1967-68 Guyatone LG-150

The story of Guyatone is similar to that of Zen On, in that they were one of the earliest Japanese "modern" music companies started in 1933. Initially called Matsuki Seisakujo after the cabinet maker who founded the business, Mitsuo Matsuki who studied electronics at night school and teamed up with friend Atsuo Kaneko (who would later be instrumental in forming Teisco) they made acoustic and Hawaiian guitars but by the late 30's were making copies of Rickenbacker (then spelt Rickenbacher) guitars using the Guya name.

​In 1951 he changed the name to Guyatone and started making amplifiers and ​turntable cartridges, which proved very successful for business.

In 1952 the name was changed again to Tokyo Sound Company but guitars and amps were still branded Guyatone, and eventually Guya again.



Production of guitars was ramped up considerably in 1956 with the new factory producing over 2000 guitars (slide and electric) and 2000 amplifiers a month.

Guyatone was the first of the Japanese manufacturers exporting large numbers of electric guitars to the US (and the UK under the Antoria name) under the Kent brand name and by 1962 budget Kent guitars were produced by Teisco and premium models were produced by Guyatone.

The Guyatone LG40, 50 and 60 were the first electrics imported into Australia in any real numbers under the Ibanez brand name before they set up their own Hoshino factory around 1962. You still see these pop up around Australia from time to time and I have worked on several over the years.

Like the other "big name" Japanese manufacturers, the boom hit in '65 and lasted a couple of years with the explosion of the electric guitar market and production was ramped up and factories opened all over Japan to keep up with demand. Guyatone had made all their guitars, and importantly all their own pickups in house until 1970 when a decline in sales forced them to start contracting work to other factories.



So, back in 1967 as the boom was still in swing but declining, Guyatone, like other Japanese manufacturers started making famous US designs with their own twist on it and Mosrite were a HUGE influence on these bizarre designs.
The LG-150, like the LG-30 (in all it's forms) and the more common LG-127 (more on them soon) was well and truly Mosrite influenced, which is what got me into them in the first place.

 

Although I love lots of "non Mosrite" Guyatones like the Sharp 5 and LG-125 among a million others, it was the obvious Mosrite thing that hooked me on these.

 

These are a thin, light laminated body with a bolt on maple neck with rosewood fretboard. The body is like a very melted version of a Mosrite Ventures that, like the Tokai Hummingbird always makes me think it looks like a Manga drawing of a Mosrite. It has the offset and all the curves, but everything is more extreme.

 

The neck is thin and comfortable and the headstock .... that headstock. It's like nothing else and I LOVE them, even with the string alignment heading off at almost unimaginable angles from the nut. Like most Guyatones, it has a hold down bar behind the nut.

  

The pickups are typical mid 60's Japanese single coils with LOTS of output and clarity. Guyatone made some of the greatest pickups of this era with several different types of "gold foils" and bizarre single coils.



The hardware on these "entry level" 150's was pretty basic but well made and effective. The vibrato is based on the classic offset unit with a different shaped baseplate. The bridge is primitive but works well and has accommodation for good intonation and height adjustment.

The electronics are typical Mosrite with two single coils, a master volume and tone control and three way switch. This one is all original except a new three way switch that I just replaced as the original was intermittent.



This one is in really good cosmetic condition for it's age, although with lots of pitting on the metal parts, in the most common red with matching headstock. Most of these were red or white but sunbursts and other "custom" colours do exist like metallic blue and this VERY special factory pink one which I've owned for many years.

 

I've sold quite a few of these over the years but I just can't let this pink one go. It's the ONLY one I've ever seen in this colour and it looks AWESOME and plays and sounds great. It's a slightly later one with the P-90/Mosrite style pickups (also rare) and the higher quality vibrato as used on some Zen On guitars and, uncharacteristically on a Guyatone, a zero fret. This 150-DX model is a much rarer version of an already reasonably rare model.

 

The red one here will be for sale in the shop from this weekend as I'm thinning out the herd so people can actually use these awesome guitars.




Aug 11 2017 Written By: Tim Brennan