BluGuitar was established in 2014 by German guitarist Thomas Blug. In addition to his career as a top guitarist Blug has been an electronics enthusiast since childhood. Blug worked as a sound designer and co-developer of guitar amps, effects equipment and guitars for more than 25 years in cooperation with well-known manufacturers like Hughes and Kettner. BluGuitar's first product offering was the BluGuitar AMP1 -  introduced in 2016 as a portable NANOTUBE 100-watt power amp  designed for professional use onstage and in the studio. Since then BluGuitar have added speaker cabinets, the BluBox speaker emulator and a limited edition of 61 Thomas Blug signature stratocasters to the product line up.

Source; BluGuitar website

The Loar

The Loar is a Music Link brand established around 2006. The Loar archtop guitars, small bodied acoustic guitars and mandolins are inspired by classic Gibson designs from the 1920s and 1930s. The brand name alludes to famous luthier Loyd Loar who worked for Gibson from 1919 to 1924. The Loar instruments are made in China.

Source: The Loar website (18 October 2017) luthier Loyd

Martin lawsuit acoustic guitar logos

In 1970s Japan there was a healthy industry making copies of the popular Martin dreadnought acoustic models. These are often referred to as "lawsuit guitars" because Martin contacted these Japanese manufacturers in the 1970s (or early 1980s) asking them to stop copying their logos. I don't know whether there was ever an actual lawsuit. Many of these copies had logos that also copied the Martin style. Here are some of the ones I have found so far:



STR is a Deviser custom electric and bass guitar brand established in 2006. STR Guitars are designed by Satoru Yatsuzuka, the master luthier at Deviser's Aska factory in Nagano, Japan. It is the successor to the original Headway factory established in 1977.

Source: STR Guitars website


The Anderbilt brand was founded by Earl F. Anderson and used in the late 1960s on a range of floating neck electric guitars made by the Anderson-Bevers manufacturing company of Raymondville, Texas.

The unique feature of Anderbilt guitars was their vibrato mechanism: the neck was mounted on springs and could be pushed in toward the body and pulled away to raise or lower the pitch. 

Earl F. Anderson was also an Assembly of God minster, and was granted the patent on the vibrato mechanism in 1963.


The Iida Company (sometimes misspelled Jida or Ida) began making guitars in 1958 in Nagoya, Japan. Iida made solid body, semi-acoustic and acoustic guitars as an OEM builder for other well-known brands including Ibanez, Yamaha and Caparison. Iida Gakki also owns the Peerless guitar factory in Korea which specialises in archtop guitars.

I have not seen Iida branded guitars yet - although there were Iida banjos in the 1970s distributed in the USA by C. Bruno (Kaman Corporation). According to the Iida banjo catalog, Teruo Iida (son of the founder of the Iida Company) became fascinated with banjos at an early age and personally set up the Iida banjo production facility.

Source: Iida banjo catalog (1976)

Source: Claescaster - Japanese brands


Isana guitars were made in Germany from 1951 to 1974 by Josef Sandner. Sander first started a business for stringed instrument making in 1947 with Franz Himmer but they parted company in 1951. From then on Sandberg worked on his own. When Elvis was in the army he was stationed near Sandner in Bad Nauheim from 1958 to 1960. Naturally while there he wanted to buy a guitar, and he bought a black archtop Isana.

Source: - Isana (archived 2011)


Time Guitars was started by Alan Stack initially in Florida, but soon after he moved to Vermont in 1972.  Time Guitars made hundreds of handmade guitars in the 1970s and 1980s, in various Vermont locations. Alan Stack sold his interest in the company in 1984 to Dick Willis. In 1987 Time Guitars closed

Source: A Short History of Time by Chris Clark


Jeff Scott first made an electric guitar in the late 1980s as a project for high school wood shop. Scott studied music, design, business and spent many years playing in a rock n roll band. He founded Illusion guitars in the 1990s with the idea of making quality hand crafted guitars in the USA - including monster shaped ones! In 2005 Brian Moore joined Illusion Guitars to take over the finishing department. Around this period Illusion were making carved alien and dragon electric guitars. Later on Corky Shelton also joined the company . Currently Illusion offers more conventional looking designs - like telecaster and Les Paul style electrics.

Source: Illusion Guitars website (archived 2007)

Source: Illusion Guitars catalog 2005

James Collins

James Collins heads a small team based in East Sussex, UK, who hand build electric guitars. After studying guitar making in the USA, James returned to the UK to establish his own setup and repair company, 12th Fret, in 2008. In 2015 he founded James Collins Guitars Ltd to design and build guitars. Circa 2017 James Collins offers four basic models (GTA, GT, GTS and GTO models) each with various wood and pickup options and each has a laser engraved numbered coin, set into the back of the headstock.

Source: James Collins hand built guitars website (10 Febraury 2017)


Doina guitars were made in Bucharest, Romania. The Doina Engineering Factory in Bucharest was founded in the interwar period and was active until the 1980s. Doina made pianos, drums, accordions, wind instruments and various stringed instruments including guitars. A Doina is also a type of vocal improvised lyrical folk song unique to Romania -  coincidentally Hora the other main Romanian brand was named after a traditional folk dance.

Source: Ebay Doina guitar auction.


Howe-Orme instruments were made by the Elias Howe Company of Boston, MA. The Howe company was founded by Elias Howe (1820 - 1895) but the Howe-Orme instruments appeared after the death of Elias, when his sons William & Edward Howe had taken over the company. The Orme part of the brand name belonged to George Orme of Ontario who (along with James Black) held a patent for a longitudinal belly ridge for guitars - this was used on the Howe-Orme instruments which were a range of acoustic guitars, mandolins, mandolas and banjos.

Source: James Black & George Orme patent

Source: Edward Howe patent

Source: Howe-Orme catalog


Penco was a Hoshino Gakki brand for Japanese made acoustic and electric guitars & amplifiers in the 1970s. In 1971 Penco instruments were distributed by Philadelphia Music Company Inc in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The year later Hoshino Gakki acquired the Elger Company in Pennsylvania which became Hoshino USA - the exclusive distributor of Hoshino Gakki products in the USA. The Penco brand was discontinued in the mid to late 1970s

Source: Penco catalog 1971

Source: Hoshino website


Epiphone Slasher electric guitar

The Epiphone Slasher was a Firebird style electric made in 2001 only. The Explorer style maple neck was bolt-on, pickups were two "Ultra-Hot" E-Series humbuckers. Finish options were all metallic: red, light blue or black. The Slasher was also available with built in effects as the Slasher FX model.

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Hofner Club 60

Hofner Club 60 electric guitar

THe Hofner Club 60 was introduced in 1958 and followed the Club 40 & 50 - but was much fancier than those models. The Club 60 had pearl inlays, ebony fingerboard, bound headstock and flamed woods. The body was semi-acoustic with a fully vaulted back. Available in Blonde (model 425) or Brunette (model 442) the Club 60 was fitted with Hofner's double flick action control console and two Hofner super response double pole pickups.

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Hilo was an Oscar Schmidt brand name used for Hawaiian lap steel guitars in the 1920s and 1930s. Most had a Weissenborn style hollow neck and were made from Koa. They were labelled "HILO Hawaiian Steel Guitar" with a picture of a smoking volcano and a surfer surrounded by palm trees. Currently the Hilo brand name is used for Chinese made ukuleles.


Jeroen Hilhorst is a graduate in Dutch linguistics and literature who specialized in computational linguistics and worked in the software industry. At the same time he was often making things in his father's carpentry workshop. In 1989 he combined his scientific background with his wood working skills and started designing and making classical guitars. Starting slowly he made around 2 guitars per year but now makes around 6. Hilhorst's guitars often employ innovative features to increase sound projection such as internal centre braces, double tops and reinforced graphite necks. He also offers an unusual oval classical guitar, a contrabass concert guitar, a soprano concert guitar and a concert charango.

Source: Jeroen Hilhorst website


Momose Custom Craft Guitars is a Deviser brand name used for high quality hand made electric guitars and basses. Momose Custom Craft Guitars are handmade by a small team of craftsmen trained and overseen by Yoshio Momose, one of Japan's top guitar makers. Yoshio Momose launched the Headway brand back in 1977 as a high-end acoustic brand for the Japanese domestic market. He also invented various jigs for guitar making and has been engaged in OEM production for various high-end guitar makers in Japan for many years. Momose guitars are made at the Asuka factory in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture.

Source: Momose Custom Craft Guitars website


Harshbarger Strings was established in 2016 by Jason Harshbarger (Harshbarger previously operated as Highland Strings). His interest in guitar making started in 1995 when he met local guitar builder Jamonn Zeiler and went on to apprentice with him in 1996. The next year he graduated from the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in the Spring of 1997 class. In 2005 he built a couple of instruments under the name Harshbarger Luthiery. He operated as Highland Strings from 2006 to 2016 before changing the company name to Harshbarger Strings.

Source: Harshbarger Strings website


Bootleg Guitars was founded by Jon Hill. Jon has over 25 years of building custom guitars and basses as the founder of Hill Custom Guitars and a former head of the Dean USA Custom Shop. Bootleg guitars and basses are handmade in Cleveland.


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