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Old 11-02-2009, 10:06 PM   #1
maverick1972
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Can you identify my Martin Hummingbird?

How do you date and identify these 1970s Japanese Lawsuit models? It plays like a Martin and has a Martin Headstock with a Gibson Hummingbird body?!

I've searched online and found models that were close but differed by way of the headstock or something else. It's become known to people as the Martin Hummingbird and everyone loves it. Nobody knows what it is or who made it though.

Look at the serial number inside - It looks like two numbers are missing and faded and I'm guessing they're #1s. There is also that sticker on the back of the neck. I just want to identify and date it.









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Old 11-03-2009, 08:14 AM   #2
LeftyDave
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The stamping inside looks to me to be WO20 7 81. I would decipher it as saying that the guitar model number is WO20 and that it was made in July of 1981. I use a stamper dater at work every day and sometimes I'll change it so that there's a space between numbers and there will be excess ink on the stamper that causes some to still get onto the surface being stamped. It also looks to be a pretty run of the mill dreadnaught shape body, just that it has a hummingbird pickguard on it. That guard could have been applied anytime during it's life, not necessarily when it was made. It looks to be in pretty decent shape. How does it play?
Sorry I can't be of further help.
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Old 11-03-2009, 09:49 PM   #3
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The Pick guard looks new so there's no guarantee this is a lawsuit guitar. If it were a lawsuit guitar it would have a gibson style headstock. The Martin style headstock isn't only used by Martin.

This is most likely a Japanese guitar but could be Korean. It has the cheap ping tuners and it looks like those may have been replaced. You have an adjustomatic bridge which was used by gibson. The fact that the headstock and inlay and bridge don't match would make me think it is a post lawsuit guitar made in the early 1980's. I would be some of the guitar has been updated such as the pick guard. I would guess the pick guard is not original.

The 81 in the serial number may be indicative of the year made.

Last edited by Guitar Hack : 11-03-2009 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 11-04-2009, 01:01 AM   #4
maverick1972
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Thanks guys. The tuners were actually replaced by me. They were Grovers but they were so badly worn and rattled that I had to take them off. I stuck these on as a band-aid fix for now.

I had originally thought that was the date as well. I assumed it meant July 20, 1981. This style of date stamping is common in my line of work. (Antique Furniture). However it actually looks like there were once 1s there and they've just faded. Which would make it WO2017181 or something like that.

I have a Martin D-35 and I'm being completely honest when I say that it plays like the Martin. It has a wonderful sound to it. If it is a post-lawsuit, they did a damn good job. My Father played blues on this Guitar and did some slides and it sounds better on this than the D-35. I only wish I could identify it.
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Old 11-04-2009, 01:22 AM   #5
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You have a lot of excess glue on the kerfing, which is also unorthadox. Usually you will have a light wood strip with slots cut in running around it...

its got a cedar top on it, but steel strung, also not common...

If ive been useful than yay, i seem to just be stating the obvious.
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:58 AM   #6
LeftyDave
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maverick1972
Thanks guys. The tuners were actually replaced by me. They were Grovers but they were so badly worn and rattled that I had to take them off. I stuck these on as a band-aid fix for now.

I had originally thought that was the date as well. I assumed it meant July 20, 1981. This style of date stamping is common in my line of work. (Antique Furniture). However it actually looks like there were once 1s there and they've just faded. Which would make it WO2017181 or something like that.

I have a Martin D-35 and I'm being completely honest when I say that it plays like the Martin. It has a wonderful sound to it. If it is a post-lawsuit, they did a damn good job. My Father played blues on this Guitar and did some slides and it sounds better on this than the D-35. I only wish I could identify it.


It makes no sense that just those two numbers should selectively decide to fade while the rest remain bold and legible. After all, the entire set of characters was stamped at the same time, from the same stamper, using the same ink. Why would only those two decide to fade out? Naa, I still say they are supposed to be blank spaces making the code WO20 7 81.
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:16 PM   #7
devourist
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I have (almost) the same guitar. The bodies are identical, with the hummingbird guard. The only difference is that mine has an actual Gibson looking headstock. My serial number reads WO20 6 81.
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Old 05-22-2013, 04:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by devourist
I have (almost) the same guitar. The bodies are identical, with the hummingbird guard. The only difference is that mine has an actual Gibson looking headstock. My serial number reads WO20 6 81.


I am in the same position as you. I have an acoustic, similar look, except it has a more tradition Gibson headstock to it. I just picked it up at a thrift shop and I have no idea what this thing is! My number is wo20 3 80.
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Old 05-23-2013, 10:15 AM   #9
Bill43
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My best guess is its a Gamma acoustic.

Gamma was a Japanese manufacturer that came into and went out of business quickly. Not much information is available for the Gamma brand, as I've seen some information pointing to Korean manufacture for their electric line, but the acoustics appear to have all been Japanese.
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:52 PM   #10
merrilltheodo
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I have this same guitar, except a different shaped headstock and the stamped text on the inside is WO20 11 80. And the tuners are on little plates.
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Old 01-01-2014, 02:53 PM   #11
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There were a ton of Japanese unbranded guitars built during the early '70s. Yours is almost certainly one of those. The adjustable bridge was popular during those years. Matsumoku is probably the largest of the Japanese guitar companies. They made a lot of guitars for and under different brands like Aria, Westone, Electra, Vantage, Washburn, and many others, but also "generic" ones. A lot of those old guitars are quite good, and 40 year old wood always sounds better. I have a Yamaki that I bought new in '73 that sounds better than some of my more expensive US made guitars.
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