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Monday, February 21, 2011

JooDee Guitars

In researching MIJ guitars, one badge name comes up frequently:  JooDee.  It's been the bane of my existence lately.

Why?

Because nobody can seem to pin down with any accuracy who made the darn thing. 

I've talked to local dealers, read articles and threads online...yet I can't seem to pin it down to one or two companies.  One source even suggested that there was a JooDee manufacturing company in the 1970's, a fact I haven't been able to find any evidence of. 

Who made JooDee guitars? 

God.  I may be spending a year just on this one.

1 comment:

  1. I first came upon this guitar at a Namm Show in 1979 when I was there performing with Les Paul, at the Gibson Galaxy of Stars concert. I met the gents from Daion, Japan in their booth where they had on display, a copy of Jim Halls D'Aquisto guitar...built by Mr. Shiro Tsuji, and branded T and Joodee Gem B model. They also offered a Gem A model, more like a D'Angelico style. I purchased the violin finish guitar and made arrangements to order more for resale.
    I began marketing the guitar and a Chicago dealer gave Jimmy Daquisto a heads up. I'd been speaking with Luthier Phil Petillo one afternoon, and he brought up a comment, not knowing I had anything to do with the instrument. He said, he felt sorry for the guy importing and marketing T and Joodee guitars because he had heard that Jimmy Daquisto was planning to sue him. Immediately, I contacted Jimmy and had a conversation with him, if you want to call it that.
    I made a decision that it was not worth a court battle, and costly litigation over 6-12 instruments per year....So, I went back to Daion and agreed to continue importing and marketing a jazz guitar under my "Johnson" brand name and with my own trademarked peghead and logo design, and other changes that would render the line non Daquisto like. They agreed and 3 Johnson Gem B prototypes were made and I had them sent to be in New Jersey, where I sold one and kept 2. The different climates between Japan and U S caused the necks to warp, so they were returned to Mr Tsuji to have the necks replaced. I supplied pegead veneers with my inlay and logo design, made by Shellex' Gunter Klier, to Shiro. He replaced the necks and returned them to me. He and the Daion fellows decided it would be difficult and not cost effective to export these instruments to the U.S. when demand in Japan was high. So the Johnson Gem B was also short lived. I lost the guitar shown here and the two remaining Johnson models in a subsequent alimony dispute where 70 of my guitars, including Strombergs, Dangelicos and others were confiscated by NJ family courts in order to satisfy an alimony obligation. The guitars were auctioned of for 20 cents on the dollar on eBay and Christies....Sad day for me. This was one of the guitars. Ironically, this is not the original pickup or pickguard. the original pickguard was tortoise shell style, bound, and the guitar was outfitted as all were with D'armond 1100G pickups....both were apparently replaced. The D'Armond pickups cost me nearly as much as the guitar. I never used nor specd the pickup shown here. Always wondered where this guitar wound up....great sounding guitars, that's why I got involved with them. I'd like to know the whereabouts of the two natural and one sunburnt Johnson Gem B models, too. Maybe they'll show up someday. I still have remaining peghead veneers in inventory, too. Hope you enjoyed my story about this guitar. Congratulations to the New owner. I don't think George Gruhn really knew much about these. A lot of "The Johnson Collection" guitars found their way thru George...most notably the Strombergs that Ranger Doug bought from me.

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