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  1. #1

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    Recently picked up this semi-mysterious guitar. Details and info were scarce in terms of the model, maker, date, etc. I had posted a thread regarding the warranty card that was with the instrument and was written in Japanese. It led to some great information from some of the members of this group. It is, as the detectives say, an ongoing investigation.

    I just got it back from a setup and cleanup. I probably should've waited a week or 2 to settle in my guitar room as I'm now getting some buzzing on upper frets that weren't occurring a few days ago when I picked it up.

    Here are a few pics with the details coming tomorrow.

    Navigator (Japanese) L-5 copy-navigator-l-5-jpg

    Navigator (Japanese) L-5 copy-navigator-l-5-1978-jpg
    Last edited by DMgolf66; 06-04-2020 at 10:33 PM. Reason: Additional info added


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    It looks great! Navigator is a top of the line brand of ESP Guitars. It looks like a genuine L-5.


  4. #3

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    Looks like you did very well! Except for the maker inlay on the headstock, it looks like my Aria ProII PE180.

    Can't wait to see/hear a demo clip!

  5. #4

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    agree with Jabbs and Lawson, you did very well. I was hanging a long time on the Tokai Registry board searching for a specific Tokai LP model and I always was told Navigator was up there with the best quality LP copies. You’ll get the buzz thing squared away I’m sure.



  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigMikeinNJ
    agree with Jabbs and Lawson, you did very well. I was hanging a long time on the Tokai Registry board searching for a specific Tokai LP model and I always was told Navigator was up there with the best quality LP copies. You’ll get the buzz thing squared away I’m sure.


    yeah heaven is probably just a tweak of the trussrod away ....

    yeah looks like like all these japanese L5 copies were made in the same factory , same finish , same everything except headstock and name on the headstock

    they all look (and apparently play
    and sound) great

  7. #6

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    it is possible that the problem is the humidity of the air, especially if the guitar is imported from Japan, where the air is very humid and warm, a bit like the Caribbean, and worse in cities with air conditioners

  8. #7

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    Might even be just an adjustment of the bridge saddle.

  9. #8

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    Could be. My method is to first make sure the nut slots are the proper height (or depth, depending on perspective), then make sure the neck is straight, then tweak the saddle height. If the neck is straight, with whatever relief you prefer, then there isn't much left to do other than adjust the saddle. All this assumes the frets are all level, of course. That may or may not be the case.

  10. #9

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    I brought it to Lark Street music hear in Northern NJ. Very reputable place which does a ton of work on archtops. Anywho, they did the setup and leveled off some frets, shaved the saddle a bit as it was bottomed out. It was fine when i tested in the shop after they did the work. I know that the previous owner in southern New Jersey did NOT humidify the room where it was kept, so even though things played fine in the shop when I tested after setup it could still be adjusting to my nicely humidified room. Does that make sense or am I off?

  11. #10

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    I think you'll be fine. I find some of my guitars need a tiny tweak of the truss rod basically in the alternation between wet and dry seasons. If you know the frets are level, then your only question is how much relief in the neck and how high the bridge saddle needs to be. I like the neck as straight as possible, but on these older guitars often it's hard to get the neck exactly straight. But if it was fine in the shop, then all you have here is some humidity/temp variation.

  12. #11

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    Finally got some time to post a follow up, so here are some thoughts and reveals.

    As I mentioned previously, I had learned a bit about the guitar through my other post( NGD coming.... can anyone read Japanese????? )requesting a Japanese translator for the warranty card that came with the guitar. Through that, I was also able to reach out to Koichi Wakasugi who is a player, collector (i believe) and a super knowledgeable source for Japanese made guitars. He did some digging and stated that guitar was very rare. He also believed it was probably made at the Terada factory. I'm not sure I will ever find out with a 100% certainty exactly who made the guitar, but its fun digging.

    What I do know is that I purchased the guitar from a guy just outside of Atlantic City, NJ. He's a rocker who has a real love for all Japanese made guitars. He purchased it at the end of the summer from a gentleman in Hawaii who I am trying to get in contact with, but haven't had any luck yet.

    Here is my un-expert opinion assessment so far:

    The GOOD:

    * Solid. It does not feel cheap in the slightest. This quality also seems to contribute to one of "The BAD" points.

    * Looks great! I really like that Iced tea sunburst finish. Looks like a 70's L-5 that a local shop had.

    * Sounds very good. Again, my ear is not the greatest and I very much a beginner, but I do dig it. I'm amazed at some of your ear's and the slightest of differences you guys can pick up on. Hopefully, I will post a clip soon of someone other than myself playing it, haha. Stay tuned....

    The BAD:

    * Binding- While it is not rotting, it was believed to be coming unglued in spots. While this was true in a couple small spots, the bigger issue was that the top had lifted in a couple areas. The tech at Lark Street said "just ride it off into the sunset......should be fine for a very long time". The repair would be silly at this point. All is very hard to see from a small distance away.

    * Frets- the frets are level, but there is little life left to them according to tech. He said that there isn't enough left for another shaving.

    * Neck- Neck is in very good shape. Small crack on the binding at first fret, but thats it. For me though, the spacing of the strings is a bit narrow. I measured the nut and it is 1.68 (picture will be posted), same as my Epiphone Emperor Regent. I then measured both at the 9th fret and the neck itself was just slightly narrower on the Navigator, but at the neck pickup area (where i pick) the difference on the outer edges of the E strings was 1.8835 to 1.7925. I guess that isn't that much, but I really only use my thumb to play and I can feel the difference for sure. Just slightly cramped for me to really get my thumb in there.

    * Weight- as I mentioned this thing was built like a tank......and with the weight of one, ha! Its heavier than my Guild X-700 which is very solidly built. In all honesty, I couldn't really give a crap. I'm not yet 50 years old, in good shape and I'm a home player who mostly sits when he plays. Would I prefer if it was lighter, yeah maybe, but then again I haven't heard many people request their guitars would be great "if it were only heavier".

    * Pickguard- it had gassed out and was crumbling. The binding was a 100% intact, so I was able to trace it out for a future replacement.

    While it appears I've that I've focused more on "the BAD"s, its not the whole story. In the end, the only thing that bothers me a little is the string width. I don't think there is much room on the fretboard to widen the spacing at the saddle, but maybe there is. Something I will look into . All other things I kinda knew what I was getting into and met my expectations or exceeded them.

  13. #12

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    edited pics......

    Navigator (Japanese) L-5 copy-nav-guitar-1-2-jpgNavigator (Japanese) L-5 copy-nav-guitar-4-2-jpgNavigator (Japanese) L-5 copy-nav-guitar-2-2-jpgNavigator (Japanese) L-5 copy-nav-guitar-3-2-jpg

  14. #13

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    How does one contact Mr. Wakasugi?

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

  15. #14

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    Ian Davlin is the head repair guy at Lark Street and he is an incredible repairman. You won't find anyone any better and will he may not have done anything with the guitar he is still I believe the head guy. They are completely correct the binding is nothing and binding is one of those things that is really hard to repair depending on where it is and what is happening. It is a lot of work and cost no matter the instrument. So you just play it and be done with the whole thing.

    As far the the buzz on the high frets. Determine the present relief in the neck right now. Do this with string as straight edge from frets 1 to 15. If that is ok then do the straight edge all the way from fret one to fret 20 at the end whatever number it happens to be. Could be you have a slight rise in the neck extension. Action height at fret 12 should be 4/64 and 5/64 or at least close. If the action is say 6/64 on bass side and you are getting a buzz then to me that needs a bit more investigation. If is it lower than 5/64 then raise it to 5/64. In the end the fellows are Lark Street should know their business.

  16. #15

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    Hey Mark,

    Sorry, I wasn't clear. The binding LOOKED like it might've been coming loose, but Ian said it was actually the top separating from the body in a couple spots. He said it would be a mess to fix.

    Yes, Ian is still there (along with Tom) and came out to talk to me. He gave me the beauty of a line "Ride it off into the will be fine for as lng as we're both alive".

  17. #16

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    String width at those intermediate points on the scale could be affected by the bridge saddle slots. With a wooden bridge you could fit a new saddle and create slots that produced the string spread you want, within limits, of course. ON a TOM bridge saddle it's maybe trickier but I imagine different saddles could be used with the same effect.

    My Aria PE180 is also tank-heavy and in a perverse sort of way I like it. I have always thought the nut and neck on the Aria were slightly narrower than the L5 as well but I keep forgetting to measure. It would make sense, the body is an L5 pattern, but the neck is the Super 400 neck, which for many years featured a slightly narrower fingerboard. But that's not fact, just my vague recollection to be checked by better informed people.

  18. #17

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    Lawson, all Gibson's made between late '65 and mid '69 have narrow nut widths except Johnny Smiths.
    The PE180s are all 1 11/16" nuts

  19. #18

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    I knew you'd likely bring the facts on this one. It is odd, though, my PE180 feels narrower but when I measure it, no it's not. I wonder if the neck is just beefier, and that translates into a different feel.

  20. #19

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    Yeah, the necks are a bit bigger than most 60s/70s Gibsons, kinda perfect for me, like a '59 Gibson
    In fact I wish all my guitars had necks like my PE180s!

  21. #20

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    Those guitars definitely let you know you've got your hands full--the size, the weight, the neck, that gigantic headstock... I love 'em

  22. #21

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    Ebony is affected my moisture more than rosewood or most other species. An ebony fingerboard will move as the humidity changes. I can definitely feel it on mine, because I keep the action set very low on most of my guitars. As fronts come and go, I have to tweak the wheels on the bridge just a little every now and then. Sometimes the truss rod, but more often just a quick half turn or so of the wheels takes care of it. I could just raise the saddle enough so that I don't need to do anything, but I don't mind the tweaks and I do mind the higher action.

  23. #22

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    Grover Futura tuners - super-cool!
    I'd be very surprised if those are original to this guitar.

  24. #23

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    Are those rare or something? I don't know about them. They seem like they've been on there for a long time and I don;t see any scars or marks from previous tuners.

  25. #24

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    I love the guitar but my only complaint is that the string spacing is a bit narrow as I only play with my thumb. I purchased a inexpensive all parts replacement bridge. I was going to try putting a new saddle on and space it a bit wider but I have never done any kind of repair like this, is it easy to do?

    I have a digital micrometer and the strings are spaced almost exactly 2MM wider on my Guild X-700 which plays great. Looks I have some space on the fingerboard to play with.

    Any suggestions on how to mark up this replacement saddle and give it a try?

    Thanks in advance!

  26. #25

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    Navigator (Japanese) L-5 copy-20200401_202013-jpgNavigator (Japanese) L-5 copy-20200216_194756-jpg

  27. #26

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    The quick and easy way is to string up the guitar with the new saddle in place, center each string over the matching polepiece in the neck pickup, and tap the string over the saddle, giving enough of an impression to allow making it deep enough to hold the string. It doesn't take much depth at all. You will need new strings after this, most likely, but that's not a huge price to pay. Or you can go through mathematical calculations, taking into account the diameter of each string, and arriving at a solution that results in equal distance between the edges of the strings. Matt Cushman posted the method recently. Personally, that's too much work for me, but it probably does give slightly better results.

  28. #27

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    That's great advice, thank you so much!

    Not sure I wanna do the math either, ha. Will try your method first.

  29. #28

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    Here's Matt's method:
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Cushman
    When slotting a new saddle I first establish the location of the two E strings. I start by marking the location of the two E strings so that there is a distance of 5/32" between the outside edge of the string and the edge of the fingerboard at the last fret. I then use gauged slotting files that match the dia. of the string to cut the notch depth about 1/3 of the string dia. After the E strings are set I measure the space left between the inside edge of each string. From this space I subtract the total width of the four remaining strings and divide the remaining space by five and that will be the amount of space left between each of the strings. I use a fine line mechanical pencil to mark the location of the center of each notch that is needed. I then use the proper gauged files to cut the remaining notches.

    The only issue with this method is that it's possible to have a wider fretboard, and a pickup with narrower polepiece spacing, so that the strings, especially the E strings, aren't over the polepieces. This happens with a 45mm nut width neck and a narrower pickup spacing, like the Rhythm Chief I use. With blade style pickups it isn't an issue, but it is with mine. I end up with the strings getting a little further from the edge of the fretboard as they go toward the bridge. A compromise of some sort is necessary, either having the strings not exactly parallel to the fretboard edges, or having them not over the polepieces. My preferred compromise is to favor having the strings over the polepieces, but that may not be yours, nor anyone else's. Another possible compromise is to reduce the string spacing at the nut, but if the nut is already cut properly with the standard 1/8" distance from the edges, it's more work than I want to do to make a new nut. Everything is a compromise of some sort, and that's where I usually end up.

  30. #29

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    Here's a video from Stewart-MacDonald on setting the string spacing on an archtop bridge:

  31. #30

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    I'm just adding a sound clip as I was going through my phones files. This is NOT me playing, but a professional friend. But figured I would post since I found the clip and never posted at the time. Ha, this may be the only example of a sound clip of one of these guitars on the whole interwebzzzz!

  32. #31

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    Sounds pretty sweet to me! I think you have a keeper there!