1967 Guyatone LG-350. The Sharp 5

I've already written a bit about Guyatone and how much I love some of their stuff so I won't bore you with details there and instead jump straight into this AWESOME model.

By 1966 Guyatone were moving away from copying big brand US models and were experimenting with some great and bizarre designs. This was still in the boom time and they were taking more "risks" with design features and they made some amazing guitars around '66 to '68, when sales started to plummet. 

The LG-350 was a different beast altogether. It was originally released in early '67 and quickly became the signature model for the Japanese instrumental band, the Sharp 5, who were heavily influenced by the Ventures, and this guitar has a lot in common with a Mosrite.

 

These were of much higher quality than most other Guyatones at the time and really are a professional level guitar in playability and sound. They really feel like a more expensive Japanese guitar like a nice Yamaha or 70's Matsumoku made guitar.

It's not entirely clear which factory made these after Guyatone went bankrupt in mid/late '69 but general consensus is Kawai and/or the amazing Matsumoku factory that kept making guitars until it closed in '87, although the construction methods don't reflect other Matsumoku guitars of the period?

Contrary to popular belief about these, these early ones (and possibly all of them) were laminated bodies, not solid timber (mahogany seems to be bandied around) and these earlier ones had a trussrod adjustment through the back of the body under the "neck plate", which was really just a cover plate for the trussrod access. 

 

While these have been made on and off since 1967 by several different factories, the ones with the Sharp 5 logo printed on the scratchplate are the hardest to come by as it had disappeared by late '68/early '69. Much like the Mosrite Ventures model, later guitars of the same model are still referred to by this association.

The body is a thick laminated body with a type of German carve much like a later 60's Mosrite and with binding on the front top edge just under the carve like an early Ventures model. Although this metallic blue was by far the most common colour, they were also available in white with a red scratchplate and by '68 white with a white scratchplate. 

The paint on these early ones always check up really nicely and this one is no exception. They have so much in common with Mosrites in so many ways which is one of the reasons I've always loved them.

 

The 24" scale necks are THIN and bolt on under the trussrod cover back plate via three screws with washers. Every one I've seen has a really nice dark rosewood fretboard with binding. The headstocks are the long Guyatone shape from this period but are bound, again giving away a quality not shown on other Guyatones of the time. By the early 70's some Guyatones would have bound headstocks, especially their semi acoustics. 

 

By '68 the three string trees had moved further away from the string guide and by the early 70's the trussrod had moved to the headstock end with a more traditional cover which necessitated the G badge moving further up the headstock.

The bridge is a typical Japanese unit but with roller saddles and works really well with this Jag/JM setup. The vibrato unit is based on the Fender offset but has a longer pivot plate underneath the top plate making it more feather touch than the Fender one.

The pickups are unique to this model for Guyatone and are pretty much copies of Fender Jaguar units, complete with claws. They are bright and powerful and have a real Jag presence. 

 

These are a joy to play. The quality feel and the thin neck make them feel like a Mosrite and the body shape works really well seated or standing and it hangs perfectly. I've owned a few of these including the bass version and they all feel like a well made, well designed guitar. More like a feeling of what was to come from Japanese guitars, rather than what had been.

There was a three pickup DX version made as well but these are rarer and most had gold hardware, which I'm personally not a fan of so I've always sought out the standard two pickup version with chrome/nickel hardware. I do love the look of the white one with a red scratchplate but these seem to be best in this great sparkle metallic blue with a blue scratchplate? It just seems .... right.

Aug 30 2017 Written By: Tim Brennan