Late 60's Burns Violin Bass

I've written about both Burns Tokyo and vintage Japanese violin basses many times before in my blog. The Hofner Violin bass was hugely popular in Japan thanks mainly to the Beatles so many manufacturers like Greco made versions from simple entry level models to reasonably high-end versions.

Burns Tokyo were of course manufactured by Teisco-Gen-Gakki between late '67 and mid '69 and mainly made hollowbodies for the domestic market via a shop in Tokyo. These were mainly entry level to mid-range guitars with a few higher end guitars reaching up to almost 40.000 JY at the time.


This bass was essentially sold under many different brands like Firstman, Idol, Honey, Minister and more in slightly different specs at many different price points. All were made by Teisco-Gen-Gakki after the Kawai takeover when several Teisco employees and managers left to start their own brands. Contrary to what's written on some selling sites these particular guitars and basses had nothing to do with the brand Teisco at all. 

These basses were all made with molded plywood bodies and construction and finish from this factory was generally very good and this one sports lovely multiply binding front and back. This method of construction was economical and allowed them to make hollowbody guitars and basses in large numbers at very good prices. 


The necks are usually fairly slim on more expensive models with middle range guitars and basses being a little bit "chunky" but still comfortable. The quality of the higher end Firstman and Idol stuff really shows in these brands but this factory made decent stuff even at entry level models. This version, like most entry and medium level versions is a bolt on neck but this one has the rarer TEISCO GENGAKKI KK branded neck plate.

This one here has typical T-G-G hardware and plays and sounds great. The pickups are a type of bass P-90 with medium output with lots of clarity and good punch. The bridge is the simple but very effective adjustable roller bridge used on thousands of Japanese guitars and basses in the late 60's. 

The electrics are copied off the original Hofner version with o/off switches and a tone switch and a master volume and tone pot.


As you already know, I'm a HUGE fan of vintage Japanese guitars and these lesser-known brands are always fun for find and explore. In recent years, with the internet opening up access to these bizarre guitars and Japanese companies flooding overseas markets with their previously bottlenecked supply, these have become much easier to find and buy and some have started skyrocketing in price as "rare" and short-lived models become known and accessible.

Unfortunately for nerds like me this means that some online dealers are asking HUGE amounts of money, with inaccurate listings to sweeten the deal to try and sell these guitars as more than they really are. With the exception of Matsumoku, Fujigen, Tokai and a couple of other vintage Japanese manufacturers, all of whom made very high-quality guitars in their upper ranges, most of these more entry/medium level brands were simply great guitars for the money, which unfortunately has now translated into dealers trying to sell these "cheap Japanese guitars" (remember, I LOVE these guitars) at medium to high end collector prices which kinda takes all the fun out of it.

Back to blog