lawsuit guitars from japan


Greco Guitars:

Greco is one of the earliest “lawsuit” guitar makers in Japan. They have been making guitars since the early 1960's at the
FijugenGakki plant. Most of the 1960's guitars were original models, but in the early 1970's, they got into making replicas
of original Fenders and Gibson’s. At first, they didn't have the hardware to make really good, exact replicas, but by 1974
or so, they had the correct-style hardware to match their excellent craftsmanship, and they put out some killer replicas.
Also, Greco made more clone models of original Fenders, Gibson’s, Rickenbacker’s, Gretsch’s, Zemaiti’s, lbanez, and
other brands, than all other companies combined. They beat Tokai to the lawsuit race by at least 5 years.

Eventually, as the company found that the demand for their popular replicas grew and that the size of the production was
getting too large, they relinquished their Stratocaster division to Fender Japan in late 1981.

By 1982, Greco Stratocasters became Fender JV Stratocasters, then later MIJ and CIJ Stratocasters, made by the same
guys who made the Greco "Sparkle Sound," "Spacey Sound," "Sparkle Sound," and "Super Real" Stratocasters from

Greco still retained the business of selling great Gibson clones and other brand knockoffs of extraordinary high quality up
until 1989. After that, the pressure to “cease and desist” production of copyright-infringing designs took its toll on Greco
and they decided to change their headstocks and logos to avoid a confrontation with the American manufacturers.
No longer will “lawsuit” models of exact Gibson and Fender clones be made by Greco.

They are becoming extremely rare and the demand is getting greater by the month for these older Greco guitars. The most
collectible by far are the “Super Real” (made in 1980 only) and “Mint Collection” (made from 1981-1990) models, which
were made to amazing likeness to original Fenders and Gibson’s. Greco’s 1977-1979 clones are very nice, too, but many
have hardware and specs that don’t match up with the Gibson and Fender classic designs.

Many guitar magazines printed in Japan recently illustrate this demand. “Japan Vintage” is one of the new magazines
printed and dedicated for the sole purpose of highlighting these beauties. Collectors around Japan lend their guitars
for pictures and experts lend their stories to gather a very good history of the companies and interesting tidbits of
knowledge. I am trying to translate this into English little by little and will share more as I learn more.

Greco guitars are fairly easy to date. The letter that (may) begin the serial number corresponds with the month of
production, and the next 2 digits tell the year. For example: E804235 would be a May, 1980 “Super Real” model,
production number 4,235. Sometimes, Greco didn’t use letters and only numbers, and even separated the first digit from
the rest on occasion. When the first digit is separated, it is likely a 1980’s model; the separated digit corresponding to the
year of the 1980’s in which it was made. *If there is no serial number stamped into the wood (not on a sticker), it was made
in Korea.


a piece of history about Ebonite used for Greco guitar necks made in Japan

Ebonite, it is synthetic thing and seems that Ebonite itself was developed by Charles Goodyear(old famous inventor. famous tire supplier "Goodyear" company name comes from his name). And it's used for mouthpieces of saxophone and clarinet and other instruments. Ebonite is named because it just looks like Ebony, however it's not mixed with Ebony material. I think it's similar thing of phenolic fingerboard which is used for fingerboards of Steinberger guitars, Modulus Basses. Ebony wood was expensive so I guess Greco have decided to use it for fingerboard. And I think they also had to consider the neck to keep straight-ness against dry season in Japan. Japan is too dry in winter season for Ebony wood...


Greco serial numbers:
(1)before '75
There is noserial number
The letter is the month of make and first two digit is the year of make.
A=Jan, B=Feb, C=Mar,...
ex.)F760825 = June '76
(3)After '80 in some of Gibson Copy model has 5 digit numbers
First digit is the year of make
0='80 or '90
1='81 or '91
2='82 or '92