Friday, 20 January 2012

JVC Nivico Balladeer Electric Guitar model #SG-16 - another Japanese oddity
It never ceases to amaze me how many vintage guitars from little known manufacturers and brand names there are to discover outside of the usual arena. Here's yet another 1960s Japanese guitar, the JVC Nivico Balladeer #SG-16 (its interesting but probably just coincidence that it has a Yamaha-like model number). I'm guessing that's the same JVC as are known for their domestic stereo equipment here in the West.

Here's how the seller describes the guitar:
Up for auction is a vintage JVC Nivico Balladeer Electric Guitar (model #SG-16) which appears to originally be intended only for Japanese distribution but has mysteriously been re-branded for US sales. Information on this guitar is conspicuously absent from the internet (a feat in itself) but in-depth research has shown that these guitars, along with a related deluxe model and electric amplifiers, were marketed alongside Japanese "eleki" beat groups ( This, along side its extreme rarity, support the idea that this guitar was either not intended for distribution outside of Japan or is part of a very early attempt to market Japanese guitars in America. Despite the intial similarities one might find between this guitar and the dirge of Japanese guitars that were soon to flood the US market, such as a surplus of chrome and an overall amoeba-like shape, this guitar has appointments that one does not find on any other Japanese import. Not to mention it plays better than any other Japanese guitar from this era that I have ever laid hands on, weighs twice as much, and has an attention to detail that surpass as well.
It does have a Kawai/Guyatone look to it, but I can't find another guitar that is similar enough to make the comparison with more conviction. It's an interesting guitar for sure, if a bit of an ugly duckling.

This guitar is currently listed on eBay with a quite reasonable Buy It Now price of $400.

By the way, for those interested in Japanese "eleki" music and the development of rock music in Japan, I would heartily recommend the book Japrocksampler by Julian Cope.

G L Wilson

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