my guitars.

 

Welcome to my site dedicated to vintage Japanese guitars and a few other interesting instruments. I have been buying, selling, and collecting for over 30 years, have had many guitars pass through over those years. In 2015 I decided to build a website with some of the ones I still have. I've been playing a long time, certainly not pro level but I enjoy playing out with family and friends and have played at some of Portland's most iconic music venues. 

 

ABOUT VINTAGE GRECO GUITARS [my favorite MIJ]

they are very high quality, considered by collectors the best of MIJ guitars

were originally sold only in Japan so the production numbers are low compared to other MIJ such as Ibanez, which was-is sold world wide and actually built at the same factory as Greco for a time

Greco made more different versions of American guitars than any brand to this day. Tokai, Fernandes, etc. made some copies, but if you want a vintage MIJ version of a Danelectro, Gretsch, certain Rickenbackers, Gibsons, and Fenders your only option is a Greco

Greco has a history with Led Zeppelin and Fender that no other MIJ brand has, I have some historical information spread throughout this site

They are close enough to the guitars they copy that parts are mostly interchangeable, making them a perfect platform for a custom guitar, you will see several I have modified into one of a kind beauties

First up is a 1973 Greco FB900 non-reverse, an interesting copy because they did not non-reverse the headstock like the Gibson. These were one of the first attempts at making a MIJ version of an American guitar. They were only produced in 1973, not many made, are considered highly collectible. 

Ibanez sold a rebranded version, also highly collectible. 

1973 GRECO FB900

1973 Greco RD 650 set neck 

1988 Greco

Super Real FA 6120

A fantastic copy of the

1958 Gretsch 6120 shown below

BLACK was not an option in 1958. Apparently Chet Adkins was the only person to get a special made black guitar. The Greco is very beautifully black.

1988 Greco J600E
excellent copy of a
Gibson J160e as used by John Lennon

1980 GRECO Limited Edition GoldTop, precurser to the Super Real

1975 'Spacey Sounds' Telecaster with Bigsby

1958 Harmony H55 with Gibson P13 pickup factory installed
1973 Greco - Canda
202 Hummingbird
the craftmanship is absolutely amazing
1958-59 Fender Telecaster was a transitional year. 1958- early 1959 had the 5 screw 1 ply pickguards as shown on right picture below. 1959 was the year the Telecaster Custom came into production as shown on left picture below. For a brief time you could buy a 1959 Telecaster Custom with a 5 screw pickguard. Very rare to find one.
In 1982 Fender bought out Greco and all guitars were branded as Fender Squire MIJ. But for one year Greco build the beauty below, a copy of the1958-59 Custom with a 5 hole single ply pickguard. This is the 1981 Greco CT 600, a very rare guitar for sure.
I read that gold is always a good investment, so I bought gold. 

I was in Seattle 4-9-2019 on business, took a slight diversion to Emerald City Guitars, a well known vintage dealer. They had a beautiful 1959 Gibson Les Paul Burst, slightly out of my price range, but then I spied a 1958 Fender Deluxe Tweed just like Neil Young uses and this one even had an extension cabinet. I tried it out, and about two hours later decided I wanted it, but I got a nagging feeling I should check on my car. I went outside and around the corner and my car was gone. Been towed. Three hours of my life I will never get back later I had my car just in time for a dinner meeting. Later that night I emailed the store and said "Hi this is Mick whose car got towed, I will buy that amp under these terms: The price we discussed plus I want a picture of me holding that 1959 Gibson Les Paul Burst plugged into that amp, text me back and I'll come by and seal the deal". I did not hear back, decided to stop by the store anyway. When I started talking to the sales gal the owner walked up and asked if I was the guy who sent that email, apparently it made him laugh, he agreed to my terms and I got a picture holding a different '59 Les Paul $347,500 guitar! That amp was built in June 1958, I was born June 7, 1958. My forever amp. Made up for my car getting towed...

So the picture is a genuine 1958 Mick holding a genuine 1959 Gibson Les Paul Burst plugged into a genuine 1958 Fender Deluxe Tweed with custom extension cabinet that I just bought! This was definately the coolest experience at a guitarshop that I have ever had! 

1973 Greco N55

copy of a Gibson ES-175

with embossed pickups

LYRE VIBROLA TAIL
To your left is the Gibson Lyre tailpiece as found on Firebirds and SG guitars.
To your right is the Greco version. Typical of Greco the attention to detail is fantastic.

1988 Greco WF 140 'White Falcon'

1978 Greco EG 600 Custom 'Ace Frehley' model

Greco's version
Gibson's version
1975 Greco TV500 Les Paul DC
Gibson copies with single coil pickups. These seem to be hard to find guitars, I have not seen more than a couple for sale ever. It would be nice to know actual production numbers, but that info is lost...
1980 Greco JG700 'Super Real' Jaguar
1980 Greco JM700 'Super Real' Jazzmaster

both of these guitars were in production only about 6 months and then stopped because Fender had bought Greco out. Very low production numbers.

1988 Greco RJ-85
Copy of a Gretsch Duo Jet

from the 1981 Greco catalog

the EG52-G and EG54-G guitars are likely the most rare of any models listed in their official catalogs.

notice that neither has a purchase price listed.

One day while I was searching for Greco gold tops on google the image below popped up. It was an expired ebay listing from 2015. I had never heard of this model, but it was too late anyway. The listing had ended and I assumed it was purchased by a collector and would never be seen again.
It seemed to be an opportunity lost forever... 
About a year later I came across that ebay listing again and opened up the 'description' box and this is what I found [see image below]. I started to think maybe the seller read this and decided to keep this guitar. I contacted the seller, and sure enough, he still had it! He sent some pictures and of course I had to ask...
I asked if it was for sale and he said yes, we brokered a price, he put it on ebay,
I hit the 'buy it now' button, it is now in it's new home with it's fellow Greco
guitars where it will be loving played as it was meant to be. I'm not sure what actual collector value it has, it is a one off and it was in the Greco catalog,
so it should have more value than a custom order guitar that is not shown in
the catalog. Doesn't matter anyway, I'm not an investor, I'm a guitar player.
If anyone has info on this guitar please email to me at: mick@vjguitarshop.com

1981 GRECO EG52-G

LIKELY THE ONLY ONE IN EXISTENCE

P-90 pickups sound fantastic. Plays like every other Greco I own, top notch quality.
TEISCO
Not a name but an acromym for Tokyo Electric Instrument and Sound Company

1966 TEISCO Del Ray ET 312

1973 TEISCO Del Ray G 300

TRUSS ROD COVERS
in the early 1970's you could custom order personalized truss rod covers. These are unique to each guitar and are not real common. Notice the script is the same.

Michael Sweet playing a Greco Les Paul Custom

1985 TOKAI SUPER EDITION

SD-65 S

with factory installed

SHIFT 2001 TREMOLO

BASED ON THE 1972 GIBSON LES PAUL PERSONAL
just over 370 Gibsons were produced making it one of the most rare of Gibson guitars. No idea how many of these Greco copies were made. Nice demonstration video I found on YouTube showing all the tonal options. 

2008 fender aerodyne MIJ

1975 fernandes burny custom

1975 Greco TD 500

On stage at the White Eagle Saloon

in Portland Oregon

1973-74 EG 420 B
Last of the bolt on neck Les Paul style, came with beautiful 'Gneco' embossed pickups that sound fantastic. I actually removed the pickups and put them into an early 1970's Gneco strat to make a custom HH strat, which you will see later.
1979 Greco EG500CR
Factory Greco tremolo mounting plate and Greco tremolo 
Looks like Greco built mounting plates way before Vibramate!
This plate attaches the tremolo piece without any permanent modifications to the guitar, just like the Vibramate plate. It even has a 'Greco' logo stamped on it. 

1982 Greco Firebird

Above is as purchased, right is after modifications. Looks like this guitar was build at the Japanese Tokai factory. 

Greco used the Tokai factory to increase production. Still MIJ.

First time playing it at practice. I was surprised at how comfortable it is to play. It is much thinner than a Les Paul and less heavy. It also has easier access to the top frets.

1989 Greco EGS56-65 Mint Collection

1988 Greco EGR54-60 Mint Collection 

At band practice playing Hash Pipe by Weezer.
Sound is slightly off track, don't know what happened.
I like Weezer. It rhymes with Geezer. As in Old Geezer playing Weezer.

A TRIO OF RARE GRECO STRATOCASTERS

1979 'Super Sounds' Strat. Based on the Fender1971 model, which introduced the 3 screw neck plate and bullet truss rod that could be adjusted without removing the neck. This Greco version is very rare.
1977 'Early Sixties' Strat. Based on the 'L' series model made 1962-65.
I plugged this in and immediately was surprised by the tone, sounds just like SRV, the only strat I've ever had that really captured that tone. It is very heavy, maybe that's why? SRV played an 'L' series strat. These are also on the rare side, very low production numbers. 

Randy Bachman playing a Greco GR 505

GRECO is a brand of guitar that started production  around 1960, they were made in Japan at the FujiGen and Matsumoku factories. The first attempt at making a copy of the American brands was an oddly shaped telecaster guitar, the KF-190.

These came out in 1967, then came a copy of a Hofner Beatle Bass, then a copy of a Gibson Les Paul, although it had a bolt on neck.  By the early 1970's Greco got serious and the telecaster, stratocaster, and Les Paul copies were really good quality instruments. It wasn't long before they were as good as the real thing, but most people would not know this because Greco was sold only in Japan- they were

not exported at all. This meant they were less concerned with copy right issues, and because of the small market, the production numbers are fairly low. This has made Greco the vintage Japanese guitar of choice for collectors. Greco made copies of more guitars  than any other brand, all very high quality. The factory that

made Greco also made Ibanez, which was widely distributed around the world.

Greco guitars are now readily available, sold by Japanese shops on ebay, Reverb, and other sites. Having owned Gibson and Fenders, I can say the Greco versions are at least as good if not better, and they are certain to become harder to find at the current reasonable prices as they get bought up by collectors. 

1995 Tokai ULC-95 wine red Les Paul gold hardware

1978 Greco EG 700 tobacco burst Les Paul
Left: 1987 Greco EGC Mint Collection with 2 piece maple  flame top.
Right: 1978 Greco EGC 700 with 3 piece maple flame top.
Drums in background are a 1970's Ludwig Vistalite kit.
on stage at the Analog Cafe Music Theater
This is not a factory built guitar. One of my first Grecos was an EG420 Les Paul style, the bolt on neck Les Pauls, and it had these beautiful sounding embossed pickups, but the guitar was not that great. I also had this old stratocaster that had a fantastic feel, but the pickups sucked. I saw an ad for an HH Fender strat and the lightbulb went on. I bought a custom made HH pickguard with no pre-drilled control holes, I then drilled the control holes spaced away from the bridge pickup, because I always hated how close that volume control is to the pickup, always turning my volume down accidentally. I had to remove a lot of wood to make the pickups fit. I combined 2 mediocre guitars into one super fun guitar. 
1989 GRECO EGW 80
based upon the 1988 gibson custom lite les paul.
left picture is original. gold hardware, black trim, nice enough but i don't really like gold hardware so i decided to hotrod this one. right picture is what i ended up with. it was nice before, but now it is an absolutely stunning beauty that plays fantastic. it is one of a kind!
part of the reason this model is unique is the width of the body. left picture shows the comparison with a standard les paul. the reduced width actually makes a huge difference when playing, part of the reason it is my favorite LP. i installed genuine 1971 vintage gibson embossed cover t-top humbuckers, the sound is incredible. the pickups cost more than the guitar, but even with new locking tuners, bigsby with vibramate plate, and trim, i still have less than $2K into it.
the twins
 1988 GRECO RG100 6 string  
1989 GRECO RG120 12 string 
beautifully built guitars. it is sometimes hard to find one for sale because RICKENBACKER shuts down every "for sale" they find citing copyright infringements. online side-by-side reviews always say that the GRECO is the better guitar. No surprise there...
 
Check out the You Tube video
of a beautiful blond RG120, in japanese of course!
these two Greco's in action. my son is the drummer. drums are not Greco...
the Greco goldtop trifecta
left = 1978 EG800GS
middle = 1977 EG700GS
right = 1978 EG600GS
everyone including me thinks the P90 pickup guitar sounds the best.

 early 1970's GRECO top loader telecaster  - no holes through the body.

before they had serial numbers so it is impossible to date exactly. based on the 1958-59 fender toploader, which sells for $20K plus. this one is in mint condition. slightly smaller than later models. outstanding quality.

GRECO
firebird and thunderbird
the firebird has the correct banjo style tuners not found on other japanese copies.
you tube
video demo 
of a Greco
thunderbird.
THE BAZAAR GRECO - LED ZEPPELIN CONNECTION
Led Zeppelin touring Japan in 1972 are ambushed by Greco, Peter Grant steps in.
A Greco Rep hands Jimmy Page a new 1972 Greco EG 360S  Les Paul bolt on neck. They had printed tour books for fives shows only falsely implying a relationship and indorsement of their guitar. Greco made a huge mistake...
Peter Grant forced them to black out those claims on every copy of this book and you can see that black out on the images below. Grant VS Greco...
1972 Greco EG 360 Sunburst
  1978 GRECO BM-90   
you might think this is just another cheesy red special copy, but not so!
this is actually the very first red special copy from any manufacturer and it is of very high quality like all Greco's.
School of Rock practice. Adam is one of the guys who run the adult show.
This almost became an official Brian May Signature guitar. Left is a video of Queen 1977 Top of the Pops TV show and Brian is actually playing a Greco BM900. 
He liked the guitar but wanted to make a few improvements. Greco did not respond back for some unknown reason. This was the first ever Brian May copy.
Rickenbacker copies - very limited production
1979 RB900 bass and matching 1979 RG550 6 string
     my home studio     
The one modification every guitar gets is these strap locks. Because I allow friends to use any guitar they want this modification gives me piece of mind and I have never had a guitar fall off the strap! Cheap insurance!
   GRECO SS series  the lightest guitars ever and fantastic players   
1988 GRECO
D - 800
resonator with
lipstick pickup
 the Jeff Beck series 
Jeff Beck shows his guitars, first one up is the tele-gib.
i have no idea why the strat is connected to Jeff Beck, can't find even one picture of him playing a guitar like this one. i didn't like the switch setup and the pickups seemed cheap so i decided to hotrod it. changed almost every piece on it: pickguard loaded with OEM Fender "pure vintage 59" pickups, 5 way switch, roller saddles, and OEM Fender locking tuners. 
finished product is a one-off custom pro grade Greco stratocaster. easily the best SSS style stratocaster i have ever owned.
japan vintage collection books featuring GRECO guitars
1988 GRECO DE 70       
super rare, never seen another one ever
i've played both, this is much better than the real thing
MIJ EPIPHONES
On the left is the common ET series Epiphone, often mistakenly referred to as a Wilshire or a Crestwood, but it is neither, and on the right is what appears to be another ET series guitar, but it is not!
 
It is a 1976 Epiphone Wilshire. It is a major upgrade to the ET series and was like Greco- only sold in Japan. Notice the different headstock and set neck. It is much more solid feeling, similar to a stratocaster.
1977 GRECO TL 500
modified with Bigsby and Seymour Duncan Vintage stacked pickups.
Telecaster sound with the punch of noiseless pickups, which are just a stacked humbucker.
Beautiful 40 year old vintage Japanese guitar with a modern sound.
below is what it looked like when I bought it
GRECO CASE CANDY, TAGS, HANDBOOKS, TOOLS
1975 MIJ EPIPHONE ET-288N 
THE GRECO - FENDER CONNECTION
Greco is one of the earliest “lawsuit” guitar makers in Japan. They have been making guitars since the early 1960's at the
FijugenGakki plant. Most of the 1960's guitars were original models, but in the early 1970's, they got into making replicas
of original Fenders and Gibson’s. At first, they didn't have the hardware to make really good, exact replicas, but by 1974
or so, they had the correct-style hardware to match their excellent craftsmanship, and they put out some killer replicas.
Also, Greco made more clone models of original Fenders, Gibson’s, Rickenbacker’s, Danelectro's, Gretsch’s, Zemaiti’s, lbanez, and other brands, than all other companies combined. They beat Tokai to the lawsuit race by at least 5 years.

Eventually, as the company found that the demand for their popular replicas grew and that the size of the production was
getting too large, they relinquished their Stratocaster division to Fender Japan in late 1981.

By 1982, Greco Stratocasters became Fender JV Stratocasters, then later MIJ and CIJ Stratocasters, made by the same
guys who made the Greco "Sparkle Sound," "Spacey Sound," "Sparkle Sound," and "Super Real" Stratocasters from
1977-1981.

Greco still retained the business of selling great Gibson clones and other brand knockoffs of extraordinary high quality up
until 1989. After that, the pressure to “cease and desist” production of copyright-infringing designs took its toll on Greco
and they decided to change their headstocks and logos to avoid a confrontation with the American manufacturers.
No longer will “lawsuit” models of exact Gibson and Fender clones be made by Greco.

They are becoming extremely rare and the demand is getting greater by the month for these older Greco guitars. The most
collectible by far are the “Super Real” (made in 1980 only) and “Mint Collection” (made from 1981-1990) models, which
were made to amazing likeness to original Fenders and Gibson’s. Greco’s 1977-1979 clones are very nice, too, but many
have hardware and specs that don’t match up with the Gibson and Fender classic designs.

Many guitar magazines printed in Japan recently illustrate this demand. “Japan Vintage” is one of the new magazines
printed and dedicated for the sole purpose of highlighting these beauties. Collectors around Japan lend their guitars
for pictures and experts lend their stories to gather a very good history of the companies and interesting bits of knowledge. 

Greco guitars are fairly easy to date. The letter that (may) begin the serial number corresponds with the month of
production, and the next 2 digits tell the year. For example: E804235 would be a May, 1980 “Super Real” model,
production number 4,235. Sometimes, Greco didn’t use letters and only numbers, and even separated the first digit from
the rest on occasion. When the first digit is separated, it is likely a 1980’s model; the separated digit corresponding to the
year of the 1980’s in which it was made. If there is no serial number stamped into the wood (not on a sticker), it was made
at the Tokai factory in Japan or was made at the Cort factory in Korea. 
1987 Greco EGC natural finish Mint Collection
The ONE American made guitar I regret selling:
1997 Fender Telecaster Plus
AMPLIFIERS
narrowed my amps down to 1 Marshall SL-5 and several Fender Super Champ X2   two of which I have modified
right: added a 12" Fender extension cabinet and changed both speakers to 16 ohm Marshall type Celestions. 
 
bottom: built a custom cabinet and used a 15" Fender JBL D130F.
1984 EG 59-50  &  1978 EG 800J  
I don't know why but these two Les Pauls sound better to me than all the other non-modified Grecos. The EG 59-50 is the best by far. 
The most common "J" series Les Paul is the
EG 600J.
 
Not sure of what is different other than the pickups on the 800
have chrome covers and the 600 pickups are naked, actually like Jeff's '54 Gibson.
1979 EG 600J with naked pickups below.
1970's Hohner Telecaster Bass and matching Esquire
Prince's favorite guitar was a Hohner Mad Cat telecaster
Early 1970's Greco PB 600