1980 Navigator SA 120
Extremely rare, early Navigator SA in beautiful original condition.
Navigator is a domestic only brand under ESP, making very high grade copies of traditional style guitars. From its inception in the mid 1970’s until today, the Navigator brand has always been regarded as one of the highest quality brands in Japan with a product line of premium model guitars.
This Navigator appears to have been made in 1980 based upon its CTS pots which are dated to late November 1979. Since the pots were made in the US and then shipped to Japan, I am assuming the guitar was made in early 1980 given their date code. This Guitar has no serial number or markings, which is also consistent with a 1980 model. It’s had a pot and its jack replaced, which were included with the guitar. That pot and another installed on the guitar, both have the same date code to late November 1979.
Navigators from this time are built somewhat differently from other 335 style MIJ guitars. The top and back are much more sculpted, with somewhat of a dish around the edges which can be seen in some of the photos. The center block construction is different as well, using a mahogany center block, rather than the more typical maple.
The top is a beautiful birds-eye maple and the fretboard is striped ebony (macassar ebony). The 1980 catalog shows SA 100 and SA 120 models, so given the birds-eye maple, striped ebony and US made CTS pots, I believe this is an SA 120. The neck is mahogany with 1-9/16” nut and fret edge binding.
The pickups in this guitar appear to be early Burny, although I am not certain. They have vintage style braided shielded wire and the pickup covers are stamped with M-1N and M-2N at neck and bridge, which I’ve found on some Burny pickups of the same era. I believe these pickups are original to the guitar as well. This guitar does sound fantastic.
Condition overall on this guitar is excellent, with some minor scratched and such, especially since it is nearly forty years old. The guitar plays and sounds fantastic, with no buzzing anywhere on the neck.
I currently have three of these early Navigator 335’s, so it is time to sell one of them to make room for other guitars. These are quite rare, especially in condition as nice as this. Definitely a fitting piece for serious collectors of vintage Japanese guitars.
This guitar will come with a non-original hard case. Want a brand new case - add $90 (my cost).
This guitar is located in the United States.
Click on main image above for full size pictures