Japanese "lawsuit" era acoustics

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by doc, Jun 2, 2009.

  1. doc

    doc Member

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    I've recently become a little interested in these guitars as a possible budget substitute for "name" guitars. Anybody with any info on how the acoustics by companies like Takamine, Yasuma, Yakami, Yamaha etc. compare to the guitars they are modeled after (especially Martin)? I'm specifically asking about the guitars from the 60s-80s that are obvious "copies", not divergent designs. I would think that since they generally used good solid woods and good craftsmanship they might be worth checking out. I also have an interest in Del Vecchio type guitars and apparently there are some Japanese copies of these as well.
     
  2. 62Tele

    62Tele Supporting Member

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    While the lawsuit electrics could be amazing, the acoustics were usually "just OK" at best. Occasional Alvarez guitars could be pretty good, and my old duo partner had a Fender (Japanese if I remember correctly) that sounded great. I tried a couple of Ibanez back then which never got very good tone going, and the shop I worked in sold Tokai etc - can't say I played all of the lawsuit era gutars, but played enough that I wouldn't actively go looking for them these days.

    You could get a lot more guitar for your money buying something like a 15 series Martin or Some of the lower end (but great sounding) Larivee.
     
  3. plaintop

    plaintop Member

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    For the most part I have to agree with the prior posts in the fact that 99% of these knockoff guitars are laminate, they vary widely and most are poor in quality. In my own research I have found that the Yamaha guitars made in the late '60s early '70s can be very good sounding for the money. They do tend to need some work though and have narrow string spacing from the factory. The Takamine and early Alvarez can be very good playing and sounding, with ok construction. My favorite however is this D-35 knockoff, that is a Rosewood laminate guitar with a three piece mahogany neck, and a solid spruce top. I would have never in a million years paid money for this guitar, but got to play it first hand and was blown away by it's deep rich D-28 Martin tone. There are 2k Martins that don't sound as good as this guitar. It's a freak. The neck is real big and substantial, it's always a pleasure to play. So, they are out there, unfortunatlely, good ones are far and few between. Happy hunting...


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  4. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    I lived in Japan from '72 - '74 and my first "good" guitar was a Yamaki, which I always thought of as a knock off of a Yamaha, which was a knock off of a Martin. But in memory it was a great guitar, especially for the money. I just read an article in VG about Japanese guitars, and there was a throwaway line in the article about this company also making Yamaki, which was a fairly highly regarded brand, or so said the author. So maybe it was better than I was afraid it was.
     
  5. jamess

    jamess Silver Supporting Member

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    I have to chime in on the other side.

    My first acoustic, which I still have today, was a '77 Takamine F-340s. It is a direct knock-off of a Martin D-18 right down to the headstock and spaghetti script. My parents bought it for me from a family friend who owned an operated a music store forever. He recommeded this guitar to them in lieu of spending 2-3x for an equivalent Martin back then.

    The 's' indicates a solid spruce top, which it is. The back and sides are mahogany that appear solid based on matching grain patterns within the body versus that outside, but they could be a very well done veneer. The neck is mahogany with a rosewood board.

    This guitar must be one of the gems the other posters have refered to because it has been a great sounding/playing instrument for 32 years now. It really has a great sound that seems to just get better over the years. It has also lived for years at a time in climates varying from the dry deserts of southern Arizona to the humid coast of northern California. It has even been frozen overnight atop Half Dome in Yosemite and backpacked through the Sierra backcountry many times. I have great memories of playing it around many campfires. Still with all that it has never needed any work done. I will admit that it could use a refret now-a-days, but I really don't play it that much anymore and have not gotten around to it. That said, I think I'll have to pull it out tonight and get reacquainted. Thanks for sparking the idea.

    So in my opinion, keep searching for the old lawsuit gems. For the price they can't be beat. Good luck!
     
  6. JSeth

    JSeth Member

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    I don't know about the "later" years - but those early Yamaha's were amazing little guitars!!! More atypical to play one that DOESN'T sound great than the opposite, IMHO... these babies were $150 in the 70's and, laminate sides/back notwithstanding, REALLY SOUND SWEET! (there's a REASON that they were sued...)

    Good luck!
     
  7. OlAndrew

    OlAndrew Member

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    I've got a 'Conrad' D-28 knockoff that has absolutely gorgeous tone. Solid spruce face and Brazilian rosewood back and sides. It had one of those hideous adjustable bridges like a 60s Gibson when I got it, I had that changed out for a normal one.

    The bad thing is, I've only ever seen maybe one other in a whole lot of years looking at guitars, so they don't float down the gutter very often.
     
  8. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Nagoya- Veneman Music/Music Emporium house brand.
     
  9. plaintop

    plaintop Member

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    Very good! I've played and owned others. They aren't all like this D-35 copy. I still have a rosewood mandolin that's pretty crazy, it's labeled "Bradley"
     
  10. googoobaby

    googoobaby Member

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    I bought my ex a Takamine F360S that's just a great sounding guitar. Featherweight too. I like it much better than her '70 Martin D-18.
     
  11. dr461

    dr461 Member

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    The Takamine lawsuit models were outrageous. Almost bought a "Martin D-18" ripoff from the 70's.
     
  12. jpfeiff

    jpfeiff Member

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    I've got a Takamine EF-340S that I bought new in 1984 that has matured into a KILLER guitar--just a beautiful player with a deep, full sound. Solid spruce top and what appears to be solid mahogany sides and back. The Takamine undersaddle pickup is also still in great working order and doesn't sound near as "fizzy" as some of the more recent undersaddles I've heard. I keep trying and buying other guitars, but I always come back to that old Tak....
     
  13. Goldstrat

    Goldstrat Member

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    I have an old Takamine F-349 that is a copy of a Martin D17 all mahogany and probably laminate. It sounds great in a big warm way and reminds me of the Allman Bros Little Martha! Great guitar for $250.
     
  14. zombywoof

    zombywoof Member

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    About the best clones I ever heard were the Ibanez guitars made in the 1970s particularly their take on the Gibson J-200.
     
  15. tholmes

    tholmes Member

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    I owned a Takamine F-395MS like this:

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    Almost a dead ringer for a Guild (check out the headstock). Solid top, lam. maple b&s. It was a great sounding 12 string, loud and clear with a thunderous bass. Not bad for a $300 guitar.

    Tom
     
  16. snarkle

    snarkle Member

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    I owned a Yairi 000-18 clone that looked and sounded remarkably like a great vintage Martin...and much better than most of what the Martin factory was turning out in the 1980s. Wish I hadn't sold it...
     
  17. cmatthes

    cmatthes Member

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    Bigger pic of the Tak 12...

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    That's nuts how close that is to my Guild JF-65-12...pretty dead on!
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2009
  18. in a little row

    in a little row Member

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    i have an old Alvarez 5056 that is basically a D-41 copy, cool tree of life inlay on the neck and brazilian rosewood back and sides (laminante)...pretty good sounding guitar, but certainly no Martin

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  19. aaron1433

    aaron1433 Member

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    Just acquired a Yamaki 135 from the year 1973 from a good friend who gave it to me as a gift. I cleaned it up a bit, threw some new strings on it and was really suprised by how nice it sounds. Does my 2009 Bashkin Bellezza sound better? Ummm... yeah. Do I want to take the Bashkin into the woods? Ummm... NO.

    The Yamaki will be a very welcome addition.
     
  20. gravy

    gravy Member

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    i own a ventura "dove" knock off that is pretty sweet, vinyl pickguard and all.
     

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