NGD: CoolZ ZLS-1 in Lemon Drop

jstarr823

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Just took delivery of one of the best single cuts I've ever owned. Made in the Japanese Fujigen factory, the workmanship and specs are stellar! Long neck tenon, deep top carve, two piece mahogany back, 59 neck profile, true ABR-1 bridge, Gotoh hardware, factory Grovers, beautiful deep dark rosewood board, bone nut. Had it shipped from Ishibashi. The previous owner installed a set of VOS Custombuckers. This thing kills and is on par with my R8. Seriously. All of this, shipped to my door for $550. Absolutely unbelievable. If you ever have as chance, don't pass on one of these!

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endial

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Dang.

Good on ya. Thanks for the review, and all is noted.
 

Roxy13

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Now you know why some of us went over to the dark side.

Here is the scary part: those are lower level Japanese singlecuts (not a dig, I had one too and reluctantly sold it when my house needed a roof repair last fall). The Cool Z/History Z series are about the best bang for the buck out there.
 

Nick-O

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1st dibs if you flip it....I am right across the sound from HHI!
 

nopea

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Cool Z is perhaps the best bang for your buck right now. The brand was an original brand for one of the largest retailers here in Japan, Shimamura Gakki (little sibling of the History brand). They were discontinued in 2017. They are popping up in the second hand shops for some decent prices.

I picked up a 2010 ZLS-1 plain top burst for 40,000 yen last year - love it!

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Also have a 2012 Cool Z ZST-1 R (Lake Placid Blue) for 25,000 yen

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And my 2015 ZST-10M (Blackie) 30,000 yen

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The specs on these guitars are top notch - worth far more than I paid :cool:
 

Roxy13

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Nearly all the MIJ singlecuts have a long tenon, ABR posts directly into the body and if they have nibs, it's the vintage thin neck binding with the small nibs that follow the bevel of the fret ends.
 

jstarr823

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Nearly all the MIJ singlecuts have a long tenon, ABR posts directly into the body and if they have nibs, it's the vintage thin neck binding with the small nibs that follow the bevel of the fret ends.

Well... This is my first MIJ singlecut and I couldn't be happier.
 

Bp607

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I passed on one of these recently not knowing much about them. It was $450 on Philly Craigslist. Definitely regret it after seeing this post.
 

nopea

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I don't think they are 2 piece bodies though (the History line is). Have to to look close, but I am sure mine is a 3 piece (they match up the grains very well). Not that it matters much to me. The neck is more 50's than 60's (chunkier) and does have a long tenon as most Fujigen single cuts will have. Dyna Gakki's typically have short tenons (like the late 80's and 90's Burny's).

Like Roxy said, most MIJ single cuts will have a the bridge posts into the body (like the older Les Pauls) and use Gotoh ABR-1 style bridges (mainly GE104B in the last 20 years).

If yours has Grovers (as mine does) then it is a pre 2015 modal (the date is in the serial number where the first letter is the month and the next two digits are the year). After 2015 the ZLS-1 became the ZLS-10 and they changed tuners to Gotoh SD91. I am not a big fan of the Grover tuners (I am sure they are cheaper MIC PW OEM units). I am planning to change mine to Gotoh SG301 (same as my 1999 Burny).

I do HIGHLY recommend looking at them if you come across one. They are still relatively common to find in second hand stores here.
 

Roxy13

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Mine had an off center 2p top with a center seamed veneer and a 1p back! Mine was one of the older ZLS models that had the History branding before they made the seperate Cool Z name. It had Grover tuners, and the fast action neck with the shaved down heel.

Really they are very similar to your lower and mid priced Mint Collection Grecos and Orvilles that preceeded them.
 

jstarr823

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I was in a funk for about 6 months. Nothing was inspiring. There was no Gibson, Fender, Charvel, EVH that could pull me out. I tried Strats, Teles, Les Pauls, Wolfgangs, Jazzmasters... Literally everything. Then this thing showed up and changed everything. I can't put it down. This is a 2009 and it just has some special mojo. I typically prefer medium action, but this guitar (I've named her Lulu) has ridiculously low action and plays like an absolute dream. Still stunned.
 

smk506

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Great score dude! I hear you 100% on the guitar funk thing, I’d been feeling it myself and these mij bad boys have been quite the cure.


I will definitely give one of those a shot, I’ve scored some fgn LPs recently snd while they’re by far better bang for the buck instruments the necks are a bit on the small side. Having something with their attention to detail and build quality with those specs would be killer!
 

BadMongo

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Those folks at Fujigen make some mighty fine guitars. My Burny (Fujigen-made) was what pulled me out of my guitar funk, and that's been nearly all I've bought since.
 

truckermde

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Thanks for the great write-up. I've definitely come to value your reviews over the years, so I know you're not exaggerating. :)

HNGD! Gotta get me one now...

:cheers2:
 

BadMongo

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Indeed! I am a self admitted MIJ guitar snob - I only have Made in Japan guitars. 6 of them are from the Fujigen camp :cool:
My first good guitar is a Fender HM Strat from the 80s - and it wasn't until I went way down the MIJ Les Paul rabbit hole that I realized it was also Fujigen made - which also puts me at six from them - Greco LPs from '77 and '80, the strat, the SA-75 I'm fixing up, my Burny, and my History which is my most beloved #1. Little bit of a fanboy, turns out :laugh2:
 

nopea

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Most of the Burny's in the late 80's and 90's were made by Dyna Gakki (who has a close relationship with Fujigen and are in the same city of Matsumoto, Nagano). Easiest way to tell is by the routes. I.E the control cavity on a Dyna Gakki Burny looks like this (from my Burny RLC75 John Sykes)....

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And Fujigen's Les Paul control cavity looks like...

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Both GREAT guitars!
 

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