Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan Quake 2, Hy-Lo, Hi-Lo?

Been watching the devastation over in Japan...yikes.  I honestly don't know if they will ever be able to return to normal after this.  Still haven't heard from some of the larger guitar manufacturers to find out if their factories still stand...and if the talented people making guitars in the region are still with us.  We'll just continue to pray to the guitar gods that all is well.

Meanwhile, a mystery has unfolded.  Two guitars:  Hy-Lo or Hi-Lo.  Made by the same company?  I don't know...after looking around and viewing a few for sale here and there, I have a hunch that these badges were made by different companies-thus Hy-Lo and Hi-Lo.  My guess after reading a lot of boards from owners is that Hy-Lo was made by Kawai Teisco, while Hi-Lo was a Matsumoku badge.  Why?  Well, one person claims that they bought their Hy-Lo from a Teisco catalog back in the late 1960's (nothing like an eyewitness account from a direct owner).  And Hi-Lo electrics sure look like a Matsumoku product to people who collect Matsumoku badges.   I really don't know.  To add to the confusion, both electrics and acoustics were made with this badge name, so it must have been somewhat successful as a badge here in the United States.  For now, I've got them divided on the list under these makers until someone puts me right who knows the answer or I find a person with  Hi-Lo who can testify that it was made by a specific maker because they have direct knowledge of it.  I'm confident that Hy-Lo is a Kawai Teisco product.  What I don't know, what I'm unsure of, is the Hi-Lo badge.

Does your head hurt reading this?  It hurts mine just thinking about it as I write.  Sorry.

Anyhow, if you know of the origin of Hi-Lo guitars, let me know.  I'm going to take an aspirin now and lie down after that previous paragraph.  Whew.


  1. Hoshino Gakki made Hy Lo guitars for 6 years before Ibanez completely took over. Sincerely, Chuck

  2. I have a 65 Hy Lo model 2103 the first year was 62 and last year for Hy lo was 68 They were made in the Tama drum plant. They can be identified by the trapezoid shape plate where the neck bolts on. They usually had "Japan" burned into the base of the neck on the rear of the guitar just about mounting bolts. A sticker which falls off in most cases was on the back of the headstock to identify the model They also put a strip of darker hardwood in the neck that extends the entire length including the headstock. These guitars had their share of electrical faults with switches and are a guitar techs nightmare. When you do get the electronics working , they are great guitars and are getting rare because of the short period of manufacture. Sincerely, Dena's husband Chuck.

  3. After doing some reseach, I have found that Hi Lo guitars were made in Hawaii and are not related to Hy Lo Japanese guitars. Hi Lo made guitars and Ukes in Hilo, Hawaii Sincerely, Chuck