1/08/2017

1970 Japan-made Rose KF-10M 000-Size Flattop Guitar





I took this in trade yesterday and, while it's certainly not anything fancy, it does have several interesting design quirks. It's clearly a Japanese guitar and sports the usual build elements for the time, with all-ply construction in the body and a multi-piece mahogany neck with a bound, rosewood fretboard, and Martin-aping looks. It's also roughly 000 in size and specs with a tight waist, 24 5/8" scale and 15 1/8" lower bout width.

The most significant weirdness is its tic-tac-toe bracing pattern (looks like a # sign) which is arranged in almost exactly the same way as one would find on a 1920s L-1. I'm assuming this pattern was either used to cut costs vs. x-bracing at the factory, but because of the strong tonebar-with-ladder elements of the design the pattern also has the advantage of keeping the top from deflecting like crazy (an issue with a lot of 70s laminate/ply guitars), increasing sustain, and also keeping the neck joint stable (as the increased rigidity of the top means the block travels less with tension over time -- the main reason guitars need neck resets).

In fact, the only real "problem" with the guitar since it was built in 1970 is that the laminate layers were beginning to peel up from under the (thankfully bolted) bridge and it needed a good fret level/dress and setup. I also replaced a missing pickguard, lubed the tuners, and voila -- it's up and playing again.


I did this guitar on the quick because I was curious about the sound. I love the direct, fundamental, sustained, and fingerpicking-friendly tone of the old L-1s and this guitar does have a lot of the basics of that sound -- including a strange, punchy, crisp overall feel to it that isn't quite bright or brittle, but something else. For an all-ply cheapie, it's actually pretty interesting.


The "crown" motif is lovably cheesy and the molded plastic nut speaks to the quality-level of the factory build. The neck is bang-straight and the truss works perfectly, however.





The adjustable saddle on the bridge is interesting because it's a 100% rip on the Gibson-style adjustable units, though the saddle is brass as opposed to ceramic (ew), rosewood (yum), or ebony (yum).


Just like on Gibson adjustable bridges, there are two "holders" for the adjuster screws which are themselves bolted into the bridge and bridge plate. This is a much more secure and functional way of making an adjustable saddle vs. the usual Japanese and Korean adjustable saddles seen from the same time.



The back and sides are ply mahogany and in a few places on the sides you can see some burn-through from over-zealous sanding before the finish went on!


After a lube the tuners began functioning just fine, though a set of cheap Kluson repros would be a great upgrade.





Anyone know about this brand? I'm thankful for the obvious date-mark, though!

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