Tuesday, May 5, 2009

1960's Kimberly (Kawai) 2 Pickup Electric

I acquired this guitar in the fall of 2008 and it has a market value of $115. It's a Kimberly 2 pickup Electric Guitar from the 1960's and there's no model number to be found on it anywhere. The prize on this guitar is the goldfoil pickups and I've already used them for another project.

Kawai was founded in 1927 by Koichi Kawai in Hamamatsu, Japan. Mr. Kawai's vision was to create top-quality pianos, a quest in which he certainly succeeded! Kawai added guitars to its line around 1954 and eventually became a player in the 1960s Guitar Boom. Like many Japanese electric guitars, most early Kawai guitars were slightly frumpy, although the impression is that their electronics were a little better than most. Often accused of supplying more flash than substance, there are Kawai guitars that are of high quality, playability and design.

Probably the most prominent brand names in the U.S. manufactured by Kawai were TeleStar, whose sparkle models have a small but devoted following, Kimberly, and Domino. Kawai also built guitars for Saint Lous music in the 1960's and 1970's under their brand name Apollo.

In January of 1967 Kawai purchased the Teisco guitar company, but they appear to have operated the two companies pretty much separately. Both lines featured exclusive designs and different pickups. Teisco continued the vector of evolution it had taken, ending up with the Spectrums and finally the mini-Strats, before become the Kay brand in the U.S.

In 1968 both Kawai and Teisco freaked out. Kawai produced models such as the axe-shaped Concert, plus a variety of unusual VS violin-bodied guitars (including one with 16 strings and its own pickup mounted parallel to the strings, whether sympathetic or strummed, who knows?), the Splender, shaped like a banjo, and another model shaped like a sitar. For Teisco, 1968 was the year that gave us the famous artist-palette-shaped May Queen, wildly flared, asymmetrical Fire Bird, and long-horn Phantom. One other company, Firstman (unrelated to Kawai), produced a model similar to the Concert called the Liverpool.

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16 comments:

Farner9 said...

Grooooovy man!

Guitar Hunter said...

Did you ever play one of those Mark?

Anonymous said...

i got a guitar identical to that one! this is the first one i've seen on the internet exactly like mine!!! I paid 50 bucks for mine, along with a Eleca Strat copy, (total of 70 bucks for it).

Guitar Hunter said...

You have made a great deal on the two guitars, those deals don't come along very often.

Anonymous said...

I have this Guitar that is pictured at the bottom. It is in good shape and very playable. what is it worth?

Guitar Hunter said...

Probably between $100 and $125 if it's in good playable condition.

Anonymous said...

I have the exact same guitar too but i need parts... i got it for free from an old friend and its missing the original knobs and few other things, anyone know how to get parts for a 50 year old guitar?

Guitar Hunter said...

The best, easiest, and maybe cheapest place to get parts for these guitars is ebay.

J.D. Turner said...

I think I have an Kawai splender model. The label on the headstock was missing when my dad got this guitar probably 16 years ago. Shaped like a banjo, looks like a banjo, but its an electric guitar. I've looked everywhere to compare pictures, but I haven't had any luck. There is a switch on this guitar you push up and a bar comes up under the strings near the bridge and it rest against the strings and gives it a metallic sound like a banjo. I would like to send pictures to post if you wouldn't mind, as being this is the only guitar I've seen like this. Sounds awesome as well!

Guitar Hunter said...

Thanks for the pictures of your Spender (at least that is what it looks like to me). It is the first one I've actually seen and I'll be posting pictures of it shortly.

Anonymous said...

I recieved a Kimberly guitar just like the one in the picture with the case. The only difference is the word Kimberly is in a different place and going the other way. What do you think it is worth. I'm probably gonna give it away to a guy I know who plays in a band because he will use it. I hate to give it away because it belonged to a deceased relative but it will just sit there an collect dust.

Guitar Hunter said...

I have seen them with the label placed differently before as well. Depending on the condition your guitar should be worth between $100 and $150. Maybe you should keep it in the family if you can and learn to play yourself.

Anonymous said...

How much is the Splender worth??? My uncle just bought one. He had never seen anything like it before and wanted me to look it up. Your site is all I can seem to find with any kind of information on it at all.

Anonymous said...

Guitar Hunter, just wondering if you ever found a model name for this guitar?

I know the 4-pickup version is usually referred to as a Kimberly Apollo.

Anonymous said...

I will pay 100$ or more for a working condition one.

Anonymous said...

ok i have been trying to find out forever what kind of guitar i got in 1971 from g.c. murphy, i paid 17.00 dollars for it it was a strat style one pickup, like a p-90 looks like, black pickgaurd, dark green paint,rosewood fret board, green and black burst paint neck ,white plastic nut, oh ya trem bar im drying to find one but it seems like a dead end tx

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