my guitars

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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. 

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1973 GRECO FB900
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1973 Greco RD 650 set neck 

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1988 Greco

Super Real FA 6120

A fantastic copy of the

1958 Gretsch 6120 shown below

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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.

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

1980 GRECO Limited Edition GoldTop, precurser to the Super Real

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1975 'Spacey Sounds' Telecaster with Bigsby

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1958 Harmony H55 with Gibson P13 pickup factory installed

According to the serial number this Greco was made in November of 1981. 

I have no idea what this is, I'm guessing it was a custom order or a prototype that never went into production? Based upon the interior routing it looks to be totally hand built. 

Greco offered a "ORDER MADE ELECTRIC GUITARS" service begining in October of 1972  where you could order anything from a custom truss rod cover to a one off completely custom hand made guitar. The guitar above is likely one of those 'order made' guitars, the only other option is it could have been a prototype that they did not put into production. I have no idea...
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Greco Order Made Guitar form below

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Back to my guitar...The wood on the back is unlike any other guitar I have, absolutely high end and beautiful. The serial number is inlaid, similar to the 'ANNIVERSARY' on my Greco EG52-G. The tuners are not original, I can see traces of screw holes that were filled in. For more detailed pictures go the the Reverb listing HERE:
 https://reverb.com/item/31712031-rare-greco-japanese-mint-collection-era-custom-single-cutaway-hollowbody
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Since I have no idea what it looked like from the factory I decided to modify it with 'Greco' embossed pickups, a Bigsby, locking tuners, and pickguard.

This is the only example I have found that is clearly factory labeled 'ORDER MADE'.
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After the 1972 Greco Order Made service came the 1976 Greco Project Series – the first custom shop building high end guitars, and long before there was a Fender or Gibson Custom Shop.

 

In late 1976 Greco announced the creation of a custom shop line of guitars that it called Project Series. This was a decade before there were Gibson (1986) or Fender (1987) Custom Shops.

- Taken from https://www.guitarsofjapan.com/post/greco-project-series-custom-shop-before-there-was-a-custom-shop  Read the entire article at Guitars of Japan by clicking the above link

More info on the Greco Project Series can be found here: https://www.strat-talk.com/threads/77-greco-se-1200-project-series-custom-shop.491809/

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translated to English

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1973 Greco - Canda
202 Hummingbird
the craftmanship is absolutely amazing
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Below: Jimmy Page with his 1960 Gibson Black Beauty
Right: 1980 Greco Black Beauty with Bigsby
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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.
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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.
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I read that gold is always a good investment, so I bought gold. 
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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! 

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Video of that1959 Les Paul!
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1973 Greco N55

copy of a Gibson ES-175

with embossed pickups

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1990 EG57 'Mint Collection'
Solid Gold Guitar
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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.
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1988 Greco WFA 140 'White Falcon'

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There are two unique models of the

Greco White Falcon:

WF140 and WFA140.

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1977 GRECO MD 900

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I don't yet have one of these, but I wanted to share this interesting bit of history. It explains why the Greco version headstock looks like a Les Paul / Melody Maker style headstock.
Taken from Reverb, full article is HERE 

"In the late 1960s, a funky guitar believed to be at least part of a Moderne surfaced at a shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Noted luthier and shop owner Dan Erlewine bought a guitar that had a Moderne body, a replaced Melody Maker neck, and a crude black refinished paint job. This was in the earliest days of vintage guitar collecting knowledge, and Erlewine claims that he thought it was just an Explorer at the time.

The seller told Erlewine that he got the guitar from his father who had the Melody Maker neck installed at the factory in Kalamazoo. After doing some work on the odd guitar to make it sellable, Erlewine sold it to Ann Arbor Music in downtown Ann Arbor.

Doug Green, now known as “Ranger Doug” from the group Riders In The Sky, was a University of Michigan graduate who moved to Nashville and became one of George Gruhn’s early employees. While back home in Michigan, Green spotted a guitar in the window of Ann Arbor Music store that he thought resembled the collectible Flying V and Explorer guitars. Green bought the guitar and brought it back to George Gruhn, who immediately chastised Green for buying such an obvious fake. The guitar was sold to a Japanese businessman and remains on display (not for sale) today at one of the guitar stores in Tokyo’s famed Ochinomizu guitar store district."

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Picture left is the guitar in the Japanese guitar shop, it really exists! Did Greco use this guitar for their pattern? Sure looks like they did! This would literally be the only example to copy, and it was right in Japan on display.
Eddie Money's lead guitar player [white shirt]
is playing a
Greco MD 900

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

more historical info on how Greco became Fender Squier MIJ in the early 1980's
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1988 Greco RJ-85
Copy of a Gretsch Duo Jet
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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

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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
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1966 TEISCO Del Ray ET 312

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1973 TEISCO Del Ray G 300

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1974 Fernandes FTE-62 YS
Telecaster Custom
Based upon the late early 1960's Fender Custom Telecaster
This is a very heavy guitar, not like my other telecasters
very high quality and attention to detail
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a few greco les paul headstocks

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.
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Michael Sweet playing a Greco Les Paul Custom

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1985 TOKAI SUPER EDITION

SD-65 S

with factory installed

SHIFT 2001 TREMOLO

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1972 GRECO PE-520 LES PAUL

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

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1975 fernandes burny custom

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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 

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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. 
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Randy Bachman playing a Greco GR 505

1979 GRECO 'SUPER REAL' LES PAUL
this guitar was in pretty bad shape, electronics were DOA, but it had the kind of feel that only comes with a well played instrument, no fake factory 'relic'ing' on this one. It is just what I look for in a guitar that I modify for playing.
Seymour Duncan pups, Jimmy Page style wiring, looking Kluson tuners, new bridge and tailstop- all new except the wood. Did a light fret file, sanded smooth the rough edges on the body, installed Schaller strap-locks. Turned a Greco Super Real into a Greco Super Real Nice Player. And I have less than $1,000 total into this beauty!
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GRECO

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

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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.
early 1970's Greco HH Strat
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!
1989 GRECO CUSTOM
MINT COLLECTION
with DiMarzio pickups
bridge = PAF 30th anniversary
neck = EJ custom
1977 GRECO PB600
precision bass
i gave this to my bass player friend to tune up and he decided to keep it!
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.

               GRECO-BACKER!                 

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
 1979 GRECO MG600 
based on the 1964 gibson melody maker. 
 
interestingly you can buy the real 1964 gibson mm for about the same price i paid for this greco copy. 
these are pretty rare, i've never seen another one. 
  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
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 1979 GRECO TC500 SPACY SOUNDS 
based on the 1972 fender telecaster custom, famously used by Keith Richards on the Exiles on Main St album and subsequent tour. 
     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.
GRECO EG600CH
mini humbuckers
fret edge binding
2 piece maple top
i have not seen another one of this model ever.
pickups are typical of mini humbuckers, not my favorite sound,  between single coil pickups and P-90's
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