I've written about First man before in previous blogs and mentioned how much I love them and what they turned into. Coming from Teisco after the Kawai takeover they only lasted less than two years before morphing into what became Mosrite Japan.
I'll eventually do a story (or three) on First man Mosrites and the early Mosrite Japan but for now, let's look at this GREAT bass.
With the Beatles being so HUGE in Japan and Hofner violin basses being copies by many factories and brands a few manufacturers started to modify the theme by making Hofner inspired basses. First man added the scroll headstock and made this bass in the Custom with block inlays, no control plate and timber tailpiece and the Special in dots and standard trapeze.
The guitar version was called .... the Liverpool Special with a Bigsby style tailpiece and blocks and no control plate and a slightly more wild, exaggerated body shape.
The bass body is a slightly different shape top a Hofner with a bigger back end but it's obviously heavily influenced by the German manufacturer made famous by the Beatles.
These were all made in the Teisco Gen Gakki factory for First man and the quality is great. First man weren't the cheap end of the market, although later just before shut down they did release some hollow bodies similar to the cheaper Teisco (and other brand) guitars, probably to try and keep afloat with cheaper end models.
First man were however, a quality higher end brand and their designs were adventurous and bold. The Baron is one of my all time favourite designs.
These are a laminated pressed top and back body with top and back binding. The quality of work and finish is excellent and shows what this factory was doing by the last sixties.
The neck is also great quality and VERY thin. The rosewood fretboard is great quality and again, this has binding but dots on this Special version. The headstock is not bound, due to the great scroll to mimic the double bass headstock. Other manufacturers used this as well like Ampeg in the US and Kawai in Japan who made a bass VERY similar to this in '68/69. This one is missing the original First man badge.
The neck is very playable but very thin, as lots of these sixties Japanese basses are as I've explained in previous blogs. It's a great bass to play and being light and with a thin neck feels .... unsubstantial, but then plug it in.
These pickups are a medium output with great tone. They really punch well with great frequency response. Being single coils they are a little noisy but once playing that's irrelevant.
The hardware is all good quality and this all follows the Hofner hardware and layout quite closely. Master volume and tone control with one/off switches for each pickup and "tone choke" switch, just like Hofner. The wooden bridge with fret saddles is also lifter straight from the German version.
Because First man were only made for a short period of time and were quite expensive they're not as common as other brands made in the same factory, or certainly the "big brands" like Teisco, Kawai and Guyatone. They tend to show up less on the market and when they do, some models can be VERY expensive.
I love the Hofner violin bass in lots of forms, and Japan made some of the best. This First man is a great example of Japanese design and thinking while keeping firmly with a theme. The quality is great and it looks .... awesome.
The old me would have kept this bass but .... I want it to get used so, into the shop.