Well, it looked like Santa Claus came early - we had boxes of new goodies piled up when I came in today. My boss gestures towards the tall, thin box in the corner and says, "got another Mexican Strat for you to sell..."
Hey, wait a minute - that's not a Strat case!
Score! A nifty mid-60s "Audition" guitar with funky, oversized gold foil-type pickups.
Audition was a brand name for guitars sold through Wool-worth's department stores in the sixties - in actuality, this is a Japanese instrument, probably built for Wool-worth's by Kawai or Teisco. The pickguard and body shape are off-kilter, the knobs & switches numerous, and the neck is as thick and heavy as a Louisville slugger. In other words, a perfect example of mid-60s Japanese guitar design.
The gigantic gold foils alone are worth the price of admission - sweet and twangy at the same time. These look very, very similar to the one that the great slide guitarist Ry Cooder slapped into the neck position of one on his famously hot-rodded Stratocasters (along with an old Supro/Valco lap steel pickup).
But, just as every old low-watt Supro amp is the "one Jimmy Page used," I'm well aware that every Japanese gold foil pickup is the "Ry Cooder" pickup, especially when it pops up on the interweb. I say use your ears - mine tell me that this guitar is cool either way.
Also, we have the matching amp that goes with it. It's a 1x12 tube amp, and though it sounds like about a watt-and-a-half of volume, it gets nasty and crunchy very quickly.
Just for fun, here's the chassis/guts of that amp. This has built-in tremolo, but otherwise its about as bone-simple as can be. Yes, that's a Hitachi brand tube there in front. My boss says that the pots date this setup to about 1966, which sounds about right. Stop by and check these out soon - the funky stuff seems to practically fly out the door these days!
We've got plenty of other cool finds on way for the holidays - check back soon!