Early 70's Greco LPs
While I've written about Greco LPs before I have been meaning to do a blog on these early bolt on neck, pressed laminated top LPs for a while and since I had two in the shop at same time I thought it was a good opportunity to do one at last.
These early (pre '74ish) LPs were very different to later seventies and moreso early-mid eighties Greco LPs as far as quality, design and construction went. Later seventies ones, like their Fender copies, were getting closer to the "real thing" as the years past and by the late seventies Greco (well, Matsumoku and Fujigen mainly) were making some amazing Les Paul copies.
These early bolt on neck LPs have a charm, feel and tone all their own and I love them. While the bodies are light and in some cases, thinner than later and real LPs, the construction methods make them a very unique sounding and playing guitar.
The idea of the two piece (laminated laterally) back with a pressed laminated top was used by Japanese manufacturers for arch and carve top guitars for many year. It's a much cheaper method of construction while keeping the look intact and once you bind the top, you don't see the edge of the laminate so as not to give away the secret of the construction. Not that is was a secret, but it wasn't how LPs were made.
This method was of course developed and used for the cheaper end models and the pressed laminated top was used well into the late seventies even with set neck models.
The bolt on necks of these early ones was of course for ease and cost of manufacturing and these necks are always quite thin but very comfortable. Usually made of three pieces of timber they always had bound rosewood fretboards with of course inlays for LP Std and Custom copies, like these.
The pickups were all good quality Maxon made and these early humbuckers had great output and tone, not trying to copy classic Gibson designs like later Maxon pickups, which tried harder each year to nail the construction and tone of the famous pickups they were copying.
Both of these guitars are pre serial number (approx late '74) but both have all the original electronics and the pots and pickups date '72 on the Std and '74 on the Custom (which has full metal braid pickup wiring) and with the number of guitars being made in Japan throughout these decades you find pot and Maxon pickup dates are usually very close to manufacturing dates (when compared with later serial numbered guitars) and the Std have a slightly earlier pickup design than the Custom.
The hardware is all good quality and mostly falls into Gibson copy territory. Late Grecos would of course nail every aspect of the guitars they were copying which led to Fender licencing their guitars to Greco in the early eighties to start fender Japan.
These early Japanese bolt on neck LPs get a bad wrap from some people who say "they're really not a Les Paul" ...... No, they're not. They're something very different and unique that just happen to look a lot like a Les Paul. The construction, even in these early seventies models was great and attention to details and quality of materials was great.
The hollow tops from the pressed laminated construction means the guitars have a more hollow body, kinda huge tone and vibe and I for one love the tone of these guitars. The pickups are attached to the top with air underneath them and gives a different vibe to even something like a 335, which is also a pressed laminated top but with a solid centre block right to the top. Some of these Grecos have a spacer block in the vacant area and some are just .... vacant.
The bolt on neck fits well and doesn't really detract from the appeal at all to me. I like bolt on necks and these necks always feel so good. The binding and finish is always really well done and they go the extra with the Custom version with multi ply binding throughout and bound and inlaid headstock.
With the good quality hardware and great Maxon pickups these look like a Les Paul but play and sound like a solid semi hollowbody and they're lots of fun. Both of these are all original and fully functional which shows the quality of materials and construction after 45 years.
These types of guitars were made by many different manufacturers under many different names and this construction was kept through Korea and into China when those markets opened up. It can be a cheap and easy way of making a guitar like this, but these Japanese factories did it really well with good quality materials and construction techniques and these old Japanese bolt on LPs can be had a GREAT prices for what you're getting. Better value than a current Epiphone costing much more and much better quality than a similar priced Asian made copy currently on the market.
Both have their original yellow fuzz hardcases in great condition also which is just a little extra on top of these wonderful little LP copies, or inspired, or lookalikes, or whatever. I think they're cool and great to play and sound great, even if they don't sound like a Les Paul.