Thursday, June 30, 2011

Laguna Strat copy...

Found a cool lost badged guitar on ebay today:  A sunburst Fender Strat copy with the name of "Laguna" in script.  Here's a few pics from the seller's page:

Here's the link to the eBay page:

I think this might be from the 1980 period, although if it was from the late 70's (78,79) I wouldn't be surprised.  MIJ Laguna guitars seem to be getting a good reputation from owners as a good starter guitar.  Anyhow, thought I'd share with the group before I head out on vacation for the 4th!  Have a great holiday!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Life Guitar Mystery Solved, Atlansia Guitars

It's not often that I find an answer as to who made a particular guitar within a week or two, but in the case of the Life guitar, that's what happened.  It seems Life badged guitars (which is a horrible name for a guitar) were made in the late 1970's-early 1980's in Korea and are not Japanese! 

Now to an apparently well-known, still in existence guitar manufacturer, Atlansia.  I did not know that this wasn't a Matsumoku badge until I did a little research and discovered it was connect to the Matsumoku story due to the current president of the company, Nobuaki Hayashi.  Hayashi was the creative engineering genius behind many of Matsumoku's extensive catalog, particularly the Aria badge.  Some Aria Pro II guitars designed by Hayashi carry the old H. Noble signature...something to be proud of if you own one of these early Hayashi designs!

As to when Atlansia came into being as a corporation, that's a little vague.  The Atlansia company website claims 45 to 40 years of history depending on what page you're on.  That would peg the founding of the company around the late 1960's early 1970's period.  Other sources claim Atlansia came into being only 30 years ago, or in 1981.  There are a few examples of Atlansia guitars before that date made in the late 1970's that may have been the beginning of Atlansia production, but that still wouldn't account for for the 40-45 year claim. Perhaps Hayashi is counting his years at Matsumoku or the company just wasn't making badged guitars until the late 1970's.  There's some evidence that Atlansia made guitar parts during the early 1970's and perhaps that explains the discrepancy.

To look at the extensive catalog of Atlansia guitar design, it's fairly innovative, especially in later designs.  Hayashi has clearly grown in his work over the decades and it shows in both his bass and electric models. The out-of-the-box jumps he makes in creating visually inspiring guitars is something to behold.  Here's just a few pics of modern Hayashi design to whet your appetite:

Atlansia Concord DX bass...can't you just picture that axe in your hands? 

This is a recent Hayashi concept model. It's a 7-string guitar which is just experimental at this stage. 

 This is the Atlansia Peleske model electric.  Wicked!

The Atlansia Solitaire ARS bass...I have no clue how you'd play this one. 

The strange Atlansia Oxford HBX2 bass 

An Atlansia Garland bass guitar

Just compare the above to all those old Aria Pro II designs we all know and love.  It's amazing that Hayashi has kept his designs evolving over such an extensive period...and a tribute to his mastery of guitar manufacturing art.  Atlansia guitars are still made and sold exclusively in Japan, which is a shame if you ask me.  I can't believe they wouldn't find a ravenous market here in America. 

Atlansia guitars.  Made in Nagano, Japan.  An amazing evolution from a former Matsumoku designer!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Attention All Readers Residing in Germany...

I was recently contacted by a person who owns what they believe to be a Life badged guitar  They say they think it's a lost MIJ badge with both electric and acoustic models made in the late 60's to 1970's period.  The claim is that there are a lot of these guitars being sold in Germany.  Do you have one?  Are they Japanese?  A quick glance found absolutely no information on these guitars.  Let's help a brother out here!  In the meantime, I'll try to get a pic of his so we can all see what we're looking at. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Daion, Anyone?

Today I thought I'd change it up and post on the higher-end of the scale, both by year and quality with the Daion badged guitar while I'm waiting to get those lost Magnum badge pics.  Made by Yamaki, these electrics and acoustics were well-received by the public when they debuted in 1978 and were made well beyond the 1980 benchmark.  Yamaki also made their own house brand which included both electrics and acoustics as well.  The company was founded much earlier than the Daion badge appeared, back in 1962 by a pair of brothers:  Yasuyuki and Hirotsygu.  The company still exists today as a supplier of high-end guitar parts for foreign guitar manufacturers.  Here's just a few pics:

Daion guitars were manufactured after Yamaki had really established itself in the market.  The acoustic guitars are highly sought-after by collectors all over the world for their quality, and the electric guitars which have an unmistakable rosewood and maple neck design, are just a joy to behold.  Much has been written about this famous badge, including several fan sites in Japan.  The distinctive script badge and tuning-fork logo are symbols of quality to Daion owners and collectors around the world.  Here's just a few sites on this legendary badge:

Just a quick tip...if your Daion is from Australia and has a sticker "Daion" badge instead of a plate, you have a Korean-made Daion in your possession.  These were made well after 1980.

Happy collecting!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Magnum Les Paul Guitars-A Lost Japanese Badge?

I found a Les Paul copy the other day that frankly has me stumped.  The badge is "Magnum" and it sure looks and feels like a vintage Japanese guitar!  With a bolt-on neck (minus the MIJ stamp) and a really solid feel, I asked the person selling it if they knew much about it.  "No," he said kind of sheepishly. "It looks like a vintage Japanese copy to me."  I've got a shot of a couple from Harmony Central for an example.

Here is the one I found in dark, blood red.  It's got the exact pickguard as the above example.  But higher end mother of pearl.

I realize I need to get closer and sharper pics of the red than what I have...which is fine, as I found a blue bass Magnum just the other day.  More pics on the way!  Ay-yi-yi!

Black seems to be the more popular color of the ones I've been able to locate online for examples.  The one I found was dark red like blood minus the mother-of-pearl inlays. It had silver pickups that looked pretty fragile (I'll be willing to bet owners of these guitars replaced these as quick as possible). Since I live in southeastern lower Michigan, I quickly discovered that the "Magnum" badge was sold locally at Royal Oak Music in Royal Oak, Michigan.  The music store has long since disappeared into history.  It looks like "Magnum" was sold in Chicago as well so maybe it was only distributed in the midwest in America.  There's a lot of reference to Magnums being widely sold in Australia, so they must have been manufactured in good quantities as a 'starter' copy guitar and distributed there as well.  It's so interesting where all these badged guitars end up!

Now what makes it far more difficult in pegging who made the Magnum badge is the fact that there was ANOTHER company in Vietnam who made "Magnum" badged guitars!  However, those Magnums are described as cheap laminated guitars that have a horrible sound with an approximate manufacturing date somewhere in the 1980's.  The Magnum I'm looking at is definitely from the 1970 period and solid.  There are also the famous Eastwood Magnum basses and acoustic Magnum Opus guitars which are made domestically both in the United States and Canada. 

It's clear the Magnum I found was the lower-end model because of the lack of mother-of-pearl inlays and the cheap pickups. 

But I still can't determine if this guitar IS Japanese.  Some argue that it is based on's rather similar to a Daion Les Paul from that period but god, you could say that about a lot of other Les Pauls from the golden 1970's Japanese copy era!  Others insist it's a Chinese product.  It's such a mystery.  I'm going to  go back and see if I can find a serial number on the one spotted.  In the meantime, check back...I should have those photos up soon so you can see it.  The guitar IS for sale, so if anyone is interested, let me know and I'll pass along the information on the seller.

If you have any information or want to share your Magnum, add it to the blog!