Greco SA800WR-STP - 1978 (ES-345 Copy)
This is a very rare Greco copy of an ES-345 finished in wine red lacquer and made in November of 1978.
In 1978 Greco introduced the SA 800, which is a highly appointed copy of an ES-345 built to the same specifications as Gibson at the time. It includes a flamed sycamore (English Maple) body, maple center block sandwiched between spruce, a three piece maple neck, striped ebony fingerboard and split parallelogram inlays.
As a 345 all its hardware is gold plated, including it's PU-2 humbuckers. It also features a Greco version of the Varitone switch, which alters the tone substantially using a range of capacitors. Tone can go from a bypass, to a very thick heavy bluesy sound, to progressively thinner sounds as the knob is rotated. The PU-2 pickups work exceptionally with the Varitone, making this a serious and versatile blues machine.
The SA800 in 1978 was offered in Sunburst SA800S, Wine Red SA800WR and Walnut SA800W. The standard tail piece was a trapeze style, but a stop tail piece could be ordered by adding the letter 'STP' at the end of the model number, which makes this guitar an SA800WR-STP.
I found an original magazine ad (see pics) from October 1978, shortly before this guitar was made and implying it may have been introduced in late 1978. The last catalog that shows this model is from 1981, while it is missing from 1980 catalogs, so it may have only been made for about three years.
This guitar comes with its original (optional) aluminum frame case, warranty card, showroom tag and owners handbook. It is all original except for two screws mounting the pickguard and the selector knob on the Varitone. There is generally less interest in pre-1980 Greco's, but this guitar should have collectors and players alike re-thinking that, as it is an outstanding instrument. To date, I have only come across one other vintage MIJ 345 copy, which was a limited run, non-catalog guitar made by Burny. I have yet to find another MIJ production copy of the ES-345 besides the Greco SA 800.
Click on main image above for full size pictures