Lyle guitars

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Lyle guitars were made in Japan between 1960 and the late 1970s in the Matsumoku guitar factory, which also produced Univox, Arai, Aria and other guitar brands.


Lyle guitars were distributed in the US solely by the L. D. Heater Music Company of Beaverton, Oregon, USA. It has been suggested that "the Matsumoku Company manufactured many Lyle branded guitars in Japan from (approximately) 1965 to 1972 until they were bought and shut down by Norlin, Gibson's parent company at the time". In fact, Norlin never purchased Matsumoku, nor did they shut them down. This rumor stems from a Gibson (Norlin) lawsuit against manufacturers (specifically Elger the parent company of Ibanez) copying their copyrighted "Open Book" headstock design. The guitars distributed by the L. D. Heater Music Company were not part of the lawsuit. Matsumoku continued to manufacture instruments beyond 1972. L. D. Heater Music Company was owned by Norlin. Matsumoku, as a sub-contractor of Aria (Arai and Company) manufactured instruments including Gibson Epiphone, Skylark, Cutler, Aria, Aria Pro, Aria Diamond and Washburn from 1964 into the mid '80s.

About the "Lawsuit"[edit]

It is a common misconception that the famous Gibson/Norlin lawsuit was filed against a number of Japanese companies. It is also commonly said it was over the exact copying of American designs. Neither is true. The lawsuit was filed In 1977 by Norlin (Gibson's parent company) against Elger/Hoshino (Ibanez's American division) over the use of the "open book" headstock design which Norlin claimed as a Gibson Trademark. [1][2] It was not over the exact copying of body dimensions or construction. These guitars were metric and not an "exact" copy. The lawsuit was not "won" by Norlin, but settled out of court. Most of the Japanese companies, as a precautionary move, turned away from close copies but many still offered their "version" of the classic American designs with at least minor departures in design and appearance. Often the term "lawsuit guitar" is used to raise the price of the copy, increase interest, or they have misunderstood what the "lawsuit" was all about. Too often it really isn't a lawsuit model at all. There appears to be a lot of this in on-line auctions and on-line guitar advertisements. Guitars can have an inflated price and sell for more than they are actually worth. Caveat emptor: because the ad states it is a "lawsuit" model, does not mean that it is.

L. D. Heater Music Company[edit]

The history of Alembic instruments of Santa Rosa, California, shines some light on the history and business model of the L. D. Heater Music Company.[3]

"1973 A small music distribution company in Beaverton, Oregon, L. D. Heater Music Company, read the article (about Pro Audio Gear) in Rolling Stone and it interested them enough to take a little trip to San Francisco. They wanted to discuss the possibility of Alembic making a more standardized form of instrument that they could distribute to their dealers. L. D. Heater Music was owned by Norlin Inc.. Norlin was based in Illinois and owned Gibson, Maestro, Epiphone and other music related companies. We negotiated an exclusive distribution agreement for a limited time. They gave me the purchase order I required, and this was the beginning of the manufacturing of a standard high end instrument for Alembic and the entire music industry."


Lyle 355, nylon string classical
Lyle 585, nylon string acoustic
Lyle 588
Lyle 589, nylon string classical
Lyle 630L, dreadnought
Lyle 680, dreadnought
Lyle 690-DL, acoustic
Lyle 692
Lyle 7535
Lyle 1203T
Lyle 1223T
Lyle 1802T, electric solid-body
Lyle 5112
Lyle 5120 (Gibson EB-2 copy)
Lyle 5102T
Lyle A-745 (Gibson ES-335 copy-NB)
Lyle A-790 (Gibson ES-335 copy)
Lyle C-366
Lyle C-600
Lyle C-601
Lyle C-605, nylon string acoustic
Lyle C-610, acoustic
Lyle C-620
Lyle C-625
Lyle C-630, nylon string acoustic
Lyle C-640
Lyle C-650
Lyle Explorer copy
Lyle F-500, acoustic
Lyle F-520, acoustic
Lyle F-525
Lyle F-540, acoustic
Lyle G-640, nylon string acoustic
Lyle HR-2 (Gibson ES-335 copy)
Lyle J-6500
Lyle L-5 copy
Lyle L-12, acoustic
Lyle L-15
Lyle L-2O, acoustic
Lyle L-22
Lyle L-24, 12 string acoustic 80405
Lyle L-50S
Lyle L-80, acoustic
Lyle L-260, acoustic
Lyle L-1100, acoustic
Lyle LEA40, acoustic
Lyle Les Paul copy
Lyle S-726 (Gibson SG copy)
Lyle Stratocaster copy
Lyle Trini Lopez Standard copy
Lyle W-41, acoustic
Lyle W-50
Lyle W-200-12
Lyle W-300
Lyle W-400
Lyle W-410-12
Lyle W-415 Dove
Lyle W-420-12
Lyle W-430
Lyle W-440
Lyle W-455 (Gibson Open Book Stock copy)
Lyle W-460 (Gibson Hummingbird copy)
Lyle W-465 (Gibson Hummingbird copy)
Lyle W-470, 12-String
Lyle W-475, 12-String
Lyle W-500
Lyle W-710
Lyle Z-535, acoustic


  1. ^ Lawsuit guitars by Dick Laukenz on JazzGuitar website
  2. ^ Penco A-15-JD by Michael Wright on Vintage Guitar magazine, December 2009
  3. ^

External links[edit]

  • Cantara, Paul. "From Arai to Aria". Guitar Buyer, November 2008 [1]
  • Dolloff, Matt. "Lyle Guitar History". Our Pastimes, September 17, 2017 [2]