A Bakelite-topped Japanese 6-string from a brand that charmed Cooder and Hendrix.
While working in a music store in a guitar town like Nashville, I’ve seen interesting instruments that have been in the hands of journeymen players and their families for decades come through the doors regularly. A good example is this salmon-colored 1965 Guyatone model LG-130T—a recent arrival that has caught the eye of fans of the Guyatone/Kent/Teisco/Kawai style of Japan-made axes who come into the shop.
The Guyatone factory started building guitars way back in 1933 and was never too good about keeping records. By the mid-’50s, they had a factory in full production in Tokyo, and by late in the decade that plant was sometimes making 1,500 steel guitars, 1,600 electric guitars and basses, 2,000 amps, and 5,000 microphones a month, according to the company’s history at https://guyatoneus.com. Whew!
The headstock is yellowed with age and has some minimal chipping and flaking, but offsets the brand’s logo well. Note the simple string tree.
But back to our LG-130T. From the almost cream-colored wood on its neck to the fish-flavored finish (which Guyatone called cherry pink, and which helped date this instrument) to the three surprisingly crisp and present factory-made single-coil pickups, to its on/off switches for those pickups plus a tone wheel and a rhythm/lead switch, this guitar has lots of tonal variety and even more classic ’50s/’60s Japanese B-movie mojo. Guitarzilla, anyone? All of those things makes this a typical example of a mid-’60s LG-130, but this guitar has one thing that’s really unusual: a white baked-enamel headstock that looks really elegant atop its short-scale, 20-fret neck.
While the slide-button array recalls the Jazzmaster’s and Jaguar’s control sets, Guyatone’s pickups give these guitars a sound that’s perfect for gnarly blues, á la Hound Dog Taylor.
It’s easy for me to understand why so many artists who like to play on the fringes of blues eclecticism, including Ry Cooder and a young Jimi Hendrix, have enjoyed Guyatone guitars and their pickup tones. The neck is a flat-C profile that fits the hand comfortably. And the combination of on/off switches for the pickups allows a variety of sculpted sounds, while the rhythm/lead switch works similarly to that of a Jazzmaster. The 1-piece bridge is white plastic, but has two wheels to adjust its height. The vibrato arm feels and plays like a smaller version of a Bigsby, with a single spring and a screw for adjusting tension.
Like a Bigsby, this guitar’s whammy bar is a single-spring affair with a screw for adjusting tension. It does a decent job of staying in tune.
Without a doubt, there was a little idea thievery taking place when Guyatone’s designers were working up the LG-130T—especially from Fender’s Jaguars and Jazzmasters. Just check out the similar body shape and, at the top of the extended chrome pickguard, those pickup control switches. Plus, the neck joint. But those pickups, that pickguard, and the simple, distinctive whammy—which does a decent job of staying in tune—give the LG-130T its own identity. With its current value of just under $700 versus $4,000 to $5,000 for a mid-’60s Jazzmaster, it’s not the kind of guitar you’d mind making some modifications on unless you’re a hardcore collector of Japanese gems. This 6-string wouldn’t even be worth that much if not for its rare white Bakelite headstock.
One reason Guyatones are still pretty easy to find in the United States is that the company was the first Japanese guitar manufacturer to directly offer their product line to the American public. The first ads for Guyatone’s electrics appeared in the States in 1959. Guyatone also built guitars for other brands as the decades went on, and some of those guitars fell into the hands of influential players. Rory Gallagher and Hank Marvin played Guyatone-made guitars with Antoria, a brand name under which they were imported to the U.K., on their headstocks. And on the cover of his debut album, Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers, the rough and tumble bluesman Hound Dog Taylor is holding a Kawai S180, a four-pickup-equipped relative of our Guyatone LG-130T that was made in 1964 at the Guyatone plant.
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Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.