1973 Greco LP

I've written about these early seventies Greco LPs a bit before and if you read my rantings you'll know how much I love them. As I've said before, if you're expecting a Les Paul, you won't get one, but you will get a VERY cool guitar for a (usually) great price.

This ones a little different than others I've written about so I thought I'd do a blog for anyone interested.

This is a Fujigen made pre serial number "Gneco" EG. However this one has the original "mismatched" Maxon pickups that were a common sight on Ibanez LPs from this era here in Australia. At first it looked odd having such a mismatched pair in a new guitar and I remember thinking back in the day that people must have swapped them out except of course, no one really did on guitars like this back then.

 

The construction and look of this Greco is much like other ones we constantly have coming through. It's the standard sandwiched solid body with pressed laminated top and a great feeling bolt on neck. This one is all original including the STAR tuners as used on these and Ibanez guitars of the time and the odd "Custom" trussrod cover, on a Standard. 

The main difference between this one and others we get is the pickups. The neck pickup here is a Maxon Jazz Rock humbucker with the embossed GRECO on the cover, which in itself isn't that uncommon for these. This particular one however has an early Maxon Magnaflux pickup in the bridge which was Maxons attempt at making a humbucker with unbalanced coils on purpose.

It's long been known that mismatched coils on a humbucker can add harmonics and a little something special in the top end so it appears Maxon were experimenting with this idea back in '73. One coil is essentially a standard HB coil and the other is a different number of windings and square pole pieces giving two different string readings and then blending them together. 

Maxon made these pickups in different versions with covers and no covers and slightly later with blades in the square pole coil and hex head poles in the other. Later versions with the blades had a much more uneven winding pattern with up to 50% more/less wire on one coil. Most Electra MPC guitars in the US were fitted with these pickups. Another advantage of this system is that you can coil tap the smaller coil and leave the larger coil on for less dramatic drop in output when going back to a single coil.

 

This version appears to be an early incarnation of a pickup that Maxon persisted with and today are offered in current Electra guitars, although I'm not sure of the exact specs of the new ones. Of course there are makers who make mismatched coils in humbuckers now but it was pretty unique back in the early seventies. 

I was going to pull this one apart to "poke around" but ended up thinking better of it in case I ruined a perfectly functional pickup. Sometimes even being very careful you can damage a 45 year old pickup. It's weird but I often find myself kind of hoping a guitar with an interesting pickup comes in with a broken pickup just so I can poke around. 

This guitar also has full metal braided wiring and ..... plastic tubing on all the metal braid, which to be honest I don't remember seeing before on a bolt on Greco LP. This guitar has all the original wiring, switches and pots with date codes of May '73. 

 

Maxon made GREAT pickups which for years were terribly underrated probably because they were in "cheap Japanese guitars" but they have been getting the recognition they deserve in more recent times with good reason. 

 

While the Jazz Rock was/is a great pickup, in 1974 Maxon introduced the U-1000 which was a VERY good attempt of copying the Gibson Humbucker, very closely copied from the "T-top" humbucker introduced by Gibson in '67 that ran to about '75 so it would have been the current Gibson HB at the time. 

These early seventies Fujigen and Matsumoku made Grecos are great value for money. I've had heaps of them through the shop over the years and most are all, or mostly original, and they're approaching 50 years old. They're great quality and well built .... and they look and sound great. 

Sep 04 2019 Written By: Tim Brennan