7/03/2014

c.1960 Japanese Pearloid Disaster Archtop Guitar


(Audio coming soon!)

Oh, sheesh, this guitar gave me hell. I didn't expect anything less which is why I put it off for more than 5 months before getting to it. I was slightly worried.  You see... the owner of this instrument absolutely adores pearloid of any sort ("mother of toilet seat" by any other name) and this was sort of a holy grail acquisition for him. I wanted to at least make it playable... which it (finally) now is. It came in really shabby shape and while constructed from solid spruce and solid (Japanese) maple and sporting a big 17" body... the build was compromised from the beginning and cruddy old repairs didn't help.

That said? Now it's a fun thing with a lot of forward dry oomph. I wouldn't expect any less from such a big body. Also... the thin (lightly warped, I should mention, too) neck means that those 3-note jazz chords up and down play pretty easy and have a good "compressed" sound. The big problem with the wonky neck, however, is that it can only handly 46w-10 (extra light) strings and even those noticeably warp it from dead straight to small relief. I've still got it dialed in for 3/32" action at the 12th, though, so it's still a decent player.


This giant mass of pearloid-bedecked spruce top seems to me to be about nothing but showing off... and why not? It's a 17" archtop... you might as well have a little fun!

Work on this included a neck reset plus shimmed neck joint plus bolt in the heel for reinforcement. This has a pretty terribly-made dovetail joint (far too shallow) that was also reglued poorly at some point with some mucking-up of the fit. It's all settled, now, but it's never fun to correct old weird repairs.

FYI... I have no idea what brand this is. The label in the soundhole makes it obvious that this is Japanese in origin but both said label and the headstock logo are pretty well worn out as far as a brand name goes.


Someone's idiotic drilling-out of the headstock (with oval holes, no less, for the tuner shafts) meant that to keep the job simple and cheap I used some old Schaller sealed (gold-finish!) tuners from my pile of least-desirable parts and popped them on to make use of the enlarged shaft holes (read: to hide them).

The bonus is that the Schallers work pretty well... and the gold fits in with this pearloid monstrosity.


Yeah... the color of this stuff is cool... I'll admit it.



This is the original bridge base but I've made it adjustable again with a modified brass acoustic pin-bridge adjustable saddle. This was the only solution that was low-profile and durable enough that I could think of. It adds a bit of sustain, too, and a particularly dark thuck at the beginning of the notes compared to the bone topper I originally installed (and removed... it was too harsh-sounding).


The trapeze here is from my parts bin as the original was missing.



Those long back cracks got filled up and seem to be stable for the time being.




The body, interestingly, thins at the heel and endblock which I'm used to on German-made instruments but it's usually never so exaggerated on US makes.

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