Westone Guitars. It's A Mess

Westone Guitars. It's A Mess

The latest Guitar Gavel podcast is on the street!

I have the pleasure of sitting down with Bryan Toney in this episode and we discuss his journey of starting on the piano and transitioning to the guitar as a young teenager.

In our conversation we touch on the rich heritage of music in Boone, NC, growing a pony tail after retiring, and of course we get to see many guitars including a 1964 Fender Mustang and a 1972 Martin D-28.

A special thanks to Bryan for the wonderful time we had together, and thank you for taking time to listen. You can find Bryan's music at bryantoney.com or facebook.com/bryantoneymusic.

Matsumoku Industrial Co. of Japan started as a family woodworking shop and grew to become a cabinet supplier for Singer sewing machines in 1951. 

Ten years later Matsumoku was forced to diversify as the Singer line of business started to wane.  Coincidentally, and having the resources in place, Matsumoku was contracted by FujiGen Gakki to build guitar bodies and necks in 1961. 

By 1965 Matsumoku was at scale producing guitars for several other companies including Aria. 

The contract business continued to grow, but Matsumoku didn’t create their own house brand until 1975 when they acquired the Westone name rights.  

Prior to that, the Westone name lived on some one-off guitars in East Germany and Italy.    

NOTE- the timeline is murky, but in the late 1970s after securing the Westone name, Matsumoku began self-distribution of Westone acoustic guitars.   

Enter U.S. based distributor St. Louis Music (SLM).  SLM sourced their Electra brand of guitars from Matsumoku and in 1981 a deal was struck for SLM to import and distribute Westone branded guitars to the States.  

(In the same year distribution channels were also set up in various European countries.)   

SLM did a pretty good job for the next 10 years. However, in 1987 financial troubles got the best of Matsumoku and the factory closed. Manufacturing moved to Korea and lasted until 1991. 

There have been a few iterations of Westone since, but nothing stable. 

One of my favorites from the early days (1982) is the Prestige 150 and 250. The 250 was their most expensive offering, original MSRP of $549.


1982 Westone Prestige 250

1982 Prestige 250 specs: Mahogany body, Tiger flame maple top, Mahogany set neck, Ebony fretboard, Super Twin 750 humbuckers, Two volume, two PEQ tone controls (setting for a variable single coil tone), 3-way switch, Long Travel bridge, Swiftlok tailpiece

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