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Guitars

Kasuga “Deluxe” LG-480BS

I didn’t have much disposable income as a teen. So, when a friend bought an electric guitar, I made lots of measurements, got a luthiery book from the local library, and made my first electric guitar from plywood and cheap hardware. It worked, but it wasn’t great, and it wasn’t pretty.

The Plywood Plank (TM)

A year or so later, I went halves with my parents, and got a used electric guitar for my 16th birthday, from Reidy’s in Blackburn. When I saw that tiger maple hanging on the wall, it was love at first sight. It was heavy, well built, with cream binding, a gorgeous rosewood fretboard and medium frets, smooth Grover style machine heads, and it played very nicely. But, all that was written on the guitar were the words “Kasuga Deluxe”. It was a mysterious mahogany beast from the Far East.

I decided that the wood finish was too gorgeous to spoil with plastic. So I removed the cream pickup selector ring and pickguard, and replaced the cream pickup rings with ‘cool’ black ones. Phwoar!

The Kasuga served me well. For 10 years, I recorded numerous songs and played a dozen gigs in several bands across the Northwest. And then, the thing which happens to many people in their 20s, happened to me. I got a job, got married, and had kids. The guitar hung on a hook on the wall for almost 3 decades. Occasionally, it would come down for a dusting, and I would struggle to remember how to play anything. A couple of times, I tried to restart the playing, but it never lasted long.

70s Kasuga catalogue

In 2018, I joined a group of mature amateur musicians. This was the catalyst I needed to resume my passion for playing guitar. The Kasuga got a good clean and a set of new strings. I also decided that I was long overdue that fancy guitar I’d always dreamed of, and the Kasuga ended up back on the wall.

Meanwhile, as the internet had become a thing since I acquired the Kasuga, I decided to do some research. I discovered that the Deluxe was actually called an LG-480BS, and it originated in a Japanese factory sometime around 1976. Kasuga was a respected if little-known company, which had made good midrange electrics and acoustics for a range of well-known Japanese and western guitar manufacturers for many years.

As my renewed guitar obsession progressed, I started to feel sad about the Kasuga, which was being betrayed on a daily basis. I’d even tried out a few real Les Pauls. But none of them played as well as mine. So, one day, I decided to make it up to her. I was going to give her a deluxe make-over.

Off came the nut, revealing a rather chunky slab rosewood fretboard.
On went a new bone nut.
Those strings were made to sit nice and low.
The gloss neck was exfoliated with fine grade sandpaper, giving it a silky satin finish.
I splashed out on some used Seymour Duncan Seth Lover PAF pickups, and cream pickup rings. These pickups are supposed to be the closest thing to Les Paul gold that you could buy without a mortgage.
The crackly old pots were replaced with new vintage taper pots, wired 50s style, and the speed knobs were replaced with early Standard style bell knobs.

I also replaced the knobbly old bridge saddles with smart shiny new ones. The Kasuga was hot to trot.

So now, it looks a little more and sounds a little more like a £250k 1959/1960 Les Paul Standard. The bolt-on neck (neatly hidden from view) still sustains almost as well as a glued-in neck. The comfy 10-inch radius fretboard and satin slim C profile neck is a delight to play. The pickups sound old, expensive, and like they’ve seen a few things in their time. And she still looks gorgeous. Not bad for approaching 50!

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