Is more better? (1967 Kent Model 742 Electric Guitar)

Who among us doesn’t relate to Nigel Tufnel in This Is Spinal Tap when he tried to explain to “Meathead” that having an 11 on his amp made it louder than – and hence superior to – one having a mere 10? That’s just how I felt back in the day when, after nearly two decades of owning one – that’s only one – guitar, a classical, I decided I ought to get an electric guitar again. Who could have known how slippery that slope would turn out to be?! This was back in the days before the internet and eBay, when there were little shops in out-of-the-way places where you could find used (they weren’t even “vintage” yet) guitars. In the front would be nice, expensive guitars by Martin or Gibson or some other premier company. Then tucked away at the back of the rack would be the goofballs, guitars of unknown origin with strange names and often stranger looks. That was where I got hooked, at the back of the rack.

Vintage 1967 Kent Model 742 Electric Guitar

Vintage 1967 Kent Model 742 Electric Guitar

I met my Waterloo at a place called The Trading Post at the Pennsauken Mart, one of those East Coast predecessors to the modern mall, made of cinderblock and full of exotic stalls. But instead of Penney’s and Victoria’s Secret, you would find a butcher, gun shop, Polish imports, dollar stores, short-order counters, and the Trading Post, a kind of quasi pawn shop where you sold stuff, but couldn’t retrieve it unless you bought it back. Almost by instinct I threaded my way past the Fender Strats to the back where I saw this Kent guitar. It had a gorgeous burled maple front and back and really cool black and white celluloid on the sides, giving it the cachet of an ancient Baroque guitar. It even had a real Bigsby. But best of all, it had 4 – count ‘em, four – pickups! It had to be better than one with just three! And, at $89, it was priced right.

Vintage 1967 Kent Model 742 Electric Guitar

Vintage 1967 Kent Model 742 Electric Guitar

But where the heck did this guitar come from? I learned later it was a Kent Model 742, made in Japan in 1967. Kent was the brand name used by Buegeleisen & Jacobson (B&J), once a major music distributor in New York City. B&J was one of the early companies to begin importing musical goods from Japan in 1960, starting with microphones and aftermarket pickups, and adding guitars in 1962. By the time this Model 742 was built the guitars had graduated from relatively primitive mahogany planks to sophisticated laminates and trim. Earlier Kents were made by Guyatone, but it’s unknown who created this glam job.

Vintage 1967 Kent Model 742 Electric Guitar

Vintage 1967 Kent Model 742 Electric Guitar

The Model 742 is a beaut. But do the four pickups make it better? Well, alas, poor Nigel, more is not necessarily better, except maybe in the looks department. Indeed, these admittedly handsome pickup units just may have been the worst ever produced! Plus the guitar is wired so that playing all of them decreases further the already crappy output, making the onboard mute switch kind of superfluous! And, maybe they could have used some help on the truss rod design. Ok, so the Kent won’t power my Ventures tribute band. But if its fancy burl, Baroque rally stripes, and especially four pickups hadn’t grabbed me from the back of the rack that day in Pennsauken, New Jersey, I’d never have discovered my love for bizarre guitars and begun my long journey into the dark recesses of guitar history. That makes this Kent an 11 on my list!

Comments

  1. George Hovey says

    I had this guitar when I was 14 years old. First axe I owned, bought by my Mother at “Metro Music” in Lowell, MA. I have to admit it sounded awful but what did I know at the time. It was a beaut…4 pickups, nice finish, etc…I always wondered if anyone else had one of these.

    thanks for the memories..

  2. DAVID BROWN says

    Hi,
    Got a real nice hollow body electric DAIMARU AND SEEN ONE IN A YOUTUBE VIDEO WITH JOHN OF THE BEATLES PLAYING THE SAME MODEL I HAVE BUT I JUST CANNOT SEEN TO FIND OUT MUCH INFORMATION ON THEM, THEY WERE NOT A CHEAP MADE GUITAR AND IT HAVE MOTHER OF PEARLS INLAID FRETT MARKERS AND IS A THIN REALLY NICE SWEET SOUNDING GUITAR. I CAN SEND YOU PICTURES IS YOU WOULD LIKE .
    i WAS JUST WONDERING IS YOU KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT THESE . I KNOW ABOUT THE DAIMARU STORE IN JAPAN AND THESE WERE MADE IN JAPAN . THE NUMBER ON IT IS 2167735 WITH DAIMARU ON THE TOP OF THE NECK IN BETWEEN KEYS .
    THANKS
    DAVE

  3. DAVID BROWN says

    HI,

    GOT A REAL NICE EARLY 1970’s KENT ELECTRIC, LES PAUL MODEL NUMBER KE3B AND IT IS THE BLACK BEAUTY MODEL SO SWEET SOUNDING AND EASY TO PLAY .
    WANT TO SEE PIC’S EMAIL ME AT davesbizz@aol.com

    p.s….. can you sent me pic’s of your #742
    thanks
    dave

  4. Brian E. Fairfax says

    I have a lemon/white Model 6538 i just discovered in a dingy and dark pawn shop . Had my lutherian friend do some work …basically cleanup the electronics and the intonation It is a 3 pickup model with a bgsby like whammy bar….3 volume and 3 tone controls and separate on off switches for the pickups and a not sure what it does 4th switch. Plays fast and sweetly in mint condition.The shop owner told me it was only good to hang on a wall and priced it accordingly :) E mail me at the4faxes@shaw.ca for pics of it and my Vintage Aria Diamond 335 beauties.

  5. DAVE says

    hi,
    got a nice Vintage Aria Diamond electric hollow body. let me know if you’d like to see it . still got my nice 1960’s kent KE3B with the case it was sold in . great shape and plays sweet .SEE IT AND MY OLDER TELSTAR ELECTRIC BLACK BEAUTY ,SOLID BODY AT daves-antiques-collectables

    THANKS
    DAVE

  6. dave says

    yea , he would say something like that because he does not have one to hang on his wall . dont let him fool you into giving that guitar away fir nothing . , maybe he should be hung on the wall .

    your friend ,
    DAVE

  7. JohnyP says

    I have a two pickup model in sunburst that I bought with a Epiphone amp from an old blues player. Needs restoring but the open back amp was full of stuff. Sheet music, cords, picks. Oh…and a 1967 Vox wah. NICE!

  8. says

    I had this exact guitar (1980s) except in bright red. Looked very cool, and yes, I had to turn everything up to 15 just to get a worthy sound. It was my second on-stage guitar in case I busted an E string…..which I did at a major gig and had to finish out the set with this beast. Quite a workout to get to get any kind of tone. Heavy as hell, I used it often a slide guitar when we did our Elmore James stuff.

  9. Thomas says

    Love it! Grabbed my first four-pickup Teisco, an ET440, from a store in the corner of the Pennsauken Mart back in the ’70s. Despite my visual love affair years later with my 742, I sold it a few years back (along with my Kent 820) after reading your article(s), which verified my suspicions about the pickups. Still have my Blonde 740 though. The wood, and weight, reminds me of my school desk from 6th grade. It’s a keeper.

  10. MIster Coffee says

    I must respectfully disagree with your assessment of the sound. I have one of these (mine has its original Kent-branded tremelo mechanism — yours looks like a Bigsby-type replacement) and it gets a whole range of great tones. A couple of my faves are the bridge and neck together (a rock-a-billy-ish plunk similar to using both pups on a Mosrite) and the neck with its immediate neighbor (out of phase like a strat but mellower). The bridge pup by itself is like an edgy P-90, though not as hot.

    My two cents.

  11. TC says

    I got a couple nice things at the mart trading post back in the early 90s myself… I suspect there was a lot of great weird stuff that went through that place.

  12. Brian says

    Love ti see any pictures …will swap some of mine…Sorry missed your previous E mail
    Thanks brian

  13. Randy King says

    I owned a 1968 Goya Rangemaster Psychodelic from 1968 to 1980 and sold it and now kick myself daily. It is the same guitar (I am certain) you will see if you google Goya Rangemaster and click on images. It is one with the orange, yellow and red flowers and paisleys lying in it’s beautiful plush case. I’d love to talk to anyone who had one, saw one or played one and since Jimi Hendrix is dead (there is a famous pic of him on the same images page playing one of the other designs…upside down of course)I have not been able to find a SINGLE human being on the planet who can commiserate with me. If you are out there send me a message. We are undoubtedly a very small community of guitar players.

  14. Randy King says

    I also owned a Kent 12 string of the same vintage as the one shown on this page. I don’t even remember what happened to it. What we would do now with what we know. Crud.

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