Friday, February 1, 2013

Stuart's Aquarius in Cellophane Red finish

I hadn't post anything here for 2 years when I found the article I mentioned in the previous post - and I noticed only today that I had started to write about this impressive Cellophane Red Aquarius AQ600 STR (STR stands for See Through Red) that a reader kindly sent me, then completely forgot about it!

This is what Stuart Lawrence writes:
I do not have much of a story - I bought it as a back up guitar about 6/7 years ago. I had it set up at Mansons Exeter and the tech guys laughed when they saw it! BUT when I picked it up after having a new nut fitted and the guitar serviced and set up they had to say it was a great guitar.

Since then I have gigged it, used it for slide, let my daughter learn on it, and its still a great player. The all red effect certainly generates interest!

The guy I bought it from reckons he saw an identical guitar being used by
Dexys Midnight Runners on Top of the Pops - but I have never seen the clip and not seen one like it on YouTube - it's a bit of a mystery...
I don't really know much about the Cellophane Red finish but I saw it on several Japanese strat-like guitars from the 1970s (see here for extra info) and it's quite special - it's not so often that you have paint job extended to the fretboard... I must say that it's really beautiful!

Thanks to Stuart and sorry for the delay!

12-string Kawai Aquarius on

These pictures of a 12-string Kawai Aquarius has been published - together with a short article - on My Rare Guitar.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sven Hirschfeld's custom Aquarius

"My name is Sven, I'm 42 years old and live in Hamburg/Germany. I play guitar for 30 years in the same band called Abraxas (

The Kawai Aquarius was the second guitar I bought new. It was in 1980, when I saw her in a music warehouse in Hamburg/Germany. She was white and I was impressed because of the 3 pickups and the "sound options" (3 way switch for every PU, single coil / off / humbucker).

I also liked the plain maple neck and the shape. To make it short: It was kind of love at first sight (hey guys, I was sweet 14 years old...). From that day on, I used her for more then 3 years without any changes.

Then my taste of music changed to rock/hard rock and I decided to use a different look. I sanded her in order to paint her black but then I saw the nice wood structure (alder). So I just waxed and oiled her. I did the same with the neck.

At the same time I changed the bridge (Schaller) and the pickups completely (Seymour Duncans). Neck and bridge: Jeff Beck, middle position: Quarterpounder. With this combination I played lots of gigs and studio sessions. And it was the same thing wherever I played: awesome sound, deep and loud (not comparable to any strat), soulful and a direct warm tone. Just perfect.

In 1998 I gave her to my personal guitar tech ( and he restored her - the wood (again oil and wax) and the pickups. He installed a strat pickup set (SSL 1 by Seymour Duncan), cause I needed a strat type guitar for Top 40 gigs. And here she sounded better than any strat I had in my hands (and I had a lot from vintage to relic ones).

That is the way she's equipped until today - just the pickups changed again. In northern Germany a pickup constructor named Wolfgang Damm ( gave her 3 hand wound diamonds (single coils called vintage plus). These pickups are made for her, especially because of the tone and dynamic range.

Finally after 30 years she is perfect, sounds better and better, and the wood gets darker and darker while I am getting older and older. I don't know where Kawai had bought the wood in the late 70's / early 80`s, but it was a perfect match. I also don't know if I was just lucky or if the sanding and change of bridge made her sound like this, but the tone is not of this earth compared to the so-called relics or vintage ones, especially when you consider its original price: 800 German marks (400 Euros) !!!

So if you have one, keep her, if you don't, get one!

Big hug to all the Kawai players in the world, and thanks to Bertram for this wonderful idea."

Well, thanks to you a lot, Sven, for your testimony!

A few extra info: this guitar is originally a AQ500 WH model, the custom pickguard is made of wood (tigerstripe maple), a very tasteful idea in my opinion.

aquarius sven

Kawai Aquarius Bass Z II B


This Aquarius bass belongs to another Chris, who finally found out on this very blog, on the 1984 catalogue post, more information about it than since ever - so after all I'm not the only one who was in need!

So this is a Kawai Aquarius Z II B in blue sunburst finish, with a maple neck-through-body and splitable humbuckers. Chris is so happy with his Aquarius that he compares its sound with his Spector's!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kawai Aquarius Custom

Aquarius Custom
This my Aquarius, my first guitar bought in 1982 and still in use after some times in guitar limbos... It's a AQ-450 model originally in "Lake Placid Blue" with a vintage trem and two humbuckers - splitable with a push-pull knob.

As you can see on the lower picture, I first customized it with rough golden paisley pattern (my short-lived Prince phase). Later it stayed in its box for a long time until I reactivated it, fixed it, sanded it, replaced the pickguard with an aluminium one and put baritone strings, now I use it in various open tunings, it gets me quite interesting sounds.
Aquarius Paisley

Chris Pearce's 12-string Aquarius

Aquarius 12
This white 12-string Aquarius AQ-1200 belonged until recently to Surfin' Lungs guitarist Chris Pearce and you can hear it on - on the song Hawai Stole my Baby -, also on some of their albums.

Kawai Aquarius Catalogue 1985