For many years I had my email address prominently displayed at the top of this page, and I was
asking for help in identifying and getting pictures of many Ventura guitar models. I thank those of
you who have sent pictures of your guitars in the past, and still welcome help.
However, in the last year or so I've been swamped with a dozen or more Emails per day asking
"How much is my Guitar worth?" Or "do you know where I can find parts?" Truth is, at this point
in my life, I simply do not have the time to answer all of the requests I get for these services.
I may attempt in the future to add some kind of blog or forum feature to the site, so users may help
each other with such questions; and perhaps just enjoy telling each other about the Ventura
guitar they found at a yard sale, or was inherited from their uncle or whatever. But until that time,
please don't rely on personal answers from me for all questions. Some days I have time to do a
few extra sociable emails, and some days I'm so swamped with work that I may or not be able to
get back to you in the next week.
Why this site is here
These pages are under development to help identify and chronicle the Ventura branded guitars
that were imported to the United States from Japan by C. Bruno and Sons of Chicago IL. through
the period of late 1960's until early 1980's. Most of the guitars were copies of popular models from
the major American manufacturers of the day. They ranged in quality from good to excellent. It is
common knowledge among guitar gear junkies such as myself that the 60's and 70's were rife
with Japanese copy guitars that filled a need to supply economical instruments to many aspiring
young musicians, myself included
Accuracy of information
Every effort will be made to verify the information presented on these pages, so that they may be
relied upon for identifying the different models and options available under the Ventura brand
name. However, there is no guarantee that every factiod is absolutely accurate, as I am only an
amateur enthusiast and not a qualified guitar historian. If anyone has well documented proof,
(company catalogs / brochures), of any errors, I welcome your participation in helping to keep this
site as error free as possible. I also would welcome access to good quality pictures, scans,
catalogs or brochures that would be invaluable in the quest to compile an accurate resource for
everyone to enjoy.
At some point you may be subject to my opinions, conjecture, or assumptions, as I make no claim
to being an authority on any subject. However, I will try to give warning if I make an assumption or
have not verified the accuracy of any statements.
My personal observation and experience tell me that Ventura guitars were sometimes feature by
feature the same as the 60's to 70's Aria, Univox, Conrad, and many other "house brand" guitars
that were reputedly made in the Japanese Aria and Matsumoku factories. They often share
identical hardware and design, with the biggest difference being the name on the headstock.
I surmise that most, if not all, of the thin hollow body Ventura guitar models, and most others
were manufactured by the Aria / Matsumoku factories, who were also responsible for making
other imported guitars such as: Aria, Aria Pro II, Diamond, Maxitone, Univox, Lyle, Conrad,
Electra, Epiphone-Japan, Westone, Westbury, and many others.
Japanese Guitar Quality & Various Factories
Since this page is devoted to Ventura branded guitars, which were mostly made in the 1970's, the
comments below apply to that era, but may also apply to earlier or later Japanese guitars. The
plain truth is that; most Japanese guitar manufacturers were "contract houses" that made guitars
to the specifications of the "trading companies" (Japanese middlemen) that took orders from the
American companies that were importing them (such as C. Burno). This resulted in a wide variety
of qualities in guitars shipped by most of the "contract houses". What this means is that; Ibanez
(Fuji Gen-Gakki), as well as Aria (Matsumoku), and to a lesser extent Tokai (Kasuga), made both
very high quality, and very low budget guitars, and various qualities between, depending on what
was ordered by the trading company for the importer they represented. I've even seen
respectable quality guitars that came from Teisco (Kawai), though most of their product was at
the lower end of the scale.
Further complicating identification of origin; many of the parts Japanese guitars were built from,
(pickups, tailpieces, bridges, etc...) were sub-contracted to smaller "contract houses" that
specialized in making one part. Often, the companies bought their parts from the same
contractors. So, similar or identical parts may be seen on guitars built in different factories.
Conclusion: Just because two guitars have similar parts or even construction, does not
necessarily mean they were manufactured in the same factory, or even by the same company.
Something Different about Ventura Guitars
A label inside the soundhole of some Ventura acoustic guitars states: "Designed in America -
Crafted in Japan". I have never seen similar stickers in other Aria / Matsumoko manufactured
guitars. (Or any other Japanese made guitars for that matter). I have found several pieces of
evidence pointing to factories other than Aria (Matsumoku) for the acoustic guitars of this period.
A Short History Of The Bruno Company
C Bruno company music distributors had a very long history before modern times. They go back
at least predating the Civil War! You may click on this old catalog to see exactly how far back the
Bruno company went into American History! (1834 !!!)
Before they had instruments imported for them from overseas; they had relationships with many
American instrument makers to supply them with a broad range in price and quality of all kinds of
music instruments, especially stringed instruments; including mandolin, banjo, uke, and just
about any kind of instrument popular enough to sell in quantity.
Many years ago I called Kaman music distributors and asked to speak to the company historian.
Most all companies of any size have someone in charge of keeping the key points of a company
chronicled for posterity. I was told that unfortunately I had contacted Kaman about a year after the
last old-timer who would know anything about the purchase of Bruno had passed on. So it
seems, from that perspective there is no longer a history to follow. I have talked at length to
long-time local music store owners with long associations with first Bruno, and then Kaman
Misinformation - Intentional or Otherwise
Time and again I see Ventura/Bruno guitars for sale (even at vintage dealers that should know
better) or at auction on eBay, claiming that a Ventura guitar was made in the "Ibanez" factory. In
my many years of interest in Japanese guitars (I got my first in 1968) I have found no solid
evidence that any Ventura branded guitar was ever made by Ibanez/Hoshino. In fact, there is no,
and never has been an "Ibanez factory." as any Ibanez fan will tell you, they are made in the Fuji
gen Gakki factory. If anyone has proof to the contrary, I welcome you to share it. It is my
contention that sales/auctions making such claims, are done either out of ignorance, or are
intentional deception, attempting to cash in on the misguided concept that Hoshino/Ibanez
manufactured guitars are inherently superior to guitars made in other Japanese factories. This is
not necessarily the case.
Almost as bad are the people who assume every guitar made in Japan came from Teisco
Under light of new evidence, I may have to change the above statement somewhat. As I've now
found evidence that some Ventura solid body Fender copies, and some archtops may have come
from Fuji-Gen-Gakki. However, there are still bad eBay dealers dropping names out of context in
hopes of making some bucks by hook or crook!
How you can help
I will welcome any readers assistance in filling what I see as a shortfall in specific details of model
identification and business dealings that resulted in the manufacture and import of some of my
favorite pawnshop prizes. If you have nice pictures or reasonably verifiable information, please
share it with me to further the cause! The most useful information would be catalogs, brochures,
or slicks. Good quality, high-resolution pictures would be welcomed and appreciated also.