Over the years, the Orpheus brand is a name has been used on several lines of guitars in different parts of the world: from Bulgaria to the former Soviet Union, to the United States and Japan.
Through research, we found that in the late 1960s through mid-1970s, Coast Wholesale Music Company of California imported a line of electric guitars made in Japan under the Orpheus name. It is suspected, but not proven, that these electric guitars could have been made in the highly respected Matsumoku factory of Japan.
Luckily, we found this Orpheus 12-string hollow body electric back in May 2019 at Centaur Guitar in Portland, Oregon (BTW: The guys at Centaur really know their stuff when it comes to 1970s made in Japan guitars, so give them a call or stop by). Since I already owned a mid-1970’s Univox Coily, I recognized that the build and the pickups were very similar. The body, the neck, the triple edge binding, the cherry burst finish, and the pickups all resembled other guitars we’d seen from Matsumoku.
Built by Matsumoku Industrial of Japan (we think, we’re not sure!) and imported to the U.S. by Coast Wholesale Music Company of California, this 12-string semi-acoustic hollow body electric from the 1970’s is a rare bird.
This 1979 Guyatone EX1 amp is very rarely seen outside of Japan. It was most likely built and sold for the domestic market only. I found this one in a used music store in Portland, Oregon and suspect maybe a U.S. service man or woman brought this amp over from Japan.
The EX1 is an analog, single channel, solid-state amp with 20 watts of power, a 12-inch speaker, overdrive and reverb. Gain and volume controls, high and low EQ, reverb depth. Normal and overdrive inputs, headphone jack, pilot light.
I had this one serviced by Audio Synapse in Portland, and had a new reverb tank installed, as the original was ineffective.
This amp is bright sounding to begin with, and the 12-inch speaker by Tokyo Sound Co. only makes it brighter. I replaced the original with a Peavey Neo and that added a lot of lower end.
After failing to chart a hit with the recordings he made with Decca Records in 1956, Buddy Holly and his band The Crickets drove 90 miles east of their home town Lubbock, Texas to record at the Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico. Working with Norman Petty as his producer and engineer, Holly had the freedom to play and record his songs the way he intended them to sound, which ultimately had a lasting impact on rock ‘n’ roll.
Ironically, the same Fender amp that Holly used in Clovis to record his hits remains there to this day. The grill cloth is a different color, but here’s a photo of Buddy Holly’s amp, currently on display at Norman Petty Recording Studios in Clovis, humbly being played by yours truly while visiting in 2016. 😎
A rare 1966 Murph electric guitar surprisingly shows up on eBay, but that’s only part of the #AlmostFamous story. Read on…
1966 Murph Squire II-T
From the Listing
“Up for auction is a rare Murph Squire II-T made in 1966. These were produced between mid-1965 and around March or April of 1967 by Murphy Music Industries located at 1817 First Street in San Fernando, California. The company was owned by Patrick Murphy (1920-2009) who was born in Illinois, raised in Detroit, and settled his wife and 5 kids in California following World War II.”
Continuing the saga of how a WWII Navy fighter pilot-turned-entrepreneur to design and build his own brand of electric guitars in the 1960s. Guitar player and author of the book series Guitar Stories, Michael Wright tells the unique story of Patrick Murphy and Murph Guitars. The story is told here by Michael Wright in Vintage Guitar Magazine.
Here is Sonny Curtis playing his guitar and singing a special song he wrote as a tribute to his childhood friend, Buddy Holly, called The Real Buddy Holly Story.
He wrote the early rocker Rockin’ Around with Ollie Vee and later wrote the famous theme for The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He basically grew up with Buddy Holly and the Crickets. He travelled to Nashville in 1956 and played lead guitar on Buddy’s Decca recordings made at Owen Bradley’s Barn (aka the Quonset Hut). Later, Sonny became a permanent member of The Crickets after Buddy’s passing.
Here he is playing and singing a song he penned called The Real Buddy Holly Story.
A very rare sighting of a Murph Squire 12-string electric guitar!
As seen on Ebay, this Squire 12-string is in pretty good shape for its age. The Murph Squire 6 and 12-string guitars were built by Murphy Music Industries – a company started by WWII veteran Patrick Murphy – in the San Fernando, California in the mid-1960s.