Quick question about the Japan-Korea transition

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Quick question about the Japan-Korea transition

Post by DerekWildstar on Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:31 pm

I apologize in advance if this has been covered elsewhere, but I've read through the forum, I've searched on Google, and I read the histories posted on the westoneguitars.net site. I can't seem to find an answer to a question that I've been wondering... when the transition from Japan to Korea happened in 87~88, did the Korean factory originally begin producing guitars based on parts that were from Japan, or did they just start from scratch? My Spectrum II (XA1230) is from 88, but I was wondering if the wood for the body and neck were perhaps cut and aged in Japan, and then shipped to Korea? I've reconciled myself to the fact that perhaps no one knows the answer to this, but my curiosity has gotten the better of me.

Ever since I had the guitar worked on in late Spring, I've fallen back in love with my Spectrum. It plays so wonderfully (and the neck feels so great), and with the addition of the EVH Frankenstein humbucker this summer, it now roars whenever I plug it into an amp. It's funny, but a guitar that I couldn't wait to get rid of as a kid (because, you know, in the early 90's, all the "cool" kids had Les Pauls or Ibanez "MOAR SHREDDING" guitars) now never leaves my hands. I'd love to know more about my guitar, but with the company no longer in business, I thought if anyone could point me in the right direction, it would be the fine assemblage of people here.

(Sorry if any of this rambles... it's been a long day, and I'm heading to bed as soon as I hit "send")

DerekWildstar
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Re: Quick question about the Japan-Korea transition

Post by Barry on Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:31 am

Derek, from our website History section, Tom Presley's account:
We took the designs, machines, tooling and PEOPLE and spread them out in factories throughout Japan and Korea. By this time, making guitars in Japan was getting very expensive. If Id had the money at the time, I would have started production in our SLM Electronics factory in Yellville, Arkansas. I think that I still only had $1200.00 in my bank account so we went to Korea for some models, US SLM guitar shop for others using the parts that we shipped from the factory before it shut down. (my emphasis)

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Re: Quick question about the Japan-Korea transition

Post by DerekWildstar on Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:55 am

Barry wrote:Derek, from our website History section, Tom Presley's account:
We took the designs, machines, tooling and PEOPLE and spread them out in factories throughout Japan and Korea. By this time, making guitars in Japan was getting very expensive. If Id had the money at the time, I would have started production in our SLM Electronics factory in Yellville, Arkansas. I think that I still only had $1200.00 in my bank account so we went to Korea for some models, US SLM guitar shop for others using the parts that we shipped from the factory before it shut down. (my emphasis)


Barry, thanks so much. I read that account, and somehow managed to gloss over that line. It makes a lot of sense, as the wood in both the body and neck seem to be of high quality, and the guitar, although has a Korean serial number on its neck plate, "looks" a lot more like the Matsumoku guitars than the later Korean-era Spectrums. It also has the older magnaflux pickups, Gotoh tuners, and the Bendmaster Deluxe trem in chrome, which all seem more like the Uncle Mats-produced guitars. The build quality on this guitar is really good (so said the tech who did all the work on my guitar this Spring).

Tangent thought: I love the sound of the Magnaflux single-coils, especially with switch position IV selected. Why was the Magnaflux humbucker such a piece of donkey dung?

DerekWildstar
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Re: Quick question about the Japan-Korea transition

Post by Barry on Thu Nov 06, 2014 12:36 pm

You're welcome Derek.
Yeah, it seems the pickups were very much a "hit and miss" thing for Mats.

Many of them (MMK45's 53's 61's) were first rate. But the illusory UBC's, by and large, were a disastrous flop, and there has been lots of discussion in these forums by Westbone in particular, myself, and others. I don't have too much first hand experience of the single coils, but many of those too were less than stellar sounding, especially in the Concords.

There appears to have been a general tapering off in hardware and electronics quality towards the end of the Mats period, and again, lots of discussion both here and on the Matsumoku forums about that.

_________________
"A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants." -Chuckles the Clown


GUITARS : http://legend.barryeames.com/guitars.html
MUSIC/PIX/VIDEOS: http://getback.barryeames.com (including Spectrum ST)

Barry
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Re: Quick question about the Japan-Korea transition

Post by DerekWildstar on Thu Nov 06, 2014 8:38 pm

Thanks again, Barry. Yeah, I've seen some of the horror stories of the Korean-made Westones and the poorly conditioned wood that came out of those factories (I think Tom Presley wrote about this as well). I guess my take-away is that I should be grateful for what I have, which is a guitar from '88, probably made in Korea, with parts that most likely came from Japan, and I had the good fortune to get one that was bolted together correctly and seemingly made with care. The only bad part I seemed to get was the humbucker, so I guess that's a good trade-off.

I'll have to look up more of the threads on the single coils. I've been happy with mine (the guitar is no Strat, but they even can do a passable version of Red House with them set to position IV on the selector switch), but I'll have to read more about the lower quality ones.

DerekWildstar
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Re: Quick question about the Japan-Korea transition

Post by The Chad on Thu Nov 13, 2014 3:34 pm

I have a post Japan dated guitar with Matsumaku made parts (my Dana II pro). It's an '88, assembled in the USA from Japan parts. There is a definite difference in quality, Japan was just better than Korea. So that's a personal experience with a Korean era Westone being made from parts of Matsumoku manufacture.

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Re: Quick question about the Japan-Korea transition

Post by Barry on Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:36 pm

The Chad wrote:...Japan was just better than Korea...
Likely still is Chad, judging by the quality of the MIJ Gretsch's we get from the Terada plant. They're just flawless.

I should quickly add that we're also carrying the SE line of PRS guitars now, and I have nothing but praise for these MIK guitars. Beautifully finished and they come in the door virtually perfect. Excellent value in an "entry" level instrument. Very impressed with these.

_________________
"A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants." -Chuckles the Clown


GUITARS : http://legend.barryeames.com/guitars.html
MUSIC/PIX/VIDEOS: http://getback.barryeames.com (including Spectrum ST)

Barry
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Re: Quick question about the Japan-Korea transition

Post by The Chad on Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:23 am

The new Electra's are MIK. Absolute top notch. I think they're made at the same plant that makes the PRS SE's, as my Electra Talon is almost identical in many ways to the PRS Torero.

The Chad
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Re: Quick question about the Japan-Korea transition

Post by Barry on Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:08 am

World Musical Instruments Co. Ltd.
(Stenciled on the back of the headstock a la Aria Pro II)

Can't find anything definitive on them. They may or may not be associated with Samick.

_________________
"A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants." -Chuckles the Clown


GUITARS : http://legend.barryeames.com/guitars.html
MUSIC/PIX/VIDEOS: http://getback.barryeames.com (including Spectrum ST)

Barry
Hero, Legend, and all round good guy

Number of posts : 6021
Age : 71
Location : Port Weller, St. Catharines, Canada
Registration date : 2009-05-01

http://www.barryeames.com

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Re: Quick question about the Japan-Korea transition

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