Orpheus 12-String Electric Guitar

1970s Orpheus 12-String Electric Guitar


Orpheus – a little known brand of guitars

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.

Ultra-thin cutaway electric guitars from an old Coast Wholesale Music Company catalog.

What do you think? Leave your comments below, thanks!

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Hashtags: #Orpheus #MIJ #Matsumoku #Tesico #Lawsuit #Guitar

Coast Wholesale Music Company



Coast Wholesale Music Company from the San Francisco Bay Area was an importer and wholesale distributor of musical instruments. They focused predominantly on importing instruments (guitars!) made in Japan to the United States in the 1940’s through the 1960’s. The company was purchased by Charlie Kamam of Kaman Music around 1968, along with Coast Wholesale of Los Angeles — a completely separate company in Southern California with the same name — and C. Bruno & Sons of Texas.

Kaman Music Corp. would later introduce the line of Ovation guitars.

Some of the people in the music business connected to Coast Wholesale Music Company were: Don Talbot, Gabe Ireland, Donald Johnson, Bob King, Hai Muradian, Allan Small, Lloyd Stark.

More info from National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM): Coast Wholesale Music Company.

Similar links: Coast Wholesale Music Co. of Los Angeles (founded by Eric Emerson), Ovation Guitars, Kaman Music Corporation, Jupiter Band Instruments, KHS Musical Company, Hohner, Inc., St. Louis Music, C. Bruno & Sons.

C. Bruno & Sons was a sister company in Texas.

Kaman Music Corp. introduced the Ovation line of guitars. Charlie Kaman and son, Bill Kaman.

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