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Monday, March 28, 2011

Pearl Guitars...brought to you by Matsumoku and Hayashi

Pearl badged MIJ guitars have a mysterious history depending on whom you talk to. They appear to have been widely distributed, finding their way to Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States so they must have been fairly successful.  I haven't seen proof that the Pearl badge originated from the infamous Pearl drum corporation although the logos are suspiciously similar.  Perhaps it was a brief venture during the guitar craze of the 1970's by that company.  We may never know.  Most people assume that Pearl badged guitars were made by the famous percussion instrument maker and Pearl guitars are often sold with that information presented as fact.  Perhaps someone can enlighten me.  Till then, I'm on the fence about the origin of Pearl guitars.

Pearl electric guitars which were made by the venerable Matsumoku, were good Les Paul copies.  They came in sunburst and blond finishes from what I've seen of them.  Pearls were carried by Great West Musical Imports to the North American continent and I do not know if they distributed the guitar badge worldwide exclusively.  Some have mother of pearl pickguards in addition to the Pearl badge inlay, which add to the beauty of the Pearl image.  It would be interesting to know if they originally came that way from Matsumoku.  They seem to be pretty rare here in the United States but far more numerous among our friends in Australia so I wonder just how many were sold in their heyday.  They appear to be classified as a medium-quality guitar, but they sure look good to me. 

Pearl acoustics, however, were made by top Japanese acoustic guitar-maker Hayashi. They appear to have been gorgeously crafted with inlays of mother of pearl on the frets on occasion. Most Pearl acoustics from what I've seen were made of high quality tonewoods based on Gibson designs, although I'm not an acoustic guitar expert.  Finishes can be anywhere from sunburst to natural and they seem far more numerous in existing quantities than their electric cousins.  Pearl acoustics are praised by their owners as high-quality instruments and little wonder...they ARE Hayashi products!  You can read more specific information about Pearl acoustic guitar models HERE by Blogger friend Martin on his Vintage Japanese Acoustics blog.  

Another interesting thing with Pearl badges is that some "Pearl" inlays are gold and others mother of pearl.  I wonder if one color denotes a higher-end instrument model.  Again, I don't know the answer to that.  Yet another mystery to solve. 

28 comments:

  1. Many thanks for the nod Torch, this is a fine blog you have here. I'll be back updating with new brands soon. Cheers!

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  2. Hi, I have a Pearl Hummingbird acoustic (sunburst) it is fantastic. I wish I knew what year these came out and there value now?? Anyone have any further information on these?

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  3. G'day. I have a Pearl Export Les Paul. It doesn't have the name Pearl on it but only Export on the headstock. When I bought it 25 odd years ago I was told it was made by Pearl the drum company. I have done a little research and found some pictures online and I saw a bass guitar with the same shaped headstock which had the word Export on the truss rod cover in the same font as I have it on my headstock. If you can help me with any more info or pictures that would be great.



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  4. Well, I still haven't found any information about my Pearl. It is an Gibson SG imitation with a very narrow neck, about 2 mm smaller than the original Gibson. I play it a lot in a pop/punk style band. It is a reasonable sounding instrument though I think the sound is less sparkling than an original. Anyone else with this type guitar ?

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    1. Are you shure it's a replica of a Gibson SG? or is it a replica of a Les Paul duble cutaway?
      Like this one: http://static.musiciansfriend.com/derivates/19/001/429/732/DV020_Jpg_Jumbo_430808.035_ebony.jpg

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    2. i'm sure it is a SG replica, has these viking cutaways and it is Cherry Red. typical for SG. And I own a "The SG" from Gibson.

      I have this Pearl since about 1990. Only saw it mentioned once in an auction in Germany.

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    3. Meant to reply to this thread sorry, have a look at my post at the bottom.

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  5. I gave a Pearl Guitar to my friend and he gave it back to me today after it had been in his closet for 25 years. I had forgotten it. Until he handed it to me.. then I remembered it. The tag or label is missing from inside the sound hole. And don't remember where I bought it. I have many guitars, Taylor, Fender, Blueridge and Takamine. I'm surprised after I replaced the strings today it pals and sound good. It's all solid woods I can tell. I know it resembles a Gibson. The Pearl logo looks like mother of pearl and It's very well constructed. It also has an under bridge pickup with the 1/4 inch plug in the strap pin. I don't see any other electronics on it.. No battery or controls I can see. What pleasant surprise to see this old guitar.

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  6. Vorg By Pearl Tele, wonderful guitar I wouldn't want to trade for any recent Tele. Excellent playablity. Electronics are replaced though, Seymour Duncan PU's and new pots and switches.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBSznwohnuA

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  7. I have a Pearl Bass guitar, black in color that I bought in Germany in 1984. I am ready to let it go but I don't have a clue as to it's value. Any ideas?

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  8. I have a Pearl Dove Acoustic guitar since 1972 , it was my first guitar and I love it.

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  9. I have a Pearl Dove Acoustic guitar since 1972 , it was my first guitar and I love it.

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  10. I bought a Pearl guitar at Wallichs music City at Sunset and Vine in 1962. I bought it because I had done a demo session with Glen Campbell and he had one.. He did all kinds of sessions with it. They were around a $100 at the time.A cool thing about it was it had a monkey grip.I was mainly playing a Tele at the time so I traded it and a Gibson ES 175 to Leon Russell for a pre war Epiphone Broadway I believe it was. I have looked occasionally on line for about 15 or 20 years.I have never seen another one. Now that's a rare guitar. Don guitar Preston

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    1. Don I found one in a pawn shop in kentucky outside of a military base. Black double humnbucker pu's. I saw one on ebay 3-4 yrs ago. Listed for 900.00 mcclunghearing@yahoo.com

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  11. I have a solid wood pearl export bought 10 years ago from a cash convertors for I think $400 .Ive no idea how much its actually worh. Has the two hum buckers,and what i think is the one piece of wood

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  12. I have a Pearl acoustic (from the headstock it's either a TF140 or 150) which I bought new at the Fender Soundhouse in Tottenham Court Road, London in 1973 for, I think, around £70. Still plays good as new!

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  13. Hey The Sun King I too have a Pearl SG replica. It is very difficult to find any information about it. From your description mine is identical to yours. I picked it up at a Dutch second hand shop in the mid 90s. I have no idea when or where it was made and how much it might be worth. I gather it must be quite rare.

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    1. I also have a Pearl SG replica. Any information would be apreciated.

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  14. I have a Pearl SG too, also has a sticker on the back of the headstock suggesting it spent some of its life in the Netherlands too.. Great build quality on a par with my 1980 Gibson SG Standard but the pickups not as powerful :-)

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  15. Our band in the 70s had 2 matching cherry red Pearl SG copies, and 1 cherry red Pearl EB-3 copy. We were only 14.

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  16. Our band in the 70s had 2 matching cherry red Pearl SG copies, and 1 cherry red Pearl EB-3 copy. We were only 14.

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  17. Hello, i have a pearl les paul copy with Pearl inlay in headstock and a Fleur-de-lis inlay. It weighs about 11 lbs and looks to be solid maple, neck thru. Square inlays on fretboard. I called Pearl about it and they sent me a brochure dated 1972 for a Les Paul and Strat copies. Pearl said the guitars were made locally where the guitars were sold. (EG: purchased in Canada/made in Canada). Perhaps that is why there is a Fleur-de-lis on the headstock because it was purchaed in Montreal and so made in Quebec?? I can tell you that although very well made and incredible playbility, these guitars were made with cheaper glue's, cheaper pickups and electronics. This guitar if in great shape is worth about $300 in my opinion. Can't control the feedback when played loud (the way gibson humbuchers sound best). Swap out the cheap electronics for Gibsons and you got a guitar that plays and sounds like a $1500+ guitar (although the body is a three piece). Just dont drop it because you will find out what i mean about cheap glue used to mate the rosewood and double bindings on body.

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  19. Hello , I have a pearl stratocaster copy. Sunburst finish , has the drum logo.
    Bought it around 1979 or 80 in Australia. Pretty Good quality all round I think.
    I fitted a Seymour Duncan bridge pick up and she wails,
    Cheers

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  20. I have a 1972 Pearl Telecaster, mahogany neck and what looks like ash body. The original paint was damaged by the previous owner so I stripped it and treated the wood with Danish oil. Beautiful. Build quality on par with any Matsumoku mid/high end guitar. Lovely workmanship. Bought it from an old man in Brisbane in 2002, he had played it since the 70s. He said the Pearl drum factory made about not more than 200 of these in the early 70s. Original frets are still holding despite heavy playiong (6 hrs daily). I have only superlatives for this babe. Pickups were on the underpowered vintage side though, about 5k, so I have replaced them with Seymours since I play high power rock. Next to a US Telecaster I still prefer the Pearl. One can see the personal touch and precision engineering.

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  21. Got a Pearl Les Paul Recording copy. What a beautiful instrument. Dark red mahony body. Perfect finishing and sounds as good as my Gibson ES 135. Think this must be a very rare instrument. Love it and I'll keep it. I am Belgian....you know....Brussels...Europe. (blink)

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