Westone - US Design - Development History

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Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by tpresley on Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:44 am

OK, so you all asked for it . . . you know the old saying . . . "be careful what you ask for."

First, a couple of points: All of the guitars that you all like, I had a part in the design and manufacture. Those that you hate, or simply don't like, someone else did it. Smile

I don't really know what you all are interested in knowing, but I'll take a stab at it and if you'd like to provide some direction for me, it would be appreciated. I'll try to keep it about the Westone brand but there is a significant mix of product cross over between Alvarez, Electra, Westone AND a even a little known interface with Amerel - which became SLM Electronics - Crate/Audio Centron/Ampeg.

Here goes:

Around 1979, we were making the Electra brand in several factories in Japan. Masau Terada - maybe the best cosmetic designer I ever met was making our semi-thins, Kasuga (Hitoshi Aoyama - trading director) made most of the solid body "copies". A sales rep for SLM, Curt Trainer - one of my long term pals, said "we should make guitars with the effects built in", Gene Kornblum, owner of SLM said; "Tom, have at it!" As it happened, I had already made a miniture flanger (sounded really rank though), a rough analog delay using a bucket brigade chip and an Octive box and stuck them in a couple of old LP copies. They were simply bread boarded but as a skunk works it was pretty cool. I was able to get a magical 12 minutes of battery life when all were powered. That's where Amerel came in. John Karpowicz, another one of those; "Oh my God how does his brain fit in his head guys" - yep genius, owned this little electronics shop in St. Louis. Took the concept to John, and his guys - all smarter than I ever could be, found a way to re-design the "modules" and we started production of the "boxes". At that time, the first batches were actually potted. I couldn't afford the tooling for a plastic shell so we simply shot'm full of epoxy. To cut it the story short, that's where the Electra MPC was born. Then, something weird started happening. We started selling them faster than Kasuga could make them - plus, the Kasuga guitars were too heavy and had some problems with neck sets. That sent me on the road, looking for a new factory to make the MPCs and some other goof-ball designs that I had. Guess where they landed?

OK, so that was my first exposure to actually making guitars at Matsumoku. I messed around with Fuji, Chosun and Yamaha but after meeting Toshi Ohwa, I was sold on Matsumoku. In reality, the products that they were making were not all that much better than the others but Toshi and the rest of the production team actually wanted to make a more original and a better product. Ohwa-san was a nice player and actually had a feel of the "soul" of an instrument rather than just pounding out 10k guitars a month. Plus, he was an inventor too! They were making a bunch of Aria guitars for Shiro Arai - and had invested a little on the "Westone" brand in Europe. The Westone product in Europe was a collaboration between their London based distributor and Ohwa. The spec on the product was really nice. Craftsmanship was WAY above the norm for the typical production guitar at the time and the finishes were perfect. By in large, these were the Concords, Clipper and Thunder models. I was intrigued because there was a phase anomoly in the Thunders and a resonance node - (trapped 470hz) in the Concord. Naturally, as is my nature, I brought a dozen or so mixed models back to the US and started hacking on them. I though at first it was an electronic problem so I started messing with the pickup placement. No good. Then I mounted some Barcus Hot Dots in the body and neck and ran the sweep gen on a couple of them. Woops, neck and body phase issue. A quick thinning of the headstock and de-coupling the body from the neck and the phase cancel was gone. Not really, but it was moved so far away from B flat that it didn't matter. Gave Toshi a quick nod and he got it fixed quickly. You ever wonder why some of these guitars sound fantastic and others have a problem of sustain between "A" and "C". Yep, that's it. Some production actually got out with the phase out of alignment. Easy fix and the guys in Europe were able to take care of it. I actually saw one of the Thunders in concert and the guy had a C clamp on the headstock. That would certainly fix the phase.

Too geeky technical or wobble headed for you all?

As you may know, that's where the Westone and SLM relationship began. They wanted an American image, a player that was interested in helping them - they really didn't need it - and wanted someone to do some designs for them. For me? I was a freaking kid in a candy store! No, I take that back. I was a freaking kid in a candy factory! Willy Wonka here I come! I finally had a factory that had a true partnership, tooling and a budget.

We tooled up the Bendmaster I and II, Switchmaster Knobs, Bayonet Heels for the Cutaways - I was really pissed because Aria actually ended up with a couple of models with the heel - I had applied for a US Patent in '78 as a "Horizontal Dovetail" (never granted) and at that time I only had $1200 in my saving account so I couldn't fight it. The Unbalanced Coils were purely accidental. We had a set of Seymores and they were over cooking my test rig and I started pulling winds off of one of the coils on the kitchen table. Lana made a great pot roast and made me clear up my "mess". When I re-assembled the pickups, I used the wrong coils. One had about 200 turns less than the other. When we tested the pickups, we found out that the Histeresis was impacted. Not a whole lot of more noise than the original humbuckers but a much cleaner output. The by-product was that the tap actually worked better. So, I fattened up coil A some more and kept B about the same as the prototype and Westone ended up with the "Un-balanced Coil" pickups.

The Switchmasters were actually kind of an accident too. We were making a Spectrum for NAMM that was a really sweet Tama-Moku body with a bleached rosewood fingerboard and I wanted the knobs to be invisible. I turned a few wooden knobs in a cone design out of the body wood and drilled them out. I may have been a little blasted at the time - 3 or 4 Kirins - and ended up drilling ALL of them on the wrong end. OK, you all have been there. Stupid mistakes happen to musicians all of the time but for God sakes, why does it have to happen ONE day before NAMM. So, I stuck them on the proto and found out that you could pull up the tap with your little finger without slipping off! Matsumoku made the first ones out of zinc - added about 30 pounds to the guitar:) Too heavy - so the later ones were aluminium and later I had enough produciton to tool them in plastic. They never really caught on in the market place but I thought that they were absolutely fantastic!

I was broken hearted when Akira Takei - The father of Westone, told me that Japan Steel was selling the land that in Matsumoto. The factory was making a profit - not only on the guitars but the Japanese Shrines it was making. Turns out that the land was worth much more to them than several years of Matsumoto-Moku production. By that time, Akira, Toshi and several others were more than factory dudes. They were family. 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 I'd 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.

There are many really wonderful stories about the gentlemen in the guitar business. Businessmen, Luthiers, Designers and Musicians alike, all with their individual perspectives and passion.

I was sincerely blessed to have a career that was a passion. I had one of those jobs that maybe only 20 or 30 people in the world had the chance to do and about 20 or 30 thousand "kids" would have given their soul to have a shot at doing.

Thanks for listening and allowing me to participate! You're not so glad to have asked for "more info" are you!

Sincerely,

Tom


Last edited by Admin on Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:22 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Made it very sticky!)

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Warrn on Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:01 am

Not glad? That's just scraping the surface! You could write a thousand page book and I'd read it cover to cover. I'd still love to know who came up with the Rail basses, I loved my first one so much that I bought two more!

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by corsair on Sun Jan 31, 2010 3:01 am

Absolutely, Warrn; Tom - this is mind blowing stuff; I consider the Bendmaster Deluxe a great trem - I've had personalised fine tuners made for mine!! - and the Spectrum/Phoenix range are the ones that do it for me!! My 'special' guitar is an old X195 that a friend sent to me from Seattle: what a tonal palette it has - it cannot be mistaken for anything else and that's a good thing! Like all the lads in here, I'm a true believer as I've been playing a Matsumoku guitar for 30 years, both professionally and for fun.

I've gotta say "Thanks, mate - you are "the man", and we ALL owe a debt of gratitude to you. Anything else you care to share, I'm sure we're all ears!!

And, I reckon those Switchmaster knobs are brilliant, but to get replacements for a project is a soul destroying experience! David, over at Westone.info, had a batch made up which disappeared very quickly indeed - there are always people looking for them. I was quite surprised to learn that the Phoenix didn't have them but the Spectrums did....

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by silence86 on Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:01 am

You could write a thousand page book and I'd read it cover to cover.

That's right, i could read your posts the whole day. Of course I would also have some questions ...
for example i wonder if you know how to interpret the serial numbers on the matsumoku westones...we thought of the first digit standing for the year and the second and third digit standing for the month of production...however we are quite confused about the last 4 digits...

the other question would be about the "limited production" of the higher end panteras...do you still know how many were manufatured?

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Great post

Post by dhand60 on Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:47 am

I just joined this site because of you post, I have a lot of guitars but have always had a heart for electras and westones, Info like you are posting make collecting fun
I have a WESTONE STEVE LYNCH CORSAIR SIGNATURE , great guitar , dont know anything about it or what the enhancer does

thanks and keep posting

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Barry on Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:24 pm

Hello again Tom, and thank you so much for taking the time to put all this down in writing!
You've got a dedicated fan base here and we're just aching for details about our beloved Mats guitars. So please do not think you are talking too much, or rambling, or that you're wasting anyone's time. We'll take all that you can give!

The word is 'out' that you're here, and I expect that this thread will grow some serious legs very quickly.
Thank you!

For those just picking up this thread
you'll find additional Mats information from Tom here: LINK



Last edited by Barry on Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:11 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by boutjp97 on Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:59 pm

Fascinating stuff. I don't want to turn this into a question answer thing making it work rather than enjoyment for you but... Embarassed ...how much of the Matsumoku legend do you attribute to the wood aging / drying method that the factory used? Who came up with the idea to age the wood instead of just banging out 10K guitars a month as you stated? I feel like the attention to this detail had a big impact on sound and quality as well as how well Matsumoku's have held up over the years, but I digress as I am in the company of the guy who was there and really knows the answer. If you get up the steam for a long informative post again (yes please) I will be waiting with baited breath as I am sure all of the board members are. And thank you for taking the time to post, I for one am grateful you still have a passion for these guitars and their history after all these years.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Guest on Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:52 pm

Can you please clarify some things that have puzzled me for years?

I've seen a few web pages that say (Without any supporting evidence) that SLM basically acquired the rights to the Westone name in 1984, and contracted Matsumoku to produce the guitars. There are some things that seem to contradict that though, for instance the UK/European catalogues make no mention of SLM at all, everything is described as 'a Matsumoku product' What was the business relationship between SLM and Matsumoku?

Were certain guitars targetted at particular (regional) markets? (eg the UK/Europe seem to have had the Spectrum Series II guitars, the Corsairs seem to be for the US market)

Finally - lots of people have said that the quality of the Korean made Westones was little different to the Matsumoku guitars, but there are clearly some instances where this is not the case, particularly in relation to the later (88/89) Thunder II 6 string and bass, where the quality of the woods used is abysmal (Poorly seasoned, cracked bodiews, badly filled and painted before the filler was dry). Why the discrepancy? It almost looks like there were two different production lines going.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by norfolkngood on Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:08 pm

Thanks for sharing the history on here; compulsive reading cheers cheers cheers

Do you (or maybe anyone else on here) know what happened to the production records? I've read that there was a fire at the factory but wonder if that's a bit of an urban myth.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by AndyGoblin on Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:11 pm

I'm no great tech head but I found your post fascinating Tom, thanks for sharing it and like everyone else here I'd love to hear more

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Answers - Questions - Answers . . . etc . . .

Post by tpresley on Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:21 pm

First, let me say thanks to those of you who have thought kindly of the work that the SLM and Matsumoku teams did over the years.

Second, I'd like to answer a few questions that came up from the previous threads.

Rail Basses and Guitars - Remember that I advised you earlier that I'd take credit for all of the instuments that you liked? Well, I lied. Some of you indicate that the you really liked the Rail. In the interest of truth and disclosure, I have to say that the Rail was the inspiration of Ohwa-san.

Once the juices for invention started flowing at Matsumoku, Ohwa-san really came alive. During one of my visits, Ohwa started bringing out instruments of all sorts, of which one was the Rail Bass. I immediately liked the thing. There were some very interesting acoustical dynamics. The rails actually could be "tuned" and the resonance point of the pickup could be placed EXACTLY where you wanted. Those of you that played Roto-Sound know by now that the metal density of a string controls the elasticity and subsequent Compression and Rarefaction of the sound wave. So, we could move the pickup to best impact the resonance of the bass AND its relationship to the amp/speaker team. Toshi played around with neck set angle, centerline and scale and ended up with a really unique bass. The guitar was another story altogther. I messed around with it for months - filled the tubes with quickset foam, epoxy and a bunch of other RTV solutions and could never get rid of the resonance ring and harmonic feedback. I think that the rails became an instrument of their own. The bass frequencies, on the other hand, were low enough on the table that it was never an overbearing problem.

Serial Numbers - This is a mind blower and I'm sure that I have the formula somewhere. I'm a pack rat and there's a little known spot in my boxes of notes, drawings, balsa guitar body models, clay renderings and other junk, where the serial numbers formulas, production notes and mechanicals, live. Someday, I hope to find the "spot" but for now, it's elusive.

I do know that we made 96 of the 390 class Pantera models in various colors. There were only about 48 of the curly maple ones made world wide, and only a "few" with the Bendmaster. Most maples were made without trem and others with the Kahler. Yep, I'd like to have one of those too! Tim Harmon, a long term associate of mine has one. If I ever get more than $1,200.00 in my savings account I'm going to try to get it from him. After all, he has a bunch of my prototypes in his studio - several one of a kind, purely customs. If you're reading this Tim, I'd like to have it! And, by the way, Trevor has MY Pantera and refuses to give it back. It was the first production Pantera 390 in the Caspian Blue. I want it back too and my son has told him so but he just won't do it Smile

Harmonic Enhancer - Two types were made, active and passive. The actives were a combination of a compession, frequency comb and fixed parametric. They compressed the 400 to 2200k range and combed at the pot variable. So, you'd find your sweet spot, depending on the room dynamics, and you'd get some really sweet "alto" tones. Eventually we added a bass roll-off to the circuit to control some of the "wump thump". Passive models were really a notch filter that was designed to pass mid-range and filter low and high frequencies.

Wood Aging - Wow, this could get opinionated and really kind of stupid but the original question had to do with the impact of the wood age and the structural and audio quality of the Matsumoku instruments. As some of you know, I was primarily an Acoustic Guitar designer with Alvarez and K. Yairi prior to the Electra and Westone time. So, the concept of wood age and quality of the wood is really important in that venue. As far as structure, yes, the aging (drying) of the wood is key. The density of the wood is also important to the structure, weight distribution as well as audio properties. Dense woods have a higher resonant point than lighter woods. Wet woods don't really resonate. Making a guitar with wet product, leads to cracking and decomposition when it dries. Did Matsumoku have better wood? Not really. We did Kiln dry the Canadian Maples, Sugar Maples and Rosewoods till most of the inherent moisture was cooked out so it was our best method of insuring a clean build. The most important factor however was the factory location. Matsumoto is up in the Japanese Alps. Dry air, cool and crisp - just right for making guitars and storing lumber for open air drying. OK, so why can Yamaha make nice guitars in Taiwan, where it is 90% humid ALL the time when it's not 90%, it's raining? It's YAMAHA! They spent about a zillion dollars and air conditioned their 585,000 square foot factory and placed climate controls on their lumber! Korean instruments, have a problem unless there's a very strict climate control on the wood AND factory floor. I could almost tell you that Samick product made during wet summer months would blow up, reverse bow their necks and pull finderboards away at the 12th fret. They didn't sound very nice either. Aged wood? Good. Dry wood? Good. Wet wood? Bad. You know, you never hear about the really nice aged spruce that was sent to Bogar, Indonesia for manufacture in the Samick factory. The truth is that the aged, very nice, dry spruce ended up getting wet and moldy during the 100% humidity in the factory. Result, cracked wood and nasty finishes. Summary, the environment where the wood is stored and manufactured prior to finishing is as important as the quality of the paticular wood.

Westone Name? - Matsumoku owned the Westone name solely until SLM came along. We were given the name in the United States in exchange for our partnership. We really didn't want to invest the intellectual property in the brand unless we had a controlling interest in the name and design and distribution rights in the U.S. Akira Takei, the factory's trading director, set up Westone distributors throughout the rest of the world. Most, but not all, took advantage of the US designed and designated models. After Matsumoku closed, Akria acquired the name for all world markets with the exception of the U.S. where SLM retained the name and production rights. Akira, still handled world distribution but I think, eventually transferred the name to one of his distributors.

SLM never imported nor controlled production of the Thunder product. We really only distributed instruments that we, and in collaboration with Matsumoku, designed. While the Thunder, and other purely Matsumoku products, were fantastic instruments, I didn't feel it appropriate for SLM to take credit. Another mitigating factor was the SLM guitar shop. Those instruments designed of specified by us, were carefully checked and set up by the 11 luthiers in St. Louis. We could compare the spec to the production and reject product that was out of range. If we didn't have the original design metrics, it was impossible to control the quality.

Production Records - I've lost track of Akira in the last 10 years and he had access to many of the Matsumoku production docs. The last time I spoke with him, he was going to work for Toyota finding exotic wood for their high end Lexus class interiors! If anyone knows where he is, I'd really like to know too! The rumors about the records being destroyed in a factory fire is news to me. The last time I saw the factory, it was in fine shape and tooling, wood storage and office equipment was being moved out. I think that it's an "Urban Legend." On the other hand, when Samick burned down in Korea, it took about 1500 of my Alvarez Regent acoustic guitars with it! But that's another story in itself.

I've had a number of personal e-mail questions about the Bendmaster, Flip Flop finishes, types of wood and resonance points of wood relative to guitars in general, and will get to them as quickly as I can.

Some have asked why I stayed away from the guitar biz for so long. Simple answers; - burnout, the industry shifted from one of ingenuity and inventiveness, to "let's make it cheaper" and finally, legal issues/non-disclosure order/employment contract with SLM etc. So, in the meantime, I've worked as a Practice/Product Manager, Solutions Architect Engineer for Matrix Integration and assisted in the production of the 'till Dawn demo album for Lucid Hue. I still wind an occasional pickup, design a few acoutsics and electics for pals and enjoy sitting around, over a beer or two, discussing this magical guitar industry.

That's about all I can do for now, since I do have an actual job to attend to. I hope that this info provides some entertainment for you.

Cheers!

Tom

I'll be checking back every now and again to see how you all are doing and if there are other questions or comments.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by grogg on Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:18 pm

Fascinating stuff, really appreciate the time you have spent.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Warrn on Mon Feb 01, 2010 6:40 pm

Thanks again for the additional info, Tom! I definitely do love my Rail basses, and have gotten many compliments when using them on stage. I've had a few guys tell me they'd never match up to a good solid body bass, but to me they have a thump like no other. Their slap bass tone is truly outstanding! I don't know how much of the Rail's sound comes from its pickup, but it is certainly the nicest sounding humbucker I have ever had the pleasure to use. Do you know how the rails were tuned, or what they were tuned to?

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by hendrik on Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:39 am

Thanks Tom for all the information.

I love my CONCORDS and SPECTRUMS.
As I found my 1st CONCORD I was stunned by the guitar.
After I laid my hands on my 1st SPECTRUM I got the virus. And it saved me from some problems and put my life into a different direction.

Now I have two Concords and 3 Spectrums (ST, SX, LX) and the Spectrum LX bass with the changeable necks.
Another brilliant design.

May I ask you about a few more things?
It seems to me that MATSUMOKU also produced a lot of guitars for IBANEZ.
Is that right?

Thanks and all the best

H.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Guest on Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:46 pm

we made 96 of the 390 class Pantera models in various colors. There were only about 48 of the curly maple ones made world wide

Those guitars tend to fetch more than most other westones already (390CBs usually go for about £600 in the UK) - once word spreads about how few there are, I suspect prices will go through the roof.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Warrn on Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:13 pm

So... don't spread it?

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Matsumoku "monument"

Post by Barry on Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:14 pm

There's a fascinating post over in the Matsumoku forum which some of you might find interesting: LINK

A new Japanese member who lives in Matsumoto (Nagano) has posted some pictures of a Matsumoku "tombstone" memorial (never heard of it before). Apparently he lives practically beside the site of the original Mats factory! He also has an amazing collection of Mats guitars, and some pictures of the FujiGen plant which he calls the "Second Matsumoku".

I thought it fit in with the spirit of this thread rather nicely.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by anaerobe on Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:19 pm

Wow - is all I can say, this is a great post. Thanks Tom. Good of you to post such an extensive list of detail in this vein, most of us have very little info about our guitars. My x70 is one of my favourites, I love the neck pup in this guitar.

Ian

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Pantera Deluxe x350MA

Post by prosonic on Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:36 pm

I'm new to the forum, but a long time musician. I have owned my westone for about 5 years. I love it and enjoy playing it as much (if not more) than my 84 Les Paul custom. The craftsmanship is absolutely beautiful and it plays like a dream. It is a Pantera Deluxe X350MA. No, I'm not interested in selling it, but yes I have some questions:
How many of them were made?

How valuable is it? I have the original, locking, hardshell case with key, the catalogue that it came out in, and it has a sticker on the cover for the control wiring that says: Adjusted at SLM Guitar Shop by:(technician's signature)

The only defects are a small indention through the finish on the back, topside of the neck above 3rd fret, and the finish has cracked slightly on the front around the outline of the recessed hole in back. Where can I have it repaired and still maintain it's value? I absolutely LOVE this guitar, and I would love to have it restored back to perfect condition, but the blemishes are only cosmetic, and I might be better off to leave them alone.

Please help if you can, thank you

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Reply to prosonic

Post by umpdv5000 on Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:52 am

prosonic wrote:I'm new to the forum, but a long time musician. I have owned my westone for about 5 years. I love it and enjoy playing it as much (if not more) than my 84 Les Paul custom. The craftsmanship is absolutely beautiful and it plays like a dream. It is a Pantera Deluxe X350MA. No, I'm not interested in selling it, but yes I have some questions:
How many of them were made?

How valuable is it? I have the original, locking, hardshell case with key, the catalogue that it came out in, and it has a sticker on the cover for the control wiring that says: Adjusted at SLM Guitar Shop by:(technician's signature)

The only defects are a small indention through the finish on the back, topside of the neck above 3rd fret, and the finish has cracked slightly on the front around the outline of the recessed hole in back. Where can I have it repaired and still maintain it's value? I absolutely LOVE this guitar, and I would love to have it restored back to perfect condition, but the blemishes are only cosmetic, and I might be better off to leave them alone.

Please help if you can, thank you

I am not an expert on Westone guitars, but I am a professional guitar repair / luthier. I can tell you that unless the damage to the finish you speak of is substantial, it wouldn't matter to a collector or a player. All finish problems are rectifiable and very often without being able to notice that it has been done, but in doing this you always run the risk of going overboard which can make the finish look un-original. Collectors like everything to be original (battle scars and all) and a true player would simply look through knocks and bangs into what the guitar had to offer as an instrument. I hope this helps.

Martin.

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Matsumoku Finishes

Post by Barry on Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:44 pm

Hello Tom, and again, many thanks for your participation and contributions thusfar! I hope you're still connected to this forum and interested in receiving more questions.

Many here have had the dubious "pleasure" of trying to strip or otherwise refinish a MATS guitar. This has been necessary in some cases because of severe abuse and was the only road to restoration.
Other folks just didn't like the colour!

Whatever the reasons, one thing is unanimous...the finish on these guitars is tough as nails and reduces grown men to tears trying to remove it!
I believe the prevailing information here is that these were a catalyzed polyester finish. I recently had a whole buncha fun refinishing a Vantage Avenger which was suffering from a previous botched attempt by the former owner. I ended up redoing the guitar in a similar colour which helped to hide the originally finished areas which despite my efforts just would not completely lift out. Others here have vowed "never again" after having attempted a refinish!

Can you comment on this please, along with any corollary information such as how it was applied, where the paint, colours, etc., originated? Much appreciated.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by colt933 on Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:53 pm

This is FREAKIN' AWESOME!

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Questions Answers More Questions More Answers

Post by tpresley on Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:38 pm

Sorry for the long delay in getting back on forum. Somewhere along the line, I actually had to spend some time thinking about my job at Matrix.

I've enjoyed many of your comments and questions both here on the forum and those that have e-mailed or called me directly. It's great to see the enthusiasm for the Westone brand and the Matsumoku product in general.

Several of you have asked for some pricing guidelines on various Westones and I have to admit that I've not paid much attention to the value of the instruments over time. These things are like my kids. You know the comment; "Dad always like you better!" "I'm worth more than my brother!" I will say that I'm surprised at some of the prices of the instruments but will also say that compared to many of the guitars that I've recently played, the Westones are worth a bunch more!

Here is a summary and response to some of the questions that have come up over the last month or so:

"These finishes are thick. Poly, Catalytic, What the heck are they?"

The answer is - it depends on the series and the timeline. We made several models that had only seal coat stains, rubbed oil, Poly and Catalytics with very high solid content. I even messed with UV cured solids. I imagine that the basic quesiton surrounds the Poly and Catalytics.

Akira Takei had a relationship with an employee at one of the Toyota plants near Tokyo and on one of my first trips to Matsumoku, we hopped on the Shinkansen and headed there. We saw a bunch of the new flop finishes, pearls and some experimental finishes being produced by Gen-Gen. They were doing all kinds of electro static finishing and since Akira was a negotiating animal, we cut a deal and had them shoot some of our hardware in a jet black finish and we picked up a bunch of new colors including some of the flop metalics for Westone. And, as you have already guessed, several of these were Catalytic finishes and when they harden, they are almost indestructable! As it happened, the Gen-Gen paint turned out to be Imron. Those of you that are into the 2 part paints know that they have magical elasticity and are not impacted by environment. But . . . they are really tough to work with. Make a mistake and the buff out and sand down is a almost impossible. I've stripped a few and about threw out the bodies rather than cooking them down. Nothing short of industrial caustics will cut it once the finish is reacted.

"Doesn't the thick finish cause acoustic problems?"

There's an argument in the question. The answer; yes. Does it effect an electic guitar? Not much if any. I've taken literally hundreds of the Matsumoku guitars apart, built some with no finish, some with Imron, Lacquer and Oil finish and what I can tell you is that there are many other factors that contribute to the audio property of a solid body. During one exercise, we had a particular Spectrum which sounded like crap. I stripped it and did a limited sand down on the body. When I re-assembled it, it still sounded like crap. Changed pickups, crap. Changed electonics - crap. Changed out the neck - fantastic. Ok, now I'm pissed. Why would the hard maple, very solid neck with a rosewood fingerboard cause such a calamity? Pulled the fingerboard and found that the "U" channel had a crack in it almost all the way up the neck. The truss was simply messing with the sound. I've also re-fitted necks to re-finished instruments and been able to seriously impact the tone by simply placing wire window screen between the body and the neck. The wire screen embeds in both the neck and the body and changes the structural integrity of the joint. By the way, this is a very old but cool trick to make a Strat neck stable on a worn joint. Dan Armstrong turned me on to this early in my years. So does finish make a difference in the sound? Anyone out there ready for an argument? There's never going to be a winner in that one.

"Have you ever considered bringing back the Pantera or working with a factory to make a replica?"

There are likely legal issues around this since SLM owned the name and owned me at the time. Most of the concepts and intellectual properties that our team developed were Gene Kornblum's domain. When Gene sold SLM, he also sold the mechanical properties to Loud as well. The Westone brand is likely another matter as once abandoned as an SLM brand, it may have gone back to public domain. As far as the guitar itself, I'm not really convinced that it could be made in anything other than very limited production lots. The radius on the body is difficult and due to the curvature of the body, it takes a REALLY thick piece of wood to carve with the concave back. Also, the neck construction requires a compound cut. Some of you have noticed that the radius on the neck is oblique and has almost an egg shape. Combine this with the compound radius on the original fingerboards and it is a production work of art.

"I saw one of your seminars in Dayton, Ohio in the mid to late 80s and you showed some of your prototypes - some labeled Electra, some Westone, some Alvarez and another group with A.L. They were some of the most beautiful guitars I'd ever seen. What's the story?"

Gary, it's great to hear from you after 20 odd years. Your question poked a bunch of memory cells. I hauled around 16 or so one-offs and pre-production guitars to focus group the designs prior to putting them into any kind of build out. They were all using production hardware and tweaked necks. The brands were chosen randomly to determine if brand association had any psycho acoustic effect with the focus groups. The "A.L" brand was the "American Luthier" brand I was attempting to launch using some designs done by small, well established Luthiers in the U.S. These guys were entrepeneurs with incredible talent that was NEVER recognized because they didn't have any distribution or manufacturing channel. My idea was to give them just that. Give them a brand, let them get recognized by name and build some of the most beautiful instruments in the world at Matsumoku and Yairi. I held the idea close and didn't really pass it to SLM until I had market analysis completed. Frankly, I also wanted an outlet for our skunk works guitars in the SLM shop and a place to market some of my own stuff. Once presented to SLM ownership, the idea was given about 5 minutes of consideration and scrapped. I think in passing that we were putting most of our efforts in the Crate brand and upcoming Yellville plant, leaving no room for another market push. So, I kept a few of the instruments, worked some into the Westone and Alvarez operational brands under "Signature" and moved on.

Again, I'm sorry for the long posts but once I get started I CAN'T STOP! Thanks for listening!

Tom

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by corsair on Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:43 pm

Mate; we are not worthy!! Thank you!

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Barry on Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:48 am

Many thanks for the new info on the finishes, et al. Great stuff Tom!
As I've said before, you can't talk too much in this place!

I'm sure there are still lots of questions, large and small, to come from forum members but if I may:

  • Did you have any luck locating that box of archival "goodies" you alluded to some time ago...you know, the one with production and serial numbering information? You're probably aware that we're taking our best guess as to when models were made. It seems to be a relatively consistent pattern but only as it applies to the first number (year). If you can clarify the numbering system it would be greatly appreciated.


  • A related request includes any catalogues or other documentation that you might be able to (legally) copy and share with us. Again, what we have is spotty, and gathered and contributed as a labour of love. It would be fantastic if there was something more inclusive and descriptive. Component specifications of course would be the ultimate!


  • I'd also be interested in knowing to what extent, if any, you were involved in other Matsumoku "labels", particularly the Aria Pro II and Vantage lines. Regardless of headstock design and other "trim" details there is no mistaking that you're playing a Mats when you pick it up; at least the solid bodies. I've just obtained an Aria Pro II Urchin for example, and there's no mistaking the neck and playability. Close your eyes and it could easily be a Westone Spectrum or a Vantage Avenger. Can you comment on the technical overlap between the lines? It looks like Westone designs and innovations hugely influenced the other labels.


  • Finally, if possible, can you comment on the the thinking behind the Marketing strategy relative to that last question? I've always maintained that there were too many similar Mats guitars flooding the market with not nearly enough features to differentiate them, not even within the same label. The overall effect I think was to water down the attributes of a hugely innovative instrument maker. Outside of some small dedicated groups of followers, no one brand ever properly established itself as being a viable alternative to the big name players of the time. Brilliant instruments but lousy Marketing methinks.
Cheers!

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Barry's Questions

Post by tpresley on Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:14 pm

Hello Barry,

Not really a matter of luck finding the "goodies". More an issue of sloth. This will be a "Spring Cleaning" project. Now that I know that someone really needs the stuff, I'll dig it out. I'll see if I actually kept the actual production records which identify the quantities made by model of the production lot. I still have many of the "orders" placed I'm sure. If I have he production records, it will identify the key information everyone is looking for.

I do have at least one of every catalog we designed. I either have them in hard copy OR they are on my Mac. I did most of the layouts on the Westone and all Alvarez brands so I KNOW they are still around in one form or another. Now all I need to do is find the Macintosh.

We tooled 4 necks for 6 string blanks - not counting thru necks - solid and laminated. Body material was a game of popularity. Matsumoku tooled our Westone 4 and much to my surprise actually started using 2 of them on their production models. Always a surprise to me was the fact that the "Vantage" and "Aria" models were not really specified nor was their much design done by the "brand". These designs were largely done by Ohwa-san and his team. A typical Vantage and Aria trip to the factory was an October visit to see what was new and what could be produced for the next calendar year. Toshi and Akira would bring out some new designs - using the brand headstock and logo and see what the customer wanted to buy. The Electra and Westone brands were a little more complex since the design elements and engineering guidelines were actually a collaboration between the Matsumoku engineering and us. OR, in the case of the Electra, we already had design production that we moved from Kasuga to Matsumoku piece by piece. Now, comes the answer to your question. "What were the influences on other brands?" Can you say; "Tom was PISSED!" I worked by butt off in the shop with Jerry Proctor and our guys to find the particular neck tapers, fingerboard radius - specific compounding - particular Sanko frets etc... then they start appearing on other brands! This happened BEFORE the Westone brand was even picked up by SLM. Did you ever notice that the some of the later Electra and "Phoenix" brand set the timeline for particular design changes at Matsumoku? Prior to that, the standard neck on the Matsumoku product had a very rounded design and a steep radius on the fingerboard. After the changes, the neck profile shoulders were reduced on the bass side by 2mm compounding from the nut to the 14th fret and the back of the neck began to flatten from the 4th to the joint. At the same time we kept a steep fingerboard radius at the nut and flattened the fingerboard to the pocket. Yep, Aria AND Vantage AND other brands benefited from this. As the Westone deal concluded between SLM, the European distributors and the factory management, it became apparent that it was not in their best interest to pass design elements to others. So, Bendmasters, Switchmasters, Unbalanced Coils, String Rollers and the actual pickup content became exclusive. Shiro was pissed because we pulled some of the neck profiles. He quickly took some of his production to Samick in Korea...I just smiled and said; Good luck Arai-sama.

Your question about the marketing really hit's a home run. My biggest challenge with many of the production oriented factories was that there was little individuality in brand or content. Some of this was due to economic factors yet other issues such as homogeneity of the Japanese society. They wanted consistency! Continuity! Balance! Ok, so where does the "soul" of a guitar come from? It was one of the most elusive concepts to bring to the Far East. Akira got the concept, Masau Terada got it, Kazuo Yairi got it - Taka Yamada got it - convincing their workers was a tough and never ending. Most of the time I lost that battle.

Tom

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Barry on Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:43 pm

Wonderful stuff Tom, as usual! Thanks for the quick reply, very much appreciated.
Man, what a crazy few years you must have spent there! Looking forward to the next installment...

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Barry on Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:45 am

Hi Tom, I was re-reading your last post and all the others (for about the 12th time, there's so much to take in and think about!) and a couple of followup questions/comments came to mind...

NECK DESIGN OWNERSHIP
I and many others here have continuously raved about the Westone necks which have got to be the most comfortable and playable designs I've ever squeezed between my ole arthritic fingers. I'm pretty much spoiled and wrecked for playing the other guitars in my collection now...thanks a lot for that!!

Other players, instructors, and music store owners to whom I've introduced these guitars are left with dropped jaws and drooling lips once they've played 'em! They may have had only a vague notion of the Westone brand, but once they play one they never forget it.

So for me, the inevitable question is:
Who now owns your design, and are we likely to ever see it resurrected, and by whom? Is it even possible to separate the neck from the overall guitar design and still have anything "special"?

THE SOUL OF A GUITAR
Your comment about the Japanese cultural tendency to achieve balance and harmony and consistency, etc. and its being a prime factor in influencing the overall marketing strategy was interesting to say the least.

It's somewhat counter to what I think of as Asian-ness, in the sense that I think of an introspective, contemplative culture which would seem to point to self-awareness and one's "soul".

I found it rather shocking that the notion of the "soul of a guitar" is a Western concept!
Did you mean this to indicate that they were focused too tightly on the homogeneous technical aspects of guitar production and ignored the reason for why they were creating the guitar in the first place?

Cheers!

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Necks, Soul AND Ownership

Post by tpresley on Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:42 pm

Barry,

Thanks again. Deep stuff . . .

Ok, simple stuff first.

The neck profile of guitar is very individual, right? In truth, ones hands, determine in part the correct size and scale. Now, the real question becomes how do you know and how do you make it, if you do know?

The neck profile on the majority of Westones evolved from the Phoenix models, which originally were sold in the Electra transition years. We'd been working on numerous profiles with the Electra models for years and due to the "copy" market at the time, the intent of the copy was to replicate what was a known factor. I remember guys attempting to put a Strat profile on the LP scale and they simply blew up in the market. The LP players would say it just didn't feel right. Conversely, an LP profile on a Strat was looked at like it was a frumpy neck.

We were attempting to find a “blend” without creating a “Camel”. Some of the problems had to do with getting the factory – Kasuga, originally, to allow us to change the machining and router profiles that would allow a 3rd and 4th pass. It doubled the production time on task and since we were now using true North American maple rather than the European soft maple, it was eating the heads on the NC machines. Once convinced, we started using a compound cut with 2 passes on the lathe and 2 passes on the NC. Now this was only done on a few production models but became the standard process for them. Once done, we could slightly change the second pass and develop a very well balanced neck profile for about any model environment.

The neck profile, though not owned by ANYONE is simply a manufacturing process. In today’s manufacturing world, we’d not have the same problems. We’d simply do a CNC route group on a 7 head bundle and blow in the program. 420 to 500 seconds later, you’d have a rough in. Take 4 of these CNC machines and a pile of blanks, and you can add up the production count per day. Build in a head change out after 850 necks are cut – 2 hour downtime per re-set and you’re at the monthly production capacity. Utilization curves get thrown out of whack a little but you get the picture.

Who owns it? I guess the answer is; “anyone who wants to pay for the production lot and that can convince the manufacturer that they need to buy really good wood, keep it dry and be willing to do short runs.” That, to me is the overall issue. Our Luthier friends on this page could make these necks in a heartbeat with no litigation potential. The question is whether they could do it at any profit!


Now the tough part…

I agree with the Asian culture’s introspection and self awareness and one that contemplates the natural sequence of events and responsibilities therein.

Is the Soul of a guitar, a Western commodity? As far as the personal dynamics associated with what we know of today’s electric guitar, yes, I do.

Remember the guitar as we define it has NO particular common property. Our industry was initiated by various Iconic sources, mainly players, not manufacturers. Segovia, Les Paul, Chet Atkins, B.B. King, Ventures, Clapton/Beck/Page, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Van Halen etc…. and thousands of classical, acoustic and electric virtuoso’s all over the world.

Larry Carlton could take a Strat and make it sound like a 335. HE became the force behind the “machine”.

Now where does this tie together? In the traditional “guitar factory” the staff really didn’t play. If they did, it was simply a few chords and a few folk songs they’d heard. Don’t get me wrong, there were serious players out there, but they were being trained and in the post WWII era, they were being trained classically. We were now asking the factory to produce something that they didn’t have any idea of how it should sound, play, feel or insure character.

Man, could they ever mechanize though. You’d take a product to them and in a short time they’d have a prototype. It may have been an exact cosmetic copy. It worked, it played through an amp, the neck, though fat, would play. And, they could make 10000 a month. Is there anything better than that? It was evident what it was and nobody considered them really NICE guitars.

Once matured, they could produce ANYTHING we wanted and some things that we didn’t. Strats with Paul necks, Pauls with Strat necks etc. Yep, AND Strats with Paul pickups – Yes, some things were OK!

After some of the factory guys actually started playing, and understanding that our industry had imperfections – pickups were never design to be flat response – even though you COULD make them, the instruments developed Character.

Perhaps, Character is the combination of balance, individual behavior, and awareness that we’re speaking of. Character/Soul/Individuality – no not really a western concept but one that we’re pretty good at. Have you ever heard a newby player or a classical player try to improvise a rock or R&B solo? More often than not it sounds like a classical player improvising a Rock solo.

Way off the overall concept of your question but the simple to the:

“Did you mean this to indicate that they were focused too tightly on the homogeneous technical aspects of guitar production and ignored the reason for why they were creating the guitar in the first place?”

Yes.

Tom

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Barry on Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:32 pm

Insightful and thoughtful reply Tom.
'Really appreciate the time to articulate it!

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Barry on Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:58 pm

Hello Tom, hope all is well in your universe.

I was hoping there would be some more input from other forum folks by now. It does appear to have gone uncharacteristically quiet (for this bunch anyway!). I don't wish to appear to be taking over but I am curious about a few things...

PICKUPS
Two questions actually:

  • You've talked about the part serendipity played in your development of the Westone's Unbalanced Coils. Many of us here are also huge fans of the MMK45's in particular that Matsumoku used in so many of their models, and I was wondering if you had any part to play in their development as well. Or were these simply outsourced to Maxon and the like?


  • Similarly, do you know how the single coil pups used on the Concords, Spectrums, etc. were developed? I've never owned a Strat but everyone I've ever played with over the years did, and I find the sound of the Concord to have a decidedly different tone to my ears.
BRASS
A very distinctive feature of many Mats guitars including some Westones is the use of brass for nuts and bridges, even knobs! My Concord II and Thunder I-A are two examples in the Westone line. Can you comment on why brass was chosen over the more traditional materials? Was there a tonal or sustain advantage to brass or is it simply a way to reduce string friction/slipping?

BARREL SADDLE BRIDGE
Since we're talkin' brass, I gotta ask this!
Most regulars here are aware that I've been um, saddled, with three Mats guitars sporting these bridges; one Westone and two Vantages, all 1981. I've had nothing but troubles with them as have others. (you can see a discussion of mine HERE)

The main problem is that the string spacing is too wide, caused primarily by a ridicuous "jog" that the strings are forced to do after they enter the back of the bridge in order to rest in the groove in the saddle. There's an accumulated offset error across the string pack which ends up with one or more strings either tracking diagonally up the fretboard or, in the case of one of mine, right off the neck entirely!

In an effort to try and correct this, the bridges were installed at an angle which didn't help too much and looked bloody stupid! (see a good example HERE) We've been trying to understand the reasons for such an awful design in the first place but can't come up with too much. My hunch was that it worked OK on the basses so they tried to adapt it to the guitars...unsuccessfully.

In any event the mistake seems to have been quickly corrected later that same production year and a "proper" design substituted.
If you have anything to comment on this I'd be very interested since I have a grudge against whoever came up with this goofy design.
I'm sure hoping it wasn't you!

Cheers!

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Questions and More!

Post by tpresley on Sun Mar 28, 2010 4:35 pm

Hi Barry,

I knew we could wear out this crew! See, you guys already knew about all there is to know about these instruments!

Pickups - The 45s were selected after about 12 different pickups were "cleared" for production. Toshi has a great ear and in reality, they had already selected the pickup by the time that I had made up my mind. I'm not a true fan of some of the earlier MMK pickups as I found them a little overcooked in the lower mids. Also, there were many isssues about the capacitance in the OFC wire which robbed a ton of the above 5k. Also, lots of movement in the coil bobbin structure caused them to be a little to lively. Resonant feedback etc....

Single coils were a very funny issue for me. We had constant problems with inconsistent winds. I think that the original culture for single coils was developed from a cost model. I threw out hundreds over the years due to either a mis-spec or a simple phase inversion. We fully identified that we needed the reversed wind on the center pickup on our 1-1-1, 1-1-2 and 2-1-2 models with 3 different wind specs depending on the models. Too often, a production lot would come thru with the incorrect metrics. Sometimes, there was no audio damage but it simply pissed me off. Eventually, after returning enough to Maxon and others, the issue was resolved.

Brass

That's a slippery slope discussion. My original training called for bone on the nut but with the changes in playing styles and vibrato utilization, bone became less practical. In a perfect world, you'd have a "0" fret since the open string harmonic content would be identical to a closed string - with the exception of resonance occuring on the off side of the neck. Delrin and nylon synthetics were nice and slippery, easy to mold and easy to work, they simply alterned the open string vs closed string resonance. This didn't impact the audio on the heavily overdriven, compressed "hit the rail" content but really came out in recordings and the natrual acoustics of the instrument. Brass was an economical material. It didn't have too much expansion/contraction and had a natural metalic lubricant if fitted properly. As far as the other accesories - knobs etc... I think that it was more of an easy manufacturing process and didn't require a tooling.

BarrelSaddles - Badly engineered, not well thought out and clearly NEVER would have worked. The inertial difference and torque loading on a single support peg was bound to fail. I'm not sure how it ever got on any of the Matsumoku production. It was likely a standard part that was simply ordered for specification. The concept of a "Barrel" for a bridge isn't the bad idea part, but the application parameters violated a mess of physics.

Not sure where the design came from but in all fairness, there've been many concepts of guitar designs that were thought out well and simply didn't work, some concepts thrown against the wall and worked well and others that could NEVER work, that for some odd reason, did. The important factor with Matsumoku and one that I always admired was their commitment to making a fantastic product.


Be Well!

Tom

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Barry on Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:43 pm

tpresley wrote:Hi Barry, I knew we could wear out this crew!
The old guys always outlast the young 'uns! lol!
I'm not a true fan of some of the earlier MMK pickups as I found them a little overcooked in the lower mids. Also, there were many isssues about the capacitance in the OFC wire which robbed a ton of the above 5k.
Yeah, many of us have noted that there does seem to be a variance in this pup, with resistance ratings in my own case ranging from the low 5's to the upper 11's. I have a 310 Avenger which roars but, as you say, is rather "boomy". On the other hand my Thunder and Vantage VS600 are ballsy buggers but with the ability to "finesse" the sound when needed.
(brass) didn't have too much expansion/contraction and had a natural metalic lubricant if fitted properly. As far as the other accesories - knobs etc... I think that it was more of an easy manufacturing process and didn't require a tooling.
So much for radical design concepts! study
BarrelSaddles - Badly engineered, not well thought out and clearly NEVER would have worked.
I'm putting that quote on my guitars which have those bridges swapped out!
The inertial difference and torque loading on a single support peg was bound to fail...the application parameters violated a mess of physics. I'm not sure how it ever got on any of the Matsumoku production.
As I've remarked in other posts, it's a bloody wonder the guitars even can be played at all with these things. I have even completely lost my top E string when it torqued right off the fretboard!

Even at that, I can tell you that I was still very apprehensive about changing it out. I thought that there must have been some mystical far Eastern design reason for using this dumb design, and that by removing it I would screw up the guitar's mojo! Glad to get confirmation that both my design and player instincts were right in taking it off.
with Matsumoku and one that I always admired was their commitment to making a fantastic product.
Absolutely! We're still discovering some remarkable examples of both the more popular models and some of the more obscure ones, particularly in the Aria Pro II lineup.

Many thanks as always Tom!

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by boutjp97 on Sun Apr 04, 2010 1:31 pm

Mr. Presley any ides on this beast I just picked up?????

LINK

The BM Deluxe (not the Kahler) and what appears to be the lack of active pickups make it kind of strange. Also the seller states that the neck has X350 not X350MA. Is this a prototype or some limited run maybe? Were the few X350MA's made with the trem called the X350 maybe? Any thoughts from anyone will be much appreciated.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by X350ma on Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:08 am

I've got the same guitar, also with the bendmaster trem, original case, key, wammy bar, warranty application, etc. Had it since 89 or so. Mine also has X350 stamped on the fretboard, but I thought it was an 'ma', which stood for maple??? I had no idea there were less than 48 made. I'd be interested to know exactly how many like mine were made. This has been my favorite guitar for a long, long time. Still is.

Great bunch of info here!

By the way, mine also has passive pickups.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by boutjp97 on Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:02 pm

There is very limited information on this model so passive pickups and the neck reading X350 not X350MA may be normal, but the BM deluxe still has me itching my head. The X350MA in the catalogue has Pantera on the fretboard not X350(MA). Then on the Pantera X350MA advertisement it states that the kahler deluxe trem is available, and if you look at the one I just bought the locks at the nut look to be kahler???? I don't know, I just want to play the thing, can't wait to get it.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by tpresley on Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:07 pm

Hey Guys,

You have 2 of the rarest production models we ever did. Frankly, these were made at my request for personal use. I wanted the maple, but not the Kahler. Since I couldn't mod the maple body without destroying them, and not wanting to hand build one, I did the next best thing, I ordered 6 culled from the MA run and had the Bendmaster installed at the factory! Long story short, b4 I could get mine set up, we ended up selling them to dealers at our Expo. I did make one other production run of 6 more and I don't really know how many of this batch ended up in the US since every one was grabbed by either fans at stores or collectors. My opinion ... maybe the best electric ever made.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by boutjp97 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:16 pm

Wow! My left arm is tingling and chest tightening. Amazing. I couldn't be happier. Thank you for that information Mr. Presley.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Barry on Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:43 pm

Outstanding!
Do we have lots of pix of these beasts here somewhere??
This really needs proper visual documentation to go with Tom's comments!

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by boutjp97 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:46 pm

I didn't get it in the mail yet, only pics available of mine are on the ebay link. I promise to post when I get it, maybe even upload some video to youtube.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Barry on Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:26 am

Excellent. king

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by X350ma on Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:16 pm

That's awesome! Yeah, I love this guitar and will never sell it. I'll get some pics up tomorrow, I have to go work a double shift right now.

By the way, mine also says 'Pantera' with a recutangular inlay on the fretboard (easily seen). The 'X350' is merely stamped/pressed into the ebony fretboard, near its end, after the last fret, and is rather hard to see.

Great info, and greatly appreciated.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Barry on Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:07 pm

Hello Tom! Hope all is well with you and yours.
Man, this thread has suffered from atrophy it seems. Where have all the Westie weenies gone?
Sheesh! Rolling Eyes

I was just wondering if you were yet able to locate the catalogue info that you mentioned you had, and in particular the manufacturing/dating codes? We think we're correct in at least the year and possibly the month interpretation but it's observational reasoning and would be nice to have something more concrete to hang a hat on.

If you have anything at all on Vantage numbering too that would be a huge bonus as the boyz are going batty over in the Matsumoku forum trying to determine what happened around the 1980/81 mark. That seems to be a pivotal change year in both manufacturing design and serial numbering.

Cheers!

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Guest on Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:22 pm

Thought this might be interesting - a section from a Westone Hot Harrdware Handbook. I haven't figured out a way to scan the whole thing yet, it's too big for the scanner...I think it dates from 1985/6 (the guitars featured on it are Spectrums, with Bendmaster FT trems) which makes a bit of this extract puzzling (Been product manager of Westone guitars at SLM for 10 years???)

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Warrn on Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:55 am

Just means he's been product manager at SLM for that long I think, since he designed the Spectrum line as Electra models originally and is well known for his work on the Electra line as well.

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more question about westone history

Post by gittarasaurus on Mon May 30, 2011 10:12 am

i'm sure if the thread has gone dead, but anyway........

there has been alot said about the development of the guitar bodies and necks and hardware even, but not much about the electronics (aside from the true story of the origin of the UBC, too awesome!).

for me, one of the many things that set westone apart from other types of guitars is the very innovative design of the pickup switching. there were lots of combinations of switches used, 3-way box sw, 5-way blade, mini switches, push/pull pots...it seems that the idea of active electronics was tried a short time and then dropped....what inspired the change from mini switches to push/pull pots?

can you elaborate on the way the pickups/electronics/switching process evolved through the various models?

great thanks for all the insider information, fascinating history. this forum is like a finding a bunch of old friends i never met before. wonderful place ya got here....

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Please Have Some Consideration For Tom's Time!

Post by Barry on Mon May 30, 2011 1:44 pm

Good question, and I hope Tom sees this and has time to respond, but he is definitely still around and reading the forum when he can.
Meantime, if I may be so bold, on his behalf and for the benefit of all members, to request that you post your considered and researched questions either here or in a new thread.

One of the reasons we don't see Tom so much publicly is because he's being a bit overwhelmed with private message questions. A lot of these are dumb ones asking the value of a particular guitar. Rolling Eyes Others are questions which have already been asked and discussed and are readily available both here and on the www.WestoneGuitars.net site under "History". These people are just too damn lazy to look it up and read!

Tom is too much of a gentleman to complain. So I will!
Folks, we have a unique resource here. Not every guitar forum is honoured to have a key designer of their instruments actively participating with the members. Plain and simple: you're wearing the man out with needless offline chatter! And while it may be a thrill to get a personal email, the rest of us do not get to share in the information given.

Whatever spare time, energy and enthusiasm Tom has available to give us is being sapped away by this selfish activity. And I can't blame him for keeping a low public profile now. So please, please! think before you fire off a PM to Tom.

Let's all see the question and the answer, and let poor Tom answer it only once!

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Guest on Mon May 30, 2011 6:44 pm

I for one have emailed TP and was lucky enough to get a response and totally agree with Barry's comments. I'll be posting my question/answer soon, as I am on track on aquiring a certain guitar at which my question was directed to. Once the guitar is in hand, I will post my response along with some additional knowledge of the particular guitar in question. Should be good stuff for those interested.

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Barry on Mon May 30, 2011 9:46 pm

Cheers for that sarc!

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

Post by Guest on Mon May 30, 2011 10:11 pm

posted the Presley info here:
http://forum.westoneguitars.net/t2288-tp-qa-on-trevor-rabin-signature-models

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Re: Westone - US Design - Development History

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