The first prototypes of the Epiphone Genesis were bulit handmade by Jim Walker with the help of his old friend and mentor John Montgomery , in the same workshop where together they had built years before the famous Hamer guitars, they were pioneers in the world of "boutique" instruments better known today as " Custom Shop "
These prototypes was rendered at the Gibson-Kalamazoo plant and he sent plans to Japan.
( in those days the Epiphone production had base on the Matsumoku plant)
In 1979 the first Genesis built outside America was produced in Japan under the supervision of
Shiro Arai who was nothing more and nothing less than the founder of Aria.
He was commissioned to build some units of the new guitar with Gibson /Epiphone people planned to boost the Epiphone brand into the world of solid electric guitars.
(At that time in Japan, late 70's and early 80s, american style electrics guitars were built with excellent workmanship with noble materials and amazing finishing quality, the high quality of Japanese labor on electric guitars at that point of hystory is something that today attracts great admiration among connoisseurs, in many cases the guitars produced were of better quality than the original models produced in america.)
After having produced a few units of the Genesis in Japan, by cost issues is decided that the mass production would take place in the recently opened Pearl Drums factory in Taiwan , this was a modern plant and had the latest technology and machinery brought from Japan, on this plant Pearl produces later was where there the most successful drumkit of the brand, the Pearl "Export Series"
1979 Japan edition Genesis Custom - 1980 Genesis Custom Taiwan production unit
Differences and Similarities
The first Genesis prototypes built in Japan are quite different from the mass-produced units built in the Pearl factory as we can see on the 1979 Japanese catalogs pictures
1979 Japan Catalog
the catalog pictures above shows the japanese edition of the Genesis, they looks almost identical to the prototype built by Jim Walker (picture below)
The pickups are covered humbuckers, and the knobs are "Top Hat "style, with words "Tone" and "Volume" on the top, like olds Epiphone and Gibson guitars from 60s.
(the only noticeable difference is that the original prototype has american pickups with 2 height-adjustment screws and the Japan Genesis has Japan pickups with 3 height-adjustment screws)
The production units sold worldwide was different to the first prototypes
A first sight we can see that diference, they came with exposed humbucker pickups and "Speed" knobs as we can see in the USA AD below.
Epiphone Genesis AD
( production units manufactured by Pearl)
Standard - Deluxe - Custom
"exposed" humbuckers and "Speed" knobs
is very important to know that the 99% of the Genesis that we can find outhere are one of those kind, the production units manufactured by Pearl, and those are the guitars that gave fame to the model, but are not the same like the early japan Genesis.But the difference between each other, (japan and taiwan) are not the aesthetic aspects the main difference are the instrument dimensions
As mentioned before the first thing you notice in the 1979 Japan Custom has covered humbuckers and top-hut knobs
But these differences could be a result of having been "customized" or personalized
the bisgget difference can not be altered aftermarket
1979 Epiphone Genesis japan edition
As you can see on the photos below the neck profile is very different,
On the 1979 Custom Genesis the neck are much thicker and the voluta looks different too.
even the rear curve of the neck at the join with the body also differs.
The superposed green indicators are exactly the same size on both guitars necks.
help us to see that the difference is significant
the " feel" of the Custom 79 is ,more in the Les Paul style neck from the 50s.very chunky.
in the production units the neck is thinner, and feels more like a Les Paul neck of the late 60s or 70s but not as thin as a "slim 60s"
Watching from above also notice the difference in the body
1979 Japanese version the body is thicker the Taiwanese production is quite thinner .
Another fundamental difference you can not see with the eyes is that on the Japanese edition
the neck have only 1 piece.
On the production version the neck and headstock are two separate pieces.
I hope this data helps them to not be fooled , because most of the time that appears an Epiphone Genesis for sale often said to be " Made in Japan " when it is really not true .
All the Genesis mass production , built by Pearl in Taiwan, had the same specifications for the 3 years of production ( 1979-1980-1981 )
they have the same measures on body and necks,
and that is perhaps the most inmportant difference with the first few units built in Japan that are significantly thicker.
I hope this article perusing all learn to differentiate between these guitars so they can not be deceived by dishonest sellers.