Hyostar is a brand of acoustic guitars made in Korea during the late 1970s-early 1980's. So far, all of the examples I have found resemble ornate and expensive American guitars made by Gibson and Martin.
I have owned and played a Hyostar SJ-977A since the early 1980's, and never thought much about the guitar or its maker. That is, until a guy went "bug-eyed" when he saw it sitting on a stand durting a break at a community church event.
"Who's playing the $4,000 guitar! Is that for real?"
I was stunned to realize that he was looking at my old Hyostar, which I had paid about $125 for, BRAND NEW, some 20-odd years before.
He explained, and I later confirmed through research, that my SJ-977A is a convincing knock-off of a Martin D-45 -- which does indeed sell for about $4,500!
Notice that I call it a knock-off -- not a copy, replica or fake. That's because, while my Hyostar is styled and decorated much like the pricey Martin, it doesn't have certain "trademark" characteristics that have landed other guitar makers in hot water.
Until my Hyostar guitar was mistaken for an expensive Martin, I never gave much thought to its origin. To me, it was just a very ornate, dreadnought-sized guitar with a great tone that stayed in tune remarkably well, even through extremes of temperature and long periods of unuse.
However, this case of mistaken identity reminded me of a magazine article that I read back in the 70s about a group of Oriental men who visited a guitar store and asked to see a Martin D-45 that was on display. Surprisingly, they did not attempt to play it; instead, they measured every conceivable dimension, took pictures from numerous angles, and made copious notes before handing the instrument back to the bewildered clerk.
The magazine writer was commenting on the Far-East practice of copying successful American products, and he concluded by saying "don't be surprised if you see Japanese knock-offs of a Martin D-45 in the near future!"
Was the the starting point for the instrument I have enjoyed for so long?
I just had to find out.
Like most of you, I have been frustrated with how little information is available on the World Wide Web, both about the guitars and the company. Hyostar today is associated mostly with cordless telephones, but even at that I could only find references to the batteries, not the actual phone or the company.
With some luck and some devoted research, I hope to change that!
Sign my guestbook, and I will let you know any time I add or update the content of this site!