1984 (?) Electra Phoenix


This Electra Phoenix was my first real electric guitar. Well, the others were real in a technical sense. It wasn’t like my Synsonics Terminator was an ‘air guitar’. But that guitar was just a toy. Nobody takes a guitar with a built-in speaker seriously – not even me.

I believe I got this for my fifteenth birthday. That would have been 1991. Or maybe my sixteenth. My mom bought it and a solid state Marshall practice amp at a yard sale for $60.

This Electra Phoenix obviously looks a lot like my Westone Concord SX. Same body shape, same headstock, same wood type (maple), same tiny position markers. This was one of the last Electra models imported by Saint Louis Music before they switched to Matsumoku’s Westone brand. That makes it an early1984 model, or possibly late 1983. I could check the serial number but I don’t care.

It plays like my other Matsumoku guitars – low action, comfortable neck, but the frets are too small for shreddin’ and headbangin’. Fortunately I specialize in Johnny Ramone slash-and-burn bar chords. This isn’t meant to be a Super-Strat anyway.


The tremolo is a heavy brass unit I bought somewhere. I think Campbell’s Music? I don’t like it. I’ll put the original bridge back on if I find it. The bridge pickup was lame, so I replaced it with the bridge pickup from the Synsonics Terminator. Shockingly, it sounds pretty good. I usually play it in conjunction with the middle pickup. It has a great hollow, gutteral midrange bark that no other guitar I’ve ever owned has. Sort of like a really mellow wha-wha pedal pressed halfway down. Too bad it feedbacks easily, either pickup sucks on its own, and the neck pickup also sucks. Shrill!

Electra_Phoenix_headstock Electra_Phoenix_Chip_1

This guitar is chipped all to Hell. Teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to own things. The burn on the headstock was because I put a cigarette there the first time I played a show. I’ve never smoked – not even tobacco! I just thought it would look dumb if I had a cigarette there and didn’t take a drag from it. Boy was I right. People just didn’t get ‘meta’ humor back then.

As I am fond of saying, this guitar is a one-trick pony. Aren’t all my guitars? Well, the American Standard Strat isn’t. I can’t get a bad sound out of that guitar! But this one only has that one great hollow sound that I can’t duplicate with my other guitars, so I’ve kept it. Plus, it’s a sentimental thing. Sort of like the way some guys stay married to their first wife. Divorce already!


Condition: 6/10

– Cosmetics: 4/10 (lots of chips and dings, probably needs professional repair)

– Working order: 9/10 (no major gremlins)

Playability: 8/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 10/10

– Lead Playability: 6/10 (small frets, typical Matsumoku)

Sound: 6/10

– Bridge: 1/10 (shrill, feedback)

– Bridge+Middle: 9/10 (awesome hollow midrangey sound)

– Middle: 2/10 (shrill)

– Neck: 2/10 (shrill)

Nice studio guitar. A face for radio, as the saying goes.

1984 Westone Concord SX

Up first is a 1984 Westone Concord SX in blue. Everything is blue, even the fretboard. Apparently, this particular model was only made for 1984. I believe blue is the most common color. It was also available in red, and possibly black. It’s sort of a “Super Strat meets Gibson SG” thing. It evolved into the Spectrum series.


Matsumoku Industrial was a Japanese woodworking company established in 1951. They began making guitars in the mid 1960s to diversify. At first, “Uncle Mat” made guitars as a subcontractor for various companies like Epiphone, Univox, Aria, and Electra. Then the Westone brand name was started around 1979 to sell directly to the public. In the early 1980s, St. Louis Music decided to discontinue their Electra brand in favor of the Westone name. Apparently Matsumoku were making most if not all of their Electra models by this point.

Matsumoku went belly-up in 1987 when their parent company, the Singer Corporation, faced a downturn in sales because people suddenly realized that it was the 1980s and you didn’t have to make your own clothes anymore. Apparently the potato sack dress went out of fashion? Plus, most of Matsumoku’s major guitar customers had started their long “screw quality” march and moved their overseas production to Korea.

I picked this guitar up on Ebay for $350. I had my eye on it for over a month before deciding to take the plunge. It seemed awfully expensive for a no-name guitar in mediocre condition. Then, when I went to buy it, I saw a similar model in red for less than half the price. Then I bought both because I have a credit card!

This particular model is missing the volume control pot. A previous owner has helpfully put a small pen cap or something in the original hole to plug it – how thoughtful! The first tone control has been rewired as the volume control, and the second pot doesn’t always work. The original knobs are long gone and the 5 way switch is finicky.

Overall, the guitar sounds… nice. Not thrilling, but nice. This guitar allegedly has the UBC – UnBalanced Coil humbucker. Maybe someday I’ll measure it to find out if it actually is or not. Right now, I’m surprisingly happy with that pickup. Most humbuckers sound lifeless to me, but this one is punchy, with lots of definition. You can actually hear the different strings! Too bad the single coils are hopeless. And oddly shaped too – good luck getting decent replacements! Lace Sensors are the only ones I like that will fit with no routing, but they don’t even look close to stock. I’d rate the bridge pickup around 8/10, and the shrill single coils around 2/10.


This is the Bendmaster FT locking trem. The string’s ball-ends simply slip into place from the top – nice. I don’t have the arm for it, so I have no idea how well it works. At least it stays in tune during my heavy-handed pummeling.


The neck is completely blue, just like the body. It feels fantastic. Very similar to a quality Fender. The neck is properly wide, but not very deep, like an 80’s Ibanez, or a Warmoth “Wizard” profile. But it feels like it has a more Fender-style radius. I haven’t measured it, but I’d guess it’s around 9 or 10 inches.

Mine only has a single white dot position marker, which appears to be a vinyl sticker. I guess the others peeled off. What’s left are small black dots, like the other Matsumoku guitars from the period.

The frets are very small. Hammer-ons and pull-offs can be tricky, limiting this guitars usefulness to shredders. That’s an odd design choice, given this guitar’s “Super Strat” leanings. I don’t mind – I’m all about bar cords. For me, I’d rate the playability 10/10 for rhythm, but only 6/10 for lead.


The locking nut is missing. Well, it was not a proper locking nut – it was simply a string lock that mounted behind the nut. The tuners have been replaced with non-locking Sperzels. There’s no string tree, but the high strings don’t seem to be popping out.


Condition: 7/10

– Cosmetics: 8/10 (nothing visible to the audience)

– Working order: 6/10 (electronics problems)

Playability: 8/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 10/10

– Lead Playability: 6/10 (small frets)

Sound: 6/10

– Bridge: 8/10 (great sound, but a little weak)

– Middle: 2/10 (shrill)

– Neck: 2/10 (shrill)

With a little work, this will be an excellent axe.