As discussed in our feature story on counterfeit guitars, many of today’s bogus brand name imitations lack any semblance of quality materials or workmanship. That, however, was not the case from the late 1960s to early 1980s, when various Japanese guitar makers were busy making inexpensive “replicas” of some of the world’s most iconic guitar designs.
The Greco brand of “replica” guitars was started by the Kanda Shokai Corporation in 1966, and is widely considered to be one of the best. Fueled by the popularity of bands like Led Zeppelin and other British invasion artists, the company was producing copies of Gibson’s Les Paul Standard by the early 1970s using scaled drawings derived from Gibson catalogs, and photos of musicians using real Gibson guitars. The company even enlisted the services of popular Japanese guitarist Shigeru Narumo to supervise its production of the Greco line, which gave a tremendous boost to its sale of Les Paul replicas.
By the mid-to-late 1970s, the company was making a Les Paul copy that rivaled the craftsmanship of its authentic U.S. counterpart—at prices far below those of the real McCoy. This 1978 Greco EG-700 is an exquisite example of those guitars. It features a beautiful Cherry Sunburst finish, set-neck construction with medium tenon joint, non-original Grover-like tuners and gold top-hat control knobs. The only discernable difference would be its headstock, which is slightly narrower and longer than a typical Les Paul’s. Other than that, it’s a stunning example of Japanese six-string ingenuity from the 1970s.
Oh yeah, and it plays like buttah!