Early 70's Japanese Washburn Les Paul (mystery?)

diavolo

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
Messages
83
Reaction score
49
Can anyone provide information about this guitar?
It could be my ignorance on the subject, but this seems like something that shouldn't exist, but here it is!
From what I can find the guitar seems to be identical to an early 70s Ibanez 2351.
I know a lot of guitars from Japanese factories wore different brand names but Washburn didn't have electrics until 1978 I thought. This seems older. I suppose it's an unusual find.

I believe the body is what's considered to be "pancake" construction. Theres a seam looking line around the middle of the side. As if two halves were met.
Bolt on neck, nothing written in the neck pocket, no serial number on the neck plate.
Corners at the bottom of the fret board are rounded.
Back of the pickups has stamped "Maxon" and "3432"
The neck pickup has a chrome cover, the bridge humbucker is white with square poles on the slug side.
Plastics on the back are similar color to the wood.
The bottom of the bridge says "L.P. BRIGE MADE IN JAPAN" yes..."BRIGE" not bridge. Stop bar has "MADE IN JAPAN" on it.
Its in sort of rough shape cosmetically. Looks like it had been well loved. The switch tip is missing, as is the truss rod cover. The tuning machines have been replaced, and I replaced one cracked knob, and i put other strap pegs on it.
Other than that everything appears to be original, and I got it working. It sounds fantastic. The frets are a bit low, but its playable.

Based on what I found everything indicates early 70s, but that just makes the Washburn branding even stranger.
I can provide more pictures and info on request. Sorry I didn't have good light when i took these pictures.

I appreciate any insight anyone can provide on this guitar.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

brokentoeswalker

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2012
Messages
3,850
Reaction score
6,557
Wow, that is an interesting guitar. The Washburn is so small compared to the Les Paul Model script. Taking a pic of the routing channels without the pups in the way and the electronics cavity might help to nail the manufacturer and hopefully the pots have some codes on them that might help date. Sorry i can't be more help.
 

diavolo

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
Messages
83
Reaction score
49
heres a picture inside the control cavity.

The pots all say M500kΩ and then A or B indicating their type.
Theres other numbers below, but its hard to see because the wires are ground on top there.
looks like the B's end in 7 or a 1 then 41N and I see a 3N on an A pot. I could inspect further later, I'm just looking at that image I took when I got this thing.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

Greco

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2019
Messages
218
Reaction score
75
Can anyone provide information about this guitar?
It could be my ignorance on the subject, but this seems like something that shouldn't exist, but here it is!
From what I can find the guitar seems to be identical to an early 70s Ibanez 2351.
I know a lot of guitars from Japanese factories wore different brand names but Washburn didn't have electrics until 1978 I thought. This seems older. I suppose it's an unusual find.

I believe the body is what's considered to be "pancake" construction. Theres a seam looking line around the middle of the side. As if two halves were met.
Bolt on neck, nothing written in the neck pocket, no serial number on the neck plate.
Corners at the bottom of the fret board are rounded.
Back of the pickups has stamped "Maxon" and "3432"
The neck pickup has a chrome cover, the bridge humbucker is white with square poles on the slug side.
Plastics on the back are similar color to the wood.
The bottom of the bridge says "L.P. BRIGE MADE IN JAPAN" yes..."BRIGE" not bridge. Stop bar has "MADE IN JAPAN" on it.
Its in sort of rough shape cosmetically. Looks like it had been well loved. The switch tip is missing, as is the truss rod cover. The tuning machines have been replaced, and I replaced one cracked knob, and i put other strap pegs on it.
Other than that everything appears to be original, and I got it working. It sounds fantastic. The frets are a bit low, but its playable.

Based on what I found everything indicates early 70s, but that just makes the Washburn branding even stranger.
I can provide more pictures and info on request. Sorry I didn't have good light when i took these pictures.

I appreciate any insight anyone can provide on this guitar.
Could you provide more pictures of the pickups and pots? I'd like to do some research and see if I can date the pickups. I can compare the pots in your guitar and see if they match the ones in mine. If you happen to see a date code please let me know but I don't think the pots have date codes usually. If the pickups are those exact numbers, that would be interesting, as I only know of the pickups with 5 digits usually.
 

Greco

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2019
Messages
218
Reaction score
75
So here is what I can come up with so far from the current information. Washburn didn't get their Japanese guitars started until 1978. These models are known as the wing series and from the models I have looked at all have no single cut shape to them. Instead they were doublecuts and their logo on the headstock looked nothing like this. From the logo on this headstock, it looks more modern. Now in 1989 Washburn did have a Les Paul copy but from what I can tell the logo was still bigger and it usually had a headstock inlay. Another thing to note is the headstock shape. Even Washburn didn't have that close of a headstock shape. So either this guitar is an outlier of all the models I researched or this shouldn't exist. I'll do more research but this guitar really is an anomaly right now.
 

Roxy13

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2017
Messages
10,279
Reaction score
26,902
Many pots do have date codes, but not all of them do unfortunately. I would check the backs carefully and even the sides of the pots to see if you can find one.
 

diavolo

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
Messages
83
Reaction score
49
I never thought to try and date it by the pickups, they are Maxon. According to what i could find for mine which are stamped 3432 that could mean:

3 = series of pickups
4 = 1974
3 = march
2 = 2nd day of march

I suspect this thing to be from before 1975 and a FujiGen build based on construction and the pickups appearing identical to images i've found of Ibanez 2351 of the same years, usually '73-'75. if you look at Ibanez 2351m from 1975 catalog its identical.

According to Wiki: FujiGen was the OEM for Hoshino Gakki, which is the company that distributed these guitars to the USA under the "Ibanez" brand name. So if FujiGen made this guitar, why did they put a Washburn logo on it? Was it never supposed to have left Japanese market?
In 1979 Matsumoku started making Washburn branded guitars. Matsumoku did also make stuff for Hoshino Gakki and FujiGen so it seems reasonable that those companies all produced in part Washburn, Ibanez, and other branded guitars in the 70's.

I really would like to discover the entire backstory.
The only details I know for sure, is I got it from someone who got it from her neighbor.
The neighbor had bought a cabinet a long time ago, and this guitar was in it.

From Washburns website:

"There is no serial number information or tracking capability for pre-1978 models.

If the instrument does not have a serial number, it is likely a factory prototype or sample, and it is impossible to gauge its exact age. We recommend visiting our guitar archives and viewing the annual catalogs to find the closest match."
 
Last edited:

Grenville

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
394
Reaction score
264
My guess: the 'Washburn' was added later and it's not actually a Washburn guitar.

Possibly the Les Paul logo was added later too, although I've seen various old Japanese guitars with 'Les Paul Model' on the headstock.
 

Roxy13

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2017
Messages
10,279
Reaction score
26,902
Try looking at that Washburn logo under strong lighting and different angles. If it was added you might see the edges of the waterslide decal.
 

diavolo

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
Messages
83
Reaction score
49
The Washburn logo is not a waterslide decal. Its a pearl inlay. Its done in the same way other inlays were put on similar guitars in the 70's.

The "Les Paul" name logo did appear on other 70's Japanese Les Pauls too, look at an old Tokai for example. It will even have the same style pearl inlay for their brand name.
 

Attachments

Grenville

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
394
Reaction score
264
Fair enough, I can see more clearly on that photo that it's definitely not a sticker. Strange that the 'Washburn' is so small though.
 

diavolo

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
Messages
83
Reaction score
49
I think the size of the logo just has to do with scaling it down to fit in the correct place.
Look at any older single cut style guitar with a similar headstock shape and you will see the logo is almost always scaled to fit above and in between the two top tuning machines. If theres more letters in the brand name, its going to be a smaller font size, but left to right it measures the same as many others except maybe newish Epiphones.

That and the fact that perhaps brand names were less important 40+ years ago.
Just look at cars for example, their brand logos have gotten huge especially on trucks.
 

diavolo

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
Messages
83
Reaction score
49
on advise i got elsewhere, i looked at the guitar under black light. the finish all glows consistently and theres no sign around the washburn logo that it was added later or tampered with. all signs seem to point to an original. probably something that wasnt even intended to be sold, or ever leave japan.

if i had to guess the story behind it, its probably a parts bin prototype made for washburn before their actual product came out about 5 years later.
 

Phildog

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2010
Messages
3,666
Reaction score
1,518
At first, I thought it was of the "WP" series, but the base of the fret board is rounded off at the corners. Is this one a bolt-on neck? I know that in the 70's, Washburn had OBVIOUS copies of some of the Gibby's...including a Black Beauty, which had a bolt-on neck as well. I don't know what would become of those guitars, but I'm guessing they were threatened with a lawsuit so they stopped making them. This is the first one I've seen in a very long time.
 

diavolo

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
Messages
83
Reaction score
49
yes its a bolt on neck.
the truss rod is a bit stubborn but i got it set up nice regardless.
the frets are small and low, but not too much wear, it would definitely be more playable with larger frets.
the pickups sound great.
 


Latest Threads



Top