HNGD to me: Kawai SS4L

Huuto.net and tori.fi are the two websites here in Finland for buying second-hand stuff. Huuto is the equivalent of eBay and Tori the equivalent of Craigslist. I trawl both regularly looking at guitar-related stuff, but it is extremely rare to see anything interesting on either of them. They are typically both awash with over-priced Corts and Harley Bentons, budget brands that seem very common in this neck of the woods. Almost all Strat or Les Paul copies, with the occasional pointy-pointy or Telecaster. Quality guitars are expensive and there is very little funky or interesting to be had, unless you go for serious vintage, which means serious money.

So I was really intrigued when I spotted an ad reading HOUND DOG TAYLOR KAWAI SS4L on huuto.net. The starting price in the auction was 100 EURO. When I googled it the first hit I got said Dan Auerbach owned one. More googling revealed this video

And this one:

It was the exact same guitar.

It turns out that Hound Dog Taylor, as mentioned in the ad is also fantastic by the way.

Apparently Hound Dog favoured Teisco or Kawai guitars for two reasons. Firstly because they were important to create his ‘head-cutting’ tone and secondly because they were readily available in pawnshops for around $25, so it didn’t matter much if he pawned or sold his own in order to get some extra money for the kind of hijinks that must have inspired his nickname.

More googling revealed this guitar to be a model originally developed by Teisco in the mid 1960s. When Kawai acquired Teisco in 1967, they continued to produce this model, but changed the brand to Kawai around1969. So this put this guitar around 1969 ish or shortly after. Even older than me!

The ad warned that the guitar on Huuto was missing a few things, such as tuners, pickup switches and pickup wiring. i.e. in need of some pretty serious work.

Still, I was totally in. A crazy four pickup Japanese guitar that might be older than me and has been used by Dan Auerbach and an amazing bluesman I had never previously heard of? For less money than our weekly shop? Wrap that beauty up…

I bid, putting up the price to 105 EURO and waited the 24 hours until sunday evening for the auction to close. I watched it live over the final 20 minutes, sure I was going to get a rival, but that never happened. The guitar was mine.

The next day I paid the seller, Friday afternoon it arrived. Looking like this.

2015-10-09 16.22.43 2015-10-09 16.22.52 2015-10-09 16.23.14 2015-10-09 16.23.30

It’s a bit of a wreck. But completely beautiful.

it should look like this:

5b4461f7faca5c4884d3c0047a1db-orig

So apart from the things mentioned it is also missing a bunch of screws from the scratch plate and is otherwise pretty beat-up and dirty. The seller described its condition as “tyydyttävä“, which translates as “satisfactory”, but really means “not in good condition at all”. So this was no surprise.

The important things are that the neck is in good condition and all four (!) original pickups are there. The original bridge and whammy bar are also there.

Next I need to find time to do a full evaluation of what needs doing to get this little charmer back into playing shape.

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