white 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom in early 1975 and paid $600...$900 for an Asian knock off?? I don't think so. Also, you can't really adjust for inflation what the early 70s Epiphones et al sold for back then and how much that would be today because you can get a far, far superior guitar for the adjusted amount to what the 70s guitars were. There are those who'd like to believe these are some desired collectible but at the end of the day they are what they are. Sure, some premium for nostalgia but a thousand bucks today gets you an incredible guitar. I give Epiphone full credit for creating that situation.

 

That might explain these 70's Epiphones built with 21 frets and bolt-on necks, while very collectible not very good players with cheap hardware that looked like it came fro Teisco.

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Edited by mihcmac
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