Tuesday, January 20, 2009

1970's Electra Gibson ES-335 Copy

I picked up this guitar in August of 2008 and it has a market value of $111.50. It's a 1960's or 1970's vintage Gibson ES-335 style hollowbody Electra guitar. Could be a Kawai, Tokai or Matsumoku built guitar for either SLM or PCM (not sure since it has features that are similar to both but I do believe it to be the PCM Electra). Nice red sunburst color and as far as I can tell, this guitar is all original and complete except for the missing bridge. I didn't have a bridge for an archtop and didn't want to buy one to restore the guitar. I did plug it into an amp and didn't hear anything "strange" out of the pickups.

Electra guitars were imported from Japan by St. Louis Music from 1971-1984. Most of the instruments were made by Matsumoku in Matsumoto Japan. The Electra line replaces SLM's Japanese made Apollo and US made Custom Kraft lines. The first guitar, simply called The Electra, was a copy of the Ampeg Dan Armstrong lucite guitar and issued in 1971, followed quickly by a variety of bolt-neck copies of other brands. In 1975 the Tree-of-Life guitars debut with a leaf pattern carved into the top, and the Electra line expanded to 25 models. Open-book headstocks changed to wave or fan shape by 1978. By around 1981 ties with Matsumoku further solidified and decision eventually made to merge SLM's Electra brand with Matsumoku's Westone brand. Some Korean production began in the early 80's. In the fall of 1983, the Electra Brand becomes Electra Phoenix. By the beginning of 1984, the brand became Electra-Westone and by the end of 1984 just Westone. By 1987 or 1988 Singer Sewing Machines had bought Matsumoku and killed guitar production. SLM changed the brand to Alvarez (it's acoustic brand) and switched production to other plants, including Korea.

SLM was even competing with itself. Bernard Kornblum's Saint Louis Music (SLM) Electra brand competed with his own brother David Kornblum's California based Pacific Coast Music (PCM) Electra brand yet the two were not connected. Pacific Coast Music's Electra logo was nearly identical to the SLM Electra logo from 1972 to 1975 except instead of the SLM gold text, a black text on a white background was used. Both companies often imported from the same source. Pacific Coast often have an X on the headstock or the pickguard. In general, most favour the SLM versions to the PCM ones and the documentation and models are better represented by the SLM versions.

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