Friday, February 27, 2009

Vintage Estrada Classical Style Acoustic Guitar

I acquired this guitar in the fall of 2008 and it has a market value of $158.50. It's a vintage Mexican (Mexico) Estrada Classical style guitar. Looks to be a spruce or cyprus top with Braziallian Rosewood back and sides. Good frets, nice action, and no major structural damage that I can see. I didn't detect any fret buzz anywhere along the neck.

Dimensions: Lower Bout = 12 3/8 inches, Waist = 8 inches, Upper Bout = 9 inches, Thickness = 3 3/8 inches

Typical for a guitar of this vintage includes some dings in the front, scratches front and back and some minor corrosion on the metal parts.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

1960's Winston Guyatone Goya Silvertone

I acquired this guitar in the fall of 2008 and it has a market value of $51.00. It's a 1960's vintage guitar that I believe is a Winston model made by Teisco although it could be a Guyatone, Goya, or Silvertone guitar. It has one bent tuning key and a missing whammy bar and cover. The frets are good and it has nice action with an adjustable bridge. As far as I can tell, this guitar is all original and complete except for the pickup selector knob which I installed.

The Winston brand appeared on a full range of acoustic guitars, thinline acoustic/electric archtops, and solid body electric guitars and basses. Winston instruments are generally the shorter scale beginner's type guitar. Winston guitars were Japanese guitars imported by Buegeleisen and Jacobson from the early 1960's to the late 1960's although some were made by Guyatone.


Friday, February 20, 2009

1980's Westone Spectrum ST X135

I picked up this guitar in January of 2009 and it has a market value of $78.00. I found out it was made in 1985-1987 by the Matsumoku plant in Japan. It's a great sounding guitar and has plenty of tonal options with the coil tap switch. These Westone guitars are a great deal for the price and if you come across one, pick it up!

1985-1987 Matsumoku built Westone Spectrum ST X135

Standard X135 description;
Body and neck are maple
Fingerboard is Rosewood
22 nickel silver frets
25.5 inch scale, with graphite nut
Machine heads - Gotoh TSA (Tremolo System Approved)
Pickups - Magnaflux I UBC (Unbalanced coil)
Controls - volume, tone (Push/pull switch for coil tap)
3 way pickup selector
Control knobs - Switchmaster
Bridge - Tekglide II trem
Hardware - Chrome

Here's a site with a bit more information and pictures.

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.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Vintage Strap - Ace Style

This strap came with the Kay Value Leader that I found and it has a $26.00 market value. Not a true Ace strap, but similar in construction and from the 1960's - 1970's era and used by all the big rock stars of the time.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

How to become a Guitar Hunter

I've been asked by a lot of people where I find all these guitars. Just think of the obvious places you can buy used guitars and that's where you'll find me. I get my guitars at pawn shops and garage sales most of the time. It does take hard work, dedication, and a great deal of luck to find the better ones at a decent price.

After finding a promising guitar, I like to do research to find out as much as I can about it. Along the way, I'm learning a lot of the history of early guitar manufacturers. I hope my research will help the guitar hunters to come.

You do have to watch out for traps when you're guitar hunting. I'm not talking about the one below -


but the ones like buying a guitar that might have some hidden damage. Cracks, hidden repairs, and electronics that don't work. I'm not sure why people that have no idea how a guitar works go and take the backs off their guitars and even unsolding the connections.

Another big thing you do have to watch out for specially with higher end guitars is a counterfeit. I'm not talking about copies like the strat copies that several companies make, but the ones that try to fool you into thinking they are orignials. These are getting so good that even some experts are being fooled. If you're buying an early Fender or Gibson be very careful.

The chinese fakers are getting really good at this and not only counterfeiting early guitars, but new ones as well. Just last year there were at least 3 websites (such as paylessguitars, samin, musoland) set up to sell the guitars which are offline now. There have also been many ebay sellers offering these chinese guitars. Be careful in what you buy because lots of these guitars are now on the secondary market. I did a quick search and I found a site still operating with counterfeit Les Pauls going for around $200.

In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with tributes to iconic guitars made by companies other than Fender, Gibson or Ibanez - as long as they don't slap Fender, Gibson, or Ibanez logos on them and try to pass them off as the real thing.

Here's a great article on how to spot Counterfeit Guitars.

Here's a nice article on how to spot fake Gibsons.

Here's a article on how to spot fake Fenders.

And the third most counterfeited guitar is the Mosrite.

There is even a coalition of four of the best known guitar manufacturers in the world to fight counterfeiters.

Now that you know the basics of guitar hunting, I hope you have a lot of fun. Some people will even say you've developed GAS (guitar aquisition sydrome) but there's nothing wrong with that. If you'd like to share your experiences and finds with the rest of the readers of this blog, send them to me and I'll get them posted.

Friday, February 13, 2009

1960's Teisco Kay Silvertone Guitar

I acquired this guitar in September of 2008 and it has a market value of about $36.00. This is a 1960's vintage single pickup electric guitar that looks similar to some Silvertone, Kay, Airline, Teisco guitars from the era but it has no markings indicating USA or Japan build. The original gold color was removed from the front and back but it does remain on the edges and a bit on the headstock. The wood underneath looks almost like a mahagony and maybe that's what it is. The neck was straight and had good fret life and nice action with adjustable bridge. As far as I can tell, this guitar was all original and complete except for the finish being removed.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Johnson RepTone Amp

I picked this up in September 2008 and it has a market value of about $10.00. Not a great amp at all and I hated the ugly green fabric case cover. I believe they are still made by Johnson and primarily come with starter guitar packages.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Kay Value Leader

I acquired this guitar in September 2008 and because of the modifications it only has a market value of $100.00. It's a 1960-1961 vintage single pickup Kay Value Leader electric guitar. Looks similar to some Kay, Airline, Old Craftsman guitars from the era. The original finish has been removed from the front and back and neck. As far as I can tell, this guitar is all original and complete except for the finish and pickguard.

The Kay Value Leader thinline guitars are from the late 1950s/early 1960s. This guitar features a metal "checkerboard" style pickguard and a sunburst finish. It has a 15' wide single cutaway, flat top semi hollow maple body with 2 pickups. It has a laminated maple top and maple fingerboard

This guitar is one of the "Thin Lone" family of guitars produced by Kay based around the same basic body style, that includes the Style Leader range and the famous K-161 Thin Twin Jimmy Reed or Howlin Wolf model. The pick ups on this guitar are single coil De Armond "hot" pickups, with the coil wound directly onto the magnet and in fact are a bar magnet under the strings.

This guitar is a good player and a cousin to the classic Kay K-161 that features in many photos in the hands of the legendary Jimmy Reed.

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Here's what a Kay Value Leader should look with the original pickguard and finish.

kay value leader

And here's a video to someone playing a single pickup version.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Estaban Guitar Amp

I picked this up in September 2008 and it has a market value of about $11.00. Not a great amp, but not terrible either. I think these were part of a package along with an electic/acoustic guitar offered on HSN as well as some other outlets. It actually performed pretty well with a couple of the electric guitars I have. I couldn't find much information on them in my searches. If you know something about Estaban Amplifiers, let me know.

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