1970s Hot-Rodded Melody Maker Matsumoku (Ibanez) Clone Electric Guitar

A friend of mine sent this funky old Matsumoku-made (Japan), bolt-on-neck, Gibson Melody Maker clone in to the shop as a husk. It was the body, neck, truss rod cover, bridge studs, and one bridge post. Most of these bear the "Ibanez" brand and they seem to have come in both set-neck and bolted-neck variants. This one's a bolted-neck variant but it came with the neck frozen in place both via glue and broken-shaft neck-bolts.

The plan for this husk was to hot-rod it into something very cool. He'd seen the '60 Melody Maker I outfitted with a "staple" P90 pickup for myself and wanted that. So we did that here, but with two staple pickups -- a configuration that I've only seen on the rare old '50s Gibson hollowbody here and there. These pickups are repro-style and clearly made by Artec on Korea, but are high-quality and sound excellent. For those not in the know -- staple P90s are not really P90 pickups at all but more like DeArmond DynaSonics. They sound like a bit like a 3-way cross between a DynaSonic, a P90, and a Jazzmaster pickup. Yeah, they're great. I love the sound and I'm getting a bit obsessed with it, myself.

We also hot-rodded the rest of it with quality hardware and bits and the end result is something that plays, feels, and sounds just as good as "the real thing," but also because of the modifications, is maybe even a little bit more like a boutique-feeling modern guitar -- in a good way. The body is light and comfy and the whole guitar resonates well acoustically, too.

Repairs included: MojoAxe relic'd compensated bridge, relic'd aluminum bridge posts and studs, relic'd Gotoh Kluson-style tuners, relic'd 3-way switch and knobs, 500k pots and Mallory 010 cap for the tone, relic'd strap buttons, board plane and refret with jumbo/pyramid stock, new import staple-style P90 pickups, custom black (thin) pickguard, new bone saddle, general cleaning and body touch-up, "speed-necking" of the neck rear, custom painting (tanuki and torii) at the back of the headstock, and general setup.

Setup notes: it plays perfectly with 1/16" action overall at the 12th fret, a straight neck, working truss rod, and 46w-10 gauge strings. It's setup for unwound-G stringing.

Scale length: 24 5/8"
Nut width: 1 5/8"
String spacing at nut: 1 3/8"
String spacing at bridge: 2 1/16"
Body length: 16 1/2"
Lower bout width: 13"
Side depth at endpin: 1 1/2"
Body wood: two-piece solid mahogany (top/bottom) w/veneers
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: MojoAxe relic'd lightning-bolt wraparound/compensated
Neck feel: slim C-shape (fast), ~10" board radius
Neck wood: mahogany family

Condition notes: it's quite beat-up, of course, and heavily-modified. It's a lot fancier than it would have been originally, though, and feels/sounds like it. The body is two-piece solid mahogany (at least mahogany-family) with veneers on the front on back.


CM said…
Fun ! Me like ! How's the intonation with the bridge like that? I'm thinking of using a similar bridge on one of my custom-builts (never have used one before). Thanks! Chris M
Jake Wildwood said…
I prefer the one-piece, non-adjustable, compensated bridges on just about everything elecric. Intonation is good and tone is sooooo much better than with all the moving parts of adjustable bridges. I feel like most people put the strings more out of tune with their normal playing w/fingers more than the cent or two you'd hear with these bridges not being 100% perfect for all string gauges.

Most people have trouble with the 4-wound, 2-plain vintage version of these bridges because they try to put a modern unwound-G on the wound-G slot and wonder why it's sooooooo sharp! I see that all the time with instruments for sale at "vintage guitar shops" and I wonder how it left the setup bench with an unwound-G and original 4/2 configuration...
Claude said…
You did the painting on the back of the headstock? Very cool!
Unknown said…
Beautiful guitar! I'm sure it plays and sounds awesome too! Please contact me if you're ever looking to sell it (Scott Davis) drummit68@aol.com. Cheers brother!