A somewhat rare 6-string puts the groovy and gonzo guitar design aesthetic of 1960s Japan on full display.
Does size matter? Well, according to yours truly, size does matter—especially when it comes to guitars. Being an extra-large dude, I've often gravitated to guitars that are, well, extra large. I love my big Gretsch Tennessee Rose and old Harmony Rocket because they just feel right in my hands and strapped up. I've owned plenty of “tiny" guitars, but I've never really bonded with any of them. Even a Telecaster seems a little small to me! So, I'd like to talk about one of the biggest of the vintage made-in-Japan electrics: the Marlin PA-25.
Photo 2<p>This big boy has a multi-bound neck and body, along with some super-rad UFO-shaped domed knobs. The bridge and tremolo are standard fare for the time, but both actually work well. The bridge is pinned to the body and the guitar always feels stable and stays in tune. I especially love the body cutouts and pickguard, which really add to the flow of the design. The same goes for the horns, which are slightly asymmetrical and just scream Pac-Man at first glance.</p><p>The body itself is rather thin (1 3/4") and has absolutely no arch on the front or back, which is something I seldom see with hollowbody guitars. This sort of build does put a bit more stress at the bridge, but they generally hold up over the years. Unfortunately, the <em>finishes</em> do not. I've owned two of these guitars and they both suffered from long checking lines in the lacquer. Still, it's a small price to pay for looking so cool!</p>
Photo 3<p>Sonically, these guitars pack some punch. The two single-coils (Photo 2) are super bright and make me want to play with the loudest slapback delay I can muster. The PA-25s are also kind of percussive in a way I adore.</p><p>As for the Marlin headstock badge (Photo 3), apparently the logos were applied with some sort of gel or raised plastic that never lasts. Every Marlin guitar I've seen has been left with a ghostly image of what was probably once a cool-looking logo.</p><p>After writing this, I'm feeling the need to go downstairs and give my PA-25 a little love in the form of playing the heck out of it. And I think I'll go with Howlin' Wolf's "Built for Comfort."</p>