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Ventura 335 Copy - Opinions


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Impulse buy at GC today ($279):

 

Ventura.JPG.72715e307a8600c90756f0e356a4a435.JPG  

 

The condition seems too good to be true for a 1970's (?) guitar. No worn spots on the finish, virtually no fret wear and and only a few minor scratches.  There is a little pitting at the end of the tailpiece.

The picture doesn't show the nice flame top.  All of the hardware looks original.  I have 45 days to see if it's a keeper. 

Has anyone here played this particular model before?  Any opinions?  Would you advise a pickup upgrade (I assume that is the weak link)?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, RGx2 said:

Impulse buy at GC today ($279):

 

Ventura.JPG.72715e307a8600c90756f0e356a4a435.JPG  

 

The condition seems too good to be true for a 1970's (?) guitar. No worn spots on the finish, virtually no fret wear and and only a few minor scratches.  There is a little pitting at the end of the tailpiece.

The picture doesn't show the nice flame top.  All of the hardware looks original.  I have 45 days to see if it's a keeper. 

Has anyone here played this particular model before?  Any opinions?  Would you advise a pickup upgrade (I assume that is the weak link)?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember the company from back in the late 70's early 80's.

If it plays good and sounds good it is good.

Happy vintage guitar day.

 

I have a Gibson ES 335 dot with a light flamed maple top in classic sunburst. It has classic 57's in it, and plays and sounds amazing.

 

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Ventura is a Matsomoku brand, well-regarded Japanese made guitars from the "lawsuit" era.  Late 70s to the mid 80s seem to be the best quality. 

The electronics, especially the pots and pickup switch can be flakey on these, but if it's working OK I suggest leaving them alone for now.  I have an Aria ES=335 copy, it's a great playing guitar. 

 

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Pickups are probably A5 magnets, and have a very nice vintage sound. I would keep them. Looks to be a killer, keep the beastie and love it!!

7 hours ago, Mr.Grumpy said:

Ventura is a Matsomoku brand, well-regarded Japanese made guitars from the "lawsuit" era.  Late 70s to the mid 80s seem to be the best quality. 

 

 

Ummm, not quite correct. Ventura, Bruno, Conqueror, were all made for a NY distribution company owned by, wait for it... Bruno Ventura. He would order, say, 5000 guitars of a 335 style, and those that made it under a certain price point, got the contract. I have seen Ventura's made by Matsumuko, Fuji Gen Gakki, (Ibanez), Cusion Gen Gakki, Tokai, and Greco. The Ibanez made ones are the easiest to spot, they all had Maxon Pickups.

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Guys, thanks for all of the info and insight.  I really like the look and feel of this guitar.  I've wanted a 335 type guitar for years, but never wanted to pay the Gibson price.

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3 hours ago, badpenguin said:

Pickups are probably A5 magnets, and have a very nice vintage sound. I would keep them. Looks to be a killer, keep the beastie and love it!!

Ummm, not quite correct. Ventura, Bruno, Conqueror, were all made for a NY distribution company owned by, wait for it... Bruno Ventura. He would order, say, 5000 guitars of a 335 style, and those that made it under a certain price point, got the contract. I have seen Ventura's made by Matsumuko, Fuji Gen Gakki, (Ibanez), Cusion Gen Gakki, Tokai, and Greco. The Ibanez made ones are the easiest to spot, they all had Maxon Pickups.

This one does have the Maxon pickups.  Does that mean it can only have be made by Ibanez, and how does Ibanez rate compared to the other builds?

I did not play it very long at GC and may have not even tested the neck pickup.  It was lust at first sight and I quickly bought it.  I didn't even play it when I got it home, since the strings were old and not very playable and the action is a little high.  Anyway, I took the strings off to do a proper cleaning and setup.  I also measured the resistance of the pickups using the input jack and a cord.  The bridge PU shows 1.4 and the neck PU looks like its open.  Looks like I do have a little bit of work to do on it.

 

 

Edited by RGx2
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Congratulations and Happy New Guitar Day. :thu: Ibanez generally makes a very good instrument so if this one is an Ibanez build I wouldn't have any concerns. Pickup swaps on a semihollow aren't fun though. I wish you luck.

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Malcolm Young didn't need a neck pick-up! That's f'in rawk, man!sm-acdc:cool11:

j/k

 

oh, and that looks like a 'lawsuit model'...is the headstock 'creased' in the center? my old eyes...😢

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42 minutes ago, daddymack said:

Malcolm Young didn't need a neck pick-up! That's f'in rawk, man!sm-acdc:cool11:

j/k

 

oh, and that looks like a 'lawsuit model'...is the headstock 'creased' in the center? my old eyes...😢

My old ears tell me I need a mellow neck PU.  But, there was a time..... :classic_cool:

That photo was pulled off the GC used gear website and is the actual guitar I bought.  Not sure what's up with their picture regarding the headstock.  It looks strange.  Below is a close up that I took at home.

Also below is a picture I took of the pickups. From what I can discover on the 'net, the codes show these Maxon pickups were made in 1973, December 27th.  That should make the guitar a 1973 / 74 model.  Are those PAFs?

 

Headstock.JPG

Maxon PU.JPG

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Yes, pretty sure it's an Ibanez build. At that time period Ibanez, Greco and Matsumoku were just about equal. Looking at the neck tenon, it's a 3 piece neck, and pretty sure Ibanez made it, and by the pickup codes, possibly a 73, but I have never seen a pickup code with an X in the middle of it. The rounded off fretboard and sharp corners on the inlays also point to Ibanez. 

 

And taking a resistance test from the output jack, doesn't always give you the best results. A pot could be bad, screwing with your numbers. And screwing with your neck pickup not working. A few sprays of contact cleaner in the pot might fix it.

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10 hours ago, daddymack said:

Malcolm Young didn't need a neck pick-up! That's f'in rawk, man!sm-acdc:cool11:

j/k

 

oh, and that looks like a 'lawsuit model'...is the headstock 'creased' in the center? my old eyes...😢

On that note, I have a Gretsch Single  cut Jet too. The TV Jones pick up are freaking amazing.  I actually have 2 Gretsch Guitars, the other being a Tenny Rose.

 

I would hesitate even getting another one if the funding was there. Something like a Falcon, mix fix what I am lacking.

TV Jones makes a Humbucker mounted pick up too. I have no idea what they sound like.

https://tvjones.com/starwood-humbucker-bridge-with-covers/#product-tab-addition-148

 

That's pretty nice sounding on that Les Paul. Way different than Gibson Humbuckers, but not in a bad way.

 

 

 

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Agree with BP's assessment, the 3 piece neck, tenon screws and Maxon p-ups are definitely Ibanez, mid 70s.

As to the 'dead' neck p-up, my repair experience suggests the issue could also be at the switch. Kind of a PITA swapping parts on semi hollows...but at least nothing is at the upper bout. Gibson took the easy way out by putting all the hardware/wiring in the lower bout, although I do find an upper bout switch more to my liking:wave:

I would still be inclined to replace the electronics, especially because shielding on these older models is typically non-existent, and at 45+ years old, those pots don't owe you anything...😉

Your call on the p-ups, once you get the neck one functional, if you like them, keep'em...I'm not an 'expert' on Maxon p-ups, but their [Nisshin Onpa] PAFs were virtual clones of Gibson's, and in some ways actually have [what I have heard described as] 'creamier' tone, and those do look to be their PAF version, and so should give you that 'mellower' neck tone. I have worked on a couple of Greco's from that era with similar looking p-ups, and I also agree with the comment by BP that the 'X' looks odd...usually it is all digits from that era.

Since you had the p-ups out, did you take a resistance read on the neck p-up?

How does the back look? Scarred? Clean?

Oh, and thanks for the 'headshot'...definitely a lawsuit era model...Gibson was greatly displeased...imitation is the greatest form of trademark infringement😉

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2 hours ago, daddymack said:

 

How does the back look? Scarred? Clean?

 

 

The back, neck and front are very clean.  A few minor scratches, and that's it.  No cracking in the finish at all.  Is that even possible for a guitar this age?  Maybe it's been refinished.  In any case, it's a beautiful guitar and seems very well made.

 

 

Ventura - Back.JPG

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3 hours ago, daddymack said:

... and I also agree with the comment by BP that the 'X' looks odd...usually it is all digits from that era.

I came across a posting somewhere in another forum where the poster talked about the Maxon PU codes for Greco and Ibanez.  He wrote Maxon used codes with 4, 5 and 6 digits / identifiers, depending on the years and one other parameter specific to the Ibanez 6 code (I think).  The code with 5 identifiers showed it used X for December.  Doesn't seem that logical, but it was the only post I could find that mentioned the X code.

 

3 hours ago, daddymack said:

Since you had the p-ups out, did you take a resistance read on the neck p-up?

Maybe I'm doing it wrong on the pickups.  They are still connected to the wiring and I put a probe on each wire (2).  There is no reading from either probe.  However, measuring the output jack cord gives a reading just for the bridge PU.

 

EDIT:  That should say "There is no reading from either pickup".  

 

Edited by RGx2
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4 minutes ago, RGx2 said:

I came across a posting somewhere in another forum where the poster talked about the Maxon PU codes for Greco and Ibanez.  He wrote Maxon used codes with 4, 5 and 6 digits / identifiers, depending on the years and one other parameter specific to the Ibanez 6 code (I think).  The code with 5 identifiers showed it used X for December.  Doesn't seem that logical, but it was the only post I could find that mentioned the X code.

 

Maybe I'm doing it wrong on the pickups.  They are still connected to the wiring and I put a probe on each wire (2).  There is no reading from either probe.  However, measuring the output jack cord gives a reading just for the bridge PU.

 

codes are codes, so:idk: ...maybe they use the 'X' like as in Xmas for December? If it is specific to Ibanez units, then maybe it was a spec reference code. Different windings, different wire diameter...?

as to the p-up, if it reads 'open' at the p-up itself, then there could be an issue inside that p-up, odd though...

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Matsumoku-made guitars:

Exclusive (Made only by Matsumoku): Arai, Aria, Aria Diamond, Electra, Stewart, Tempo, Ventura, Westbury 

Contract Manufacturing (Made by Matsomoku and also by others) for: Columbus, Conrad, Domino, Epiphone, Greco, GUYATONE, Ibanez, Washburn (Wing-and Stage-series), Westone, Yamaha ... As an example, Conrad guitars were made by both Matsumoku and Kasuga depending on the model.

Sales Brands (Made and sold by Matsumoku): Arita, Barclay, Cimar, Custom, Dia, El Maya, Fell, Gallan, Gigan, Hi.Lo, Howard, Lindberg, Lyle, Luxor, Maxitone, Maya, Mayfair, Montclair, Pan, P. visitors, Raven, Sekova, Skylark, Univox , Vision, Volhox 

Edited by 6down1togo
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Also, Ibanez guitars of that era were made exclusively by Hoshino Gakki based in Nagoya Japan. Hoshino Gakki owns Ibanez and did not manufacture guitars for other companies or under other brands.

Maxon branded pickups were used in lots of Japanese guitars including Greco and Elektra.

Edited by 6down1togo
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On 11/18/2020 at 12:00 PM, 6down1togo said:

Matsumoku-made guitars:

Exclusive (Made only by Matsumoku): Arai, Aria, Aria Diamond, Electra, Stewart, Tempo, Ventura, Westbury 

Contract Manufacturing (Made by Matsomoku and also by others) for: Columbus, Conrad, Domino, Epiphone, Greco, GUYATONE, Ibanez, Washburn (Wing-and Stage-series), Westone, Yamaha ... As an example, Conrad guitars were made by both Matsumoku and Kasuga depending on the model.

Sales Brands (Made and sold by Matsumoku): Arita, Barclay, Cimar, Custom, Dia, El Maya, Fell, Gallan, Gigan, Hi.Lo, Howard, Lindberg, Lyle, Luxor, Maxitone, Maya, Mayfair, Montclair, Pan, P. visitors, Raven, Sekova, Skylark, Univox , Vision, Volhox 

Thanks for the info.  There does some to be data out there to support what you've stated.  It's an interesting read.  

Both coils of the neck PU are dead.  I saw a good website where someone shows how he repairs Maxon PUs.  I'm usually a DIY kind of person.  However, I'm not going down that rabbit hole.

Taking a resistance measurement of the wiring from the neck to the output jack indicates the switch is good.  The volume control does seem a little flakey.  At this point I think all new electronics are probably warranted.

In the next couple of days I will put some new strings on it and give it a proper setup.  It's got the looks and vibe, but it will have to play exceptionally well, ignoring the electronics for now, to justify keeping it and sinking a couple of hundred dollars into it.

 

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I went through a phase where I bought a couple guitars from that era. I picked up a Conrad, a Domino Dawson and a Granada. They were all in mint condition. I set them up and got good playable action and replaced the roller bridges with modern tune-o-matics which really made a big difference in the way they sounded. I put the original bridges back on for the pics when I sold them. I just didn't play them because they had really narrow (broom handle) necks that crowded the strings together and they didn't sound all that great with the original pickups. My modern hollow and semi-hollows just played and sounded way better and I just didn't find a use for them. Mine had single coils on two of them and mini-humbuckers on one.

 

IMG_0896.JPG

IMG_0996a.JPG

IMG_0935.JPG

Edited by 6down1togo
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Your Ventura appears to be a later, more contemporary design than the ones I owned which were late '60's manufacture. I would expect your  neck and playability would be more in line with what we have become accustomed to in a modern guitar. The Maxon pickups were a better quality than many of the early Japanese pickups. The better Japanese guitars of the era used them. 

Edited by 6down1togo
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