Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Morris MD-520

Morris were one of the largest manufacturers of high-end acoustic instruments from the 70's through to the 90's in Japan, building a reputation for high quality craftmanship and use of top grade woods. Any wood they used for the soundboard was dried in their warehouse for 7 years before being used in construction.

The company was founded on an inspired visit to the Martin guitar plant in the late 60's, where on return to Japan they set up to produce quality copies of various models of Martin guitars. Early guitars made some success as entry level imports to the West, using primarily high quality plywood construction. However, as the 70's progressed, so too the skill and accuracy of the luthiers. Morris turned more to their own home market, where the guitar market in the 70's in Japan was hugely competitive, with more than 20 different factories making excellent copies of popular American acoustic models; the success of Morris to become the largest next to Yamaha is testament to their quailty and value for money. Nowadays, Morris still produce guitars, primarily focussed on smaller bodied, finger-styled guitars that retail for +£1000. A good google search will offer up more info.

This model, the MD520, was introduced in the late 70's with a retail price of Y35,000. My one is from 1984. The 2nd top model of the MD range, this features a really lovely solid spruce top, one of the best in my collection, and coral rosewood back and sides, with a simple mosaic inlay down the centre of the back. The body is bound with ivory and simple abalone pufling - nothing too flashy but with a high attention to detail. The neck is a 3-piece mahogony, bound again with ivory and simple position dot markers. The headstock has gold finished Morris tuners, and a classy Morris vertical headstock logo inlayed abalone, inspired by Martin guitars in the 70's. This vertical logo style was used by a number of manufacturers for their higher-end models. It is a lovely looking guitar in nearly new condition - the owner before me must of hardly played it, with the ivory binding hardly yellowed by daylight making me think it lived in its case most of its 26 years. The spruce top has dried out to produce a truely lovely warm tone, loads of woody character and volume, with a ringing resonance.


For more images, click here

As much as i love this Morris, my collection is nearing 35 guitars, so i need to sell a few along the way. For those viewers interested in buying it, please visit the listing here or send me a message.


  1. i bought a w-50 morris dreadnaught back when i was in japan in 78: just wondered if anyone can fill me in on how much this guitar will sell its been with me through thick and thin and i'm still playing this guitars regularly on gigs here in virginia beach virginia. one thing i noticed about this particular guitar is the tone quality has gotten better through the years maybe like wine it gets better with age .its still in veru excellent condition ....i'm not selling it or anything just wondered how much it is worth now .i paid 50.000yen back in the 70's which was a lot of money

    1. hi, and thanks for your comment/query. sorry for my delay in getting back to you.
      your Morris would sell for around £300-£450 from my experience of selling some of this collection. i come across quite a few Morris W50 models, and these sell for around 30,000Yen in Japan these days.

    2. Hi - you seem to know a great deal about these old Jap acoustics - hope you dont mind me asking your advice - Im stuck between two guitars an early 80's Morris MD520 or a md 70's Tama 3560 (deadringer for a D45) Im favouring the Tama as in an ideal world Id buy a Martin D45 but as your aware they costs thousands - the Tama is around £700 and in excellent condition and the Morris around the £400 mark - which in your opinion is the better guitar? I cant try either guitar as overseas so any information/advice would be greatly appreciated - many thanks, regards Ste

  2. how about the 520 model? which martin is it based on? is it smaller than the w50 which looks large to me

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  4. Hi I have a morris 520, would you know how much its worth right now? i bought for $100. thanks

  5. Hi! I have the opportunity to get a Morris wt19 for a good price but cannot find any info of that model. Any idea if it's from the lower range models or middle high one? Thanks!