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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Maya Guitar Mystery

It's not often I get a possible three makers for a badged guitar, but that's the current situation I have with Maya guitars.

Maya guitars were manufactured in Japan in the 1970 decade.  I always thought that Chushin and Maya Guitar Company were the manufacturers responsible for producing the badge.  Not so!

Recently I discovered evidence to the contrary in the form of a new unknown company:  Tahara.  And it seems pretty ironclad.  So what's the problem you ask?

The problem is that there are three manufacturers who have been cited as being the producer of the badge:  Chushin Gakki, who may have produced a few Maya guitars here and there, the Maya Guitar Company which existed in Kobe, Japan, and finally Tahara, which was eventually sold to Saga Musical Instruments.  Saga has published a letter stating that Tahara did in fact, produce Maya guitars during the 1970's.

Chushin Gakki often did work for other larger manufacturers back in the 1970's, usually those with contracts from American companies like Charvel.  We know that some Maya guitars were made by this company, because they were shipped to foreign countries, including America, where they were sold.  These Maya guitars are copies of the famous El Maya badge.

So the problem arises between Tahara and the Maya Guitar Company (also known as Maya Musical Instruments).  Tahara did not exist long, less than a decade.  Maya might have been some sort of collaborative effort or association, whereby various companies worked together on a project.  Maya also existed for a relatively short period of time.  So who gets credit for the Maya guitar badge?  The case for Tahara seems far more substantial in light of the evidence provided by the company now in existence after Tahara's demise.  But I truly wonder if perhaps Maya existed as a company and if they had as a collaborator Chushin Gakki and Tahara.  It's a marvelous tangle to unwind.  Were there Maya guitar badges that were different from El Maya?  Were Chushin Maya's different than Tahara Maya guitars?

It's something I'll be looking into over the next few months.  If I figure it all out or find someone who knows the answer, I'll share it with you here.

Maya.  A badge with an uncertain maker.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

St. George Guitars....A Sainted Name For a Badge

Well, as you may have guessed over the past few weeks the Torchman has been busy.  Checked out a few concerts in my area and enjoyed the stylings of Steely Dan and the ever-talented Peter Frampton.  But I noticed as I was hanging around Detroit a guy playing one of those old St. George basses from the 1960's. 

You may recall some St. George guitars were made in Japan, although a few originated in the sunny state of California.  Japanese MIJ St. George guitars were manufactured by the Shiro Musical Instrument Manufacturing company, although I've seen them listed as a Kawai Teisco product.  My thought is that perhaps Teisco outsourced the manufacture of the badge to this small company.  What is known is that St. George guitars were made between 63-67 by Shiro.  I gotta admit, the guitar sure does look like a Teisco.  Perhaps someone out there can enlighten me. 

St. George guitars came in electrics and bass models with the funky white St. George shield badge to remind us that it was named for a saint.  Well, actually, it was named for a store with the moniker St. George.  St. George guitars were sold in New York and California, although I've seen them elsewhere.  Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine, plays a St. George guitar he bought in a pawnshop in Canada.  Is that cool or what? 

The St. George badge was also slapped on a few amps, which are apparently sought-after because they were made by the infamous amp master Ray Massie, who struck out after working for Fender to create his own company in California in the late 1950's early 1960's.  Which means that the amps aren't Japanese.  Isn't this fun?

A few St. George guitars (very few) were made by master luthier Paul Barth in Riverside, California.  These guitars were made by his company, Bartell.   They're extremely sought-after because of the high-quality woods used in construction and come in both 6 and 12 string models, both bass and electrics.  The Bartell St. George's have only a script signature "St. George" on the guitar instead of a shield badge like you find on the Japanese-made St. George guitars.  It's rare to find them for sale and when they do come up, they sell for thousands of dollars.

On the whole, St. George is a well-loved, easy to play badge which is appreciated by guitarists everywhere.  You can find Japanese St. George guitars for as little as $100 here and there.  A great buy for a decent guitar!

St. George.  Named for a Saint.  Still awesome after all these years!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Special Edition: New A Perfect Circle Song, APC in Detroit

Friday night I got to see the most awesome A Perfect Circle concert I've ever been to.  Howerdel was in rare form and James Iha was excellent as always.  They played the set list they've been playing throughout the 2011 tour in this order:

1. Annihilation
2. Imagine
3. Weak and Powerless
4. The Hollow
5. What's Going On
6. People Are People
7. The Outsider
8. Peace, Love and Understanding
9. When The Levee Breaks
10. The Noose
11. 3 Libras
12. Gravity
13. Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie
14. Orestes
15. Passive
16. Counting Bodies Like Sheep....
17. Fiddle and Drum
18. By and Down (new)

Here's the video for By and Down:

We had 90 minutes of pure vintage was freaking awesome!  James Iha stole some thunder with his terrific rhythm guitar work and keyboard skills.  And who could forget Maynard Keenan off in the corner like a dark scarecrow?  Wicked.

Best song of the evening was "Counting Bodies Like Sheep..."!  They cranked it up, even though it was towards the end of the show and really brought it home for the crowd. 

I hope to god they come out with some of that new material they've been working on soon....if "By and Down" is any indication of how good it will be.  And I want to see them again.  And again.  And again.

Here's the local review for the show here...they loved it as much as I did.  

Come back to Detroit, APC!