1978 Greco Mirage

*Note: This was written a few years ago, before I’d sold the guitar (for a frankly insulting sum… bills needed paying 🙁 ). There’s a whole story there too…

Made in the Fujigen factory alongside the greats of the Japanese market of that time, the Greco Mirage is a rare beast in these western waters. Essentially the same guitar as the original Ibanez Iceman (and made on the same production line) with slightly different hardware and a bolt on neck. The Greco’s were produced entirely for the local market, with all international orders being sent under the Ibanez logo.

The Guitarmourer, complete with uncontrolable beard, playing a 1978 Greco Mirage at a gig in South Wales, UK, in 2018.
The guitar was much easier to handle than the beard…

It’s clear this guitar has some history, at 40 years old you would expect so, but over all it’s still a fantastic instrument. Playability wise this thing has all the gifts, the neck feels great, the body balances well and it looks just as killer as it always did. Sonically, the two humbuckers aren’t as hot as later iterations of this guitar but they are very articulate. I had a ’92 IC300 years and years ago that was much less pleasing to listen to, the pickups on that were very hot, but the tone of the instrument just didn’t have what this one does… it’s a strange thing. Unplugged it sounds utterly gorgeous, plugged in the tone is dynamic and responsive.


If you’re lucky enough to see one of these out in the wild at anything like an affordable price, do yourself a favour and bag it. It’s just as good as the Ibanez (the only difference is the badge. They were made on the same line in the same factory) and if you ask me, a bit cooler for being a Greco 🙂

1983 Ibanez Rocket Roll II


Some time in late 2018, I heard via a facebook group about a guy up in Leeds selling a bunch of old Japanese guitars. Turned out that there was this, a ’78 Greco Mirage and a later 80’s iteration of the same. I came away with this and the ’78 Greco (which will be featured in another post sometime soon). I used the Greco for performances and rehearsals with BroodMother, this I used at home. It didn’t quite fit the look for the band but I kind of wish I had. It was a much better guitar.


This finish on the guitar, for something nearly 40 years old at the time, was exceptionally clean. The paint was still glossy and rich, the few scuffs and dings entirely forgivable (is there a V in the world without a dent on the wing-tips? Not if it’s been played, is the answer) and the hardware free from tarnishing. This speaks volumes. It was a superbly comfortable player and was my go to for practicing for that reason.

The pickups were completely serviceable for what I used it for, but to be honest, I never really tried them out to their full potential so can’t speak to their gnarliness one way or the other. the Bridge is obviously an aftermarket job and would not surprise me at all if it were a DiMarzio of some description.

I know what you’re thinking though… what’s up with the body shape?

Lawsuits are I believe the story there. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s Gib$on were just starting to dabble in a hobby that it would follow for the next 40 years; suing everyone. Anyone that made an SG, Les Paul, Flying V or Explorer shaped guitar got a sternly worded letter in the post, giving rise to the all the bonkers adventures in guitar shapes that came next (tokai talbo’s, Aria Pro II Urchins, Ibanez Destroyers… the list goes on). One of those new shapes was this; The Rocket Roll Mk II (no surprises for guessing the original Rocket Roll had a more ‘traditional’ shape).

So, I guess we all need to thank Gibson and their morbid jealousy for that at least.

Electrical Guitar Company Acrylic V

This was at the time and still is, the most money I’d ever spent on a guitar. A frankly ludicrous £3000. Still, welcome to the world of Aluminium Guitars. Nothing gets out of bed for less than 2k.

This particular guitar also happens to be one of the rarest. As far as I know, only 5 were produced (in varying liveries, some with tremolos, some without) after the first one was made for a certain tattooed lead guitarist in Atlanta based prog-metallers Mastodon. This led, apparently, to some sort of issue between the aforementioned Leviathan of metal (see what I did there??) and the builder of the guitar. There will be no more.

There are many things that can and have been written about the company that is EGC. the wait times (measuring in years), poor communication and general awfulness to deal with. I have no such story, as I’ve never dealt with them, so I’ll stick to the guitar.

I bought this from a guy in Leicestershire in mid 2019. He was a pleasure to deal with and as a resident expert in all things EGC (he had a number of these guitars), full of useful information about the brand and it’s users. So I parted with the money and he shipped the guitar. One of the nicer things about guitars made of metal… no fears of broken headstocks. Nevertheless, it arrived extremely well cosseted within it’s SKB hardcase and I fell, briefly, in love.

An aluminium guitar doesn’t sound like a wooden one. That should be fairly obvious, but I wasn’t prepared for the quality of the tones that would come out of it. It was like a bell, with a resonant, almost angelic ring to every note. One of those instruments that new riffs and ideas just fall out of. It was glorious.

It was not all sunshine and rainbows, however.

The sheer weight of the thing was problematic. it was a (very predictably) heavy beast, but the neck was the real problem. it comprised maybe 65 – 70% of the weight of the guitar (my estimation from how it felt to hold) and the neck was SUPER thin, I think probably the thinnest I’ve ever played, meaning it sat on the left hand like a dull axe. Add to that the weird dimensions of it with the neck leaving the body at the 21st fret, it felt more like a baritone to hold. It looked awesome. Odd, but awesome.

Part of me wishes I’d kept it, just as a thing to have. but £3000 is a lot of money to sit on a wall as a vanity piece, so I sold it. Or rather I swapped it for a gorgeous Gibson Explorer an Marshal Origin 20 amp, orange cab and life pedal clone. In retrospect, he got the better end of the deal. Still. we live and learn.

1980 Ibanez AR100

Ah… Vintage Japanese guitars. If ever there was a frustrating rabbit-hole to fall down, this is probably it. Unless you’re a Gibson fan, in which case that is probably more frustrating as Gib$on quality control is essentially non-existent, and half the workforce are drunk. The other half are unparalleled, exquisitely gifted craftspeople of the highest order, but for every ninja, there is an idiot. This is the only reason I can think of for the ‘all or nothing’ nature of Gibbo’s. they’re either brilliant, or they’re shit.

Enter Japanese Luthiery in the 1970’s; Japan was already producing instruments of what it considered to be the highest quality, but the reputation of the brands in 1970’s USA was not stellar. Much to the confusion of the Japanese Luthiers. Investments were made; Quality control was doubled down on, glues were improved, stock drying and clamping times extended, the explanations for the instability of the products after making their way across the pacific was hunted, found and executed without hesitation. The result was one of, if not the finest and most progressive periods in modern guitar-making. By 1980, Aria, Ibanez, Tokai, Yamaha many notable others were at the peak of their powers, Gib$on lawsuits navigated and moved on from, the now famous guitar making factories (Matsumoku, Fujigen etc…) had the enviable arsenal of class leading QC, impeccable workmanship and world beating production technology. As a result they were producing the most reliably brilliant guitars in the world. Bar none (this is the opinion of The Guitarmourer and is obviously debatable, but only if you’re intent on being wrong).

Ibanez’ AR models were the ‘Les Paul killing’ double cut guitars that came with astounding feature sets for the price. This model, the 100, being closer to the bottom of the range than the top packed an impressive punch and cost a fraction of the US made equivalent, with more reliable results. This particular guitar was found in a guitar shop in Birmingham (the real one, in the UK) back in 2018 or so and it was a delight to own and play. It was my go-to for gigging and rehearsing for about a year, until financial embarrassment forced sale.

1980-ish Kay – Neck Thru

Back in 2016 ish I found this guitar in The shop of Broken Dreams, otherwise known as Cash Generator. Everyone’s favourite ‘hard-times-a-knockin-and-i-need-me-baccy’ shop. Reasonably priced and looking lovely.


The guitar itself was in pretty good nick, fretboard needed a clean and the brass (of which there was much) needed a polish but otherwise it was a super tidy example.

Due to the build style it’s very easy to mistake these guitars for their high-end Matsumoku cousins, alas, it is not. there’s a few giveaways; the bridge is sharp and nasty, the electronics budget. However, that doesn’t mean these can’t hold their own. the feature set is great, pickups sound wonderful, Ash 5 piece neck-thru construction is comparable to many things worth many, many times more and it’s actually a joy to play. If you find one; bag it.

1981 Kay Effector

Also marketed as Univox Effector or Kay Synth-guitar

Facebook is a strange and dangerous place.

It has, with the able assistance of Twitter, both created a new kind of human interaction and destroyed the old social balances that underpinned our societies. This ubiquitous and uncontrollable communication medium has liberated nations, destroyed whole regions and unbalanced our political systems and social fabric to the point that we find ourselves on the edge of near constant chaos as a direct result. The power is as immense as it is unpredictable. It is also quite good at learning the stuff that you like and showing you stuff that’s for sale near you, using dark and arcane magic. So after a brief (and lovely) holiday in Cornwall one sunny September weekend this bizarre little thing came to be in my possession. 

Dating these Kays of this era can be tricky, as the Kay company in the ’70s & 80’s weren’t massive on things like ‘records’ or ‘serial numbers’, but this one does have the sticker still attached, so we can tell it’s year of manufacture (1981).

The company itself changed hands in 1980, so this would, I guess, have been an attempt at trying to push into a crowded market with something a bit different, which it certainly is, but as the company only lasted another 6 years before being dissolved in 1987, it clearly didn’t do that well. If you have one that’s missing the S/N sticker though, I did manage to find out from somewhere on the interweb that the ‘whirlwind’ effect used to be named something else, some organ type or other, but they got sued for using the name on the effect and so in ’81 changed it to ‘whirlwind’. So, if it’s not called that, you have a 1980 or before. I think. Feel free to correct me in the comments if you know better!!

Build Quality

I bought the guitar without strings and in pretty bad nick. The body is very battered and the build quality is, certainly by the standards of other factories of that era, less than stellar… I’m not sure of the factory of origin, Kay records are, as we’ve already said, less than comprehensive. If you have any knowledge of it though please let me know (I’d genuinely love to know!).

However (and it’s a big one), this guitar is just too bonkers not to enjoy.

It feels solid enough, though much lighter than the Les Paul that it’s obviously based on. The neck has remained true even after 37 odd years and the hardware, though tarnished, is still decent. The electronics are all still working, which given the complexity of it is impressive, a few scratchy pots not-with-standing. The neck humbucker was installed too close to the neck, a problem with inaccurate hole routing as far as I can guess, so the pickup sat too high, which meant the action was set at about 1/2″ off the fretboard and the intonation was so far off it was in the next room. I solved this by trimming the pickup ring along the top edge to enable it to sit nicer, which got the action down to at least something playable, and the intonation is now better, but still not bang on. I need to get the measuring tools out to see properly, but I also think they messed up the neck position, so, yeah… not great.


Okay, so this is where things get a little bizarre… 

It has two humbuckers… or so you think, they’re actually single coils in big boxes, a reasonably quality fixed bridge, plastic nut, block inlays (plastic) and a bolt on neck. At this point we can’t avoid the elephant in the room any longer… that scratch plate… what in the world is going on there?

Let me enlighten you…

Single volume and single tone, so far so budget… but for all the switches present on this thing you will not find a pickup selector. No sir. Who wants to switch between pickups anyway? No, what all guitars need instead is a Phase switch (the font has mostly rubbed off on this one but you can make out which switch it is). So, you can have in phase or out of phase. The other pot controls the speed of the selected effect(s).  The volume pot is also equiped with an ‘off’ switch at the zero position. I think this is for the 9v battery that powers the effects, it’s the only reason I can think of that would warrant the extra expense of the switched pot, but who knows.

Moving down from the phase switch we have the effects on/off. If you have this turned on without any effects selected it cuts out completely, true bypass this is not.

The Effects

The important thing to remember here is that, with the exception of the fuzz effect, none of them sound like you think they will by the label. Also, as they fitted four effects onto 3 switches, each switch is not dedicated to an individual effect, rather the combination of positions governs what you get. I have literally no idea how this got through the meeting stage and into production but there we are. Drinking at work in the 80’s was popular so… yeah.

With the first switch in the ‘on’ position you get the echo effect, which isn’t an echo, its more of a tremolo but whatever, it does something weird to the sound. Add in the second switch and you have what Kay called the Tremolo effect, which is essentially like doubling up the echo… ish. If you then turn the first switch off again the guitar cuts out. Again.

I just want to pause for a moment here. We now have 3 different ways, using multiple controls, to silence the guitar. Volume to zero/off, effects enabled without any effects in the on position, or effects enabled with only the central effect in the ‘on’ position. That’s a lot of ways to cut yourself out. I’m not sure, but I don’t think a gigging musician designed this…

Moving on to the next effect, we have with both 2nd and 3rd switches in the ‘on’ position, the ‘wah’ effect. I’ll just post a video, You be the judge. It defies rational explanation. With only the 3rd switch selected you have the famous ‘Whirlwind’ effect, now, I’m no organ aficionado, but I’m thinking that though the name may (pre lawsuit) have been similar, the sound is a little wide of the mark. Again, it’s hard to describe so I’ll point you to the video I haven’t made yet, I’ll update the post when I have (though the thing is currently in storage so it might not be for a while…). Lastly ‘effects’ wise we have the ‘Fuzz’ switch. This is actually pretty good, and though quite muddy definitely boosts the guitar in the mix and adds a nice warmish fuzz tone. It won’t win you any awards, but it’s pretty fun!

Lastly in this tale of good intentions is the dual output. We have a standard 1/4″ jack for going off to your amp as normal, but we have another that is labeled ‘Headphone’, with the promising tag line ‘Patent Pending’… now, I’m not sure if they ever got that patent, or whether the rules for said application involved needing something to actually work, but this 100% does not, and as far as I can tell, no one else has got one that works either. I’ve yet to have a look at the guitar on the inside, but I’m thinking the necessary pre-amp for headphone output won’t be there, so maybe Kay sold pre-amp equipped headphones? Who knows.

So there you have it Ladies and Germs… the Kay/Univox Effector

Once Upon A Time…

There was a little, mostly unfollowed Blog about guitars, three guitars really, administered by me; The Guitarmourer. This site sat at the bottom of the Internet until I got bored of looking at it.

Dirty, unloved and unread.

Times went by, water passed under bridges, scars healed, people were born, died, got jobs and probably did all sorts of other stuff. Then one day I looked down at the muddy patch of compacted silt where the blog used to sit, staring up at the world that was ignoring it, I wept. Not literally, I just missed it a bit.

So here it is again. Unfortunately the posts were purged long ago so will need to be re-written is as much detail as I can remember, luckily I still have the photos somewhere, but there’s a whole host of other stuff to add to it now, so over the next few weeks and months I’ll put a few reviews, write-ups and photos of some of the odd little monsters that have passed through the Guitarmoury. Maybe there’ll be something that interests you? maybe not, who knows. You’ll have to read to find out.

Peace Brothers and Sisters.


Version 2.0

In the highly unlikely event that you remember the original guitarmoury page, this one will hopefully kept up to date a bit more often and contain some potentially useful information. There’s a few posts in the offing, so if you dig the electronical guitarages then stay tuned 🙂

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Who fucking put that there?! – The Guitarmourer.