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The guitar legacy of Matsumoku Industrial Co. Ltd.
Westone guitars and basses were made by Matsumoku (or “Uncle Mats” as we affectionately refer to it) in Japan and subsequently in Korea for St. Louis Music during a period of 10 years from 1981 to 1991. Here, you will find information, history, pictures and specifications of these amazing instruments.
While you may find a few early post-Mats Korean made instruments listed here, we do not feature them, concentrating primarily on the Japanese made Matsumoku’s.
For a brief period, roughly late 2010 to early 2012, the Westone brand was revived by a German company, Musik-Meyer, which is still in business but no longer selling Westone guitars. The products in no way resemble the MIJ or MIK post-Mats models, but were copies of traditional guitar configurations.
Our best guess is that they were likely made in China but under relatively good quality control.
Chinese made “Westones” are also seen occasionally but are mostly copies of traditional American styles. They are considered to be inferior instruments and are definitely not covered here. Our advice is to avoid them!
We’re also aware of the Westone brand that was featured on a now defunct Indian site selling guitars of dubious quality. These were cheap and somewhat gaudy looking acoustics and bear absolutely no resemblance to a Mats made instrument whatsoever.
This site also sold similar poor merchandise under bastardized versions of well known brands such as Givson and Fendar. That should tell you all you need to know.
(More info on Indian Westone in this Forum thread discussion )
Addendum April 2016
“Weston” brand (no “e”)
We have seen instruments stamped with the Westone ‘bird’ logo accompanied by the word Weston. We speculate that this was to avoid any potential copyright infringement at the time. These tend to be Super Strat type copies rather than original designs and as near as we can determine the majority of better made guitars and basses were Korean made. Dates and manufacturer are unknown but some may have been made by Samick.
Korean instruments are identified by checking the neck for a scarf joint. They also tend to have position markers beyond the 12th fret located an the edge of the fretboard instead of the centre.
The Weston brand also appears on some poorly made Chinese copies which appear to be post-Korean era builds. Quality is dubious and it is best to avoid these instruments.
Westone Guitar Forum
If you’re an active collector, player or enthusiast be sure to visit the Westone Guitar Forum the definitive authority on the current state of all things Westone.
There, you can discuss your instruments, recommend places to buy them, and learn how to look after them. Whether you have a missing trem arm, or need to completely rebuild your guitar, the Westone Guitar Forum is the place to go!
If you love Westone, become a member today!
How old is my guitar?
This is one of the two most frequently asked questions on the Forum.
Most Matsumoku Westones can be dated by the serial number, usually found on the back of the headstock, but some early 80’s models have the serial number on the neck plate.
7-digit serials are the most common:
The first digit = the year it was made
For example: a serial number beginning with 2 indicates a guitar made in 1982
It is possible that the second and third digits give the month.
Addendum November 2014:
6-digit serial numbers:
Several Westone forum members have recently presented guitars with 6 digit numbers. Although not as common they do exist.
Looking at dating information compiled by our friends at the Matsumoku Forum we note that 6 digits was in use until mid to late 1981.
We presume that the interpretation for those instruments is the same for early Westones, until the 7 digit scheme was applied:
The first digit (0 or 1) = the year
The next 2 digits = the month
5-digit serials appear on some models:
The first two digits = the year
The last two = the month
It is important to note that these are not really serial numbers, just production dates, and are not unique…84009 is extremely common!
8 digit serial numbers:
These appear from late 1987, in the format NN NN NNNN (eg 87 10 0001).
We think that:
the first two digits = the year
the second two = the month
Any guitar with this sort of number was probably made in Korea.
Later models (1987 onwards) have no obvious serial number and may have originally been on a sticker on the guitar.
These are also Korean made.
Letters in the serial number
Many early 80’s models are also seen with a letter prefixing the number.
These represent the production month and are interpreted as:
|A = Jan
|D = Apr
|G = July
|J = Oct
|B = Feb
|E = May
|H = Aug
|K = Nov
|C = Mar
|F = June
|I = Sept
|L = Dec
So, a serial number like D810040 would indicate that the guitar was manufactured in April 1981.
What is it worth?
This is the most frequently asked question on the Forum, and one we wish people would stop asking, for two reasons:
- We’re Westone enthusiasts and players; we’re not merchants.
- Fundamentally, there’s no real answer to the question.
If you are selling:
Try selling it. When someone buys it, you’ll know how much it is worth!
If you are buying:
How much are you prepared to pay?
There are too many variables to be able to give an accurate figure. The value depends on the desirability of the model, how many are available, the condition of the guitar, whether or not it has been modified or has parts missing, what country the seller is in, etc.
A rough idea can be obtained by searching completed listings on Ebay. These prices are what people actually paid. Even then, that will only give you a very rough idea. The best you can hope for is a range of prices.
There is really no way to predict a price for any model (So please don’t ask!)