Whack Job: Mid-’60s Prestige

The manufacturer is questionable, but my educated guess would be that it is not made in Canada by the Prestige Guitar Company—even though that’s what it says on the headstock.
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The best thing about this groovy-looking guitar is that it is, well, groovy looking. The manufacturer is questionable, but my educated guess would be that it is not made in Canada by the Prestige Guitar Company—even though that’s what it says on the headstock. The neck plate is stamped “Japan,” and it was more likely made by Kawai or Guyatone or perhaps Kent in the mid 1960s. I bought this guitar completely based on how it looks, but as mediocre guitars from the ’60s go, this one is not so bad.

Weirdo Factor
The shape of the guitar and its huge, gaudy headstock are not the only selling points here. The way the wood on the top is layered makes for a very original-looking finish. There’s a veneer of dark walnut on top of what looks to be a lightly stained mahogany, and then there’s that dark-red, tiger-striped pickguard. Put it all together, and you get something reminiscent of African folk art. Cool!

Playability & Sound
This guitar plays just so-so—not unlike most average department-store guitars from the ’60s. It handles well enough to play “Gloria” or “Pipeline,” but, after that, you’d want to graduate up to even the cheapest Fender or Danelectro. The 22-fret maple neck with rosewood fretboard frets out a little too easily, the two single-coils are microphonic as hell (which, under the right circumstances, can be hella fun), and the wobbly adjustable bridge is just okay (although its mute feature works great). The vibrato works smoothly, but it has no more depth than the most conservative Bigsby.

Value
I probably paid a hundred bucks for it ten years ago or so, and, today, it could fetch up to $100 at auction. Quite an investment, huh?

Why It Rules
Other than how it looks, it does not rule, but it could. Change the pitch of the neck, lower the bridge, level the frets, stick some hot pickups under the old covers, and you’d really have something. As it is, however, I’m afraid this is just another guitar-tifact “wall hanger” from the ’60s guitar boom.

Drop me a line at rtcarleton@gmail.com if you know what this guitar is about, or if you have one like it.

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