1970’s Vintage Guitars

Two major issues defined the progress of electric guitars for most of the seventies. 1) Companies outside North America vastly improved the quality of their guitar manufacturing and 2) Companies inside North America – namely Fender and Gibson – took their eye off the ball and did exactly the opposite.

By this time, many guitar manufacturers from the Far East had 10+ years experience under their belts, and the improvement in quality began to shine through. Univox, Kawai, Silvertone and Domino were starting to deliver guitars that – from a price / quality point of view – were beginning to eat into the markets that Fender and Gibson dominated. Not only was the manufacturing quality improving, but the quality of the REPLICATION was reaching new highs. The lawyers at Gibson started to get restless, and young guitar players like myself were also getting restless… I could not wait to go out and buy a UNIVOX Les Paul for 1/5th the price of the real thing! Damn, it was so inexpensive that I could almost afford to smash it on stage! Cool! But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.

Towards the end of the 1970’s, Fender and Gibson were loosing market share. That is why we hear so much about the “Lawsuit ERA” guitars. Late in the seventies, Gibson Guitars won a legal battle for patent infringements, which over time, shut down all but a few “copy” guitar manufacturers worldwide. This allowed some elbowroom for Gibson and Fender to rethink and retool their operations to fortify their position in the market. To avoid the same problem happening again, Gibson bought Epiphone and started building some very nice Imported Copy Guitars! Fender opened facilities outside North America under different brand names like Squier.

Below: Here is a typical selection of 1970’s Fender and Gibson copies. These were all imported from Japan under different brand names. Also a sweet ’74 Gibson Les Paul 55.

Vintage 1970's Lotus Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Lotus Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Hondo II Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Hondo II Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Kay SG Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Kay SG Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Gibson Les Paul 55 Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Gibson Les Paul 55 Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Silvertone Telecaster Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Silvertone Telecaster Electric Guitar

Below: Here is a selection of Mosrite copies from the seventies, along with one original Mosrite (far right). The GM Custom is actually all original Mosrite parts built by a former employee, Gene Moles, after the Bakersfield Mosrite factory closed. The Univox guitars are popular today because Kurt Cobain of Nirvana used one. I also have some additional Mosrite copies farther down this page, some listed under the 1960’s guitars and the best one on the 1980’s…

Vintage 1970's Silvertone Mosrite Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Silvertone Mosrite Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Univox Hi-Flyer Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Univox Hi-Flyer Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Univox Hi-Flyer Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Univox Hi-Flyer Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Gene Moles Custom Mosrite Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Gene Moles Custom Mosrite Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Mosrite 350 Stereo Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Mosrite 350 Stereo Electric Guitar

Below: The Ventures were very popular in Japan and that is why so many Mosrite copies were made during the 1960’s and the 1970’s. Few of them, however, compare to the real thing as shown on the 1980’s guitar page.

Vintage 1970's Kawai ES-175 Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Kawai ES-175 Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Kawai Electric Guitar (with 4 pickups)

Vintage 1970's Kawai Electric Guitar (with 4 pickups)

Vintage 1970's Kawai Electric Guitar (with 4 pickups)

Vintage 1970's Kawai Electric Guitar (with 4 pickups)

Vintage 1970's Kawai Electric Guitar (with 3 pickups)

Vintage 1970's Kawai Electric Guitar (with 3 pickups)

Vintage 1970's Kawai Mosrite Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Kawai Mosrite Electric Guitar

Below:: KAWAI was one of the better quality manufacturers to come out of Japan in the seventies. Here is a nice selection of their guitars. My favorite is second from right. This guitar is absolutely MINT. It belongs in a museum. Hmmmmm. I guess it is!

Vintage 1970's Hondo Les Paul Les Paul Guitar (set neck)

Vintage 1970's Hondo Les Paul Les Paul Guitar (set neck)

Vintage 1970's Sekova Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Sekova Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Hyundai Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Hyundai Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Univox Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Univox Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Tokai Les Paul Electric Guitar (set neck)

Vintage 1970's Tokai Les Paul Electric Guitar (set neck)

Below: Here are some additional examples of Les Paul reproductions from the 1970’s. On the left is a very nice Hondo Deluxe 748 Mark II. Flame top, set neck, humbuckers… all that you would expect from the real thing at 1/8 the price. Next to that a blonde Sekova, a sunburst Hyundai, a Tobacco Sunburst from Univox. Lastly is a fantastic Tokai Set Neck with the historic Sunburst Finish. This is an incredibly nice guitar. The 70’s Tokai’s go for nearly the same price as a real Gibson these days. Once you play one you’ll know why.

Vintage 1970's Tele-Star Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Tele-Star Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Silvertone Telecaster Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Silvertone Telecaster Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Tempo Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Tempo Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Tempo Electric Bass Guitar

Vintage 1970's Tempo Electric Bass Guitar

Vintage 1970's Yamaha Burns Copy Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Yamaha Burns Copy Electric Guitar

Below: Here is a grab-bag of assorted 1970’s guitars, mostly from Japan.

Vintage 1972 Mosrite Electric Guitar

Vintage 1972 Mosrite Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Univox Hi-Flyer Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Univox Hi-Flyer Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Hagstrom Electric Bass Guitar

Vintage 1970's Hagstrom Electric Bass Guitar

Vintage 1970's Silvertone Slider Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Silvertone Slider Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Custom Mosriteko Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Custom Mosriteko Electric Guitar

Below: A few years back I wrote up a piece about my pursuit for the perfect Mosrite copy. Scattered across the 1960’s through the 2002’s guitar pages you will find almost two dozen different attempts. Here are some of the 1970’s acquisitions. On the left, a nearly perfect 1972 Mosrite Ventures Model. Mint. Next to that are a pair of Univox Hi-Flyers and a Silvertone Slider. This guitar is pretty cool because a) it has a wicked flame fiish and b) it has an individual slider volume for each pickup. This allows for a wide variety of tone setups because you can dial in as much or as little of each pickup you want. Cool.Somewhere along the way I decided to build my own Custom Mosrite Copy. I wanted to put together a guitar that had the Mosrite look but was built for repeated abuse as a stage guitar. It started with as Silvertone shell, just the body and neck. I put Gibson Tuners on it for stability. Next I selected some wild vintage EKO screamer pickups that were extracted from a deceased EKO 700 4V. Then I had a custom pickguard made at WD Products in Florida. New pots, switches, bridge, etc and a few days locked in a room. Voila! A one of a kind Mosriteko.

Vintage 1970's Conrad Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Conrad Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Aria Burns Copy Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Aria Burns Copy Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Lotus Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Lotus Les Paul Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Inter-Mark Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Inter-Mark Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Lyle SG Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Lyle SG Electric Guitar

Below: An early 1970’s Conrad Strat and a Lotus Les Paul. The Conrad and the Aria are extremely well build guitars while the Lotus is most certainly not. However, I have a Lotus on my 1980’s page that is fantastic! Next to that is an Inter-Mark frmo Japan. Well built guitar, MUCH better than most semi-hollows from this era. You can’t tell from the picture but this thing is HUGE! 18″ across the body where an LP is about 12″. next to that is an old Lyle SG.

Vintage 1970's Fender Lead II Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Fender Lead II Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Univox Electric Bass Guitar

Vintage 1970's Univox Electric Bass Guitar

Vintage 1970's Microfret Calibra II Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Microfret Calibra II Electric Guitar

Vintage 1974 Guyatone Ricky Electric Guitar

Vintage 1974 Guyatone Ricky Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Norma Barney Kessel Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Norma Barney Kessel Electric Guitar

Vintage 1973 Hayman Made in England Electric Guitar

Vintage 1973 Hayman Made in England Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's JG Made in Italy Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's JG Made in Italy Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970 Hohn Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970 Hohn Electric Guitar

Vintage 1975 D'Agostino Benchmark II Electric Guitar

Vintage 1975 D

Vintage 1970's Epiphone Crestwood Electric Guitar

Vintage 1970's Epiphone Crestwood Electric Guitar

Comments

  1. Kelly says

    I have a 1970’s guitar, had it for a few years. Not sure the quality or the value. It appears to be a Gibson knock off. It is a “Morris” electric acoustic blonde in colour. Could send a picture of the guitar if I could attach a file to an e:mail response. Thank you for your time and consideration.

  2. Richard Peterson says

    Thirty years ago, I encountered a Framus Golden Television model. I loved the sound of it, but couldn’t talk the owner into selling. Bill Lawrence p/us and lots of tone switches. Endless twang.

  3. Aaron Harrell says

    I had an old norma 4 pickup that is super rare then got a Fender Lead 2 in 79 for my birthday and havent seen any around foreve.r if anybody has either one please contact me.

  4. Randy says

    I have a late sixties early seventies Framus 6 string electric in pretty rough shape. Is this something someone by interested in restoring or for a parts guitar?

  5. justice says

    i have a univox les paul guitar and i have no clue how old it is, it looks brand new. Can someone help me ?

  6. Chris says

    I’ve got a Conrad 40080 that I’ve had since i was 7 or 8. Apparently, it’s some sort of Barney Kessel knockoff. It’s got weird “humbucker” pickups. I’m still trying to get information on what they are, and even the guitar itself. Any information is greatly appreciated.

  7. PATRICK MCGREAL says

    hi,around the time of 1976-77 i was looking for my first guitar.at my local music shop the owner denny of “today’s music” told me about these copies by a company called encore.i went through the catalog and fell in love with an explorer copy.that christmas my parents bought it for me and it was absolutely an amazing guitar.i would put it up against any gibson,thats how well it was constructed.it was a set neck in a natural finish.i am now 49 yrs old and have been looking for this guitar for the last 15 yrs and cant even find one on ebay.any idea where i can find any info,photos or even one for sale on the internet.thanks,patrick

  8. b harrelson says

    I’ve been trying to find price on a l-85 lotus guitar says not found .
    pleas send me if you have

    thanks

  9. Jane says

    Can anyone unravel the mystery of this mystery guitar? Listed with photos in Craigslist, New York City, under musical instruments for sale, headline “Mediocre, no-name guitar needs you to rescue it from bad guitar karma.” ? Thank you !!

  10. jim McDermott says

    Hi,wonder if u can help,I have a Hayman 2020 and it seems to be a right mix,it has thin line body with twin humbucker p/u’s the head stock with the plastic hayman inserts has four extra post guides for the strings..The oddest thing is at the back where the serial number plate should be is open and there are no screw holes to show if there was ever a serial number plate on it.Any ideas as to year of manufacture or any info would be appreciated.Thanks

  11. greg says

    does any one know how much a tempo , electric Spanish guitar . from 71 to 75 would cost it is in perfect condition.

  12. Mick says

    I have an interest in that 70’s JG italian guitar pictured above. Anyone know who owns it and if it’s available?

  13. Julie says

    Hi,

    I have a Harmonie H90 Delux 1971 guitar, and I’m looking for the value of it. Can you help me?
    Thanks

  14. Hubert says

    I bought a uni vox phase 3 electric black &
    white in 1975. I sold it to some guy at work for about $100 bucks 20 years later. Wish I hadn’t done that. Damn!!

  15. Bud says

    I have what looks like a Vintage 1970’s Tokai Les Paul Electric Guitar (set neck), as pictured, with three minor exceptions: an extra switch in the middle of all the knobs, pearl inlay on the first fret, and a pearl inlay on the head in the shape of a diamond. Have you heard of this? It says Magnum on the head as well. Thanks, Bud

  16. Jeff Burgess says

    I have that exact same 1970 Hohn
    (3rd from the bottom) that my grandmother bought me when I was 10 years old and wanted to take lessons.
    I haven’t played since i finished those lessons
    Any idea what it’s worth and the best place to maybe sell it?

  17. Simon Smith says

    Hi,

    I am hoping you can help me with some information on the Morris Tornado xx80 acoustic round back guitar, or put me in touch with someone who can help. I was not very successful on the Morris website.

    I recently purchased, second hand, the above model guitar and would like to know its year of manufacture, an approximate value, all it’s technical information (what it is made of etc).

    The number on the back of the neck at the top is 270085.
    The number on the front of the neck near the sound hole is 81108

    Hoping you can help me.

    Many thanks
    Simon Smith

  18. Steve says

    I have a circa 1970 Kawai 4-pickup guitar given to me new as a Christmas gift. It is in very good shape and everything works, including all 4 completely metal-encased pickups that have a bit of gold foil over each opening. Any chance you could offer some additional insight on what I have if I send a picture?

  19. heather eastman says

    I have a vintage bass guitar, with case. I am having a hard time identifing it. It had no serial number, only says JAPAN on the back plate. Pretty sure its from the 70’s. All black with four strings and only two knobs. Please email me with any helpful advice.

  20. RON COUTURE says

    I HAVE AN EARLY 70S CONRAD LES PAUL KNOCK OFF BLACK W/ HUMBUCKERS & PEARL INLAY TO BOOT! IN PRISTEEN CONDITION! IS THERE A WAY I CAN DATE I AND FIND OUT WHAT IT’S POSSIBLE WORTH IS? ANY HELP WOULD BE GREALY APPRECIATED!!!

  21. says

    FY: I Epiphone was bought by Gibson in the late 50’s. Epiphone guitars were made on the same line as the Gibson. The Epiphone Guitars were less expensive and sometimes a bit more intricate compared to the Identical Gibson model. Epiphone was distributed to dealers that could not get the Gibson Line but wanted a “Gibson” to compete with Fender. In the early 1970’s Gibson had moved the production of Epiphone to Japan as a lower cost guitar to compete with the Japanese imports. The same Japanese company who made Epiphone also made Voxton Guitars for Vox.

  22. NORM says

    I have a Domino bass guitar, single pick up ,neck position and oddly not in their catalogue online. Anyone one know if this was American made early model ,as there is no other markings than Domino on headstock. Chunky little neck, medium scale bass .a fun piece o history to jam 60’s and 70’s on. !!!!

  23. says

    Hello… different category of guitar, but I still believe it’s lawsuit era: An SW500 Western Deluxe ZEN-ON Acoustic. Clearly a remake of a Martin D-35 with very nice bracing, ebony fretboard, high end tuners and sitka spruce (I believe) top and rosewood side and back. What is strange about this (and I’ve only seen one other on the net) : Brass (or bronze) nut and saddle and pins. Bought this in a pawn/junk shop in Paris for a song. Anyone have any information on this maker? Please get in touch. Love this story – the Japanese vintage knockoffs – because they are so high quality and yet tell a very interesting slice of industrial/global history. Appreciate your site. MR

  24. Mick says

    I posted a comment in March 2014 and am still wondering about that 70’s JG pictured above. Does anyone know who owns it and if it’s available. Please let me know.

  25. Richard Raine says

    I have a black Hayman 3030. Would really like any info about it.
    Do you know what year it would be and how many were made.

    Thanks

  26. David V says

    I have a late 70’s Lotus LP copy that I rescued and gave new life and it is a killer sounding guitar I also have another rescue a Quest Atak 1 and it is odd in the fact that the bridge pickup is a single could while the bridge is a hum bucker this guitar also rocks …. I love the 70’s – 80’s Japan made guitars better than just about any guitars ever made and had a 80’s Yamaha SBG 3000 back in the 80’s and wish I had never got rid of it as it was the best guitar I’ve ever played but at the time someone fell on out bass players guitar and broke the neck so with only a few hours before we were scheduled to play I traded the Yamaha for a new Spector bass. I’m still kicking myself.

  27. Hector says

    I have an Avila BC RICH electric guitar I don’t know anything about this guitar please let me know if someone knows or have seen one of these guitar.
    Thanks.

  28. Ken says

    I have a Hondo 748 Deluxe Markll in wonderful condition sound wonderful to I think ithas Dimarzio pickups on it and it has Gover tuners well made it has the GIBSON headstock on it and the end of the frets are covered with the binding it is dark cherry can anyone tell me what there worth thanks.

  29. Dave Brown says

    i have a nice kent Keb3 black electric in great shape , what’s the value please

    I also have a 1968 black beauty z that has gold plated keys bridge ,everything and pearl inlays ect, and even the case it was bought in .
    Could you give me a off the top value , has Japan written on the back of the neck plate written on it .
    I you want I can send pictures if you email me at davesbizz@aol.com please put kent guitars in the subject line so I know what it about , I don’t see a way to send pictures in here .
    Thanks
    Dave

  30. David rickard says

    I have a ’76 Orange stratocaster that sounds better than any Fender Ive played ( I havent played any custom shop ones ;) but the tone and feel is awesome!!!

  31. Scott Ribeiro says

    I’m trying to figure out if my guitar is worth anything? It’s an old Aria made in Japan, how do I know whether it is Lawsuit model or not?
    Thanks Scott I would like to show you a picture of it, it’s beautiful!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>