Early ’70s MIJ “Concert Folk” guitar

This is an early 1970s asian-made guitar (probably from Japan), modeled on the popular concert-size “Folk” guitars of the late 1960s.

Upper bout: 11″
Waist: 9 1/2″
Lower bout: 14 1/2″
Scale length: 25 1/2″

This is a solidly-built guitar with a sweet, mellow voice, perfect for fingerstyle playing. Yet the sound is big enough for strumming or flat picking, too. Action at the 12th fret is 3/32″ at the low E and 1/16″ at the high E. It has a lovely yellow-aged laminate spruce top with laminate mahogany sides and back. The “binding” is painted on, typical for economy guitars of this period. The tuners are surprisingly nice, with actual metal bushings, which is decidedly not typical for guitars of this period.

When I received this guitar it was very dry, so the first thing I did was humidify it in the case for a few days. I then realized that every brace below the sound hole was loose or detached completely. This caused the belly under the bridge to sag quite a bit. I made sure the guitar was humidified for a few more days and then I glued all the braces back in place, one at a time, using wood wedges cut to size and wedged between the top and bottom ladder braces. This also helped raise the belly of the guitar back up to where it should be while the braces dried, so that they could help hold it in place. Typical of tailpiece guitars of this period it has no bridge plate underneath, but with the extreme belly sagging it had I opted to add a 1/16″ maple strip across the top under the brige location with the grain running across the guitar. The strip is about 1″ wide and runs from kerfing to kerfing. It helps give just a little support to the bridge, which is a good 1 1/2″ from the nearest ladder brace.

The guitar was also missing the saddle when I got it. (The previous owner had wedged a piece of plywood under the tailpiece, and was apparently playing it that way. That would have put the scale length about 2″ off. Yikes!) I made a new saddle out of maple and “ebonized” it to make it fit the guitar, and placed it in the correct spot. I used a plastic saddle from another guitar set into the bridge slot, and the guitar intonates up and down the neck now. The new bridge is secured in place with small pieces of archival bookbinders’ tape.

The guitar also had a very small crack in the upper waist, which I glued and cleated.

Finally, I leveled and dressed the frets, and restrung it with D’Addario EJ11 light strings. Then I buffed out the whole guitar, including the plastic pick guard, which had a lot of embedded dirt and gummy gunk stuck to it. I touched up a few knicks in the finish around the edges with enamel to match the “binding,” and buffed the whole guitar out. It also comes with the original foam-lined chipboard case, which is in surprisingly good shape.

While this guitar is unmarked, it is nearly identical to several Tele Star brand folk guitars I’ve seen, and to the “Folk” guitar on page 3 of the 1974 Tele Star catalog. (The tailpiece is different.)

Here’s a sound demo:

It’s for sale on Reverb, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist.

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