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Weird No-name Made in Japan 1970s SG Copy

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I got this weird little thing in the mail today. Scored it cheap off of Reverb.


The pickups are like gold foils, but with faux leather instead of gold foil.


The body, neck and fretting are in pretty good condition, though the paint is a bit beat up and the fretboard is dry. However, every piece of metal on the thing is rusting. It plays pretty well except for the low E, which kind of duds. Not sure what is going on there. I've never played one of these older guitars before. It is going to take some work to get it in working order.


The guitar is just barely over an inch thick! And it is very light. Barely over 6 pounds.

There is no name on the guitar. No markings of any kind, except where it says "Reinforced Neck" on the truss rod cover.

I'm going to take out the pickups tonight and see if I can find any markings.

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I am one stripped and rusted screw from having this guitar completely taken apart.


In that tremolo I already broke off three screws in there. I don't know what I am going to do about that. I was SO slow with trying to get them out. And the, *POP*. I lost two screws while taking off the pickguard, as well.

The gold foil-like pickups are set on top of the pickguard. And there are two small router out holes where the screws through the pickguard sit.


Everything under the pickguard looks great, thankfully. Here is a picture looking under the hood of the gold foil-like faux leather pickups....


Now... I gotta get these few snapped screws out.... somehow... (any advice?). Get it patched up. I'm considering if I should repaint it. Thoughts?

I'm going to give the faux leather-foils a chance but I may replace them.

Edited by sirspens
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9 hours ago, Prostheta said:

Don't things like this make you realise how much you have already learnt about good instrument design? Bearing in mind of course, that there was absolutely zero hardware producers or aftermarket parts back then.

It makes me wish I knew anything about metal working. haha. I would love to learn, but am just too busy for I'd say the next year at least.

Right now I am considering putting a wrapparound bridge on this thing, because that Tremolo is pretty gnarly looking with rust. And I can't find anybody who sells anything similar. The Jaguar/Jazzmaster tremolo itself is deeper than the entire body of this guitar, so that is out.

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2 minutes ago, Tim37 said:

Guitar fetish had some trems that looked like those old japanese ones at one time

Yeah. I almost went with this...

D10_a_2.jpg&maxx=75&maxy=75 http://www.guitarfetish.com/Vintage-Style-Surface-Mount-Whammy-Bar-Hofner-Vibrola-style_p_839.html

It is what Tiesco and Greco used on their guitars in the early 70s.

But then I decided that this guitar doesn't need a tremolo. I'm going to take it in a more punk rock direction. Though that will require me to fill in the tremolo void.

(I don't think anybody is going to mourn me destroying the integrity of this no-name vintage guitar, right?)

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  • 2 weeks later...

So i decided to make a project out of this.

I am going to use the historic Japanese style tremolo bar used by Tiesco, from GuitarFetish above. I am also going to replace the bridge with a roller style tune-o-matic bridge, because the existing bridge is quite rusty. I am going to give the existing faux-leather not-gold-foil pickups a chance, but while I am working on the guitar I am going to route out a bit of the body under the pickguard so that I can install GFS NYII pickups if I don't like the current ones.

So here is where I am. I sanded off the original finish, which was not only scratched, but also not great looking. AND I LEARNED SOMETHING...


From the top, looks like one piece, with a decent grain. From the side...


This is some type of plywood. A bit under 1-1/4" thick.

Next I'm going to drill out these two screw holes where screws broke for the pickguard, and the 6 unneeded screw holes, then fill them with dowels. 


Then I'm going to route out the tremolo cavity to a known size, then fill it.

Route out for those NYII pickups (just in case)...


Then I'm going to refinish it.

I'm having a hard time deciding on a color. The plywood sides screams "solid color!" I want to test out using car touch-up spray paint I can buy for a decent price just down the street at one of 6 auto supply stores in a 5 minute drive.

Sparkly white? Sparkly black? Sparkly blue? Sparkly seafoam green? What I'm saying is that it is going to be sparkly. It's just a matter of what shade of sparkly. Here's the options: http://www.autozone.com/paint-and-body/paint-spray-can-and-touch-up

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49 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

Interesting. It looks like cross-grain ply also. That will be strong as hell, however you'll always be working against the wood wherever you're doing so.

Sparkly pearl white. Bootsy bright.

Yes. Upon further working, it is cross-grain plywood. Luckily I am not going to do much to it, I did loose a tiny nick in one of the layers around the neck pocket. But I can fill it in.

Pearly white was one of my first choices, but I can't find a paint that is pearly. Because of that, right now I am leaning toward this blue...



For hopefully a look something like this...



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This evening I attempted to clean up the pickup casings, which are rusted. Which also meant I took the pickups apart.



20160528_202732 (1).jpg

20160528_202900 (1).jpg

20160528_202908 (1).jpg


I took a fine grit sandpaper to the metal casing, and it did an okay job of getting the rust off, but now it is scratchy. Maybe I can buff it out...


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It's an acquired taste, but definitely a very smart colour in context. I think these kind of colours need crisp defined lines, so mind those bevels and only knock the edges back as much as is required to stop them being "too sharp" for paint.

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Today I routed out the tremolo pocket to a known size and made an infill piece. It had been a while since I had been to the makerspace, and they have a nice new router table and 2 new routers, so I didn't even have to get my garage all dusty. Got it glued in...


Got the holes filled in with Bondo...


Took two goes at it after sanding the first attempt down...


Then I got it sanded to 320 and it is silky smooth. But even with that, as you can see below,, the grain is porous enough, especially considering the edges of the plywood, that I am going to have to use a grain filler.


20 hours ago, Prostheta said:

I think these kind of colours need crisp defined lines, so mind those bevels and only knock the edges back as much as is required to stop them being "too sharp" for paint.

I agree, @Prostheta. I have been expanding and sharpening the bevels, about as good as I can get it in this weird plywood...




Hopefully I can get that work done this week, but I have my first registration exam for my Architecture license on Saturday, so it may have to wait until after that.

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Good luck for that!

Yeah, this is going to need some serious pore-filling work. I was mentally throwing the idea of an epoxy fill in my head, simply because you have infills and reversing grain everywhere. I don't think that would be a good idea in terms of "project work bloom" though, as I am sure it would treble your workload sanding that lot back....

I can't say positive things about Bondo....it moves differently to wood so it'll telegraph through your finish. What are you shooting over the top of the Duplicolor? I think that it should be broadly compatible with 2K clears (test first if possible of course). That said, if you have a store that can mix up aerosols to specific colours then find the blue you want (Pelham is a known with a colour code and mix ratios....I could get it in PPG near here if I wanted) plus a rattle can or two of clear. Duplicolor and the like tend to dry plastic-y and might not cure in a great hurry. A catalysed aerosol will cure within a day or two and produce a tougher and more reliable finish. Just remember to observe the caveats with those things of course. 2K is lethal, but produces grade A results on a budget.

Oh, primer....budget for more than you need....I like to use it to "prove" the shaping and finish sanding work, so that any issues can be dealt with prior to any colour being laid down. You can always re-sand the primer to fix things and re-prime.

That's how I do things anyway. Mostly based on personal availability, technique and circumstance. :thumb:

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The last 2K paint I had mixed up was dark metallic red as used on recent Nissans. Easy to see how it looks in sunlight just looking around the supermarket car park. :party

It might have been an error in translation, however I believe they mixed lacquer into the paint also. Perhaps @demonx might have a bit of advice on that sort of thing since it was his stock in trade at one point?

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18 hours ago, Prostheta said:

What are you shooting over the top of the Duplicolor?

This will be the first guitar I actually get around to finishing. I am going to do some testing, but this was my general plan:

Grain Filler
4 coats Sanding Sealer
3 or 4 coats Primer (don't know what product to use, yet)
Sand, evaluate. (More primer after some sanding?)
4 to 6 coats finish. Whatever it takes.
2 to 4 coats Behlen Stringed Instrument Lacquer

I planned to do some more reading at Reranch before moving past the grain filler stage.

I wouldn't know where to even begin with getting a custom lacquer mixed. I'd love to use the best product I can, but I also want color options. Have you tried a product like this: http://www.liquitex.com/US/shop/paints/professional/spray-paint/36093/

What I like about the Duplicolor is that (a) it is available, and (b) it is SPARKLY. 

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Because I might be a little bit insane... I bought another guitar very similar to this one. A probably early 1970s Japanese SG clone. There are some differences. First, it is a Kay. So there is that much known.


It is made of the same plywood material as the other guitar. It is the same thickness. It seems to weigh even less than the other guitar.04.jpg

The sides aren't beveled, however. They are rounded over, over the entire guitar on both the front and back.


A blemish that shows the plywood through.


The neck is different. As you can see if has a zero fret. It is also a straight neck, not angled.


It seems to be bowing ever so slightly forward.


The neck has also been shimmed at some point, putting quite an angle on it. This neck has binding, where the other does not.


The truss rod is accessible from the heel, like a lot of Tiesco of the time. And the pickups....


Also this faux leather. I looked through Frank Meyers' History of Japanese Electric Guitars, and these faux leather pickups are mentioned only an oddity of unknown origin.11.jpg

The bridge has been raised pretty high, likely due to the shimming of the neck.


One volume, one tone control, where the other has a volume and tone per pickup.


Each pickup has an on/off switch. Very nice, noiseless switching. Well, mostly, but I will get to that in a bit.


Back of the guitar looks nice. Strap button is in the same place as on the other guitar.


Unlike the other guitar, the head stock is actually one piece of wood. Tuner work okay and aren't rusted out, so that is nice.


I assume the string retainer is because it is a flat head. This is the first guitar I have ever played with a zero fret. It is very weird.

Overall the guitar plays very well, but there are three frets that fret-out on the next fret. I am going to have to work on that, but since the guitar is in mostly playable order, I'm not going to do any work on it yet. I'm going to try to get some projects finished first.

The pickups are VERY microphonic. They sound fantastic. But they telegraph every touch of the guitar. I'm not even sure how that works. You can tap on the body and play it like a bongo through the pickups. Which means you can distort and do weird things to your bongo...

Overall, a nice playing guitar for being a super cheap 40+ year old guitar.

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Microphony is the coils being physically excited by movement. You can pot them if you know they'll stand up the the treatment. There's a couple of Tutorials on potting, however I'm sure they could do with being updated. The information is good as long as you watch the safety points.

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I got all my hardware in for this project. Here's a mock-up...


My girlfriend said I have too many blue guitars, so I should choose a different color. I've been through a lot of options in my head. I'm working on a cream guitar, so not cream. I think black wouldn't really work with this guitar, especially with the black pickguard. I have another idea for a TV Yellow guitar. So....

reranchstore_2259_1356001 Metallic Copper from Reranch.


Burgundy Metallic by Dupli-Color. Which I like because it pays tribute to the original color, while being a solid color and sparkly. 

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