1970's Guyatone SG-28T

These hollowbody Guyatones were made in a few different configurations over a period from the late 60's to the mid 70's, partly due to the fact that Guyatone closed it's factory in 1969 and outsourced all guitar production to several different factories which essentially made the "same" product in slightly different forms.

Guyatone was already using other factories by 1968 for some hollowbody production but the more traditional 335 style SG-28T seems to appear around the time of the closure in '69 as it doesn't appear in any catalogues until the very early 70's. Guyatone had been selling the SG-25T  since early 1968 which was of course a similar guitar (and bass) but based on the Yamaha style hollowbody and made by Nippon-Gakki.

Now here's where things get a little bit interesting for a nerd like me.

The SG-28T was made in at least 2 different factories in several slightly different versions over their 5-6 year production period. Some are the same body shape with single ply binding and slightly cheaper appointments with printed/decal style logos (and inlays on some) on the headstock under the finish. There was also a higher spec'd version in the SG-42 (not to be mistaken for the Guyatone SG-42T) that was very similar slightly with higher end hardware and appointments. 


This one here however is the rarer, and better quality Matsumoku made version which was also sold under the Lyle, Aria and Epiphone brands during the early 70's. This version has multiply binding on the body and neck and has a bound headstock, and construction overall is better. This is obvious when looking inside the body. 

Being Matsumoku made means of course that the finish and quality of work here is great and like many production guitars from this period, it had (missing here) a badge logo on the headstock rather than a printed logo under the finish. This allowed the factory to make essentially the same guitar and quickly apply the badge (with 2 small pins) of whatever brand the guitar was going to be sold as. Some, like the Guyatone also had a specific trussrod cover which was screwed on with the badge.


This guitar was sold most commonly as the Aria (or Lyle) and Epiphone 5102-T although the Aria was also offered in a single coil (P-90 style) pickup version. The Epiphone version had the Matsumoku made humbuckers as fitted to the great Epiphone ET series guitars which this Guyatone also has and are easily distinguishable by the 3 height adjustment screws and slightly bulkier surround. It also has the great plastic roller Aria bridge on a wooden base and the slightly more upmarket vibrato used on higher end Arias.

There is a noticeable difference in quality between the cheaper single ply binding version and this higher end Matsumoku made version, although they were initially sold as the same product at the same price of 35.000 JY in the early 70's. 


These appeared in catalogues up until 1975 when the SG-52 (52.000 JY) appeared with a set neck and much higher quality build again. The Matsumoku made versions are easy to identify if all original like this one with some higher end Aria hardware and of course the now famous "Steel adjustable neck" with Made in Japan and a serial number neck plate which the lower end versions don't have, simply using the standard rectangular plate with "Made in Japan" stamped in them. The necks on these are also obviously Matsumoku made using laminated light maple and are very thin and shallow.

Hanging around vintage Japanese guitars for 30 years is always exciting. Guitars that years ago I used to think were just "another Guyatone hollowbody" open up secrets when you see how certain manufacturers build things and when you see hardware across different brands and you realise these guitars were very similar to other models you didn't really associate with that brand. Like Mosrite, there's never a dull moment when it comes to how exciting these can be.

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