Matsumoku’s Atak Gains The Ad-Vantage (Vintage 1984 Quest Atak-6 MK II Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1984 Quest Atak-6 MK II Electric Guitar

I count myself among the many of you who have discovered just how good guitars made by the Matsumoku factory in Matsumoto City, Japan, really are. Or were. They still exist as artifacts but have not been made more than two decades now.

From the Temple of Doom (I): Koob, Albert, Patricia, and Adeline

1966 Kapa Continental 12-String

Imagine someone telling you about an old-time music store that had a huge stash of unsold guitars from the 1960s, plus some guitar effects from the ‘70s lying around in its upper floors in Newark, NJ. Well, you can bet it didn’t take long for me to beat a path to the door of Newark Music City (calm down; this was a long time ago and, while the company still exists, it’s long gone from Newark). Even though I was late in the game, there were still unmined treasures to be had. A real Temple of Doom!

Hair Bands, Soviet Russia & the 1989 Kramer Gorky Park Electric Guitar

1989 Kramer Gorky Park Electric Guitar

Behind every guitar there’s some sort of story, but they usually aren’t as rich as the one behind the Kramer Gorky Park seen here! Not only was this guitar associated with one of the big flash-in-the-pan pop metal bands of the late 1980s, it symbolically and almost literally marked the end of Kramer, as the largest guitar company in the world was crumbling just like the Iron Curtain!

A Sharp Venture (1968 Guyatone LG-350T Sharp 5 Electric Guitar)

1968 Guyatone LG-350T Sharp 5 Vintage Electric Guitar

Well, well, well. What have we here? On the surface, of course, it’s a 1968 Guyatone LG-350T Sharp 5. A sight little seen in North America, but not uncommon in Japan, at least once upon a time. And if it makes you think of a little bit of a Mosrite on drugs, well then you’re not too far off the mark! Welcome to a bit about the Ventures and the early world of copy guitars!

Walk, Don’t Run! (1967 Heit Deluxe V-2 Electric Guitar)

1967 Heit Deluxe V-2 Vintage Electric Guitar

What is it about the Japanese and the Ventures? I mean, I cut my teeth with the Ventures. They were the perfect band to learn guitar from. The Ventures took songs with often complex harmonic structures—like the wonderful Johnny Smith classic—and stripped them down to their basic melodies, gave them a simple rock groove, and played them clean. I had the sheet music to Smith’s song, but there was no way in you know where I was gong to play off that. But follow along with the Ventures’ single? You bet!

Tension Reduction, But Not With Shiatsu (1990 PBC GTS 200S Electric Guitar)

1990 PBC GTS 200S Electric Guitar

How often have you ever walked into a music store—an admittedly increasingly exotic experience in this internet age—and had the salesman practically beg you to buy a guitar at a bargain basement price? My guess is not often! Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happened to me with this 1990 PBC GTS 200S!

A Missing Link? (1969 Dan Armstrong Modified Danelectro Electric Guitar)

1969 Dan Armstrong Modified Danelectro Electric Guitar

Sometimes you take a look at a guitar and the warning bells start ringing: bogus. Like those early “missing links” proposed by inventive amateur anthropologists who put gorilla skulls on anthropoid skeletons. That’s what happened to me the first time a dealer hauled this out and showed it to me. It was a Danelectro alright, but those pickups? Then I looked again. Who would stencil “Dan Armstrong Modified Danelectro” on an aftermarket pickguard? Then there were the pickups. Epoxy potted. Trademark of who, or is it whom? Dan Armstrong. Think his Ampeg see-through guitars. No, on second thought, this had the air of a mystery wrapped in an enigma with a generous dash of authenticity. So it proved to be. And so it came my way and all I had to do was put the links back together again.

A Plastic Fantastic Dream (1965 Gemelli 195/4/V Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1965 Gemelli 195/4/V Electric Guitar

I’ve always had a bit of a taste for plastic on my guitars. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love flamed and quilted maple, rich ribbon mahogany, Brazilian rosewood, abalone pearl. But there’s something so wonderfully cheesy about the use of plastic on a guitar. I guess that’s one of the reason why I like this otherwise relatively humble Italian-made Gemelli 195/4/V from around 1965.

Al & Ray, Not Bob (1967 Alray 12-String Thinline Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1967 Alray 12-String Thinline Electric Guitar

The guitar shown here may have nothing to do with the famous comedic radio commercial team Bob and Ray, but half the name is right, and, from at least one point of view, this ca. 1967 Alray 12-string is pretty amusing! And as rare as…well…electric 12-strings!

Alpine Wonderland (1968 St. Moritz Stereo Guitar)

1968 St. Moritz Stereo Guitar

There’s not much I know about St. Moritz, Switzerland (or Aspen, for that matter). There’s not even much I know about this St. Moritz stereo guitar. But I’m pretty sure I like all of them. Certainly I love this guitar, which is pretty revolutionary.