Facts and Factories
A mystery unveiled

The years 1967 to 1970 progressed slowly for the Japanese guitar industry. The boom of the Beat era was over, and many companies languished there or had to be closed.

Then, in 1970, Japan took a sort of new offensive against the USA guitar manufacturer by copying Fender, Gibson and some other (Mosrite etc) guitars. The beginning was pretty amateurish, but then came more perfection, which ultimately drew some action proceedings (since the term "Lawsuit"-era for the high quality production of the time).

Stagg was a short-lived Japanese brand like many others back in the 70's, with a rather wide production of both copy and original models, of good quality like Ibanez and Aria.

These Japanese made guitars seem to have originated in the same factory that was making the early Ibanez guitars, since many of the parts are very similar or identical, but differing for the presence, on every instrument, of the mark "A product of NB".


Stagg = Hoshino/Fujigen


It is easy to think that the quality of the Stagg products could come from one of the most qualified Japanese factories of the time, such as Matsumoku or Fujigen. But only recently we succeed in finding the evidence needed.

1) First, having finally identified a Stagg SG (around 1970) for sale on Ebay, we had the chance to compare it to a Cimar SG, which is quite completely identical. A convincing clue leading towards the Hoshino – Fujigen direction.

2) The definitive evidence comes indirectly from the discovery of another MIJ brand which was distributed in France in the 70s and early 80s, that is “Eagle”. Among these guitars we find many similarities with the Stagg production, in particular with the original designed Neckthrough intruments (“King” series): they are identical, with the only exception of the shape of the palette. This minor difference can also be considered as a sign of the accuracy and care of the Japanese luthiers in Fujigen plants: two identical guitars with different brands must show at least one original, visible and distinctive feature.

The history of Eagle guitars is known, although without ample details: it was an “importer” brand, commissioned by IML (Importation Musicale Lyonnaise), a company established in Lyon who survived until 2000. It used to produce in Fujigen and import a variety of nice quality solid and hollow-body guitars. These were sold at affordable prices, generally having the same quality of Ibanez models of the time (lawsuit and, then, original designs).

Since Eagle were distributed exclusively in France, it is easy to conclude that Stagg, on the other side, was a brand created to distribute the same (or very similar) products a) in the rest of Western Europe or b) in Germany, and, from there, in other countries – since the majority of the guitars we were able to trace is in the hands of German people (a few in Italy and UK). This hypotesis will also explain why apparently no Stagg is to be found in both Japan and USA markets.

It is clearly possible that some guitars were commissioned to other factories: we know that an Eagle/"Gibson twin" was certainly made in the Matsumoku factory (see the picture in the Eagle section), and that one of the French importers had also relationships with Kasuga International (in Nagoya) and so with Tokai.


For more information on the Fujigen history, see on their current website: http://www.fgnguitars.com/history.html#history01


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As we know, the original Stagg brand name disappeared from use after a few years, probably around 1983, until the current company started up a decade later. To be clear, we repeat that the current brand Stagg was set up in 1995 in Europe (Belgium) with China-based production.

So it's no surprise that what we read in various forums: "if you find one of the 70's Japanese Staggs, grab it! They are top quality", and similar judgements.