Jump to content

Help solve NGD mystery: "Nagoya Guitar Company" from 1970s


MisterTV
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Members

I picked this up at an estate sale last week at a bargain price. It was dusty and neglected, but in great shape overall.

 

I would love to learn the history of the "Nagoya Guitar Company," but leads are scarce. I know from the estate that this particular guitar was purchased in the early 1970's.

 

Luthiers in Nagoya produced a ton of guitars for the U.S. market back in the day, under a lot of differnet brand names... so this may be a long shot. Any ideas?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Can't tell you much about the history, but I bought a Nagoya N-30 in the early '70's and kept it until just a few years ago, when I sold it. I also had a Nagoya 12 string for a time, but I forget the model #; it was step down from the 30 series though. I bought both at a place called Veneman Music, which was a fairly large two-store operation in the Washington, DC suburbs - one in Northern Virginia, the other in Maryland (they sold out to GC about 10 years ago). I was told that they were the exclusive importers for the Nagoya brand; they wanted a high-quality Martin knock-off, of which there were few at the time. They pop up on eBay now and again. Pretty fair Martin knock-off for that era.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Nagoya seems to have been guitar central for the domestic market as well. All my old Yamaha Dynamics were made there and papa Yairi was based there too, I have 3 of his old models, the oldest from 1961, the year before he went to the US to study lutherie...great guitars and once laminating was mastered, there were countless low cost brands. Never seen the Nagoyas here though...and don`t know what factory was producing them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Thanks for the feedback... I guess the mystery will only add to the guitar's mojo.

 

Also, as an aside, the estate had a bunch of music books on sale. I picked up a 1965 Beatles guitar/piano book for $1... complete with a postcard to join the official U.S. fan club. Very cool!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Veneman Music house brand as stated above. Veneman's were based in Rockville, MD with a store in Springfield,VA. Also had a mail-order division called Music Emporium. As for who exactly made them...I'm not sure which factories/companies were in Nagoya. I am pretty sure the Bradley brand ,which was also a Veneman house brand, was sourced from both Matsumoku and Fuji Gen Gakki. Veneman also imported various MIJ parts in the early 80s and were pretty familiar with the Japanese musical instrument industry and moved a lot of Aria(Arai) guitars.Note that regarding the original BC Rich MIJ NJ series electric guitars the NJ stood for Nagoya,Japan.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...
  • Members

Glad this thread came back up, as I got one at a pawn shop a couple months ago. Being from DC, it recalled the first "real" guitar I owned, an N-28, very good D-28 copy. I had started to doubt the "Veneman's" house brand, as the ones turning up are in such diverse places, but that doesn't mean much. Guitars have a tendancy to migrate. As for the Suzuki connection, they did sell guitars branded "Nagoya-Suzuki". Since they made guitars under many names for stores and distributors, they could well have made these. But we can't say that with certainty. The Nagoya area was the center of Japanese guitar and violin making industry with many companies in production, most of whom made "Your Name Here" instruments.

I don't know if this will have relevance to those searching for more info, but, unlike other House branded instruments, I have seen only acoustic guitars. No electrics, no banjoes, no mandolins (Though mandos were produced by Nagoya-Suzuki).

It's a very nice well made guitar, and compares well with a lot of D-28's I have seen, especially one's from that early-mid 70's era.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I worked there, at Veneman's that is. Nagoyas were the house brand acoustics and Bradleys the electrics, though the Bradley name showed up on some acoustic/electric product from Korea later 90s. As stated, Music Emporium was a pretty succesful mail order division pre MF. Also the metro DC area is highly transient, as people come from all over for government jobs and education and sometimes leave 4 years later. Both Bradley and Nagoya were succesor to the Kapa brand which was the previous Veneman house brand, mostly used on electrics assembled in MD and some import acoustics.

 

Kapa- name formed from Veneman family first initials

Bradley- street in Bethesda, MD near a former Veneman chain location and also home.

Nagoya- city in Japan known for various guitar and MI companies.

Jack Casady used to teach at a Veneman's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I`ve read that the first Yairi left the Suzuki violin company in Fukushima, the next prefecture south of here, in 1935 to go off on his own, guess he settled in Nagoya. There were some outstanding guitars made there as well as the budget stuff. Some older Suzukis show up on line here with the Fukushima label, mine says Kiso Fukushima, then Suzuki made in 1950. Kazuo Yairi uses "established in 1935" for his company, and theres a Suzuki/Yairi/Nagoya connection there but things get very murky at one point.

The your name here production applies to electrics made in Japan too, there were literally dozens, at least, brand names with many resembling each other a great deal, and even the big name companies evidently didn`t think record keeping was a priority so getting info on many of those MIJs is practically impossible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

better hurry then `cause they ain`t gettin` any younger, and anyways, even if they were found, I bet they wouldn`t spill the beans...they do love their secrets here...it`s like they`re sworn to secrecy or something jeez...we`re talkin` about guitars here not national securitry but folks of that generation really took their work seriuosly, I teach some, and not only work, they take everything serously...I guess living through a war affects the way people live the rest of their lives.

Who`s mr. Dee?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...
  • 10 years later...
  • 1 year later...
  • 5 months later...
  • Members

Yes, looking at a late 70's model Nagoya from my client. I am a carpenter/ woodworker dude.  Don't even know the model #. Brand new to this brand. Will follow up. This one ( early '80's ) w

was never played. Veneman sticker on headstock still. Owner does not remember ever playing it. Had four sets of new strings in the box From the early eighty's. Neck moved a bit after all this time. Wasn't too far out of tune. I offered to change strings and adjust neck to playability standards. Good as new overall condition. Crazy. I may make him an offer if it tunes up to my liking. What an interesting find. Any DC peeps know this interesting history?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
  • Members

This Nagoya 12 string was given to me in the late 70s. I live in the DC area and remember references to Venemans but never went there. I have played this guitar maybe an hour total since I got it and it has been gathering dust for decades. Would consider selling if someone wants it..?I never knew if it were any good as I wasn't familiar with the brand till reading this thread. Still playing my Yamaha FG 140 red label and sounds nice. Got that one in Philly in 70 or 71.

IMG_9113.JPG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members
1 hour ago, Zondo said:

This Nagoya 12 string was given to me in the late 70s. I live in the DC area and remember references to Venemans but never went there. I have played this guitar maybe an hour total since I got it and it has been gathering dust for decades. Would consider selling if someone wants it..?I never knew if it were any good as I wasn't familiar with the brand till reading this thread. Still playing my Yamaha FG 140 red label and sounds nice. Got that one in Philly in 70 or 71.

IMG_9113.JPG

If I wasn't 3500 miles away, I'd buy it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Hmmm,..My son is heading over to London in about a week but he has way too much luggage already including his own guitar...maybe in the future? we will see. Thanks for the response, John

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • Members

I have two Nagoya guitars from the 70's. N-30 and N12-23. They both have slight belly bulges but sound really nice. I play them quite often. The N-30 has a very warm sound, not bright like my Taylor. Both were purchased in online auctions and I would say I paid full price (or slightly more). $510 for the N-30 six string and $285 for the 12 string. Here is an article I found that solves the mystery of the origin of these guitars. For those with no time to read it, the owner of Veneman's Music went to Japan and enlisted guitar makers in the Japanese city of Nagoya to make Martin knock offs when Martin could not meet demand (and to supply the market with a less expensive alternative) in the early 70's. It appears there was never a factory floor, but the luthiers made them wherever they could (including in an alley, as noted in the article). I have a screen shot of a price list and catalog cover. Apparently the N-30 sides and back was made of Brazilian rosewood. It certainly sounds like it and the catalog cover confirms this.

https://washingtoncitypaper.com/article/514008/nagoya-guitars-a-piece-of-dc-music-history/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...