There are four models in the Clipper series:
- Clipper Six
The Clipper series appears to have been manufactured 1987-88. The first Clipper model (The Clipper Six) was originally produced by Matsumoku but the vast majority of Clipper models were made in Korea . They may only have been available in the UK/Europe. There is no mention of them in the US price lists. (See also the 1988 catalogue.)
Probably made in Korea from 1987. Quality control on the Korean made guitars can be inconsistent. For example, shielding foil on the back of the control cavity cover of this example wasn’t connected to anything, and there was no earth connection to the trem/bridge (The body wasn’t even routed for this connection so the guitar left the factory like this) Easily fixed, but it should never have happened.
The numbering system for the Clipper series is quite straightforward. The first digit is the number of pickup coils on the guitar (2, 3 or 4) the next three describe the pickups from neck to bridge (1 for single coil, 2 for humbucker). If there are only 2 pickups, the second digit is 0.
- 2 single coil pickup
- single volume and tone controls
- Bendmaster Deluxe trem with locking nut (Early models only – by July 1988 they were supplied with a standard non-trem bridge)
The body on the guitar pictured is laminated plywood, a sure sign that it is a post-Matsumoku guitar.
Each pickup has its own on/off switch, there is a single volume and single tone control.
- Single coil Alnico pickup in the neck position
- Alnico humbucker at the bridge
- Bendmaster Deluxe trem
- on/off switch for the single coil pickups
- 3 way on/off/coiltap switch for the humbucker
update August 2011:
Thanks to Forum member Nikki for these new pictures (click to enlarge)
- H/S/S Alnico pickups
- Bendmaster Deluxe trem with locking nut
- triangular neck inlays
- black binding on the body
- Individual on/off switches for the single coil pickups
- 3 way on/off/coil tap switch for the humbucker
At some point the specifications changed. The following has the TRS-101 trem system and locking nut
Info from MAY 1987 Guitarist Mag review:
- through body stringing
- 22 frets
- ebony fingerboard
- 24.75″ scale.
- body made from ‘selected hardwoods’
- Gotoh machine heads
- plastic nut
Different headstock shape from the other Clipper Series guitars. When is a humbucker not a humbucker? When it’s on a Clipper Six. It was originally thought that the two switches must be for phase and coil tap – they’re not. The pickup is a humbucker wired as two separate single coil pickups, the two switches switch the two coils on or off. One end of each coil is permanently wired to earth, so the pickup will not function as a true humbucker. According to the August 1987 review the pickup is a humbucker. Either there had been a design change, or one review is wrong. If there was no design change then the earlier review is probably more accurate as the reviewer had obviously had a look at the wiring of the pickup.
RRP in May 1987 was £149 (Source – Clipper 6 review May 1987)
Update November 2021
So…We have received a Clipper 6 that is a little ‘out of the ordinary’.
According to this page, a Clipper 6 is a Matsumoku instrument, with just one twin single coil pickup (which is NOT a humbucker). The switches are supposed to turn each coil on or off. It also comes (according to the ONLY image on the site) with one potentiometer, which is assumed to be the volume control. The instrument shown here has a humbucker in the bridge, and a mini-humbucker in the neck, with two potentiometers and an extra three way switch. Currently, the microswitches appear to have no effect on the sound of the instrument, which makes us think that they have been disconnected. The three way switch definitely acts in the same way as a Gibson three way switch. Down is Bridge, up is Neck, middle is both. In all cases both coils of both pickups are magnetic no matter which way the microswitches are set. The instrument is definitely ‘roadworn’. There are a LOT of dents on the area between the pickups, and there is a notable amount of ‘bucklerash’ on the back. There are also some dings and breaks on the ‘bottom’ edge of the guitar.
All the above said, it sounds wonderful and has two VERY hot pickups. The neck is smooth and comfortable. There is no fret sprout, or any rough edges on any of the frets. The tuning machines are also smooth and positive. It appears that the instrument hadn’t been tuned for a while, and after a few hours of playing it didn’t stay in tune, but after a few finer tunes, it locked in.
Does anyone have a single humbucker Clipper 6? This is the first instrument of this type that we have ever seen ‘in real life’, so have no idea as to what is ‘original’ and ‘official’ or what is added or modified after the effect.
We will be taking the instrument apart this week to analyse the electronics and possibly re-connect the microswitches. We will journal this activity for your perusal!
Mini-update, February 2022
The original microswitches were indeed disconnected and replaced in the wiring circuit with the ugly three-way switch ‘Les Paul’ style.
We sourced a MMK45 three-wire humbucker to replace the ‘no name’ one that was originally in the Clipper 6, changing the 12.55ohm impedance to only 5.5ohm, reducing the ‘heat’ of the bridge, but returning the ability to turn each of the humbucker coils on and off with the microswitches. The mini-humbucker in the neck is a 9.6ohm impedance, giving a little ‘imbalance’ to the guitar, where usually it is expected that the bridge pickup would be hotter than the neck.
Our next step is to add a separate volume control for each pickup, move the tone control to where the ugly three-way switch is, and replace the 2-way microswitches with two 3-ways. Then the front microswitch will control the pickup selection as the existing three-way now does, and the back microswitch will control the ‘splitting’ of the bridge humbucker. After that, we will replace all of the control knobs with black knurled examples, which, whilst not identical to the original Westone knobs, will be closer than they are now.
If we can find a Magnaflux IV humbucker, that will be on the list to test next.