Records of how duplicates started vary, but it’s probably secure to believe Shiro Arai of Arai and Co., creators of Aria and Precious stone instruments (plus many others). Arai remembers viewing the 1968 NAMM display where Gibson reintroduced the Les John Customized, the Dark Elegance. Arai described to the Gibson individuals that he believed they no more created that instrument and was informed that it was a duplicate of the old design. The mild went on and Arai came back to Asia to develop a bolt-neck “copy” of the Les John Customized. By the following season Japoneses “copies” of Les Pauls started arriving into the U.S. It did not take lengthy for the trend to propagate to other “copies” of well-known United states instruments.
The first duplicate era Japoneses Strat duplicates – although, like their Les John alternatives, not yet truly “copies” – showed up in 1970, from at least three different resources. One was a Strat-style instrument, the No. 1802, provided by none other than Gibson itself holding the Epiphone product name. This presented an Epi-style three-and-three headstock and a couple of black-and-white trucks that were typical on Aria instruments of enough time. Indeed, this was almost similar to a modern Aria No. 1802. Both were probably created by Matsumoku. A season later, this instrument was modified to a Model ET270 status, but was otherwise the same until around ’75.