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Cool Rock n' Roll Guitars from the 1960's Forward

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      Electra Guitars Les Paul Styles

Vintage 1972 Electra Guitar Les Paul Custom
1972 Electra Super Rock
Model 2242
Les Paul Custom
(a virtual twin)

A vintage piece of Rock and Roll History!

Extremely rare! A true pre-Lawsuit
Electra Les Paul Custom  1972 in Black nitrocellulose finish.

Absolutely pristine,
100% original condition.

Notable Characteristics:
Amazing tone and resonance
High quality tuners
(stays in tune for weeks)
Lightening fast, thin neck
Outstanding fit & finish

Electra Super Rock Specifications:

  • Dual coil humbucker pickups

  • Adjustable pickup poles

  • Adjustable four-way bridge

  • Very thin fast necks

  • Adjustable truss rod

  • 16 to 1 Encased tuners

  • Edge bound neck and body

  • MOP inlayed fret markers

  • MOP inlayed headstock

It's quite easy to understand why Gibson sued over this guitar.

Guitar Collector Market Values:
- 100% original pristine condition
  $3,000 to $5,000
- 100% original excellent condition
  $ 1,000 to $ 2,000
- 100% original very good
  $ 500 to $900
 

A Brief History of the Electra Guitar

Emerging onto the fast growing market for electric guitars in 1971, Electra guitars were imported from Japan by Saint Louis Music Supply Company of Saint Louis, Missouri.

In this heated-up era of “Rock Music” Saint Louis Music Supply Company recognized an opportunity for providing well made, well appointed (near) professional grade guitars at a more affordable price point then Gibson, Fender, or Gretsch, to a hungry market

Up to this point in time, many guitars coming out of Japan were little more than oddly designed, awkward pieces of junk (I’ve owned such a guitar so feel qualified to offer the comment.) Electra Guitars however, were different. Very different!

Electra Guitars were well designed, and well made, with great attention to detail. Many Electra models sported outstanding finishes, and beautiful inlay work. The best feature of the Electra Guitar was its excellent playability and classic tone.

In 1972 I purchased an Electra 2242 Super Rock (which I still own today). With its gleaming black lacquer finish, white bindings, gold hardware and Mother of Pearl inlays, the Electra 2242 Super Rock is a beautiful guitar, but then . . . it should be. The Electra Super Rock it is an “exact knock off” of a Gibson Les Paul Custom, including the “open book” headstock design of the Gibson.

I still remember the reaction of a fellow band member (who owned a nearly identical Gibson Les Paul Custom) when I handed my inexpensive Electra to him. After a few riffs up and down the neck he handed it back to me in disgust, commenting that it plays just as nice or better than his Les Paul.

Unfortunately the Electra’s best qualities were all undone by the fact that it was, except for the name on the headstock, and exact copy of the Gibson. Lawsuits on copyright and brand infringement ensued by the American manufacturers, which were won by the American manufacturers.

In 1975 all Electra Les Paul styles came to market with Electra’s own ‘wave style headstocks’ and the name Electra in a type font that could not be confused with Gibson. Electra also sported hardware that was noticeably different than Gibson’s.

Electra guitars were made in Japan from 1971 to 1984 by the well known Matsumoku Company. The Matsumoku Company has manufactured guitars for a number of popular guitar brands over the years including; Epiphone, Vox and Westbury.

 


What is and what isn't a
"Pre-lawsuit" Electra?


A lot of folks will try to squeeze their vintage Electra Guitar into that
"Pre-Lawsuit" Category why? 

  • If it truly is an early model, it is a much more valuable Electra Guitar.

  • These guitars are very high quality. (They definitely shook up Gibson)

  • They are nearly 'exact' copies of the high-end Gibson in every way

So what are the identifying characteristics of a "Pre Lawsuit" Electra Guitar?


First let's compare . . .                 
A 1972 Gibson Les Paul Custom
Vintage 1972 Gibson Les Paul Custom at Dr. Von Zuko's Guitar Museum.


with a . . .                            
1972 Electra Super Rock

Vintage 1972 Electra Super Rock Model 2242  Electra Guitars Les Paul copy
Pretty much identical!

A lot of guitar collectors (or sellers) will tell you, "it's the headstock that determines if it's pre-Lawsuit."

Some say an Electra Guitar with the "Open Book" style of headstock would all fall under the pre-Lawsuit vintage.

Which one do you think upset Gibson the most?

1975 Electra Headstock

1972 Electra Headstock

       A 1975 Electra Guitars Open Book Headstock

Headstock of a pre lawsuit vintage 1972 Electra Super Rock Model 2242  Electra Guitars Les Paul copy
Identical to a Gibson Les Paul Custom! And from a few feet away, the Electra script resembles
the Gibson script.

More of The Guitar Museum Collection

      
1977 Electra Studio Zephyr

Electra Guitar The Electra Studio Zephyr at Dr. Von Zuko's Guitar Museum.
 


The Electra Wave Headstock


1975 saw the introduction of the Electra "Wave" headstock as pictured here . . . (left)

1977 Electra Studio Zephyr
Model 2264

Excellent condition 90% Original 
Scarce . . . very hard to find!

Body: Arched Mahogany
Neck: Rock Maple
Fingerboard: 22 Fret Rosewood
Scale: 24 3/4"
Inlays: Mother of Pearl squares
Tuner: upgraded to Kluson
Pickups: Super Magnaflux Humbucker
Pickguard: Les Paul style
Controls: 2-Volume 2-Tone
Selector: 6 position switch
Bridge: Four-way adjustable
Finish Colors: Ivory (transparent)


Guitar Collector Market Values:
- 100% original pristine condition
  $1,000 to $1,500
- 100% original excellent condition
  $ 700 to $ 900
- 100% original very good
  $ 350 to $500


1976 Electra  X220 MPC

 
Electra Guitars The Electra X220 MPC  at Dr. Von Zuko's Guitar Museum.

 


1976 Electra X220 MPC
Excellent condition 100% Original 
Scarce . . . very hard to find!

Body: Arched Mahogany
Neck: Rock Maple
Fingerboard: 22 Fret Rosewood
Scale: 24 3/4"
Inlays: Mother of Pearl squares
Tuner: upgraded to Kluson
Pickups: Super Magnaflux Humbucker
Pickguard: Les Paul style
Controls: 2-Volume 2-Tone
Selector: 6 position switch
Bridge:  Four-way adjustable
Finish Colors: Amber Burst


Guitar Collector Market Values:
- 100% original pristine condition
  $1,200 to $1,700
- 100% original excellent condition
  $ 750 to $ 1,000
- 100% original very good
  $ 350 to $550
 


Electra Super Magnum
 

Electra Guitar The Electra Super Magnum Tree-of-Life at Dr. Von Zuko's Guitar Museum.


Guitar Collector Market Values:

- 100% original pristine condition
  $1,300 to $1,800
- 100% original excellent condition
  $ 850 to $ 1,100
- 100% original very good
  $ 450 to $650
 

 
1976 Electra Super Magnum
Tree-of-Life inlay design
Great condition 100% Original 
Scarce . . . very hard to find!

Body: Hand carved oak (work of Art)
Neck: Rock Maple (set neck)
Fingerboard: 22 Fret Maple
Scale: 24 3/4"
Inlays: Abalone Tree-of-Life inlay
Tuner: Kluson
Pickups: Super Magnaflux Humbucker
Pickguard: Clear Les Paul style
Controls: 2-Volume 2-Tone
Selector: 6 position switch
Bridge:  Four-way adjustable
Finish Colors: Natural wood

Electra Guitar The Electra Super Magnum Tree-of-Life at Dr. Von Zuko's Guitar Museum.

Electra X250W "Working Man"

Made from 1980 to 1983

Walnut finish, ash body, bayonet neck junction. 3 piece set neck. Neck joint carved to feel like a neck through. It's a nice piece of work. Weighs 9 pounds 3 oz.

1980 Electra X250 W
Excellent condition 100% Original 
Hard to find in original condition!

Body: Slab walnut
Neck: 3 piece set neck
Fingerboard: 22 Fret Rosewood
Scale: 24 3/4"
Inlays: Pearloid dots
Tuner: Electra original 
Pickups: Matsumoku Humbucker
Pickguard: none
Controls: 2-Volume 2-Tone
Selectors: 1 three position for pickups and 3 x2 position tap switches
Bridge:  Four-way adjustable
Finish Colors: Walnut

 

Electra Guitar The Electra X250W Working Man at Dr. Von Zuko's Guitar Museum.


Electra Guitar Advertising of the 1970's
Electra Guitar Advertising from the 1970's
These are the three top-end models of the Electra Super Rock.  The Super Rock was also the longest running model offered by Electra.  It was sold from 1972 until late 1981.


What is a Magnaflux Pickup?

The magnaflux is an exceptionally 'hot' twin, double coil, humbucking pickup. 

These pickups are designed to achieve richer harmonics and greater sustain.  The lead pickup is exposed directly to the strings for a noticeably better treble bite and sharper clarity.

Tailpiece and Adjustable Bridge.

The hard tail tailpiece is imbedded directly into the guitar body.  This produces much more sustain then other mounting methods.

The adjustable bridge can be moved up or down and adjusted forward or backward, for each string individually, to achieve perfect intonation and playing ease.

Electra Guitas Ad with Peter Framton at www.ZUKO.com
Electra Guitars impressed a few well know guitarists and enlisted them as spokespersons. Here Peter Frampton displays an Electra Super Rock.

Articles by: Von Zuko 2008©    
 

Dr. Von Zuko's Guitar Museum - Vintage Electra Guitars
Guitar Museum Electra Guitars Index
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Vintage Guitar Buying Tips for the eBay Bidder!

I have purchased a significant number of vintage and non-vintage guitars through online auctions, while most represented good win-win deals, a few were not so good.
 
Over time, I've learned a few very important and valuable lessons . . . some of these lessons may seem like common sense, but at times it easy to get caught up in the bidding fever and lose sight of logic. 

How do you avoid being burned on your next vintage guitar purchase?  Here are a few guitar buying insights.

1.) If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  There are fewer fools out there than you may think . . . most sellers know EXACTLY what they are selling!

It is almost certain that you 'are not' going to be able to buy a $12,000 vintage guitar for $400 from some naiveté seller.

2.) If their description is vague . . . it is likely intended to cause you to believe they just don't know what a great guitar they are selling away.

3.) If the sellers photos are fuzzy . . . it is also very likely intentional.  What are they trying to hide? Finish flaws, damage, rust?

4.) No photographs of key guitar features . . like the headstock or neck joint.  Again, this is usually intentional.

I once bought a "vintage 60's Gibson SG Jr." for what seemed like a fair price.  The SG Jr. was presented with photos of the body (front and back), neck joint, and even the serial number on the back of the headstock. The seller however, did not mention nor did he include a photograph of the face of the headstock . . . which was missing the all important Gibson logo.  My lesson, never assume anything!

5.) Never assume anything . . . if you can't see it, then you simply don't know what you'll be getting with the guitar.

I once purchased a vintage guitar that had deep ruts in the fretboard and frets.  The seller of course did refer to this . . . but as "light play wear."  There were no close up photos of the fingerboard. 

6.) Ask questions . . .
Are they the guitar's original owner?
Are 'all parts' original or replica parts?
Do all the electronics (pots & pickups) work?
Have any body or neck repairs been made?
Are there extra holes drilled in the guitar?
Is the serial number completely visible?
Ask any and all questions you may have!

7.) Ask for more photos . . . If you're going to plunk down several hundred or several thousand dollars, the seller should be more then happy to respond to serious buyers.

8.) If the seller is reluctant to; answer your questions directly . . . or reluctant provide more photos of key areas of the guitar . . . If so then RUN, let someone else be that seller's sucker.

9.) Check out the sellers ratings as a seller!
What do others who have purchased items from them have to say about the experience?  (If most of their feedback is as a buyer . . . don't assume they are also a good seller!

I try to do business with "sellers" who have at least several dozen higher dollar sales under their belt (preferably guitars).  I also look for 99.5 to 100% satisfaction ratings.   

10.) The most important tip of all . . . do run through a check list of all of the above tips and suggestions BEFORE you place a bid.

There are great vintage guitar buys out there, just be an informed and cautious buyer.  Good guitar hunting!
 

   
   
   
   

 

Vintage guitars of the Von Zuko Guitar Museum. One of the many intriguing features at www.zuko.com

 

 
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