1966 Guyatone EB-7
Here's another Guyatone that went through the shop. I'm a huge fan of Guyatone and have owned hundreds, maybe thousands over the years. For me, Guyatone and Teisco are the 2 great unsung heroes of the guitar world having made many amazing and inspiring guitars while both are still treated in the guitar world as "cheap Japanese guitars" and not really worthy of the respect they deserve.
Sure, they both made cheap guitars and like most Japanese manufacturers or brands had products that spread across the entire price range from absolute beginner to high end professional. Anyone who has owned or played an LG-350T. LG-780 or a LG-1000 will know just how impressive Guyatone could be.
Of course, the lower end stuff was just that but what has to be considered is these Japanese manufacturers made guitars for beginners. Not like Gibson made the Melody Maker, or Fender made the Musicmaster, but actual beginner guitars that were made to a price point well under anything other countries could accomplish with guitars like the LG-55 starting around 8,000 JY, or about $50 in the US at the time when the single pickup Musicmaster was $130, and personally I think the Guyatone is every bit as playable and desirable as the Fender.
Early Guyatone solid bodies, like Teisco followed design inspiration from the Gibson Les Paul but by the early 60's Fenders offsets had captured the Japanese market and were a primary influence on Japanese designs. The 1960 Guyatone LG-70 is a prime example of how quickly they jumped on the offset wagon, and while these manufacturers scrambled to make better guitars throughout the early 60's, by the mid 60's their higher end guitars were becoming very good, with designs and manufacturing filtering down into the cheaper end.
The EB-7 here is a rarer model with a unique body shape and was essentially a 2 pickup version of the EB-4 which had a slightly different body design based on the LG-70 and sold in the US at the time as Kent. The EB-4 was 17,400 JY with the EB-7 being 20,000 JY and disappearing from the catalogue after '67.
Guyatone made all their own pickups and these were both not working when I got this bass and I'm always keen to dig around inside these old pickups to find the magic. Both were repairable without rewinds and reassembled although it did need new pots and switch, which was originally a rotary switch which I replaced with a 3 way toggle. The pickups have great output and are punchy and have plenty of bottom end.
Guyatone always made solid body guitars from solid timber, not plywood and this was a nicely weighted piece of Asian mahogany with a thick, but very playable bolt on neck with rosewood fretboard. Guyatone used both zero frets and nuts and this model had a standard Gibson style nut at the end of the board. The fretboard markers are a nice touch too.
This bass was very original with the original tuners, bridge (although missing cover) and the often missing metal G badge on the headstock. I love some of this period Guyatones sunbursts, looking really "antique" and the finish had really checked up nicely.
While these lower end Japanese guitars can still show some limitations in design they are a great example of how quickly companies like this were improving quality while keeping prices low. In '66 guitar sales were flourishing in Japan and many manufacturers had trouble keeping up with demand with new brands popping up every week with instruments made by anyone who could work with timber, sometimes to the detriment of quality, but these bigger brands like Guyatone who had started in the 30's and had been making solid body electrics for a decade by this stage were showing what these companies could do, and within a few years really took off and turned into some of the best guitar factories on the planet.