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Help me identify this guitar - 60s hollow body (apparently)

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by dublingerry, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. dublingerry

    dublingerry TDPRI Member

    25
    Mar 15, 2016
    Dublin
    IMG_20180107_215216.jpg
    Just bought this as a project and I'm wondering what to do with it -partly the issue is I don't know what make it is (if any). I'm tempted to do a complete refinish such as strip the current fairly beat-up finish and redo in a nitro tobacco sunburst. If it's an old beater fine but what if it's a decent vintage guitar which should be left "as is"?

    One big issue is that I cant remove the gold foil style pickups to check the manufacturer - there are no screws at all that I can see. Is it possible they are glued on and if so would a heat gun free up the glue or damage the pickups?
    IMG_20180107_182609.jpg

    It has a standard looking headstock with weird truss rod

    IMG_20180107_182444.jpg

    Only one of the 3 a side tuner plates is left intact (I'm presuming this is original).
    IMG_20180107_182501.jpg
    Everything on this is a little unusual - the body kind of "flattens out" around the bolt-on neck plate, which is longer than normal and takes 5 screws
    IMG_20180107_182705.jpg
    The neck where it fits the pocket is kind of different. IMG_20180107_182544.jpg

    Oh, and it's a short scale - scale length is 24.2"

    The input is more like an acoustic guitar input - perhaps not original?
    IMG_20180107_182635.jpg

    Finally the controls are around the bottom edge (similar to a Harmony, maybe?)- three volumes, one per pickup, and a single tone, all mounted on a plate which bolts on underneath (removed here for clarity)
    IMG_20180107_182801.jpg

    The back of the pots are quite corroded so I can't get any date information from them

    All in all it might be a 60s Woolworths guitar worth 50 bucks, or might be something a bit more substantial - either way I'm thinking it can be an interesting project.

    Any thoughts - especially about how to remove the pickups?
     

    Attached Files:


  2. Count

    Count Friend of Leo's

    Headstock makes me think Kent or Harmony, control plate makes me think Kawai, short scale definitely makes me think Japanes made. The pickup rings may be just push on so I would try easing them off to see if there are screw underneath them. A hairdrier rather than a heat gun may help soften any glue or gunk that is holding them. They will be rather brittle from age so easy does it. A dentist's mirror and a torch through the f holes may help to see what is what on the inside.
     

  3. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Holic

    948
    Jul 13, 2014
    Manchester, UK
    I don't recognise the exactly what it is but that body shape is very typical of Eastern Block 60s and 70s guitars. Might be worth looking at brands like Jolana (Czech Rep) and Orfeus (Bulgaria)and see if anything looks close.
     
    dublingerry likes this.

  4. Quinn23

    Quinn23 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    48
    118
    Mar 5, 2017
    Somerset England
    Mmm. Plastic... don't go heating that finish off!!
     

  5. LowThudd

    LowThudd Friend of Leo's

    Feb 11, 2014
    Sherman Oaks, Ca
    Or use heat to remove the pickups. Wow.
     

  6. dublingerry

    dublingerry TDPRI Member

    25
    Mar 15, 2016
    Dublin
    Wow, that was quick - thanks all! I had actually found the guitarz blogspot post after jayyj's post pointing to Eastern Europe.

    So, it looks like this thing couldn't be more of a turkey if it had feathers and made a "gobble" sound!

    Ah well, maybe tidy it up a bit and find some unsuspecting mark or rather "aficionado of esoteric East European 60's guitar technology" to unload it on...
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    anyone interest in buying a guitar :D?
     
    Quinn23 likes this.

  7. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Tele-Holic

    Looks East block to me. But don't totally discount it. Try checking/replacing the electronics, set it up, maybe you get lucky and the pickups are ok. That short scale alone is bound to generate a different tone. Cleaned up, it might just be pretty cool, in a "Bohemian" way ;)
     
    LowThudd likes this.

  8. dublingerry

    dublingerry TDPRI Member

    25
    Mar 15, 2016
    Dublin
    Well I put it back together again and got the pickups working - but they sound pretty crap, very low output.
    I'll test this evening with new pots etc. just in case but I'm not hopeful...
     

  9. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    59
    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    Plastic! That’s awaesome. In a crazy way.

    Can you post a sound clip? I’m always interested in alternative construction methods
     

  10. dublingerry

    dublingerry TDPRI Member

    25
    Mar 15, 2016
    Dublin
    I would say it'll be quite some time before thats possible - bridge and nut are both composed of softwood and really need replacing, also action is pretty high but there's still fret buzz around the 5th/6th fret, so there is a lot of work before I'll be worried about recording the sound. At the moment the main concern is whether it is worthwhile putting any money into this...
     

  11. philosofriend

    philosofriend Tele-Holic

    784
    Oct 28, 2015
    Kalamazoo
    Usually the tone quality of those old cheapo hollow boxes is so bad that there is no point in trying to get them to playing condition. The bodies have so much stress glued up in them that unless you put on a massive metal bridge the tone sucks. Then there are unfixable issues caused by the soft weak wood used to make the necks. If you want to learn how to file frets though, it is better to start on a guitar like this that doesn't matter. It is not worth putting any money into. If you want to learn guitar making, get a pile of three or four of them (don't spend money on that either) and put the best parts together. You will learn stuff that will help you build a real guitar later.
     

  12. dublingerry

    dublingerry TDPRI Member

    25
    Mar 15, 2016
    Dublin
    Well, I'm not a complete novice at this stuff - I started by building a couple from kits (335, Rickenbacker 12 string, crappy Chinese Jazzmaster) then built some partscasters (Tele, Jaguar, Jazzmaster) and also refurbished a couple (TeleEpiphone LP Special, LP100, Squier Strats, Encore Strats). Done all the work myself including refinishing (Nitro, 2K and waterbased). Refretted a couple of them as well. Some of these I've sold, or swapped for other guitars. For example, I recently completed a blue Sparkleburst Tele with ESP humbuckers which I swapped for about 3 crappy guitars (BC Rich Warlocks etc.) and one good one (Epiphone Gothic Explorer refitted with Gibson 500T pickups).

    But I'm at the stage now where, as a hobby, I've put so much money into this (the time spent isn't an issue because that's kind of the point!) that I feel I need to at least get back what I put into it especially in terms of parts. The problem I have on this guitar is that I can do the work on a new nut and bridge (I have a couple of bone nut blanks, for example) and I have a fair few Alpha pots lying around to redo the wiring, but in terms of doing a proper job on it, unless I put in new decent machine heads and - especially - replace the pickups, I can't see it becoming anything more than just something to hang on the wall. And I'm pretty sure the cost of new parts would far, far, outway whatever value I could realise from selling the guitar - especially as the only English language review of this model indicates that it is possibly more useful as a sled rather than a guitar!

    So my best bet is to fix it up as best I can without putting too much money into it, and stick it on eBay to see what I can get...
     
    Quinn23 likes this.

  13. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    59
    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    I like the sound of cheapo 60s hollow guitars. They don't sound like a solid body and if a solid body is your tone goal then they sound awful. But if you do your tone genealogy back to, say, chess records in the 50s, or King records in Cincinnati, you can see what the sonic goal was--budget archtops, T-Bone Walker for the average man. T-Bone, charlie christian, the Kay thin twin, bill wyman's framus bass--that's the rosetta stone for cheapo hollow bodies. Thunky, with a sense of swing.
     

  14. jarpat

    jarpat Tele-Meister

    Age:
    55
    237
    Nov 1, 2017
    Helsinki, Finland
    Could You imagine a better point to start collecting super-rare/odd instruments..?
    ;)
     

  15. dublingerry

    dublingerry TDPRI Member

    25
    Mar 15, 2016
    Dublin
    I'm not looking for solid-body tone but I was hoping for some tone!

    However it's quite possible that the weird wooden nut and bridge are sucking some if not all of the brightness and sustain out of this so significant work is required on this. The plan is to check the pickup output and/or construction (they are VERY microphonic) and if I think I can get something decent out of them then I'll work on it further.

    I think it's probably a good test of any guitar-tech skills I have to try and get this sounding reasonable...
     
    Quinn23 likes this.

  16. Zuzax

    Zuzax Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 1, 2011
    Texas
    Looks like a fun project. These are the types of guitars where I learned to re-wire, re-fret, level and crown, and all that.

    Regarding the old microphonic pups, in my experience (with Teiscos and Matsumokus, anyway) wax potting can reduce it a bit, but it can change the tone too, and often sparks a religious war on message boards.
     

  17. LowThudd

    LowThudd Friend of Leo's

    Feb 11, 2014
    Sherman Oaks, Ca
    Here is a cheap bridge that would probably work better for US$7. http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148343&icep_item=141963847619

    Put some sand paper face up on the guitar, and run the wood bridge base over it to shape it to the top and it would be better than what you have.

    I also mounted a tune o'matic roller bridge to the wood base of my cheapo hollowbody, which sounded like crap when I got it. Sounds great now. One of my favorite guitars. Bridge made all the difference in the world.

    [​IMG]
     
    Quinn23 likes this.

  18. dublingerry

    dublingerry TDPRI Member

    25
    Mar 15, 2016
    Dublin
    So, to investigate the pickups further.

    Desoldered one (middle pickup) from it's pot and measured it - 7.5kOhm. Should be pretty decent in that case.

    So I soldered it directly to a jack plug and plugged it in to the amp and - still crap. Barely audible. Actually possibly working better as a microphone than a pickup. Just in case, I tried the neck pickup. Pretty much the same.

    Time to dig into this further.

    I had seen earlier a blog post on the bass version of this which had pickups held in place by screws to the side (similar to old Hofner toasters) and it mentioned that others had white pickups surrounds which just held the pickup in place through friction.

    So, after much tugging and prising, the whole pickup assembly came away. The white surround is screwed to the guitar in 2 places, and it's broken off somewhat but I think I can screw it back on again.
    IMG_20180108_205600.jpg

    So the pickup is removed and comes apart pretty easily and now I think I see why it is so microphonic!
    IMG_20180108_205655.jpg
    Although to be fair it's not that unusual for 60s pickups - I've seen similar on Hofners for example. Although this is from the 70s I presume the Soviets were at least 10 years behind the West when it comes to creating tools of decadent Western imperialism such as guitar pickups;)

    So if nothing else this is a good example of why measuring a pickup using the resistance only doesn't necessarily indicate how good or bad or indeed how loud the pickup will be. I've a decent multimeter on order which also measures inductance which would be a better indication of the power of a pickup - but currently its still in Hong Kong (or wherever...)

    So, in a fairly simple device containing a coil and a magnet, if the coil is OK it must be the magnet.

    Removed it and checked it - definitely very weak. I'm not sure if it was this bad when first manufactured but time certainly hasn't improved it.

    But as it happens it isn't soldered or welded or glued to the base plate - its removable.
    And I happen to have a couple of crappy old humbuckers lying around with a broken coil or two but a functional magnet.

    Hmmm....

    (to be continued)
     
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  19. dublingerry

    dublingerry TDPRI Member

    25
    Mar 15, 2016
    Dublin
    I've actually seen an image of the original bridge for this baby and it had a cylinder of metal right across with multiple grooves cut into it for different string placement but of course not fixed in place except by the strings so in 40 years or so its not surprising that it's gone missing.

    The bridge you posted that's on eBay looks a perfect replacement. Although it's in China and shipping to Ireland from there can take upwards of 6 weeks or so. Is it the same shipping to the US?

    Anyway thanks for that - it's a viable and inexpensive option and if my plan regarding the pickups goes OK I just might be able to put something together that approximates a decent guitar because the neck/body/action etc. are all pretty OK - it is definitely playable.
     

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