Matsumoku Guitars

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Matsumoku guitars Matsumoku Industrial was established around 1900 as a woodworking manufacturer of various items but is best known as a manufacturer of high quality guitars and bass guitars. The company began in Matsumoto, Japan, as a family owned woodworking business that specialized in building tansu and butsudan. Shortly after WWII, the Singer Corporation established the Singer Sewing Machine Company, Japan, and set up production facilities in Nagoya. Matsumoku Industrial was contracted to build its sewing machine cabinets, and in 1951, became a partially owned subsidiary of Singer, Japan. Matsumoku also built amplifier cabinets, speaker boxes and wooden cabinets for audio and television makers.

By the mid 1950's, Matsumoku began to look into other woodworking markets and, as it had on its staff several skilled luthiers, ventured into guitar and violin production. Modest classical guitars, small steel stringed acoustic guitars, and violins were built and marketed. However, as other Japanese companies were producing similar instruments, Matsumoku set out to distinguish itself by producing high quality acoustic and electric archtop guitars. Several of Matsumoku's early archtop guitars survive, most owing their basic designs to Hofner, Framus, and Gibson. By the early 1960's, Matsumoku had acquired new mills, lathes, and specialized presses and began to increase musical instrument production. Combined with its staff of skilled craftsmen, Matsumoku was able to mass produce guitars of high quality.

However, because it mainly manufactured guitars under contract, the role of Matsumoku was largely unknown outside of Japan's guitar making circles until its name began appearing on neck bolt plates, headstocks, and sound hole labels in the late 70's.

Matsumoku produced guitars, or parts of guitars, for Vox, Guyatone, FujiGen Gakki, Kanda Shokai (Greco), Hoshino Gakki, Nippon Gakki (Yamaha), Aria and Norlin (parent company of Gibson.) American owned Unicord contracted Matsumoku to build most of its Univox and Westbury guitars. St. Louis Music Company imported Matsumoku built Electra_Guitars. JC Penney sold Matsumoku built Skylark guitars through its catalog division. Matsumoku built many early Greco guitars as well as Vantage,Westbury, some MIJ Epihones, Memphis, Westminster, Cutler, Lyle, Fell, and no-name copies of Gibson and Fender guitars and basses. Washburn Guitars contracted Matusmoku to build most of its electric guitars from 1979 through 1985. Though the names above reflect Matsumoku's involvement, many of the names were later sold to other companies which made completely different guitars in quality and sound.

In 1979, Matsumoku began to market its own guitars under the Westone name.