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Japanese Guitar Quality & Various Factories

Since this page is devoted to Ventura branded guitars, which were mostly made in the 1970's,  the
comments below apply to that era, but may also apply to earlier or later Japanese guitars. The
plain truth is that; most Japanese guitar manufacturers were "contract houses" that made guitars
to the specifications of the "trading companies" (Japanese middlemen) that took orders from the
American companies that were importing them (such as C. Burno). This resulted in a wide variety
of qualities in guitars shipped by most of the "contract houses". What this means is that; Ibanez
(Fuji Gen-Gakki), as well as Aria (Matsumoku), and to a lesser extent Tokai (Kasuga), made both
very high quality, and very low budget guitars, and various qualities between, depending on what
was ordered by the trading company for the importer they represented. I've even seen
respectable quality guitars that came from Teisco (Kawai),  though most of their product was  at
the lower end of the scale.

Further complicating identification of origin;  many of the parts Japanese guitars were built from,
(pickups, tailpieces, bridges, etc...) were sub-contracted to smaller "contract houses" that
specialized in making one part. Often, the companies bought their parts from the same
contractors. So, similar or identical parts may be seen on guitars built in different factories.
Conclusion: Just because two guitars have similar parts or even construction, does not
necessarily mean they were manufactured in the same factory, or even by the same company.

Something Different about Ventura Guitars

A label inside the soundhole of some Ventura acoustic guitars states: "Designed in America -
Crafted in Japan". I have never seen similar stickers in other Aria / Matsumoko manufactured
guitars. (Or any other Japanese made guitars for that matter). I have found several pieces of
evidence pointing to factories other than Aria (Matsumoku) for the acoustic guitars of this period.

A Short History Of The Bruno Company

C Bruno company music distributors had a very long history before modern times. They go back
at least predating the Civil War! You may click on this old catalog to see exactly how far back the
Bruno company went into American History! (1834 !!!)

Before they had instruments imported for them from overseas; they had relationships with many
American instrument makers to supply them with a broad range in price and quality of all kinds of
music instruments, especially stringed instruments; including mandolin, banjo, uke, and just
about any kind of instrument popular enough to sell in quantity.

Many years ago I called Kaman music distributors and asked to speak to the company historian.
Most all companies of any size have someone in charge of keeping the key points of a company
chronicled for posterity. I was told that unfortunately I had contacted Kaman about a year after the
last old-timer who would know anything about the purchase of Bruno had passed on. So it
seems, from that perspective there is no longer a history to follow. I have talked at length to
long-time local music store owners with long associations with first Bruno, and then Kaman

Misinformation - Intentional or Otherwise

Time and again I see Ventura/Bruno guitars for sale (even at vintage dealers that should know
better) or at auction on eBay, claiming that a Ventura guitar was made in the "Ibanez" factory. In
my many years of interest in Japanese guitars (I got my first in 1968) I have found no solid
evidence that any Ventura branded guitar was ever made by Ibanez/Hoshino. In fact, there is no,
and never has been an "Ibanez factory." as any Ibanez fan will tell you, they are made in the Fuji
gen Gakki factory.  If anyone has proof to the contrary, I welcome you to share it. It is my
contention that sales/auctions making such claims, are done either out of ignorance, or are
intentional deception, attempting to cash in on the misguided concept that Hoshino/Ibanez  
manufactured guitars are inherently superior to guitars made in other Japanese factories. This is
not necessarily the case.

Almost as bad are the people who assume every guitar made in Japan came from Teisco

Under light of new evidence, I may have to change the above statement somewhat. As I've now
found evidence that some Ventura solid body Fender copies, and some archtops may have come
from Fuji-Gen-Gakki. However, there are still bad eBay dealers dropping names out of context in
hopes of making some bucks by hook or crook!


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