Early 60's Guyatone LG55

The Guyatone LG55, 55W and 65T appeared in the Guyatone catalogue in 1960. They were a budget series of nicely designed and manufactured guitars all with the same body and neck, with the 55 here being a 1 pickup, hardtail version. The 55W had 2 pickups and the 65T had a vibrato and tone switch. These were a very successful model for Guyatone due to price point and playability, however the 55 is now the rarest being not as many sold and most of them scraped over the years. 

The 55 was 8.000 JY, the 55W came in at 9.090 JY and the 65T, the most common model would set you back a whopping 12.600 JY by 1965. The next step up was the LG80T at 14.500 JY.

This is a simple little contoured slab body double cutaway design made with good quality components and a skill that shows how quickly Japan was advancing in guitar building. Mid and late 50's Japanese guitars, while very cool, could leave a bit to be desired in terms of quality and playability. These Guyatones were perfectly good guitars, especially for the price. 

These, like all Guyatones at the time are solid timber bodies usually made of a light Asian mahogany. Body routs were consistent across all models so the 55 here is routed for 2 pickups and 3 pots like the 65T. All the internal work still shows signs of being very hand made as of course this was well before CNC was available.

 

The electronics all mount to the metal scratchplate assembly so they could be assembled on a different line and fixed to the finished guitars. Metal plates were common on Japanese guitars around this time and gave the advantage of shielding the electronics. The quality of the electronics and assembly is very good and shows the fine electronics Japan was building by the early 60's. These pickups are strong and clear with great mids and tops. 

The hardware is all basic but very functional. The plastic bridge was used on many of the lower end Guyatones and actually works, and sounds really good. The tailpiece is the typical cover type with strings that hook on tabs on a plate screwed to the body with a removable cover that clips in place once you're done. Many of these covers have gone missing over the years. 

 

The necks are well made again from an Asian mahogany commonly used on many brands from this period with a rosewood fretboard. These budget models had simple dot markers with no binding. Early models like this had a nut sticking out of the body end for the trussrod adjustment but by '65 had the nut hidden in the end of the neck and in '66 moved to the headstock end with a metal cover.

 

This series are really nice examples of early mass produced Japanese guitars by one of the big manufacturers of the day. Guyatone were producing a lot of guitars by the early 60's and hit their stride with the boom in '66 when their catalogues were full of great designs with accessories like amps, effects and even record players. 

This little gem is all original in it's original green felt lined hardcase, which is VERY rare for the budget model. This went to the shop recently but didn't last long. Someone pretty quickly fell in love with it as much as I did so hopefully it's being used to make music. 

Guyatone are a huge influence on me as a guitar builder along with many other Japanese brands and factories as they showed a real sense of adventure and imagination with design and, especially throughout the 60's and 70's improved in leaps and bounds as designers and manufacturers. My TMI 127 is based on a Guyatone design. 

Mar 26 2020 Written By: Tim Brennan