The TAMA guitars were produced by Seisakusho Co. in Aichi, Japan. This company was founded in 1962 as part of Hoshino Gakki. The history says that the brand name TAMA was created by the founder Yoshitaro Hoshino in memory of his wife Tama Hoshino. In the beginning the company produced guitars, amplifiers and drums for Ibanez. In 1974 the first TAMA guitar could be found in a Ibanez brochure. It was the model 3558/6, a six string dreadnought. From the model name you could suppose that there was also a 12-string version, but I have never heard of it. Later on the the model name changed to 3558.
In the following 3 years the line was completed by different steel-string and two classical guitars. The steel-strings were more or less copies of Martin guitars. Tama’s of that period can be identified by the full written logo on the headstock (except the classical guitars). In 1977 TAMA presented a new line of guitars with a different design, covering a T-style logo on a “not-Martin-like” headstock. In 1978 TAMA introduced their last guitar, a TG-190 as a limited top-of-the-line model. The end came in 1979 when the production of TAMA guitars unfortunatelly was stopped because of economical reasons or in favour of the Ibanez product line. The existing stock of fine tone woods was sold to Ibanez, who went on producing guitars in the same factory with the same workers and with the same design under a new line, called “Artwood Guitars”. Today the design can still be seen on the actual Artwood guitars, but with minor quality.
I am not totally aware of the circumstances during the change but probably the existing stock of unfinished TAMA guitars was labled and sold as “Ibanez Mastercraft Guitars”. I also found several TAMA’s labled as “Astoria Custom Guitars”.
Please see chapter Guitars for detailed informations about the different TAMA models.