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Early 1960s Imperial Japan Vintage Japanese Guitar (Teisco, Kawai)

  • Price:$299.00

Before I talk about this guitar, let me say that this cool vintage instrument has had all the necessary work done to make it a playable guitar.  I see sellers (even "reputable" guitar shops) all the time asking top dollar for vintage Japanese guitars that have major flaws and playability issues that are never addressed.  I LOVE these old quirky guitars and truly believe they offer tonal options that will never be found on any current guitar model.  Our little team works out all the issues and bugs inherent in these older guitars, and when I sell one, the buyer won't have to do anything but plug and play!  OK, let's talk about this guitar!!

The video above is this very guitar for sale!  This is an interesting, slightly bizarre Japanese guitar from the early to mid 1960s.  I see these pop up now and again and I often see them unbranded, or with the brand name "Imperial" on the headstock.  I've also seen this exact guitar with two pickups and with one pickup.  Let's run this one down a bit!

Pickups and Electronics- The coolest parts of this guitar are the pickups!  I love these pickups, and I'll often buy a vintage guitar just because it has weird looking pups!  The pickups are really loud single coils reading out at 6.94k at the bridge, 6.85k at the middle, and 6.69k at the neck.  What's cool about this guitar is the wiring is series, so as you switch on the pickups, the output jumps, and when all the pickups are turned on the total ohm reading is at 19.42k!!! That's a lot of output for a vintage Japanese guitar!!  The electronics were gone over by a professional tech (and one of the few true vintage Japanese guitar experts left in the US!) and every solder joint, pot, switch, and wire was checked out and fixed as needed. All electronics work perfectly.  The pickups have that echo-like quality going on, but still handle high gain applications rather well. For the dirty sounds we used a Fulltone OCD in the "HP" setting, and a vintage Big Muff fuzz pedal.

Neck and Body- The body is relatively clean but it does show scuffs, marks, and scratches.  Typical stuff for most 1960s Japanese electric guitars.  I feel the pics represent the guitar pretty well.  Most of the marks are around the edges. The burst finish is still very bright and vibrant, and the truss rod is intact and it works.  The neck has binding which is nice.  Someone added four dot markers down at the base of the neck, and the back of the neck heel was wet-sanded at one time, who knows?  All of the playability issues are now sorted out.  The tremolo cover and arm are missing, but a metric Strat arm usually fits these.  Actually in my experience the type of tremolo found on this guitar isn't that great, so I never missed it on this guitar.

Set-Up and Playability- This guitar set up very well and plays pretty darn good!  The truss rod works and was adjusted, and the neck angle has been properly set-up.  Action at the 12th fret is 3/32" and there's room to go lower (ie. the bridge isn't lowered all the way down).  The frets are typical vintage Japanese tiny but show little to no wear.  Frets have also been polished! There aren't any dead spots up and down the neck and bends are easy.

Sound- This guitar is just a solid player and a good example of the great potential all these vintage Japanese guitars have!  These pickups sound like nothing else, and suit many types of music.  Lo-fi garage, raw blues, echo-y surf, it's all here. Add a little dirt or crank a small tube amp and you have the early rock sound NAILED!  The output on these guitars are usually pretty wimpy, but these pickups read out really well, sort of in the range of very hot, vintage stratocaster pickups. BUT the big difference here is vintage Japanese pickups have this extra raw sound.  Tougher, rougher, they just have more of an edgy "bite".  I've never seen these pickups on any other vintage Japanese guitar model, and I just think they're really special sounding pups.  And it even gets better when you turn more than one pickup on!  When that output jumps you can get a lot more gain!!!!!!  Not all guitars from this era were wired this way, but when you find one, it has the potential to be a special guitar!  This guitar excels on barrelhouse blues, and with a slide this guitar just SINGS!  Just check out the video.

Bottom Line- I just love these old department store guitars and I swear by them as players.  Whenever you buy vintage Japanese guitars you are really rolling the dice because 85% of them are really unplayable after years of neglect, or sometimes they were unplayable straight out of the factory.  This one is dialed in and I really believe you'll appreciate the time and care that went into making this guitar a player.  I take a lot of pride in resurrecting these guitars! If you're sick and tired of sounding and looking like everyone else, then give one of these vintage beauties a try!  SO many of these guitars get relegated to "wall hangers" because they look pretty but play awfully!  These types of guitars get bought and re-sold all the time because they all have issues, but when one is dialed in like this one, it really shows the potential most of these older guitars have!  

By the way, I'm currently in another purge mode, so check out my listings this week as I'll be adding all sorts of rare and weird stuff!

Please read before bidding. I'm real easy to deal with, but communication is the key. I don't really like to deal with 0 feedback, or real low feedback bidders. I'd rather you build up your feedback and then come to me. But if you really want to bid, and you have low feedback, e-mail first! This is important! I only like to accept Paypal because it's quick, but you have to have a confirmed address. This is also important! Should it sell, I'll pack it nicely and ship it insured as quick as I can. Ask all the questions you want before or during bidding! Lastly, there will be no returns, but that being said, this guitar works fine so there shouldn't be any worries! I really pride myself on being honest, and I pack really well! I'm charging a flat $35 for shipping.  Check my feedback, especially from buyers. Cheers!