No Will Power: Another Vintage Saturn Guitar

Two Vintage Japanese Solid-body Saturn GuitarsIt’s no secret that I have zero will power when it comes to buying new gear. In fact, some might even say the band exists simply because I had to justify owning so many instruments. Case in point, if you follow the band on Twitter you likely saw me agonizing over the decision of whether or not to buy yet another vintage Japanese Saturn electric guitar. Surprise, surprise—I bought it (it’s the small one on the left). What can I say? I love these wacky axes.

Some say they were built in Japan by Kawai, others say Guyatone, but everyone seems to agree that Saturns first appeared in a 1968 Eaton’s department store catalogue. Personally, I don’t know how I’ve ended up with three of these (all different, mind you), as I’d never even heard of them before I saw the first one on Craigslist last year. However, I was instantly enamoured with their wonky shapes and mystique.

They also get a pretty bad rap, as they were cheap entry level imports for kids who couldn’t afford a Fender or Gibson. In my humble opinion, that negativity isn’t entirely deserved, as with a good setup these bad boys play very well (I wouldn’t have three if they were garbage…). Guys like Hound Dog Taylor and Ry Cooder championed this notion with cheap Japanese guitars of their own (just check out the cover of Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers for a multi-pickup beast).

Of course, I don’t have a lot of “high end” axes kicking around to compare these to, as I’m still a kid who can’t afford a Gibson or Fender, but there’s a reason the rest of my electric guitars have ended up on Craigslist. Actually, price is another beautiful thing about these mysterious relics—I paid a total $350 for all three of them (not including setups and a little work here and there by my amazing guitar tech*)! As for how they sound, I’m by no means a “tone aficionado,” but I know what I like and these are fine by me (especially through my homemade Fender Princeton).

They also get a lot of comments when we play live and suit the rest of our homemade gear very well.

Hmm…it just occurred to me that this entire post is pretty much self-aggrandizing piece of effort-justification so that I don’t feel bad about buying another piece of gear…yep.

Oh well. Guitars is purty.

Small Scale Vintage Japanese Saturn Electric GuitarSmall Scale Vintage Japanese Saturn Electric GuitarSmall Scale Vintage Japanese Saturn Electric GuitarSmall Scale Vintage Japanese Saturn Electric GuitarSmall Scale Vintage Japanese Saturn Electric Guitar

*The hollowbody needed the most work (it as also the cheapest), as a bridge inside had collapsed, but now it plays very well and might just be my favourite of the bunch.
Posted in Gear Tagged with: ,
12 comments on “No Will Power: Another Vintage Saturn Guitar
  1. David says:

    Hi I love these guitars too. I have a Saturn Violin guitar – The same one The Presidents of The United States played in the Lump video.
    http://twitpic.com/4989uk

  2. Joe says:

    Nice colection, I also own one of the Kawai Saturn Viloin shaped guitars, in green, it was my firts guitar, bought in the 60′s packaged with a Gibson Tube amp. Love the guitar.

    • Paul says:

      Thanks! I love these old things too. That Kawai sounds nice! It’s not often someone can say they still have their first guitar from the ’60′s.

  3. Rusty says:

    Hi
    Great post & interesting information. I’ve been trying to find out more information about a hollow-body that I just picked up. It looks almost identical to yours but without the pick scratch plate (guard) & without the plate dressing under the tone & volume controls.
    It was in good shape considering how obviously it had been uncared for & probably mistreated years. A friend & I had it cleaned & set up in a couple of hours.
    I didn’t know the brand, but my older friend did. He had one that he had never previously shown me. He said it was his first guitar

  4. matt says:

    Nice!! I just got the exact hollow body. Im struggling to find information on finding a pick guard… oem would be great. Have any ideas on where to search? Any way you could trace your pickguard on the hollowbody with screws and mail me it? I cant find a template anywhere!!! Please let me know any ideas!!

  5. André says:

    I just acquired a Saturn bass, that my brother literally found in the garbage during a roadside collection, and have been wondering what the heck it is, until now. I guess these have become pretty uncommon, then. Thanks for posting this, as I now have a better idea of where it came from!

    • Cal Lewis says:

      Hey, I’ve got one which looks much like your hollow body except for where and how the volume and tone buttons are located! It has an almost triangle shaped chrome cover for them and a whammy bar!
      Has anyone seen something like it and maybe a year, as there is nothing marked inside that I can Find!
      By the way it was a dumpster find as well!!
      Thanks in advance

  6. Sean says:

    Late to the party, but I’ve got the hollow-body one on the right and we call it the “semi-acoustic” as you can hear it without an amp. One pickup is country and the other is blues, with a switch to go between them.

  7. HungryJack says:

    Just an FYI. In the 1967 movie “In Cold Blood”, Robert Blake (one of the murderers) is seen playing a Saturn electric guitar. The name on the headstock looks different from yours.

  8. TOM says:

    Hi.My parents gave me a 2 pickup saturn solid body for Christmas in 1966.my mother ordered a 1 pickup model,but in those days Eaton’s would substitute better quality items if they were out of stock on what you ordered.Mine was sunburst with a maple neck 2 switches one volume one tone and a front mounted input jack.I learned to play on that guitar,as well i learned how to setup a guitar on that guitar.I sold it to a friend who learned on it and in turn passed it on to a relative,so they could learn too.I lost track of it in the 80′s,but i’m sure it had lots of playing done on it after

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


More announcements to come!

Dog Is Blue Fuzz Pedals

SOLD OUT! For a limited time you can get these one-off pedals (each one is painted differently by Paul) for the measly sum of $60, but that price is going up soon, so act now.

Buy them off the stage at our shows or get in touch with the builder himself to get one delivered!

iPad Animated “People” Music Video

Albums