kays MiJ semi-acoustic Guitar

My Mystery Semi-

x Top x Back x Under
Tuned E~A~D~G~B~E


Tama (Hoshino Gakki) 480ish

This is a bit of a mystery Guitar, it was labeled as a Kay Audition on eBay but when I looked a bit more into the listing I found that the seller thought it looks like a Kay or Audition and that he doesn't know who the exact maker is? What he does know is that isn't the original finish, and that the tuners have been replaced. I have had a look at the Kay vintage catalogues and it does look like a Kay; but not quite! The body shape and pickguard are identical to the 775 Jazz II but not the pickups, bridge, or tailpiece; plus the selector switch is in the wrong place. There are a number of Kay models that do have a similar tailpiece though, but they are all single cut or no cut bodies. Though the seller says it's not the original finish I did see a finish very much like this as a standard finish (it was called Spring Green) in the 1956 Kay catalogue and the pickguard looks right for both the Jazz II and the Swingmaster models so I think it is Kay made. Kay did make some models for Audition (which was a Woolworth owned brand name), but I have only seen solid body models from Kay with the bulk of them coming from Japan. There is a Teisco made Audition that has some broad similarities but when you look closely it is clearly a different guitar. I'm still stuck as to exactly what model it is but I think it looks cool and I'm glad it's coming to Ukulele Corner incorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary

It's here now and I am still none the wiser as to who made it? As I said before it got here it has some parts that look very much like Kays in the catalogues but not all of them? The label in the ƒ hole is long gone so no information there or any stamps, marks, serial numbers or even country of origin labels (which would at least narrow the field down, is it American? Is it Japanese? maybe somewhere in Europe even).

Now I have seen a 1950's budget line Gretsch Corvette with a similar bridge tailpiece and pickups and I do know Gretsch has a similar green finish they call "Aspen Green" which they use a lot more than Kay did with Spring Green. However the one I saw was not a cutaway, (thought there are a lot of Gretsches that do have a very similar short horn double cut), single pickup and had dots as fret markers? I have also seen a 60's Italian made hollow body from Davoli; similar but not the same so I shall have to keep looking and get a copy of the history of post war Japanese Guitars.

What I do know now it is here though is that it's in fairly good nick with no cracks, splits or warps, it doesn't look to me like it has been repainted and that both pickups work with just a bit of a crackle if you turn the tone knob.

I have seen an almost identical Guitar branded "Hy Lo" (same neck, same string guide, same body, same pickguard, same pickups, same bridge, same switch but tremolo tailpiece and only 3 knobs) The bumpf with it say it was made in the 60's by Hoshino Gakki at their Tama factory. Armed with this information I looked for early Ibanez guitars and found one whose owner said it was like a model 480. Checking out Ibanez model 480 confirms that it is Hoshino but most of the 480's I found were still "3 knob, trem' tp" models. There were variations though some had 4 knob like this but still had a tremolo some had tailpieces like this but only 3 knobs?? All still listed as 480 or 480/481 models so there is still a lack of clarity for the exact model number. One further thing I found though was a 4 knob, tremolo variant with a missing pickguard, (but the right holes where it should be), imported into the UK by FCN and called the "Antoria Twin-Caster