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Vintage ESP tele - what model? any experts out there?

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by sergeant.salt, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. sergeant.salt

    sergeant.salt TDPRI Member

    40
    Dec 18, 2012
    Bangkok
    Mystery ESP (?) Tele arrived from Japan a few months back. Trying to figure it out:

    Neck: Mahogany with Brazilian rosewood (sorry, no pics. Arrived broken and being glued at luthier). There is no logo on headstock, but confusingly - as if it is original - it has traces of blue poly lacquer to the heel that matches the body.. no information in neck pocket or on neck heel.
    Now replaced with a Warmoth baked maple/wenge neck.

    Body: One piece ash (pretty sure it is ash)

    Neck plate: Marked "ESP" in small letters (never seen this before), no serial(?)..

    Bridge tray: Marked with same small "ESP" in small letters. Strat style with saddles that looks like the ones on my old Ibanez Blazer..

    The wiring is quite funky and probably something done after it left the shop. (Tone replaced by a 2nd pickup selector offering 2 neck sounds, 2 mid-position sounds and 1 bridge sound + kill-signal-option. I don't know if PU´s are put out of phase or what is going on, but the sounds are incredibly musical and complex on all settings.)

    All hardware is has a matching oxydization into matte grey.. Bridge has strat style saddles that is similar to early 80´s MIJs (including my Ibanez Blazer) and tuners are vintage style deluxe. The guitar has an old feeling to it, pretty light weight for Japanese ash and very resonant - and the neck (well dried out) is ¨the lightest neck I've ever held.

    I don't know much of ESPs and I have been trying to google it, but cannot find any ESP Tele with a no serial neck plate and this weird small-letter logo. Seller in Japan knew nothing. Are there any ESP experts here who might shed some light on what I have got my hands on?

    PICS
    10818.jpg 10819.jpg 10940.jpg 10941.jpg 10942.jpg
     
    Toadtele, brookdalebill and hellopike like this.

  2. mgreene

    mgreene Tele-Holic

    661
    Jan 27, 2010
    south carolina
    ESP would do customs over the counter in NYC - if you knew somebody. It doesnt look much like their original 400 "vintage" series.

    I have an 80's hybrid tele-strat with a rosewood neck with ebony board. The rosewood on mine is darker/redder.

    The 80's doesn't sound like a long time ago to me - but I guess it was 30 yrs ago.
     

  3. radiocaster

    radiocaster Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2015
    europe
    That looks much nicer than the new ones. I played one or two new ESPs: cheesy relic bodies and necks, back contour on the body. Not my cup of tea.

    They did also make parts, necks and whatnot. Could be a parts ESP. Nice body.
     
    sergeant.salt likes this.

  4. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 14, 2005
    Nueces Strip
    I have no info for ya but it looks nice.
    I've been watching for a deal on the Ron Wood signature model (b bender) but they really seem to hold their value.
     

  5. sergeant.salt

    sergeant.salt TDPRI Member

    40
    Dec 18, 2012
    Bangkok
    Yeah.. I am closer to the Japanese market than to the US and Euro market and even where these guitars were made those ESPs hold value remarkably well. When I started to play you could find early ESPs in perfect condition for a couple of hundreds, now a good condition ESP tele will easily fetch 7-900 USD in Japan and 1k++ elsewhere. For some reason tele´s are more expensive than strats.
     
    RodeoTex likes this.

  6. Tony474

    Tony474 Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    71
    Apr 16, 2007
    North Bushey, England.
    That's interesting. I'm unable to comment on the OP's guitar, but I own an ESP 400-series Tele (in my avatar pic), which is one of my favourite working instruments. I've owned it since the early '90s, once sold it to a friend but bought it back later. Its value is of only academic interest to me as I don't plan to sell it again, but it's nice to know anyway.

    I also have a 400-series Strat in LPB, in which I've installed the Kinman Woodstock Regular pickup set. Unlike the Tele it has ESP's own headstock shape with the black-and-gold logo, and a "New York" neck plate. I've gigged that one extensively too and anyone else who's played it has agreed what a superb neck it has.
     
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  7. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    39
    Oct 3, 2015
    Philadelphia
    That’s a nice looking guitar, and for some reason I’m teally drawn to those keyhole saddles!
     
    sergeant.salt likes this.

  8. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's

    Sep 20, 2005
    Kansas City
    Like Schecter, early on ESP did sell parts for you to build your own guitars; since there is no logo on the headstock maybe this one was assembled by an individual instead of by ESP or by their storefront on 48th Street in NYC.
     

  9. sergeant.salt

    sergeant.salt TDPRI Member

    40
    Dec 18, 2012
    Bangkok
    (..yeah.. me too, for some strange reason;))
     

  10. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    39
    Oct 3, 2015
    Philadelphia
    That’s a small detail I would change on my guitar if I had unlimited financial resources. But until then I’ll admire them on your guitar.

    Also- is that a reflection on the body in the very first pic, or some part of its finish? It’s a reflection right?
     

  11. sergeant.salt

    sergeant.salt TDPRI Member

    40
    Dec 18, 2012
    Bangkok
    I did some research and found the same thing. This is long so beware: Nerd ALARM!! (I thought I´d share the research as I was down with the flu and had not much better to do:))

    As many of you know a lot of the Japanese guitar production is linked together and many of them hail from the city of Matsumoto. In this initially rural city a train station was where several small woodworker-operations picked up their raw woods and shipped out their finished products - some did stringed instruments like the Suzuki family, some did furniture and some specialized in cabinet making, like Matsumoto Mokko (later Matsumoku) - but also hardware company Gotoh originated in this city.

    These companies did OEM for both domestic and foreign guitar brands, and some factories became brands and contractors by themselves - like FujiGen Gakki, that bought up Kiso Suzuki and had Matsumoku make both parts and whole instruments for their own lines of instruments and OEM contracts. It is all rather confusing and "incestous".

    Contractors Saito and Arai created the brand Greco (amongst others) and under the supervision of Hidesato Shiino (godfather of a lot of brands and both stringed instruments, turntables and other musical components) these guitars and basses were produced by FujiGen, often partly and sometimes fully subcontracted by Matsumoku. Arai entered a close relationship with Matsumoku and started making Aria (pro II) guitars.

    Mr. Shiino came from Yamaha guitars and started to work for Saito (Fernandes and Greco), but also was involved in the Moridaira gakki made H.S. Anderson guitars, Morris guitars and indeed several other domestic guitar brands. His initials H.S. are to be found on other guitar models as well. He also started Vestax.

    Shiino and some friends started the ESP company in 1975 initially as a strict OEM contractor. Unlike popular belief ESP never really was a guitar maker per se. Their first guitars/guitar parts were made by Kiso Suzuki which ESP bought. Kiso Suzuki were first and foremost a maker of acoustic instruments, although they did make electric guitars as well. It is rumored that they made the early Navigators, although - by the time Navigator featured the signature model of artist Char - production had already moved to a factory that were to be important for both ESP and Schecter/Moon/PGM - the small but incredibly industrious Harayama factory.

    Moon Corporation/PGM actually broke off from the ESP group and was founded to take care of the Schecter OEM production - initially partly owned from the US. They had the Schecters (/and later Tom Anderson guitars) and their own brand Moon/PGM guitars made at the legendary Harayama factory - the same factory that were to take orders from ESP and make both ESP/Navigator guitars, parts for the 48th Street Custom guitars, the Kramers and thousands of guitars for smaller shops around the world - including for my own country: Norwegian company "Guitar Workshop" (strats, dinky strats and teles).

    The Harayama factory was started and run by Norikatsu Harayama who was a renowned luthier and production line leader at Matsumoku. Japan's ancient feudal owner structure is apparent also in guitar production, and old cultural rules still applied as Japan entered the modern age. To leave a company like Harayama did was not as straight forward as it would be in the west, and for a long time Matsumoku's owners still felt they "owned" Harayama. Long after Harayama set up his own factory (initially producing bridges for acoustic guitars) Matsumoku continued to pay out monthly wages that Mr. H refused to receive - so they were kept in a safe. Even as Matsumoku bought bridges from this new factory, they still paid salaries that were never collected.

    Harayama expanded production to include necks - that were considered to be the best - and for a long time the best telecaster and stratocaster copy necks (Grecos and others) were made by him. So fact is that both strats and teles made in FujiGen and Matsumoku from the latter half of the 70's may have had necks made by mr.H. His factory was soon famous well outside Japan and work was increasingly contracted to him trough the ESP group and the Moon/PGM corporation.

    Harayama tried to hire luthier Momose Yasuo who he knew from FujiGen Gakki back in the 60's, but Momose joined Yatsuzuka Kei and started the Headway (first producing excellent acoustic guitars) in 1977 - at the very start of the "Golden Age" of Japanese guitars. By the early 80's focus shifted towards the production of electric guitars - Riverhead is one of their early own brands - later they opened their famous Asaka factory, formed the Deviser Group and took on OEM production of the immaculate Blade Lewinson guitars amongst others. In the nineties they also produced guitars for their own brands Momose, Bacchus and Riverhead. Other brands made by Headway are Owner, Ocean and Se'en, as well as SeventySeven in the 2000's - also high quality guitars. OEMs also include e.g Combat guitars, though many of these smaller brands have been known to contract several different makers for their different lines.

    ESP (and Schecter) later moved parts of the production to the Terada factory (that also OEM Crafted in Japan from late 90's to 20089 - and eventually set up production facilities in other Asian countries (Indonesia, Korea and China) keeping a small scale high-end production going in Japan. Deviser/Headway brand Bacchus had a similar fate and today most instruments carrying this name are made elsewhere in Asia.

    Interestingly both the ESP telecaster featured here and my two 80´s Moon strats are made by the same factory. The Vanzandt I sold was made by PGM Moon, and the Seymour Duncan strat I sold was ESP, but by the time these two guitars were made (AFAIK) they were not made at the same company.

    It also seems like my Bacchus guitars and my Blade Lewinson strat (and perhaps even my Combat strat - although I am less certain of the latter) have all been made at the same luthier shop.

    Anyway, todays unintended history lesson, I guess.
     
    Tony474 likes this.

  12. sergeant.salt

    sergeant.salt TDPRI Member

    40
    Dec 18, 2012
    Bangkok
    10815.jpg
    It is a reflection. It is a blue burst tele (only shades of blue lacquer). Unfortunately part of the finish has come off at the edge due to terrible wrapping and rough treatment by Thai post (that also broke the neck). I'd say it is a handsome player, not time capsule super model:)

    As for the keyhole saddles, not sure if they are necessarily so expensive.. my Ibanez Blazer have these same saddles in gold (now worn to bronze). They were not featured on very expensive guitars, and Japanese guitarists have tended to replace domestic styled saddles with traditional fender strat saddles, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if they could be available for not too much money from a Japanese luthier who's been in the business for some time. The challenge would be finding this luthier I guess:)

    EDIT: Found these new ones.. yes they are indeed expensive (100 USD + shipping and possible customs fees)
    http://www.sekaimon.com/us/101977/Saddles/192461498006/
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018

  13. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    52
    Jan 23, 2007
    Denmark
    Not much to add , but ESP parts were what I often got when ordering parts wayyyy before the internet
    I believe I still have a neckplate somewhere......Maybe its on a guitar , LOL...
     

  14. Tony474

    Tony474 Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    71
    Apr 16, 2007
    North Bushey, England.
    Unintended maybe, but fascinating and very informative. I own two 1980s ESP guitars, both with great necks, so I wonder whether Harayama-san might have been responsible for those. I've had a couple of Levinson Blades in the past; as you say, immaculate. I possess a couple of Matsumoku instruments too: an original Washburn HB35 and a Westone Thunder 1A bass. My Ibanez Blazer guitar and bass, BL300-TV and BL700-NT respectively, I believe were made by Dyna Gakki. I've had two other Blazers in the past as well. I don't know about Dyna's relationship with the people and companies you mention.

    Meanwhile, a very excellent French lady guitarist, Laura Cox (her dad's English) seems to be a Bacchus endorsee.
     

  15. sergeant.salt

    sergeant.salt TDPRI Member

    40
    Dec 18, 2012
    Bangkok
    I don't know much about Dyna Gakki, but I own the BL470 - and it is a great playing guitar!! B823042U_02__91365.1402860394.jpg It was sitting duck (pun intended - sure looks like a luthier's psychedelic Disney dream to me) in a studio somewheres in the US and I snagged it for a cute price and have since been offered ridiculous money for that guitar, but 6-string Donald is not for sale:)
     
    Tony474 likes this.

  16. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    39
    Oct 3, 2015
    Philadelphia

    I believe armadillo guitar parts sells a set of keyhole saddles in aluminum for $65 a set. Which isn’t bad, but is still a little pricey for a change that is purely for vanity.
     
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  17. sergeant.salt

    sergeant.salt TDPRI Member

    40
    Dec 18, 2012
    Bangkok
    ((http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148343&icep_item=202310799051
    http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148343&icep_item=202345841786
    And these for 30 bucks. Spend an afternoon with some polishing agent and it could work out pretty nicely, but you'd have to move fast - many people 'watching'.))
     

  18. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    39
    Oct 3, 2015
    Philadelphia
    sergeant.salt likes this.

  19. Tony474

    Tony474 Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    71
    Apr 16, 2007
    North Bushey, England.
    I'm not surprised that it's a great player. My BL300 is a slab-bodied (i.e. uncontoured) Strat type in dark-stained ash with three ceramic single-coils and a massive brass hardtail bridge/tailpiece. A great-sounding guitar with a particularly lively, snappy response, though perhaps just a little lacking in low-end resonance. I'm not keen on the bullet truss-rod adjuster behind the nut, but I can live with it. I've always said that if I could only have one electric guitar (unthinkable!) I'd be satisfied if it were this one.
     
    sergeant.salt likes this.

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