1979 Vesta Graham VGC-1000 TBS
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Vesta Graham was a brand created by Hidesato Shiino in 1978. Shiino was one of the founders of ESP and after leaving founded Shiino Musical instruments Corporation and PACO studio to meet the needs of professional musicians. Vesta Graham was the first brand launched by Shiino Musical Instruments. Vesta Graham instruments were truly high-end, hand made using the best materials and components, an attribute common amongst the brands Shiino created.
This guitar is a VGC 1000, a semi acoustic model with an original price of the ¥100,000 making it an expensive guitar at the time. As such it was made to a very high standard, featuring a one-piece mahogany neck with striped (Macasser) ebony fretboard and mother of pearl markers of a design unique to Vesta Graham. If you look at the back of the headstock, you’ll notice there are no wings. The neck is bound with the frets featuring fret edge binding, as well as fret over binding. Tuners are US made Grovers, an expensive addition at the time. The nut is somewhat unique as well, with an angled (rather than flat) bottom, as was done on Martin guitars prior to their going to CNC. Neck profile is large, especially for 335 style guitars made at this time.
The guitar is built like a 335, with a full-length center block and features a long tenon. The center block is made of Mahogany, rather than maple. The body is three ply laminate flamed sycamore on all sides and flitch-matched to a reverse chevron on the top and back. The TOM style bridge is solid brass and the pickups are Gotoh PAF, listed as 'Vesta Graham original' in catalogs, which sound excellent in this guitar. The body is finished in a nitro lacquer Tobacco Sunburst with some fantastic checking. Other than its knobs, I believe the guitar is all original, including all its electronics. I've dated it as 1979, but can't be certain as it has neither an engraving at the end of the fretboard, nor a label inside the F-Hole.
The guitar has been completely gone through, frets leveled, crowned and polished and received a full setup. It plays and sounds fantastic with no buzzing or dead spots anywhere on the neck. The body has scratches and dings, and some fantastic checking which can be seen in the pictures. The guitar has a true vintage vibe with beautiful honest aging and play wear.
Vesta Graham’s are exceptionally well-made instruments, truly professional level instruments. It is easily among my favorite brands, and I will continue to track down more of these as I believe they are among the finest of 335/semi-acoustics ever made and a testament to the work and ideals of Hidesato Shiino.
This guitar was my first Vesta Graham and got me hooked on the brand. Just fantastic guitars in every way.
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