NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

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SignoftheDragon
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NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by SignoftheDragon » Mon Jun 08, 2020 2:30 pm

So, as part of a recent windfall, I blew a bunch of money on several guitars.

One of them is a true Vintage Guitar as defined by the forum rules- although I can't find much info about it anywhere. Most sources (similar listings on eBay/Reverb, a few cryptic references on some Univox fan pages, and a couple of YouTube video demos) that I've found say that it is from the '60s, but I haven't seen anything that points to a model name or firm date.

Image

Anyone have any insight/experience/opinions on these?

Took the neck off (and the 4 strings that came with it) and opened up the guts- there are NO identifying marks or serial numbers to help with the date or model- even the pots have no date code. "Steel Reinforced Neck" on the neckplate is about the most informative text found anywhere besides the logo, which puts it from the Matsumoko family of Japanese-made guitars. That's as far as I've got with it.

I'm trying to decide if I should restore it as much as possible to Vintage spec, or if I'd rather refurbish it and rock it as a player.

Vintage restoration route: Daunting. a) One of the pickups isn't working and a look at the wiring seems to show everything intact. b) plastic nut is in bad shape. c) frets are worn and even damaged in a few spots- a refret is almost certainly needed. d) switch tip is missing, as is the trem cover.

Player revival route: Less daunting, but also maybe less rewarding. I'm thinking along the lines of a black anodized guard with lipsticks or even Jag-style pickups (I don't want to route.) I think it will still need a refret to get it up to grade, but that's probably last on the list.

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by SWFC68 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:50 pm

That's really cool. I've never seen anything like it.
Your player revival route seems more work than the resto to me. Plus why would you want to replace that pickguard, isn't it awesome?

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by surfin_bird » Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:16 am

Super cool.
I have seen these before and it's definitely a Matsumoku. It seems that it comes from the same time and place as where models for Aria, Domino and where made. I have for example a Aria 1532t which is not much different than this one.
I don't think i've seen a specific model number for this one, it also seems that "drowninginguitars" is on top of the model specifics normally and the video with a Univox identical to yours is specified as "Univox 12 string".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpVHVcLScmU

Personally I would restore it, if not I would at least keep the original pickguard and pickups together and just make a new pickguard with pickups so you can always change it back at a later point.

That pickguard material :?

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by mgeek » Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:41 am

Non working pickup could be anything... I've had pickups appear not to work due to a corroded switch, a visibly fine but dry solder join etc.

+1 for restoring it even if that involves a rewind and a refret. It's a 50+ year old guitar at this point and *significantly* rarer than any Fender of the period. Those pickups will be fine, possibly even 'great', a 'jag pickup' or something wouldn't be an improvement, just tinkering for the sake of it, and a backwards step lookswise. Why replace that pickguard? It's the coolest thing I've ever seen!

+ The idea that a 'player' guitar is better for playing in any way is a misnomer. It just means it's been messed around with so a collector wouldn't be interested in it. ;D

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by antisymmetric » Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:45 am

:-* That thing is art- if it were mine, I'd do what it takes to get it functional in its original state. If you decided different pickups are in order, no doubt it could be done reversibly with a new guard etc. I hope you take the preservation route first. FWIW, a friend of mine has had those pickups in a few guitars and thinks they're the business.
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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by StevenO » Tue Jun 09, 2020 3:16 am

Damn, that's perfect! Love it

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by SignoftheDragon » Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:20 am

Alright... alright! I'm going to restore it! (peer pressure of the best kind here, I guess.)

There are a few things that I feel qualified to do- cut & shape a new bone nut, hole plugging, general cleaning, and connection jiggling.

I'll have my setup tech look at the neck for the refret, as well as the wiring if I can't see anything obvious to fix. How much should I expect to pay for a good refretting?

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by mbene085 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:27 am

Do you have a multimeter handy? Measuring the resistance of each of the pickups would tell you a lot about what's going on. It's often possible to measure resistance at the coil start and finish, cutting the leads and all downstream components out of the equation, if you can find the point where the leads are soldered to the pickups, and measure there.

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by sir h c » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:02 pm

Check out the www.drowninginguitars.com website linked in that video. His site has a treasure trove of information. Pickups often tell who made it, Univox was just the importer.

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by Pacafeliz » Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:51 pm

I would be afraid of hurting myself playing that! :derp:

But yeah it's definitely a Matsumoku made one.kinda cool!
i love delay SO much ...that i procrastinate all the time.

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by SignoftheDragon » Thu Jun 11, 2020 12:09 pm

Update: Guitar tech sounded optimistic that the frets could be saved with just a bit of a filing/crown/dress, so I've left it with him for the moment. He's also going to check all of the connections & wiring, and do a general re-assembly & setup for me.

I'll source the switch tip and be on the lookout for the trem cover- that shoould bring it back up to vintage spec (minus a couple replaced screws in the bridge adjustment area) so we can get to playing!

I'm excited and nervous at the same time- I've never even seriously played a guitar with frets so low- all mine have either Fender standard or Charvel jumbo frets, so i'm sure it'll be a different beast altogether. The floating trem has me dreaming as well- space-surf-hypergaze all night long!

I'm falling for the shape- It almost looks like some weapon out of Warhammer 3000 or something. The forearm contour looks like the blade bevel of some sort of axe- complimented by the super-thin body. (It's barely over an inch thick!)

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by SignoftheDragon » Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:20 am

Update:

Pickups- both are working, there were some loose connections in the wiring giving me troubles.

Wiring/other- both the switch and the output jack were bad- replaced with similar available parts. (kept originals) A few new solder joints, and we're on track to assemble everything today!

Frets are levelled/crowned, new bone nut is cut and installed. Just an assembly & setup and i'll be good to bring her home!

I'm excited to plug in and feel that '60s chime & jangle!

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by mgeek » Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:17 am

yesssss I'm excited for you


One thought I had about this is - I wonder if there are any drop in replacements for that bridge? In my exp those 'roller saddles sat on plastic' can be a bit dead sounding

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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by antisymmetric » Tue Jun 16, 2020 12:48 pm

^There are indeed- the bridges found on lots of Teiscos (I have them on my ET460s/ SS4L etc) is the same unit. They usually have metal rollers. They fit my Matsumoku trem at least, which appears to be the same as the one here.
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Re: NGD! First TRUE Vintage Guitar- Univox "Mystery" 12-string

Post by reserves » Tue Jun 16, 2020 11:18 pm

SignoftheDragon wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:20 am
Update:

Pickups- both are working, there were some loose connections in the wiring giving me troubles.

Wiring/other- both the switch and the output jack were bad- replaced with similar available parts. (kept originals) A few new solder joints, and we're on track to assemble everything today!

Frets are levelled/crowned, new bone nut is cut and installed. Just an assembly & setup and i'll be good to bring her home!

I'm excited to plug in and feel that '60s chime & jangle!
Sounds like you’re doing the right thing to me, look forward to hearing how it sounds.

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