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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Camel Guitars...Cigarettes and Progressive Rock

When it comes to the guitars named for strange things, Camel comes to mind.  The image of that one or two humped animal as the inspiration for a hot guitar seems almost impossible.  What are the odds?

Camel guitars were made by the Matsumoto Musical Instrument Manufacturer Association, who had as a member the Kyowa Shokai distributors responsible for the badge request.  There's evidence pointing to makers Chushin, Nakai Gakki, and possibly Tahara and the Maya Guitar Company as being members, although that's not confirmed.  The Fresher guitar badge is reported to be the 'sister' to the Camel, which makes since since both were made by the Association.  Both Camel and Fresher badges were made in the 70's during the end of the MIJ electric guitar craze.

Camel guitars came in both Les Paul and Stratocaster versions, although it seems that few were sold.  The headstock has appropriately two humps (were they being too literal?).  I've also seen an example of a Les Paul that's a student version...interesting since so few were sold and just think of selling a guitar with a badge named after a cigarette to a child THESE days!  It's been suggested that the Camel badge was named for the infamous cigarette brand as some kind of promotional prize....which would be interesting if it were true.  I put in a call to the R.J. Reynolds company to see if they were aware of the badge or had anything to do with its creation.  They did not have any information on the guitar.

There was also a rock band named Camel which formed in 1971.  Perhaps someone was in awe of this group and decided to name a guitar after them!  The band is still active and recording, although they have stopped touring due to the health of founding member guitarist/frontman Andrew Latimer.

Camel.  A mysterious badge that appears from time to time like a mirage, surrounded by rumor yet somehow authentic.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Torch,

    Although the old Japanese acoustics are my main thing, i do have a few electrics as well, one of which is an old Camel electric. Feel free to check out the photos here: http://s914.photobucket.com/albums/ac346/moonshiner82/camel%20st/

    Cheers,
    Martin
    http://vintagejapaneseacoustics.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
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  4. Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks.

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