Wednesday, 28 August 2013

1970s JHS copy of a Gibson Marauder
This 1970s-era JHS branded guitar is another copy of one of the lesser known - and certainly more unpopular - Gibson solidbodies. I always used to like the Gibson Marauder design back in the day; I think The Buzzcocks used them and to me they were very punk rock. I also liked the use of a Flying V type headstock on an LP shaped body.

The seller of this JHS copy, however, makes some very weird claims about it:
I bought this fantastic guitar off a friend about a year ago, who didn't know a lot about it.

Once I acquired the guitar, I did some research into its history and I was pleasantly surprised!

It turns out that in the late 1970s, there were a lot of Gibson Marauder copies being sold under different brand names such as Avon, Cimar, ESP, Maya, Rose Morris, CSL and finally JHS (now known as Vintage & Encore).

After digging a little deeper I found out on a forum that all of these guitars were made in the same factory where the Gibson Marauders were made in the late 70s.

This leads me to believe that the spec of the guitar is very similar if not completely the same as the Gibson's. This is because it would be very odd for them to have separate production lines because of pricing and tooling etc.
I find it very hard to believe that these copy guitars would be made in the same factory as the Gibson originals. Surely the copies are Japanese in origin, and outside of Gibson's Orville and Orville by Gibson brands, Gibson guitars have always been made in the USA. Can anyone confirm or deny the seller's claims here, or at least explain where his story has gone off the rails?

This guitar is currently listed on eBay UK with a Buy It Now price of £180.

G L Wilson

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  1. Like you I cannot believe this was made in a Gibson factory. Unless this was made in Fujigen factory, which I also doubt, then the link to the Orville by Gibson brand might stand.

  2. I've owned my Marauder since '77 and immediately noticed the proprtions of the body and headstock are different.
    Vintage Guitar reports all Marauders were made in Kalamazoo:

    The sellers info seems to be based on this thread:

    1. Thanks for that. The eBay seller of the example in this blog post obviously didn't read that forum thread too carefully - it's like he picked out the little bits of speculation that he wanted to hear and ignored the more sensible posts saying, No, all Gibsons were built in the USA.

  3. He probably hallucinated half the story.

  4. The original is one of the worst Norlin-era Gibsons, imho. I tried one back in the early 80's and hated it, and got the chance to reaffirm the impression recently. Muddy tone, indifferent playability and both examples refused to stay in tune.
    As far as I can remember, I've only ever seen them used by Buzzcocks (briefly, I think) and Kiss. They were the cheapest Gibsons around and they apparently bought one for each gig of the tour, for Paul Stanley to smash on stage. :-)
    JHS almost certainly stands for UK distributor John Hornby Skewes Co Ltd. Who the OEM manufacturer was seems lost to history, but I'd be very surprised if it was NOT a japanese one. I'd guess Fujigen or Matsumoku, since they made guitars for Greco, who copied some of the more esoteric US models, like the Gibson L6S and Fender Mustang. I've never seen a Greco Marauder, though. But who knows?
    It'd be interesting to try this one. The Japanese actually managed to make excellent guitars to CBS-era Fender specs (three-screw adjustable neck etc). Maybe they made a decent guitar out of the Marauder design as well? :-)

  5. I've got an El Dégas one, myself. The bridge and pickguard are a mess, though.

  6. Paul Stanley used to endorse the Gibson Marauder. He used to smash one during Kiss' shows. I bet he kept his guitar tech busy putting all the pieces back together.

  7. I don't know how true the story is, but it happens frequently that certain guitars are manufactured by outside builders. Fender had a line of acoustics called Spring Hill or something similar (if I recall correctly), damn nice acoustics built by luthier, Mike Lennon in Springhill TN. Dave Bunker built a line of basses for Ibanez. Gar Gillies built a 1960s line of solid state amps for Gibson, and many others. The list goes on.

  8. I have a '79 Marauder with the original chickenhead sweep knob that was first used in place of a pickup selector. Its an odd on alright, mainly because the pickups are the wrong way round by today's conventional thinking (where you'd normally put the single coil at the bridge to get that extra bite for solos and the humbucker at the neck for a thicker blues tone. Its definitely unique in terms of its sound, so is good for some things but definitely not for everything. Put it this way: if you could only own one guitar, it wouldn't be this one.

    Sidenote: Josh Homme also used to play one.

    Anyways, regarding the JHS copies, it is definitely Japanese made as commenters have remarked above. As a keen collector of Greco and other Japanese copies, I've not seen them copy the Marauder, ever.

    On a vaguely-related note, there are a couple of these UK importer brands which I believe were made by the same company that owned Ibanez and they can be an incredible purchase *if* you can find them. A friends of mine got one of their Telecaster copies for about £130 and it is just astonishing. Had the headstock read "Ibanez" it would surely have cost him north of £300 at least.



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