Untitled Document
 
 
 
Nate DeMont

**This is history will only be updated through the official Guyatone site: NOW REDIRECTING***

One of the earliest guitar manufacturers in Japan, Guyatone began production in 1933. According to Mr. Hiroyuki Noguchi, editor of Japan's Guitar Magazine, "Matsuki Seisakujo" was founded by a cabinet maker's apprentice Mr. Mitsuo Matsuki and friend Mr. Atsuo Kaneko, who later became a famous Hawaiian & Spanish guitarist, as well as help with the formation of the great Teisco in 1946.

Mr. Matsuki had been enrolled in electronics classes, studying nights after his cabinetry apprentice job. Hawaiian music becoming increasingly popular at the time led Mr. Kaneko to inquire to his friend Matsuki about building an electric Hawaiian guitar using his wood working and electronics skills. In the late 30's the "Matsuki Joiner" company ("Matsuki Seisakujo" in Japanese) was formed producing and selling mostly American style (Rickenbacher) guitars under the Guya name.

In 1940 Matsuki was drafted into the war between China and Japan and production halted for several years. After returning back home, Matsuki formed his own company, "Matsuki Denki Onkyo Kenkyujo," translated means: "Matsuki Electric Sound Laboratory."
In 1951 Matsuki began to use the Guyatone name on his instruments. They also began to make amplifiers and, oddly, cartridges for record players. These cartridges found a large market after being routinely used by NHK - a government-owned broadcasting station.In 1952 the name of the corporation was again changed to "Tokyo Sound Company." Somewhere along the line the company was called "Guya Co, Ltd.  In 2013 "Tokyo Sound Co. Ltd." closed their doors to business and transferred ownership of the "Guyatone" name to Hiroshi Matsuki, son of the founder of Tokyo Sound Co, and brother to the president of the company.  Guyatone's own records indicate them as being "Founded" July 16, 1956.

Site of original Guyatone factory on Meigjhi St, Tokyo Japan.
Hiroshi Matsuki, son of the founder (left)
Copyright 2013 Frank Meyers, Drowning in Guitars

According to correspondence with Toshihiko (Toshi) Torri, the Tokyo Sound factory began large-scale production in 1956. It is unclear when the opening of the factory in Maehashi happened, but in that factory of 9,720 sq ft, they produced the largest amount of audio goods in their history. Yielding, at times, 1,500 slide guitars, 1,600 electric guitars & basses, 2,000 guitar amplifiers, and 5,000 microphones a month!

Recent photo of the former Kent Musical Instrument Company
a subsidiary of Buegeleisen & Jacobson

20 E. 15th St., New York City

Guyatone vs Kent logo
Guyatone was the first known Japanese guitar manufacturer to directly offer their product line to the American public. The first ad for Guyatone Guitars appears in 1959 and depicted the EG-80B/60B & EG-80H. Later Kent Musical instrument Company, a subsidiary of Buegeleisen & Jacobson, became one of the largest distributors distributors of Guyatone guitars sporting the "Kent" name badge or more rarely seen "K" logo. In April of 1962 Kent/B&J announced their line of imported Japanese guitars under the "Kent" house-brand name. By the Fall of 1962 Kent's imported line of guitars was put together in two sub-groups. The lower end produced by Teisco (later Kawai / Teisco after their merger in 1967) called the Standard Series was made up of 5 guitars and one bass. The Pro-Series, however, was made up of higher end instruments from Guyatone including 4 guitars (with a choice from two to four pickups) and one bass. This original line of Kent/Guyatones were marketed with a "K" logo strikingly similar to Guyatone's "G" logo.

Although American guitars are arguably the beginning of the new era of rock instruments, Guyatone made it to Britain first. J.T. COPPOCK (LEEDS) LTD began importing Guyatone guitars under the 'Antoria' name presumably around the same time they were brought to the US. One of the most popular models, the LG50 design was actually duplicated by the legendary Burns guitar company. The Burns 'Weill Fenton', 'Fenton Weill De Luxe and 'Sonic' all bare similarities which are hard to dismiss as coincidence. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Rose-Morris, presumably of England, began importing parts manufactured for them by Guyatone for thier line of guitars called "Broadway." In 1962, the budget line model for Broadway became a variation on the the Guyatone LG-40, with one oddly large oval pickup, as oppose to the LG-40's two pickups. The budget model also lacked the frills of full body and neck binding.
In America the Supro Dual Tone and LG60 as well bare strikingly resemblance to each other. Having been introduced about the same time, it is unknown which is likely the inspiration for the other, though not many American manufacturers at the time seemed to be paying much attention to their overseas counterparts.

1959 "Weill Fenton"

Ibanez's early relationship to Guyatone is apparent in some of their early solid body electric guitars. The exact dates may be slightly off, but from '57 to '62 Guyatone sold guitars to Hoshino Gakki Ten to market under their name 'Ibanez.' Models of some Guyatones are available with both the Ibanez logo and the Guyatone logo. In 1962 Ibanez opened its own factory and produced its own guitars from '62-'67 before again contracting companies like Fujigen Gakki to manufacture their instruments. The relationship between the Guyatone and Ibanez headstocks and necks remains a mystery. Even after Hoshino started to produce their own instruments the necks and/or headstocks remained the same basic shape as Guyatone. Hoshino Gakki(Ibanez) necks seem to be a bit more 'chunky' and less playable than the Guyatone version. This is possibly due to the 'shadow factories' all around Japan, which in reality, were families working production-line style on guitars parts in their garages. These parts would eventually make it to larger factories for assembly. It is possible that both Guyatone and Ibanez acquired necks from the same source or that the necks were commissioned to resemble the original Guyatone.

 
 
  (Bill Menting)Left to right, EG-90,Model 1840 large body, extra volume and tone,set neck model 1202 bass, 1830 small body, 1830 large body/headstock, set neck model 1860  

Models of Ibanez guitars manufactured by Guyatone include:
Models: 1830, 1840, 1850(three pickup), 1860, 1880, EG-80, EG-90, EG-1800, EG-1810, EG-1580, EG-1590


Many vintage Japanese guitars can be hard to trace back to one manufacturer simply because there was not just one manufacturer. Nearly all hardware was produced by a single unknown company. Likewise, many pickups in the late 1950s-60s were products of one single company: Nisshin Onpa, also known as Maxon. However, most, if not all, pickups that were OEM for guitars manufactured completley at the Guyatone factory had original Guyatone-made pickups. Matsuki's son, Hiroshi Matsuki, says that although Guyatone owned their own factory, they also consigned work to other companies who specialized in guitar production. Subcontracted work included, but was not limited to: bodies, necks, hardware, and full guitars to other companies, and in the case of a full-guitar contracted to another company, the manufacturers pickups' were most likely always installed. It is unknown if each guitar manufacturer commissioned its own pickups' production or if they were simply given a choice. This is why many vintage Japanese guitars end up with the same pickups and hardware. Certain guitar manufacturers seem to stick with a certain type, or line or hardware and pickups, but no one item seems to be particular and definite of any one company. Guyatone is particularly know for their "Gold Screen" pickups, as they are called by the english speaking enthusiasts. According to collector Anthony Guerra, in Japan they are called "Diarumondo," which roughly translated is a reference to the "Gold Screens."


photo from '60s Bizarre Guitars'

 




As seen in The Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide 2010 "production and exports slowed after '68," though definitive data on Guyatone in the mid 60's has been scarce, Frank Meyers, author and historian of vintage Japanese guitars, unearthed some facts indicating that even though Guyatone had its most successful years between 1965-67, with more than 300 factory workers day and night, monthly sales in 1969 sunk to less than $100,000 a month from its peak of around $500,000 a month. The company went bankrupt near the end of August, 1969. By Early 1970, Mr. Matsuki had begun to rebuild his company and by the mid 70's Guyatone was in full swing, marketing some of the highest quality Japanese instruments at the time, including the Sharp Five and increasingly grew their line of effects pedals.

Guyatone began the 1970's with a new factory, and producing instruments of spectacular quality. Though it cannot yet be fully confirmed, we believe the sheet metal truss rod cover, often with a black screen printed design, is a tell-tale mark of the new factory.

1984 Sharp Five


TD-1
'true' Tube Distortion pedal
By the 1980's Guyatone had produced the worlds first true tube distortion pedal; the TD1 which used a single 12AX7A tube packed inside of a metal case. This pedal was also relabeled under the 'Nady' (also model TD-1) and 'Westbury' (model TO-2))names.





Mr. Mitsuo Matsuki passed away in 1995, leaving his sons in charge, with Koichi Matsuki acting as President and CEO and brother, Hiroshi Matsuki, as Head of Business Sales. In 2013 Guyatone officially left the Tokyo Sound Co. family of brands to form it's own company with Hiroshi Matsuki as CEO and Toshihiko Torii heading research and design.
Guyatone severally cut back production of guitars, although occasionally releasing re-issues of some of their guitars, but today mainly produces effects pedals- marketed under the name "Guyatone", PA systems & wireless mics (currently only available in Japan) - "Rexer" and home audio tube amplifiers - "Sound". In 2013, DeMont Guitars (Chicago, IL), will begin to handle all Distribution and representation of Guyatone in the United States.
Today Guyatone has one of the most competitive effects pedal companies in Japan and still does research & development and sales from their office in Tokyo, Japan.

The latest incarnation in Guyatone guitars is the "S-5 Mine" signature model of Japanese guitarist, Nobuhiro Mine. This guitar was very strictly modeled after the 'Shap 5' , though officially Guyatone had little to do with it's re-release in the late 1990's and produced by the Fuji-gen Gakki Factory in Japan.







Nobuhiro Mine & signature S-5 Mine guitar
Current Research & Developer, Toshihiko Torii has recently been assigned the task of recreating modern prototypes of vintage Guyatone Guitars in hopes of revitalizing the stringed market for their brand.
The Excelsior 5 (left) and the Spearhead 7(right) were created by Toshi Torii & Ryo Shida.
With a two piece book matched Ash top and a Mahogany back, the Spearhead offers much greater stability than vintage instruments made of a single material.

The Excelsior resembles the vintage "Mallory" model but introduces a more advanced technology. Top & back consist of maple, with an ash core with basswood sides.
 
*Guyatone-made guitars may have also been sold under the following names, though not all guitars under the following label have been made by Guyatone:
Confirmed: Broadway, Delta, Ibanez, Kent, Lake, Lafayette, Marco Polo, Musician, Nobco, Noble, Orpheus, Orpheum, Raven, Regent, Roamer, Saturn, Star
Unconfirmed: Barclay, Beltone, Capri, Crown, Crestwood, Custom Kraft, Elko, Empires Feather, Futurama, G. Rossi, Howard, Hi-Lo, Imperial, Ideal, Johnny Guitar, Kimberly, Lindell, Maier, Marquis, Maximus, Melodies, Montclair, Omega,Prestige, Recco, Royalist, Royal Artist, St George, Silhouette, Sorrento, Toledo, Vernon, Victoria, Zen-On (VERY RARE TO FIND GUYATONE Zen-On), Zenta
 

References:

Wright, Michael. Guitar Stories: Volume One. Bismarck: Vintage Guitar Books, 1995

60s Bizarre Guitars. Guitar Magazine Mooks. Rittor Music, 1993

Bill Menting; www.oncevlectrum-undervlectrum.com , www.IbanezCollectorsWorld.com 50's & 60's World Forum

Wright, Michael.  "Teisco Guitars, PartI: Rock 'n' Roll Dreams, Part I" Vintage Guitar Magazine. 25 April. 2002. 16 March. 2011<http://www.vintageguitar.dreamhosters.com/1745/teisco-guitars-part-i/>

Greenwood, Alan & Hembree, Gil. The Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide 2010. Bismarck: Vintage Guitar Books, 2009

theguitarcollection.org.uk. The guitar collection of Guy Mackenzie. 17 March 2011 <http://www.theguitarcollection.org.uk>

www.tokyosound.co.jp. 2011. Tokyo Sound Corporation. 17-20 March 2010 <http://www.tokyosound.co.jp>

www.Sebastian.virtuozzo.co.nz. 2009. Guyatone/Antoria LG50 - The inspiration for the Burns-Weill Fenton. 23 June 2011
<http://sebastian.virtuozzo.co.nz/gitbox/wiki/index.php/GuyatoneAntoria>

www.firstflightmusic.com. 1999. Sold. 16 July 2014
<http://www.firstflightmusic.com/iframes/content_sold_gtrs.html
>

Dan Wollock; First Flight Music, Owner

Hiroshi Matsuki; Head of Business Sales Tokyo Sound Co. (Guyatone)

Toshihiko Torii; R&D, Tokyo Sound Co. (Guyatone)

Nobuhiro Mine; http://www.mine-s5.com, Guitarist

Barry Gibson; Owner, Burns of London

Frank Meyers; Author, DrowningInGuitars.com

Anthony Guerra

Conan Rose

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