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Bradley Guitars

Duck's picture

Can anyone give me any info on Bradley Guitars that were made in Japan? I recently got one at a very good price at a local thrift store it looks like an old Gibson explorer.....I have heard that Gibson sued the parent Japanese company that was making these things many years ago....any info would be helpful.

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brian's picture

You just answered your own

You just answered your own question. Just another rip off guitar company. The good thing is most Japanese guitar makers make some good guitars. if it sounds good it's good hold on to it.

Duck's picture

Thanks for the reply Brian,

Thanks for the reply Brian, I could not find any info on Bradley Guitars on the net. Ebay presently only has one listed. So I did my research the old fashioned way, (piece at a time)....Here is what I found.

According to an interview with vintage guitar magazine Ted McCarty the old CEO of Gibson took some comments made by Fenders Representatives about the folks at Gibson being "old fuddie duddies" rather personal and then ordered the the designers at Gibson to come up with some exotic designs such as the flying V, the explorer, and the Moderne. All of these guitars appeared on the scene in 1958.

However as any reasonable person knows the design of new guitars in a company such as Gibson takes about 2 to 3 years from the drawing board to the manufacturing process. So I then began to research executive trade journals on Ted McCarty, who after all was a corporate executive and not a musician.

I found an interview in a trade magazine called "Executive Decision" published in 1955. In which McCarty lamented how the retooling costs for Gibson's exotic line was so cost prohibitive that Gibson farmed the whole manufacturing process out to Tokia in Japan. This was a common process for US companies at the time.

Tokia while manufacturing the Gibson exotic line began to manufacture "house guitars" under the name of "Bradley" that they inported through a licensing agreement with mitsubishi, from 1959 through 1963.

The Gibson Moderne disappeared almost immediately and the explorer fared almost as well. Gibson turned somewhat of a blind eye to what Tokia was doing until Tokia began to import a house version of the flying V at which point Gibson sued and the relationship desolved.

In 1976 Gibson reissued both the Moderne and the Explorer, since modern re-tooling had made it less cost effective.

At any rate the Bradley's were made with all of the same components and specifications as the Gibson's with the only difference being the Headstock....And Gibson did indeed contrary to all of their claims otherwise import foreign made guitars for a few short years.

God, I love historical research.

brian's picture

Pretty Interesting. They

Pretty Interesting. They should do what OLP Guitars are doing.
Buy a license from the original manufacturer and no problems will arise.

PRS just got sued by Gibson and Dillion Guitars is always having problems with Gibson and Fender.

Duck's picture

When all of this activity

When all of this activity between Gibson and Tokia was on I suspect licensing agreements did not even exist. It was after all before the Beatles arrived The "Uniform Code of Interstate Commerce" was not ratified until 1967. So International trade was liked the wild west. It was the embryonic stage of the wold community....

At any rate my Bradley sounds excellent, (I play OK for a girl ... ). I have decided to add it to my personal collection which is now 23 guitars strong. It has historical significance, since a search of the west "key" law review shows that it was
the first lawsuit for product infringement that Gibson filed. Which they filed in 1960.

Looks sweet, sounds sweet, and is a small piece of history. Collectible by any standard.

Jdx's picture

There were quite a few

There were quite a few Japanese guitar makers involved in those lawsuits the most well known being Ibanez. The "lawsuit" Ibanez guitars usually bring a surprising amount especially the Flying V(I believe it's called a Rocket) which seems to be rarer than other models.

Electra is one of the other brands which was sued, but I can't remember the parent company that owned them.

Another side note. Ted McCarty, as well as being the President of Gibson, is also who the PRS McCarty model is named after.

As far as I know this is all more or less the truth.

Guitar101's picture

Tokia is one of the

Tokia is one of the companies

Here's the file

No day better then today!

Guitar101's picture

Willy, there great guitars

Willy, there great guitars just alot of people have to have the name too. To bad there's alot of people missing out on a great guitar for less money.

No day better then today!

gryans's picture

Is there any way of getting

Is there any way of getting the age of a Bradley. I have a black Les Paul custom copy that I LOVE.

Xchekker94's picture

Bradley Guitars were the

Bradley Guitars were the house brand guitar for a now closed music store in the Washington, DC metro area called Veneman's music. They also had a mail order store called Music Emporium. My first guitar was a '74 Bradley Stratocaster, natural finish/maple neck. It cost me $250 new. It was a choice of either the brand new Bradley or a used '72 Fender Stratocaster for $325. I'm sorry I ever sold that thing.