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.
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.
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.
DISCLAIMER: Bid at your own risk. We just like pointing out the cool guitars we find along the way on the World Wide Web. Tone Gems is not associated with the seller; nor have we inspected or played this instrument and make no claim to it’s condition.
Just picked up this great deal today at Hum Strum and Drum in Multnomah Village. A vintage 1979 Guyatone EX1 guitar amp. Made in Japan. Solid-state, one channel, 20 watts, 12″ speaker, overdrive and reverb combo. Gain and volume controls, high and low EQ, reverb depth. Normal and overdrive inputs, headphone jack, pilot light. Excellent condition. Sounds great for practice and small gigs.
The Univox Coily Hollowbody Electric – A True 1970’s Sleeper
The Univox Coily is one example of a guitar that no one wanted in the 70’s, but would die for today. This thing just rocks!
Back in the 70’s, Univox was known as the U.S. distributor of Marshall amps… and… that’s about all they were known for! They did have their own line of guitars and amps, but most everyone wanted to rock a Les Paul with their Marshall, not a Univox, or even a Fender for that matter.
But the Coily has that Epiphone Casino-like mojo. It’s a full hollow body Maple thin line guitar, with a pair of P-90 type pickups, similar to John Lennon’s Casino. And these pickups are hot!
The 1975 Coily featured a flamed Maple body, fully bound, in a sunburst finish, P-90 type pickups, a ball-bearing Vibrato arm (Whammy Bar), Matsumoku’s three-piece Maple neck, Rosewood fingerboard with Pearloid “Box” inlays.
The Coily was based on the Epiphone Casino, made popular in the 1960’s by The Beatles. John Lennon was the first Beatle to get one; and later Paul and George each got their own. The Casino was the only guitar that was owned and played by all three. You can see John playing his Casino in several Beatles films and videos. But the Abbey Road Rooftop Concert might be the most famous, with John playing it during their recording of “Get Back.”
1975 Univox Coily
Model number U1825.
Full Hollow body thin line body (no center block), arch top, electric.
Maple ply top, back and sides.
Bound body with Flamed Maple finish.
Sunburst body in Orange, Red, and Jade Green (rare color).
P-90 Pickups (made to look like Humbuckers).
Separate volume and tone controls for each pickup.
Three-way pickup switch.
Black pick guard.
Ball-bearing Vibrato Tailpiece.
Made in Japan by Matsumoku, mid 1970’s.
Similar to Epiphone Casino, Epiphone EA250, Epiphone 5102T.
Original sale price: $122.50.
A bass guitar version of the Coily was also available.
The Lyle C-600 is an excellent 1970’s reproduction of the Martin 000-18 guitar. The C-600 was made in Japan at the Matsumoku factory and sold in the United States by L.D. Heater Music Company of Portland Oregon.
This particular guitar came to me as a gift from my family last Christmas. My son found this Lyle online at a Goodwill Store in Seattle. When the guitar finally arrived, it looked a bit rough: with a few scuffs, marks, dings, and plenty of scratches. Not to mention a few decades of dust!
The passing of time had not been kind to this Lyle, which resulted in a bowed neck. Poor Lyle. Here’s a picture of Lyle the day he arrived in his original chipboard case.
A New Life
Lyle spent quite a bit of time earlier this year at Barrett Coughlin’s repair shop. Barrett straightened Lyle’s bowed neck, lowered the bridge saddle, treated the fingerboard, filed and polished the frets, and generally brought this old instrument back to life.
A Good Build
Crafted in Japan, in the Matsumoku factory.
Imported and sold by the L.D. Heater Co. of Portland, Oregon.
1970’s Lyle ‘Strat-Like’ Electric Guitar, white solid body, 3 pickups
Here’s an interesting vintage 1970’s Lyle guitar currently offered on eBay. This Strat-like 3-pickup solid body is dressed nicely in an aged and relic white finish, tremolo bridge (the arm is missing), with a Japanese bolt-on Mahogany neck, an adjustable truss rod, and Rosewood fingerboard. Mostly known for its less expensive copies of famous guitars, Lyle actually sold some decent gear—in addition to a lot of low end beginner’s trash! This one appears to be of higher quality as suggested by the three-ply pickguard, the sliding switchgear, and the closed back tuning machines. Most Lyle guitars were built in the Matsumoku factory in Japan, however the Mahogany neck and the pickups suggest it could have been built elsewhere in Japan? Lyle guitars were sold by the L.D. Heater Music Co. of Portland Oregon during the 1960’s and 70’s. The seller says this guitar plays and sounds great with low action and no fret buzz. We have not tested to confirm. Seller is asking $279.95 plus shipping.
*DISCLAIMER*: Buy at your own risk! Although we like to point out interesting buys on eBay, craigslist.com, and other sites, Tone Gems has not tested this guitar and does not endorse or recommend this product, nor this seller.
A Vintage 1970 Silvertone MIJ Copy of the Mosrite Guitar
This crazy looking solid-body electric guitar is ready to play surf, jazz, classic rock or county, and is simply a kick to play! The exquisite Silvertone 1445 (I mean, by dept. store standards of course) was hand-crafted by Teisco in Japan for Sears. The body style is an excellent Teisco version of the 1960’s Mosrite of California guitar played by rock Hall-of-Famers, The Ventures (Walk, Don’t Run and Hawaii Five-O).
The Silvertone 1445 first appeared in the Sears catalog in 1968, and hung around in a few variations through the early 1970’s. It has three very loud single-coil (“Hound Dog”) pickups wired in series just like the old Danelecto models. The fast, low-profile solid Maple neck with Rosewood fingerboard sports medium to low action and is easy to play. The growling Teisco “Hound Dog” single-coils have lots of bite, and the solid poplar body has plenty of sustain. Of course, the single-coils and non-shielded wiring can be a bit noisy if you’re not careful, but easy to avoid. And I must say that the hand-painted sunburst finish over the flamed Maple; the contoured German carve body with tortoise shell pickguard; and intricate triple-layer celluloid binding makes this guitar a stunning sight to see.
The 1445 represents the pinnacle of Teisco’s contribution to the Sears Silvertone line. All high quality materials and workmanship. It has the following specifications and features:
Body: Morite-style, celluloid bound, fully contoured, flamed Maple over basswood with German carve; sunburst (yellow-red-mahogany) high gloss polyurethane finish; tortoise shell celluloid pickguard.
Neck: Bolt-on solid Maple neck with Brazilian(?) Rosewood fretboard, Pearloid block inlays and triple bound celluloid edge (w/b/w); 25½″; 22 frets with zero fret; 1-5⁄8″ at nut.
Pickups: Three Teisco single coil “Hound Dog” pups wired in series (loud, louder, loudest); 3 slide switches plus tone boost switch for 7 pup combinations; 3 volumes and 1 master tone control.
Headstock: Solid Maple; black nitro-lacquer finish; block style logo.
Dimensions: Length 41½″; Body 19″; Upper Bout 12½″; Lower Bout 14½″; Thickness 2″ at base of neck.
The Silvertone 1445 Photo Gallery
Here are some photos of the 1445 taken with the Silvertone 1421 (Sears 10XL). The 1421 is a 10-watt tube amp that was also offered by Sears around the same time. These two instruments were often bundled and sold together as a set around Christmas time (the Sears Wishbook).