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Old April 23rd, 2010, 08:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jul 2009
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1974 Matsumoku EA 250 - Les Paul Bridge

This was a saga but worth it in the end. Nine months ago I bought what I thought was a Casino off a guy in Texas who had several similar guitars and this one was virtually unplayed. I lived in Adelaide SA and he would not ship overseas but he would ship to my parents' place in Hawaii. We debated for months about how to get it here - it seems some USPS Post offices will ship guitars and some won't, and the pricing is all over the place. For example, I bought a Takamine, also from Texas that was shipped here in its case for $120.00. Last week I got a Bass sent from NYC that cost me $360.00, boxed with the neck off -
I digress . . . Anyway this one finally came yesterday with its neck off in two boxes for $140.00
Turns out the guitar had been modded with the addition of a Les Paul bridge and with a trapeze substituted for the original tremolo.
Other than the bridge and tail piece differences does anyone know what distinguishes a Matsumoku Casino from a EA 250 ?-? my hunch is they are the same but I would like to hear other opinions.
I any case the bridge substitution seems to have been a good idea - the sustain levels are nice - tweaking my distortion levels [I use a Maxon OD808 Soft Over Drive I can cover most 60s sounds from Keith Richards to classic edgy country - think Folsum Prison. I will leave it as is for a while I think.
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Old April 23rd, 2010, 11:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Looks nice, congrats!

It's likely the tremolo was some goofy off-brand set-up, so the new bridge probably was the best idea.

Yours looks like it has humbuckers, but I had a Ventura of the same era, and the pickups were actually single coils with a block of wood next to them; that guitar sounded great, and it wasn't noisey at all. Yours may be the same way, maybe.
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Old April 23rd, 2010, 04:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for your comments. Firstly, the original tremolo and bridge pieces came in the box, but I decided not to use the trem because the Les Paul bridge would not be very kind to the strings when stretched, plus the mounting holes for the Les Paul bridge would make it impossible to put the stock bridge unit back on anyway. The stock tremolo units for these are actually quite good - some say the best feature of these guitars - and you will often see them sold as parts on ebay.

The guitar when new would have looked like this:

http://www.matsumoku.org/models/epip...-250/pics.html

The Matsumoku models site and the Wiki page on Matsumoku guitars are pretty comprehensive these days.

The Ea 250 was the first model Epiphone to be imported back into the USA once Epiphone moved operations to Japan.

This is the second generation of these, made from 1972 - 75 or 76, with the single coils being modded cosmetically to look more like Gibson pups.

Pups are not super quiet, but ok in that regard - and I still have the alnicos on hand just in case. The casings for the originals are a little larger than standard so part of my internal debate will be a cosmetic one. Plan B will be a roller bridge, Kluson tuners, Bigsby vibrato and the alnicos - all gold, and on hand. I'll give it 6 months or so stock and reassess.

The most impressive thing about the guitar itself is the build quality - really tight and integrated. remembering these were still mostly hand made at this stage and the Japanese were [are] amazing when it comes to making things with wood.
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Last edited by nrand; April 23rd, 2010 at 04:11 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old April 24th, 2010, 12:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Sharp looking guitar for a MIJ epi. My experience with these guitars is not good. The construction method for the neck pocket area proves to be less than ideal. 90% of the ones I have seen have failed in this area. I hope your experience is better than the ones I have seen.
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Old April 24th, 2010, 09:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wally View Post
Sharp looking guitar for a MIJ epi. My experience with these guitars is not good. The construction method for the neck pocket area proves to be less than ideal. 90% of the ones I have seen have failed in this area. I hope your experience is better than the ones I have seen.
I actually share a little of your reservations about the neck pocket - there was a slight bit of creaking in the neck join for a couple of days after I reassembled this guitar - I am considering asking my luthier to 'reassemble' it again with some of his magic resin - effectively turning it into a one piece guitar with screws!

I will feedback to the forum publicly once [and if] this happens.

The body and neck are in such good condition I want to persist with it and using a little Maxon Soft OD into the Fender Super Twin it is pretty rock and roll.

I am still undecided about the pickup upgrade. I have a set of GFS Liverpool classics but fitting them looks like it could be a nightmare - I might go with some P90s instead as their dimensions are pretty close
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Old April 25th, 2010, 02:06 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Great looking guitar!
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Old December 18th, 2010, 05:00 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wally View Post
Sharp looking guitar for a MIJ epi. My experience with these guitars is not good. The construction method for the neck pocket area proves to be less than ideal. 90% of the ones I have seen have failed in this area. I hope your experience is better than the ones I have seen.
At the end of the day you were right about this - I ended up selling it to collector before any damage was done, but there was sure a lot more flex in the neck area than I was comfortable with. I reckon it stayed unplayed for so many years before I got it for the same reasons. I'm looking for a set neck ES 335 now. The Matsumuku is probably better off with a collector.
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Old December 19th, 2010, 02:15 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I got this today as a replacement.
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Old December 19th, 2010, 03:19 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Someone on another forum helped identify the origin of this. These were Orville by Gibson ES 224 Dot, then later became Epiphone by Gibson. There were more Orville's made than the Epi's and the Epi's sold for around $1500.00 new in the 1990s - these were Japanese market only. They are very similar to the USA Elitist/Elite models with two exceptions. The headstock on these one has the Gibson open book shape, and it uses MIJ Epiphone pickups. The USA ones had the non-Gibson headstock with Pups made by Gibson. I could not find a sample of one of these being played anywhere, nor could I find any spec sheets, even in Japanese. They did not sell too well apparently because they were not pure Gibson, but I do note that the Japanese players tend to snap them up as soon as they hit the used guitar stores.

The prices now are going higher than when new. Here is the Orville.
http://www.guitargai.com/html_folder/gai_orvilleA.html#

Any other owners of one of these out there?
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