While many of the Japanese builders are still producing guitars, much of the historical infomation has been lost. Writing to the manufactrers results mainly in "no response", so much of the information we have today has been researched by enthusiasts, collectors and the occasional expert.
Mark, from japanguitars.co.uk, would argue that the "golden era" of japanese guitar building began in late 1979 and ended in 1982 when an economic recession hit Japan. No doubt there were some exceptional guitars built in this time period. The manufacturers had mastered their replications of the famous american brands which was no small task to achieve within a period of 10 years.
Almost 50 years ago Gibson produced the best of what most of us consider the most famous and probably the first truly collectible solidbody guitar. The Les Pauls from 1958-1960 are legendary. Known affectionately as the bursts due to their most sought after sunburst finish, these instruments are now arguably some of the most collectible and expensive guitars ever built. Gibson are still trying to capture the magic of this era through their historic reissues.
The Japanese didnt just limit themselves to replicas of Gibson guitars, the Fender Stratocaster, Telecaster and just about any of the guitars made famous in the 60's by artists such as Clapton, Peter Green, Hendrix, Peter Frampton, Jimmy Page, became fair game. And they did it well. It is said that if you buy a Japanese guitar blind, you have a greater than 80% chance of getting something good. Even today the main American and Europian guitar makers have difficulty attaining this level of quality.
So while there may be a few years of astounding guitars where the Japanese copies were arguably as good as the original vintages from the likes of Fender and Gibson, the quality from the rest of the time period was also well above the average. Even today it is fashionable for some brand concious individuals who cant get past the name on the headstock to refer to them as cheap copies. In some ways they are right, but not in the way it is meant. In recent times however the higher end Japanese guitars are now fetching in excess of the cost of some of the reissues, if you are ever lucky enough to play one of them you will see, hear and feel why.
We hope you find the information available on the website useful, and when you have digested all you can, feel free to join our forum where I know you will be welcomed. Our members are always happy to discuss just about anything to do with these guitars whether you are new to the MIJ scene or an old hat.