Help identifying this Japan SG Copy

Discussion in 'SG Copies' started by Wemperchow, May 31, 2017.

  1. Wemperchow

    Wemperchow New Member

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    Hi. First post.

    I just acquired what I believe to be an early vintage Japan SG Custom Copy. The guitar has several strange characteristics. It has no serial numbers, Pots have no numbers to identify, Pickups have hand written identification T-18, C-19 and L-14 (assume Top, Center and Lower), Ceramic Caps marked 104 SMZ, has a Gibson logo stamped horseshoe style Vibrato, very small black control knobs (look like vintage Japan Potentiometer knobs) Vintage correct ABR style bridge, cheap Japanese tuners and someone has labeled it with a Gibson logo and Reverse Split Diamond graphic with a fake SG Custom truss rod cover and a back side body kerf not found on Gibsons or any Japanese copies I have seen out there. Also I have never seen the pick guard type that is on this guitar. And the volume and tone knobs are mounted in a reverse fashion.

    I admit to be stumped as it is most definitely a copy and appears to be of Japanese origin. Parts look very old. Control cavity looks all original and wiring is well soldered. The pickups are very strange as the backs appear to be made of some galvanized type of metal and the pole pieces are flat headed, coarse thread, pointed end screws similar to a wood screw but not. I have never seen this in any guitar.

    The body wood and neck wood are mahogany and the fret board is good quality rosewood. The frets are quite good.

    If almost looks like a prototype type guitar. Very strange. Any help is appreciated

    Pic 1.JPG Pic 4 - Copy.JPG Pic 5 - Copy.JPG PIc 6 - Copy.JPG Pic 1.JPG Pic 4 - Copy.JPG Pic 5 - Copy.JPG PIc 6 - Copy.JPG Pic 7 - Copy.JPG PIc 9.JPG Pic 11.JPG
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
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  2. Wemperchow

    Wemperchow New Member

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    More pics PIc 10.JPG Pic 3 - Copy.JPG Pic 12.JPG
     
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  3. drown

    drown Well-Known Member

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    But how does it sound?
     
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  4. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    Could be a custom built luthier job.
     
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  5. Rox

    Rox Active Member

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    I have a sneaking suspicion it could be a Kasuga. They made some Custom SG types with those inlays and volute.

    It does have many features you only really see on Japanese copies.

    Those pickups actually look a lot like the ones found in "Satellite" copies - are they actually humbuckers? Some are single coils in a humbucker cover - have a very punky sound and most people don't even realise they're single coiled!
     
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  6. Chubbles

    Chubbles Active Member

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    There might be a slight chance being a Lyle (Japanese copies). I have a Lyle.
     
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  7. DCCable

    DCCable Active Member

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    It reminds me of some of the Hondo II set neck guitars I have seen. Its interesting that the pickup ground wire seems to come out of the pickup and is soldered to the back of the frame instead of being soldered internally; that's a new one on me.
     
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  8. Wemperchow

    Wemperchow New Member

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    Many thanks my friends. Man you have given me a lot to think of. I have tried several other sites and only got rude comments on how fake the guitar was. I am so glad I found this forum. You all are the best. I will follow up on your input.

    So far, I have not played the guitar. It has a broken nut and I wanted to do a complete inspection before I started playing it.

    The things that are uncommon to this copy from most Japanese clones of the day (as you also point out) is that it has a set neck. Very few did. Also it has a volute, again very few did. It is mahogany. The pick guard does not match any other Japanese SG copies I have seen and I have looked and looked on the net.

    An interesting fact: No one was trying to push off "fake" Gibsons in the 70's with fake Gibson logo graphics and the like. No one in those days would even own a faked Gibson with a fake logo in the 70's. I know. I was there. Either you could afford a real Gibson or you bought a Japanese copy. But there were not fakes with Gibson Logos on them at that time. The logo on this guitar's headstock looks to have been hand painted on and the paint is as old as the guitar. It is cracked and checking just like the rest of the guitar.

    My guess is that this was a Prototype guitar made in Japan for an Importer to approve for production and the folks in Japan that built it even copied the Gibson logo and split diamond headstock, maybe just to show that they could make a really good "copy". I also think they built it from a mirror image photo that got everything backwards (if you look at this guitar you will see the split diamond is in reverse, the volume and tone pots are in reverse). Strange indeed.

    This one definitely has odd characteristics. It has a vibrato that is a dead ringer for a Gibson Horseshoe style vibrato down to the "Gibson" logo stamped on the vibrato, it has very small Japan "radio" knobs that you will find from the 60s and 70s on radios from Japan, not Witch Hats or similar, look at the font for Rhythm and Treble on the three way switch. It looks like Times New Roman font instead of Arial like a Gibson.

    I would really be happy if someone could send me a link, a photo or even a pic of their guitar that looks like this one. Since it is a set neck with a volute separates this clone from a lot of the ones out there. And every time I look at Japan versions with set necks, I only come up with a hand full of manufacturers. And all of theirs look different from this one.

    So, thank you again to you all. Please feel free to comment and comment often. I am on a quest to find out the true origin of this guitar and your assistance is crucial. Many thanks!
     
  9. Norton

    Norton Well-Known Member

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    It's pretty damn cool
     
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  10. Rox

    Rox Active Member

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    The Kasuga ones had the volute and also were set neck. Some also had a split diamond headstock. Some were produced with blank headstocks so a manufacturer (such as Avon or Shaftesbury) could affix their own logo later on.

    What shape is the truss rod hole under the cover? Some manufacturers had a very distinctive squared off hole, which can be found on guitars made for companies like Arbiter.

    Did you take a photo of the body routing and neck join in the cavity?
     
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  11. Wemperchow

    Wemperchow New Member

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    OK. Here are some more pics. One fact I have not mentioned. I cannot find a truss rod on this guitar. I have removed the nut and there does not seem to be a slot where one should be. Also in the attached photo you will not see a truss rod opening in the pickup cut out where the neck joined. I have removed the fake truss rod cover and the head stock is smooth. No truss rod cut out. Though it may have been covered up with a replacement head stock veneer by whomever made this copy.

    Also, I am attaching some blurry pics from a guitar I have found on the net that is exactly like my guitar. Right down to the body kerf on the back which is not on any known SG copy with a set neck Pic 13.jpg Pic 15.jpg Pic 17.jpg 3n63m23o25O05Tb5P19cd2f247f8d3f331b.jpg Pic 16.jpg in the universe ( At leas forsale021.jpg forsale022.jpg Pic 14.jpg t as far as I can tell )
     
  12. Wemperchow

    Wemperchow New Member

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    In the photo I took of the guitar in the chair I had removed the pickguard. This pic is better as far as the body shape and placement of the pickups, knobs, etc. I included more pics of the potentiomters and switch in the hopes someone would recognize them. They are old, but I have not found pots or a switch like them on any old Japanese copies. The pots only say 500k and there is a type of logo. It looks like "dp" within a box in a stylistic font. Here is a pic just in case. Pic 11.JPG
     
  13. Rox

    Rox Active Member

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  14. Wemperchow

    Wemperchow New Member

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    Rox. That is a great catch. So what year is your Avon SG bass? Do you know who made it? Does it have a set neck? Also isn't Avon a brand that was sold in Britain? So many questions :cool:
     
  15. kiko

    kiko Active Member

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    Looks like one of the local gibson sg copies that were available here in the philippines in the 70's and 80's. The wiring is much neater though.
     
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  16. Rox

    Rox Active Member

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    No truss rod at all suggests these were perhaps seconds that they just shoved hardware on and sold off cheap...?

    Some distributors would spec a guitar by cost. Given the lack of truss rod, I wonder if those humbuckers are just single coils like the Satellite imports. It might suggest it's Korean rather than Japanese, maybe?

    Avon was the name used by Shaftesbury for their import guitars with bolt on necks, and Shaftesbury for the set-necks (though some LP's had bolt-on necks under the Shaftesbury name). Set neck SG's were definitely made by Kasuga.

    The logos for Avon and Shaftesbury were plastic and fixed onto the headstock with panel pins.
     
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  17. Rox

    Rox Active Member

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    It's a little like when you get a modern manufacturer like Vintage and their copies - they change factories quite often, so you will end up with more than half-a-dozen different versions of the same-looking and technically same-spec SG.

    You'll probably never work it out for sure, but it's a definite curiosity.

    If it's never going to be worth anything, I'd suggest that being a set neck - if the neck isn't twisted - it's a great base to get a truss rod fitted.

    I mean, it's an old wood body and the shape looks good...

    Is the neck as wide as it looks on the photos?
     
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  18. Wemperchow

    Wemperchow New Member

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    Thanks Gents for your informative input. I agree that it may be a mystery that is not to be solved. Quite sure though this guitar is from the 70's and comes from an Asian source. I will check the humbuckers with a multi meter and see what rating I get. Can definitely tell if they are single coils by the resistance so we shall see.

    As far as that truss rod. I am going to drill a small exploratory hole where the truss rod should be on the face plate of the guitar. The neck is so nice and straight on this guitar and the frets, fret board and body wood are of such good quality. I am really hoping there is a truss rod lurking underneath the face plate of the head stock. Some of the cheapest Japan copies of the day had truss rods so I will let you all know as soon as I can.

    I may also remove the Gibson Horseshoe Vibrato and look for filled in holes. I found two filled in tiny holes located just in front of the vibrato recently and they look like the kind you would have with one of those hold down bars that put tension on the strings coming off the vibrato. So this Gibson Vibrato may have well been put on afterwards and may be legit! If so, then we have a whole new path to follow and I hope to find other holes in the body that help prove its true provenance.

    One more question for you all. Has anyone ever seen a SG Copy with a back cutout like this one? That is more for Fender style guitars like Stratocasters and Jazzmasters. I have looked all over and except for that guitar I found that I posted pics of above (the one that had been stripped and looks kind of yellow orange in the blurry photos). That to me is one of the biggest things that separates this guitar from any other Asian import. I am hoping someone knows of one out there!!! Fingers Crossed!!! PIc 6 - Copy.JPG

    Ya'll have been great and I appreciate each and every one of your comments. You all are sharp fellows and it is so cool to learn more about these interesting guitars.

    Have a great weekend!
     
  19. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Definitely not a Hondo, that much I can say for sure.

    Those pots were commonly used by Korean manufacturers, but I'm reasonably certain this isn't Korean, unless it's by one of the smaller manufacturers who were just starting out at the time.

    I think you might be the warmest here. An early Taiwanese or Phillipine copy from the mid-late '70s.

    I know early Korean and Japanese guitars did not have truss rods, but that was back in the '60s and this thing seems pretty definitively '70s in design. Another reason I think it's by an emerging country like Taiwan. Also, the switch washer is like nothing I've ever seen on a Korean or Japanese build.

    You won't find a functional, adjustable truss rod, I guarantee that. The best you can hope for is a stabilizing rod. If it were functional, it would be accessible.
     
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  20. kiko

    kiko Active Member

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    I've owned old japanese guitars, even the early one (1973) have decent wood routing. The sg posted have rough pickup routing similar to the 3pickup local les paul copy that my then young wife bought me (she doesn't know any thing about guitars).

    Another fact is that the sg copies are almost always 3 pickup models with bigsbys, go figure :) . They also dont come with truss rods.

    But considering these facts, the op has one of the better looking PH copies i've seen (if it is indeed a PH copy).
     
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