Morris Moridaira Lotus Washburn Eagle

Lotus Eagle11/01/11 - Here is my early-80's set-neck Lotus guitar. But Lotus was a junk Korean brand right? Not all of them. This one's actually a Japanese Morris VX-45R. Morris? That's right.

Today Moridaira Musical Instruments is a gigantic Japanese musical instrument conglomerate. They are the current importers/distrubutors of Moog, Paiste, Orange, and DW, just to name a few. Moridaira's house brand of guitars is Morris. Originally Morris produced high-end acoustic guitars, but Morris did make electrics in the 70's and early 80's.

Click on "full story" below.

...

Many Japanese guitars from this era were made by Matsumoko and FujiGen Gakki. Matsumoko was an OEM supplier to, and/or manufacturer of, Univox, Aria, Electra, Washburn, Epiphone, and others, and FujiGen Gakki made Greco, Ibanez, Fender Japan, and others. You can spend hours reading about various Matsumoko guitars over at the Matsumoko website and their forums, and I'm sure there are several vintage Ibanez forums out there as well.

The history of Japanese guitar manufacturing during this period is very murky. Not only were Japanese manufacturers producing unlicensed copies of American guitars under a myriad of brand names (known as "Lawsuit" guitars, which were probably intentionally documented poorly), they were also known to copy each other. To make matters more confusing, Japanese manufacturers were also known to outsource production to other factories. It is not clear which companies outsourced, and to which manufacturers.

From my research, I have concluded the following:

Lotus rear
  • Morris-made electrics should have a silver serial number sticker on the back of the headstock, written as "No. 854567," with an underline beneath the "o." This serial number is just a sequential number. There is no date code within it. Some of these guitars also have "Made in Japan" sticker underneath it as well.
  • High-end, set-neck, Morris-made / Morris, Hohner and Lotus-branded Washburn Wing Series copies have been found, which are all very similar. Mahogany neck, ash body, "bound-in ivory celluloids." Morris model VX-45R.
  • Bolt-on neck, Morris-made / Lotus-branded Wing-Series style copies have been found. Morris model VX-35M.
  • High-end, set-neck, Morris-made / Lotus-branded Les Paul copies have been found.
  • Bolt-on neck, Morris-made / Lotus-branded Les Paul and LP Junior copies have been found.
  • High-end, neck-through, Cort-made (early Korea) / Cort and Lotus-branded Wing-Series copies have been found, which are similar to the above, but not identical. These have triple-dot brass fret markers.
  • Cort-made / Hohner-branded Les Pauls have been found, such as model L59T.
  • Most Lotus guitars are inferior and Korean-made, identifiable by small potentiometers and stickers with an "L" prefix, such as "L680."

But regardless of who made what, my early 80's Morris-made Lotus Eagle copy is pretty cool. It features a mahagony set-neck, ash body, brass nut, brass circle inlays, and a "mother of toiletseat" binding around the entire guitar. I'm not sure what the original pickups were, but I am in the process of locating some period cream-colored Dimarzio Super Distortions for it. It also features a hexagonal tuners that are marked "Japan" on their undersides. It's better balanced and less bottom-heavy than a real Washburn Eagle in my opinion (although the Eagle is worth more), and has a very nice German carved top. I've owned many guitars over the years, and this guitar is very nice. The Japanese really knew what they were doing by this point.

When I got this guitar it had one cream-colored Dimarzio humbucker in the neck position, reading 8.7K, and one no-name humbucker in the bridge. I believe that the Dimarzio is a Super Distortion, but I'm not sure how one determines which early 80's ones are Super Distortions (or were they all Super Distortions?). Someone had cut the wires to the DiMarzio for some strange reason, and the other pickup wasn't even soldered; the wires were just sorta wrapped around the pots! No matter, the no-name humbucker was dead anyhow.

I soldered new leads onto the DiMarzio and kept it in the neck position. I also bought a near-mint early 80's Matsumoku MMK45 11.5K cream humbucker and put it in the bridge. I'm still having issues with getting the action / intonation correct. Stay tuned...

Japan Sticker
Japan Sticker
Serial Number
Serial Number
Morris VX-45R
Morris VX-45R
Morris Bass
Morris Bass
Early Cort
Early Cort
Washburn Wing
Washburn Wing
Early Cort
Early Cort

8 comments

Comment from: Ben Van Dyk [Visitor] Email
Hi,
I have the same Lotus VX-45R in mint shape. I believe it is new old stock from the early 1980's. Ser # 858928.
The sticker is covering the back access plate; the hardware is pristine except for a bit of tarnish on the brass nut (strange) and a slight smudge from the hanger yoke probably in some music store. My tech says the pups are DM super distortion.
e-mail me if you would like some detailed pics. Ben
02/28/12 @ 20:28
Comment from: Rick Hughes [Visitor]
I have a Lotus that I bought in a music store that was going out of business near Chiago in 81 or 82 while stationed at Great Lakes USN. I have never seen another like it in person or in pix. It was made in Japan and it has the brass nut and brass in the bridge. I have taken very good care of it and still play it regularly. I would like to find more about it. You can see a pic of it here http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=100805853264240&I=0b6374cf8d
Thanks
03/30/12 @ 03:10
Comment from: Zack [Visitor]
im picking up this same exact guitar. branded lotus. same brass circle inlays. plays very nice....the open chords sound amazing with no amp. will be plugging it in tonight! what do the smaller of the switches do? will have pics also!!!!!!
05/10/12 @ 18:44
Comment from: Dan [Visitor]
I was given a body identical to the Morris VX45R in the photo at the bottom. Don't know whether it was a Lotus or Morris as the bolt-on neck is missing, but I've seen other photos with the same guitar branded Lotus with a mahogany neck. The pickups do not say Dimarzio on them, but they do look a lot like them OR the Ibanez V2 from the early 80's. Mine has strange pickup rings, they say USA FSR underneath and the inside corners are rounded to the radius of the pickup coil. I plan to build a neck in the same sandwich construction as the body, simulating a neck-through. Oh, and I'm gonna use the Washburn headstock shape instead of the Batman theme going on the Morris/Lotus.
08/18/12 @ 23:09
Comment from: rick [Visitor]
well, this is interesting ... that is -my- Morris VX-45R, from a picture i uploaded to a different site. in answer to Zack, the small switches flip between dual and single coil. the pickups sound like those on a Westone Thunder I which i have ... brighter, with less muddy bass string response than a classic, Gibson-style pickup. the neck is glued, but the body presents a fake neck-through build. a couple of years ago i decided i would buy a really -good- guitar ... i couldn't find -anything- i liked better than the Morris.
08/22/12 @ 17:34
Comment from: Bill Mear [Visitor] Email
Hi, cool stuff here. I have several Lotus Strats that I truly love. Do you know if they were made by Moridaira? Would you know anything about these Strats? Thanks, Bill
08/22/12 @ 18:52
Comment from: Claudia [Visitor] Email
I have a High-end, set-neck, Morris-made / Lotus-branded Les Paul copy.
There are a few people I know who own others.You can join our Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/218321011523366/

Claudia
08/28/12 @ 12:45
Comment from: Jason [Visitor]
Just picked up one identical to the example in the main article above. SN# 858938, may have been made right next to yours. I wonder how many of these there are out there. Did Washburn shut them down after a time? Very interesting. For those wondering, the neck is kinda on the thinner side, and the FB is more of a classic rounder radius, maybe 9.5"? One things for sure, the vintage Dimarzio Super D's in this thing scream like a banshe.. my orange OR-15 and this thing sure sound amazing together. Looking forward to getting it all nailed down and exploring the myriad of tones the vintage DSD's are rumored to be capable of ;)
06/26/13 @ 12:55