1972-74 Greco Les Paul

Everyone knows I'm a fan of Japanese guitars and I've owned and played hundreds, maybe thousands over the years. While I love the weirder and bizarre stuff the most for their aesthetics, they also made some amazing guitars with the obvious factories pumping out some very impressive instruments during the 70's and 80's. I say "the obvious factories" because many factories made guitars for many brands, and some brands were made in many factories. 

Factory names like Fugijen, Hoshino and Matsumoku have become almost household names amongst guitar collectors but at the height on the mid 60's boom, there were about 25 major factories in Japan producing 3/4 of a million guitars in 1965.

Sales were in decline by the late 60's and many factories (and brands) were gone but factories like the Matsumoku factory (and others mentioned before) were making high quality, affordable guitars for some key export and domestic brands.

This Les Paul copy was made in this factory sometime between 1972 and 1974 and has the typical Matsumoku "sandwich" laminated body that was popular with them. Hoshino and Fugijen both did similar sandwiched bodies but the former had a thin laminate between the two main "sheets" that made up the bulk of the body.

 

Gibson had started making sandwich laminate Les Paul's in the 70's in a similar style although all (or most) tended to have 1 or 2 piece top and back, whereas these Japanese guitars could have as many as 10 pieces laminated together before being made into a "slab"

 

Matsumoku would of course go on to be one of the greatest guitar factories in the world by the late 70's and early 80's making very high quality guitars for Ibanez, Aria and Vantage among many others and even by the early 70's their quality was starting to show through compared to the flood of "cheap" ply Japanese guitars of the 60's that were desperately trying to feed a hungry market.

 

This LP has the sandwich laminate body with a thin back laminate and a pressed ply top, leaving a hollow cavity under the top face of the guitar. Many Les Paul copies were built this way in Japan by several manufacturers.

 

This one has a bolt on mahogany neck with a bound and block inlayed maple fretboard probably emulating the maple board LP Custom from Gibson. The neck is thin and very comfortable. 

These Maxon made "Jazz/Rock" U1000 pickups are great, much like the Super 70's offered in the Ibanez version slightly later. 

Running gear is all pretty standard LP style and of the usual great Japanese quality of the time. The famous "star tuners" as used on Ibanez guitars are always great to see intact on these. 

Everything on this guitar is original, which as I said in my precious posts, is testament to the high quality these guitars were built to. This guitar is 45 years old and still plays and functions like it should with all original hardware and electronics.

This guitar was also offered as an Ibanez in the US as a cat #2393 (I think) and was also released with Aria on the headstock around the same time but the Greco band name was for domestic Japanese consumption only. 

 

This one's in great original condition with a knock near the output jack that hasn't dislodged the binding or done any serious damage. While I'd prefer something a little .... wilder, I still love these early-mid 70's Gibson and Fender copies for what they are, cheap alternatives to the "real thing" if you couldn't afford one. They're good quality instruments and have stood the test of time. 

 

 

Aug 25 2017 Written By: Tim Brennan