IDOL GUITARS (Written by Jimmy Noise / April 2012)

 

 

Idol was a band name used on guitar manufactured by “Nihon Ompa Kabushiki” which translates to “Japan Soundwave Company”. The trading name of the company was “Idol Instruments”. The company formed in Japan in March 1967.

 

It was stated by Mr Matsuda, a former president of Teisco Co Ltd.  He started Idol Instruments after leaving Teisco Shoji in 1967. It’s believed that he and some of his employees were unhappy with the new Kawai management. These employees followed their leader to start a new guitar company. It’s believed that the location of the factory was in Kumagaya.

 

The company can be confirmed to be making guitars in 1968 and possibly into 1969. Sometime in 1969 the company went bankrupt due to the slumping guitar market in the USA and Japan. During their time they produced some very interesting guitars that were partially based on Teisco models, but had evolved into new designs. These designs are some very unique guitars, which are rarely seen.

 

The guitars can be difficult to identify, mainly because they used a symbol as the logo, (as seen above) instead of text style logo. A lot of the models only have this logo and there is no reference to Idol, making it difficult to identify it with a brand.  Some models have Idol on the pickguard while others don’t. The models with IDOL pickguards have “PLAY SERIERS No. XX”, under the word Idol. The XX being the two numbers from the model number.

 

 

 

Guitar and Bass Models

 

Electric guitar and bass models that are currently known include the following;

 

 

(Picture not available)

(Picture not available)

PA-10

PA-10T

PA-13

PA-18 Version 1

PA-18 Version 2

 

 

 

 

 

PA-23

PA-25

PA-26

PB-26

PA-28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PL-13

PL-24

Unknown

PA-??

 

 

 

 

Please note that some of the guitars above are not pictured in their 100% original condition. Because of the rarity of Idol guitars, it is difficult to find photos of ones in original and complete condition.

 

 

 

Alternative Brands (US Import Models)

 

Idol guitars were available in Japan. It’s not known if all the models were available in the US. However some defiantly were imported and re-branded.  Guitars in the US rarely have the Idol logo. The few that have been seen may have been imported by collectors, but again it’s not known for sure. Guitars in the US usually were re-branded using two different names;

 

Marlin: The Marlin brand was used on Idol made guitars that were shipped to the US by WMI Corporation. The brand name was recorded being used by WMI in October 1966. The name was registered on the 29th of April 1968. The Marlin brand can be found on the PB-26 bass. The Marlin version is slightly different to the Idol one. Firstly there is no pickguard and there is double thumb rests. Also the Headstock was shaped slightly different. Other models to date include the PA-10T and the PA-23.  The fish shape logo is found on the pickguard, on Marlin guitars that have the Idol logo on the headstock.

 

The Marlin brand was also used in the 1970’s on lawsuit era guitars. These were not made by Idol.

 

 

 

PA-10T

PA-23

PA-25

PB-26

 

 

 

 

 

 

Del Rey: Idol also made some Del Rey models that had this logo.  These were also imported by WMI Corporation. Note WMI Corporation used the Del Rey brand on several guitars from different manufacturing companies in Japan. The ET-200 was a copy of the Teisco Tulip ET-200 Model. There are noticeable differences between the two brands, with the Idol version looking more up market with the different hardware. The EB-240 was another Japanese version of the violin bass.

 

 

 

 

ET-200

EB-240

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guitar & Bass Hardware

 

Hardware used by Idol was a modified version of what Teisco was using at the time.  Generally the same parts but modified with a slight design twist to give them a more classy and unique look.  These would have been supplied by the same contractor as Teisco used.

 

For example, the PB-26 pickup (Pictured Left) is the same pickup used in the Teisco May Queen, but a single bar magnet is used.

 

 

 

The pickup for the PA-18 (picture left) is the same size and shape as the EP-8T, but with a large opening and black plastic infill.

 

 

 

The roller bridge used multiple grove rollers to enable adjust to the string spacing. The ends had closed rounded tops. The base plate of the bridge was longer than other manufactures and had rounded ends.

 

The tremolo bars were upgraded and have a more slick and fancy feel to them that put them into a class of their own. Same with the tail pieces used. A few extra curves were added to the design, compared to other manufactures. (Note: non original bridge pickup in the picture) The cut-out shape at the rear of the tail tremolo unit also is unique to Idol guitars.

 

 

The neck plate design was the same one used on the later version of the Teisco EP-10T. It had a plastic cover with a smaller rectangular neck plate underneath. The metal neck plate was recessed in a cavity. This allowed for the standard length screws to be used on a thicker body guitar. The only guitar not to use this method was the ET-220, which used a normal metal neck plate.  The ET-200 also had no stampings on its neck plate, unlike other Del Rey guitars by other manufactures.

 

 

 

Other aspects that were continued from the Teisco days, was the use of a zero fret. They also used the same knobs as Teisco. But many other manufactures used these knobs as well.

 

As seen above most hardware found on Idol guitars is similar to Teisco but modified. It is for this reasons Idol guitars are often thought to be made by Teisco. Most of the hardware on Idol guitars is unique and is very difficult to replace if missing.

 

 

One of the key ways to identify you guitar is made by Idol, is to look at the model / serial number tag. Like Teisco guitars, Idol guitars had a metal plate with the model number and the serial number on them. There are two differences between the tags. Idol used a rectangular plate verses Teisco’s plate which had a curved bottom. Idol usually used screws to secure the tag, as apposed to nails or glue. However there are some early Idol guitars that did use glue to attach the model plate. Any guitar with this rectangular tag was made by Idol.

 

 

 

Guitar & Bass Colour Chart

 

The guitars were available in the following colours;

 

                

Sunburst

Cherry Burst

Green Bust

Red

 Bust

Black

Guitars - Hollow Bodies

 

 

 

 

 

PA-10

X

 

 

 

X

PA-10T

X

 

X

 

 

PA-10T (Marlin)

X

X

 

 

 

PA-13

 

 

 

 

X

PA-18

X

 

 

X

X

PA-23

X

X

 

X

 

PA-23 (Marlin)

X

 

 

 

 

PA-25

 

X

 

X

 

PA-25 (Marlin)

X

 

 

 

 

PA-26

 

 

 

 

X

PA-28

 

X

 

 

 

Unknown (1)

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guitars – Solid Bodies

 

 

 

 

 

PL-13

 

 

 

 

 

PL-24

X

 

 

 

 

ET-200 (Del Rey)

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bass – Hollow Bodies

 

 

 

 

 

PB-26

X

 

 

 

X

PB-26 (Marlin )

X

X

X

 

 

EB-240 (Del Rey)

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is not known if all models were available in all colours, but the above reflects the information currently documented.

 

 

 

Guitar & Bass Production Numbers

 

We can estimate the production numbers of Idol Guitars by using their serial numbers. The serial numbers are very linear with the production of the guitars. There is currently only a small number of serial numbers available and this has affected the estimated quantities. With more serial numbers we can update the chart and obtain a more accurate result. Based on the serial numbers currently obtained, it has been estimated that the company made approximately 8,000 guitars in total. As more serial numbers surface, the actual number can be estimated with more accuracy.

 

 

 

Serial Number Range

0

1,000

2,000

3,000

4,000

5,000

6,000

7,000

 

Estimated Production

to

to

to

to

to

to

to

to

999

1999

3999

3999

4999

5999

6999

7999

Guitars - Hollow Body

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PA-10

800

X

 

X

 

 

X

 

X

PA-10T

800

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

X

PA-10T (Marlin)

500

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

PA-13

200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PA-18

1500

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

PA-23

200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

PA-23  (Marlin)

200

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

PA-25

200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PA-25 (Marlin)

200

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

PA-26

200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PA-28

300

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown (1)

200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guitars - Solid Body

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PL-13

500

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

PL-24

200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ET-200 (Del Rey)

300

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bass Hollow Body

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PB-26

300

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

PB-26 (Marlin)

700

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

EB-240 (Del Rey)

700

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because Idol was only in operation for approximately two years we can assume the serial numbers between 0 and 3,999 were made in 1967.  Serial numbers above 4,000 would be made in 1968. This is only an estimate, but is as close as we will probably get to an actual dating method.

 

 

 

Amplifiers

 

Idol also produced a range of amplifiers. It is not known if they were out sourced to a different manufacturer and the Idol logo add, or if they were built by Idol. Given that Teisco built amplifiers, it is highly likely that the company’s founders had the skills to build their own amplifiers.

 

Currently known amplifier models include the following;

 

·                     Idol 007

·                     Hobby 10

·                     Hobby 12

·                     Hobby 45

·                     Hobby 100

 

Idol 007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hobby 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accessories

 

Idol also had some accessories. Currently we have only been able to find a guitar strap, but may have also included cords and strings.

 

 

 

Idol Guitar Strap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catalogues

 

There is little documentation on the Idol guitars available, but an extensive search on the web found the following pages from either a flyer or catalogue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The picture to the left is from an unknown catalogue or an advertisement in Japan. The guitar labelled as the PA-25 is a possible misprint in the ad. To date no PA-25 model has been found that looks like this guitar.  The actual model number of the guitar pictured is currently unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collectability

 

Idol guitars don’t really have a big following and have slipped under the radar of serious vintage collectors. Therefore there values are rather low. This is because the guitars were mainly sold in Japan and the numbers outside Japan is rather small. Since the guitars don’t appear that often, most people never see one. Often they are normally just passed off as another Teisco built guitar.  Therefore they have not attracted a lot of attention from vintage collectors and a following has not developed. This site has at least helped to identify the brand and models that have previously been a mystery to the vintage guitar collecting community. We hope this site provides some recognition to the makers of these fine instruments.

 

 

 

Help Rediscover Idol Guitars

 

This is the part were we ask you to help contribute, to expand this page. We are currently looking for photos of Idol / Marlin / Del Rey guitars. If you have a guitar, we would love a couple of photos. We also need the serial numbers. With these we can expand the above charts to determine what colours each model was available in, how many of each model was made, how often they were made and what sequence they were manufactured.

 

If you have any additional information relating to the company history, sales / distribution in the US any other catalogues, adverts etc, please contact us.

 

 

We are contactable at:

 

 

MIJ_60s_Guitars@iinet.net.au

 

Please note any information provide may be published, unless you specifically request otherwise.

 

 

 

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(Last Revised: 4th of Oct 2014.)

 

© 2012 MAI Music Publications