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All The Emperor's Guitars

Tony Bacon on the trans-oceanic hotline

Who makes which Jap electrics? Check ERRATA

Have you ever wondered whether "Japan" is just one big factory with guitars churning off the production line while an oriental chap at the end stamps Aria on one headstock, Ibanez on another, and Yamaha on the next, as the fancy lakes him? Not so. But our exhaustive and exhausting enquiries have revealed that the majority of Japanese electric guitars, even bitter rivals, come from one of three big factories in the Nagano region of the country. Two or more brands of electric guitar coming from the same factory won't necessarily turn out looking and sounding the same — Squier are designed in the US, Vox in the UK, for example — but it does imply a similarity of manufacturing, and finishing, at the very least. Did you know, for example, that Washburn electrics, although designed in Chicago, are made at four different Japanese factories: Matsumoku, Chusin, Kasuga, and Tokai? No? Nor did Washburn UK. We also picked up a case or two full of unprintable rumours and accusations — A's necks are really made in Taiwan, B's guitars are made in a shed in Hiroshima, and so on — but felt that you'd prefer facts. So here we go.


Matsumoto, Nagano

  • Aria
  • Vantage
  • Vox
  • Washburn
  • Westone


Minami, Nagano

  • Cimar
  • Maya
  • Seiwa
  • Washburn


Matsumoto, Nagano

  • Ibanez
  • Roland GR
  • Seiwa
  • Sqier

DAION are made at their own factory in Osaka. FUJI GEN-GAKKI also make Greco for the home market—hence the 'GR' in Roland-GR — and put Fender on the head of Squiers sold in Japan. HONDO are all now made in Korea, although UK distributors JHS have some stocks left of Matsumoku-built H1010B and H1030N models. KAWAI are made at their own factory in central Japan. TOKAI are made at their own main factory in Hammamatsu, and some 12 other smaller plants. VOX forthcoming models will not be made by Matsumoku. WASHBURN are also made by Kasuga and Tokai. YAMAHA are made at Nippon-Gakki's own factory in Hammamatsu.


As the ink was drying we realised, with glum faces, that our geography was amiss. On page 55 (All The Emperor's Guitars) it should be Ibanez, Roland GR and Squier at the Fuji Gen-Gakki factory and Cimar, Maya and Washburn at Chusin. Seiwa are made at both places. Our brains were manufactured in a shoebox.

User Comment for this article: "Unfortunately this is not correct info. Daion did not have a factory in Osaka. They had an office but not a factory. The factory was Yamaki and was in Suwa from 62-83. In 83 they moved to Shiga, and in 84 they closed down. Also Matsumoku never built Washburn. Yamaki did from 77-84, and from 84-87 Chushin took over."

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Billings Custom Bass

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Yamaha 9000 Drum Kit

One Two Testing - Copyright: IPC Magazines Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.


One Two Testing - Dec 1983

Donated by: Colin Potter

Feature by Tony Bacon

Previous article in this issue:

> Billings Custom Bass

Next article in this issue:

> Yamaha 9000 Drum Kit

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