Documenting history as well as my experiences with repairing and restoring vintage guitars.

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After the Beatles made it big in 1964, Decca Records wanted to enter the guitar market. In 1965, CBS bought Fender.  Somewhere around 1965...

The Decca 12 String and Japanese Guitar Dating

After the Beatles made it big in 1964, Decca Records wanted to enter the guitar market. In 1965, CBS bought Fender. 
Somewhere around 1965, Decca started a division known as Decca Home Entertainment Products, which for several years imported Japanese acoustic and solid-body electric guitars aimed primarily at the beginner market, at young kids who wanted to be like their idols. 
Decca guitars (and Decca amps) were mail order guitars (you could order one from Sears Roebuck catalog) or you could get them through major discount stores, or find them in local music stores of course ...
The early Decca guitars were indeed made by Teisco for Decca Records, from 69 and onwards the Decca guitars were made by Kawai. [1]

The 12 String

I purchased a set of non-functioning guitars and basses and this twelve string was part of the collection. I had never heard of "Decca" before then (gives away my age) and was interested in the look of the guitar and the allure of a 12 string.

My guitar with the pickguard taken off
The guitar is nothing to call home about, sound-wise, but has a really groovy look to it. The pickguard and headstock veneer are a plastic tortoiseshell that has the appearance of magma. Its kinda tacky but definitely fits the 70s vibe.

I didn't have the proper tools at the time to remove the neck and my attempts at finagling it did not succeed so I planed the fretboard (which seemed pretty quality), refretted it, and adjusted the saddle till it played somewhat decently. The truss rod worked but did not appear to make any adjustment and I was told that the truss rod was likely non-functioning by construction though I did not manage to verify that.


Stamped on the horizontal brace just above the soundhole and under the fretboard is a set of upside numbers separated by periods. Those numbers happened to be "45.11.13" on my guitar.

There is a traditional year dating format used by the Japanese called "nengō" or "gengō". The system is based on the years since the Emperor of Japan took reign, starting at year 1. 

45.11.13 is 45 years since the emperor took reign which you can then use an "age chart" and some generalizations about when the guitar was likely made to then decode the numbers.

Year 45 placed me exactly at 1970 and with 11 standing for November and 13 standing for the day of the month (they use a year/month/day standard), I then knew how old the guitar was. If the date had been 45.5.7, for example, I would have more difficulty knowing exactly which numbers stood for the date or the month but since 13 is ruled out as a month, it had to represent the days.


If you have a guitar stamped with numbers and they do not look like any date you've seen before, consider that it might be a traditional calendar format from the country where the instrument was built.

Japan: "##.##.##" = years since reign . month . day


1 comment:

  1. I have a 12 string acoustic that has no markings. the pic guard, head-stock and bridge match exactly with this one. Mine has a Stainless Steele saddle. Have you heard of Decca using Stainless Steele saddle?


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