Instruments

My humble but excessive collection

Gibson Melody Maker
1960 Gibson Melody Maker
I discovered this in the instrument market in Seoul before Gibson started reissuing them. I didn't know this model existed, although I knew the '61-3 double cutaway version.
It's a very solid guitar despite its light weight. The body is very thin but the neck is very deeply rounded, creating a balance (or imbalance) that might bother some people as the neck wants to drop towards the floor. I think the pickup output is weak but they give a good sharp treble sound. I found it good for emulating an acoustic guitar when you roll back the volume. It gives a good electric sound too although not full like other Gibson styles. There is some problem with clean bending around the 12th fret so it which could be alleviated by raising the action. It could do with sheilding to reduce noise from the single coil pickups. A previous owner put Ping tuners on it and they are the best I've ever experienced, with a nice firm resistance to the touch.

Yamaha Studio Lord SL450s 1980
This was the first quality Japanese-made copy I acquired, and I saw what all the 'lawsuit era' fuss was all about! Although I haven't had that much experience with Gibson Les Pauls, I would challenge anybody to distinguish this from the real thing - and it's not even a high end model! I believe it's a three piece mahogany body with a one piece maple cap and set neck. The final 's' in the serial number might suggest it has split coil pickups as some other Studio Lords do, but it doesn't. It's very heavy. In every way, it is a accurate replica of a late '50s Les Paul. Some low-end Studio Lords had bolt on necks but I think this was the cheapest model with a set neck. Some early Studio Lords like this one also feature an authentic open book style headstock. In my opinion the Yamahas have the most elegant, vintage style small headstock in my opinion.
Here's the page from the vendor.
Yamaha Studio Lord

Greco. I believe this is a 1980 EG480. Like the Yamaha studio lord, it's a low end model from 1980 but has excellent construction and playability. This has a set neck. The top is hollow between the tailpiece and end pin which suggests to me that the top is made from some kind of pressed ply laminate. However, the rest of the top seems solid, so I just don't understand how this was constructed. Some Greco collectors consider this model inferior and I admit it does suggest inferior materials but I disagree that the result is an inferior instrument. Sellers will describe this models as having cavities (as do many current Gibson Les Paul models) and therefore have the advantage of being lighter and perhaps something of a hollowbody tone.
Greco

Tokai Love Rock
Tokai Love Rock LS95s
A beautiful, well-crafted guitar. Seems to have been made in 2008. This is my first Tokai. The quality is difficult to fault. If I have any qualm about this, it's that the finish looks or feels too heavy. Perhaps that's partly because it's almost in 10/10 factory condition and I'm afraid to get any wear on it.

 
Glass guitar
 Glass guitar 1979 - made by me under the very patient supervision of West Australian luthier Scott Wise. Styled after the 1957 & 59 double-cutaway Gibson Les Paul Juniors and Specials with minor adaptations. The headstock has the parallel sides of the Melody Makers but is slightly elongated and finished with an angled end like some pre-war Gibsons.
Features:
Gibson P90 pickup - I remember it was packaged as a "Laid Back" when I bought it.
Ibanez tuners - perhaps giving not quite enough resistance and they have adjustment rings but still very good quality
Ultra thin neck - too thin really. I didn't know what I was doing and took away too much wood. It gets thinner the further you go away from the body. Some people like it and I guess it helps stop the guitar from being neck-heavy.
On board preamp - homemade. It never worked reliably. One day I may take it out and put in a tone control.
   
Burny guitar?
 

 Burny Rock'n'Roll model. A replican of a late '50s Les Paul junior. I bought this off ebay and I'm ambivilent about whether I overpaid. It came with the most amatuerish refinish job imaginable which didn't show up so fully in the Ebay photos and the vendor gave some story about it being a factory custom finish. Also the identity of the guitar has been removed from the headstock. Despite the ugly finish and dubious background, this is one of the best sounding guitars I've played. I'm reluctant to start the refinish job because it may have a detrimental effect on the sound.

my_bass
 

Grass Roots bass
Styled after a double-cutaway Les Paul or early Gibson EB-0 bass.
Grass Roots is the budget line of Japanese company ESP/Edwards but they apparently started getting production runs manufactured offshore in Korea. like this one towards the late '90s. (I think I bought it in mid 1996) The only ones available in Korea appeared to be factory seconds and the quality in examples that I saw varied greatly. This one had a couple of minor flaws in the finish. The signal output seems to be weaker for the outer (e & g) strings. Otherwise, I love it. I feel very comfortable with it. Maybe it's a guitar player's bass.

Fenix FAE-2
Fenix was a branch of Young Chang piano makers, and I think this model is copied from a model they were making for Washburn (the J10 'Orleans'), only essentially different in the headstock shape and inlays. Note the tailpiece in the picture which apes Washburn's as well as the bound wooden scratchplate. If I'm correct. it appears to have the same body shape so they may have used the same form to shape the body, but the top is quite thick and I've read the Washburn's top is quite thin, so... they used different materials and construction to some extent.
    I still can't decide how I should treat this guitar - as an acoustic or an electric, and what kind of strings to use. I'm not a Jazz player so I don't want to commit to flat wound strings. Acoustically the tone is not as rich as a flat top. The treble end seems to lack clarity and sustain but the bass notes boom out. I find it good for rhythm playing. I really like the overall feel and physical response of the guitar but the notes won't sustain like other acoustic or solidbody guitars. Sometimes I have the impression that the floating bridge gives a sound something like a banjo. The pickup is quite noisy and the range of the shirt-button sized volume and tone pots is quite small. However it can give decent acoustic and electric sounds when amplified. It has well-engineered Gotoh tuners which I find too slippery or perhaps too highly geared for this kind of guitar.
Fenix FAE2

Gretsch Historic series synchromatic

Gretsch Synchromatic 'Reissue' Purchased perhaps on impulse with my 'retirement fund' when I left Korea in 2003. This is part of the Korean made Gretsch Historic series and recalls many features of guitars from the '40s or '50s. I suspect this was a factory second, the one subtle flaw being the bookmatched laminate on top not quite being in line with the length of the guitar. Another feature I don't like is the neck block, which on inspection turned out to be a series of chunks of ply glued together rather than a solid piece of wood. I've seen this on other Korean made Gretsches. Surely it wouldn't be that hard or expensive for them to find solid wood blocks that size!

Fender Stratocaster (Probably counterfeit)
Purchased by a friend and colleague at Nakwon musical instrument market in Seoul. I bought it off him to help him out when he left Korea. I intended to sell it on but I've grown quite attached to it. It's very hard to fault the construction. The finish is an uncommon Shoreline gold with very tasteful small gold flecks. The bridge springs may need to be shortened to allow full back adjustment of the bridge pieces for absolute perfect intonation but I think it's close enough now. The electronic components are the weak point of this instrument. The volume between pickups is a little uneven.
I took it to a Willows music, a guitar builder and workshop in Seoul, to see if I could replace the scratchplate for a standard single-coil pickup arrangement. I didn't want any new holes drilled in it. The guy tried two styles of authentic Fender pickguard Which didn't match. He then realized it was not a 'standard' Korean made Fender. That's why I believe it's not an authorised Fender.
Kopystrat

Landola J80 Landola J80 Jumbo Acoustic
I bought this to fill a materialistic void left when I missed out on a '68 Les Paul Goldtop. I needed a decent acoustic and was attracted to the restrained decoration and elegant lines of this series. It has a rich tone with a lot of clarity and volume.
I moved it to Australia from Korea in a soft but well-padded case. Unfortunately, this was not enough protection (I had gambled successfully before with less precious and less well-protected guitars.) It took damage to the spruce top and binding near the bottom of the lower bout. While I was having it repaired. I had the neck reset and the bridge reset for better intonation. Apparently Landolas are know for intonation problems. The result of the repair is a very good guitar. Perhaps I could've paid more for a higher quality guitar in the first place, but I think the end result is about right for the final investment.

Art & Lutherie Ami Cedar parlour guitar
Back in Korea in 2006, I only had the Korean strat back with me. I felt I needed an acoustic to build up my playing again. After several forays into instrument shops and markets, I couldn't find anything that satisfied me. Korean acoustics are now above bargain prices. I saw this and it caught my eye. I've long been attracted to parlour guitars. I bought it more or less as a stopgap because I searching without success or satisfaction for so long. At first I thought I'd bought a bit of a lemon. I hadn't really played for a couple of months and my fingers hurt. After a couple of days rest though it was fine. The action and neck relief are very reasonable and the bridge seems set kind of high which should allow for future adjustment. The intonation is pretty good. What really struck me when I got accustomed to playing again was the tone and volume. The notes are really crisp and the volume is quite remarkable. I'm really glad I bought it and would look seriously into the higher end models if I had the need (although this budget model is excellent value). My only qualm ws the layered plastic stick-on rossette which I easily removed. I would have liked a traditional slotted headstock but I guess solid heads are just easier to manufacture.
Art & Lutherie Ami Cedar

Kasuga Mandolin
The Kasuga Madolin
I purchased this in the mid '70s and have almost parted with it on a number of occassions, having no special fondness for it - probably because of no particular skill at playing mandolin. After some research on the internet, it appears Kasuga was somehow connected to the now famous Japanese Tokai company. Perhaps it's brand snobbery, perhaps it's increased experience and skill but I now think it's a pretty decent instrument with solid top and good construction. (I had a prettier Samick mandolin from their early days, made sometime in the 80s, but the top collapsed!) The fretboard has developed some undulations but nothing that interferes with playing.

me
Me fooling around with my Samick SAN 450. A reasonably made semi-hollowbody in the style of a Gibson ES-335. Samick probably raised their standards while making production runs for Epiphone. I had no complaints about the one pictured, which was stolen. (I got it direct from the factory in 1996 or 95). I replaced it with the next year's model (perhaps a factory second) and I was not as happy with the replacement. The earlier ones can be identified by a mother-of-pearl winged 'Samick' logo inlay in the headstock. The later ones have Artist Series and a kind of filigree pattern printed on the headstock in gold paint. I replaced the pickups with Kent Armstrong designed humbucker sized single coils, and was planning to replace the machine heads. The stolen one had a thicker neck and possibly a more stable neck join. After playing it amplified, I noticed the neck was not stable and it's subsequently difficult to play in tune when playing open chords around the first three frets. Something to watch out for in economy lines! I sold this one in 2009.

Gallery 1
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