Need info on Inter-Mark bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BoNo316, Aug 7, 2002.

  1. BoNo316

    BoNo316 Guest

    Aug 7, 2002
    West Texas
    My Uncle gave me one of his bass guitars when he passed away a couple of years ago. I've been unsuccessful at locating any info via the internet and am wondering if there is anyone out there who could help me. The bass guitar is a 4-string made by Inter-Mark; there is a plate with the name 'Cipher' on the head. The body is dark brown w/ a lighter brown center. It has 2 pick-ups, two control knobs, one volume and one tone. It also has this big removable polished metal cover over the strings (near the controls) and a peice of wood protruding from the body just below the strings (I guess it's a finger rest). I play drums and know very little about bass guitars. I described it to one of my friends and he told me it sounded like a Strat P-Bass, but had never heard of Inter-Mark. I'd really appreciate some help. Thanks!!
  2. Hate to bump a 7 year old thread but I have the same question. Any info?
  3. [​IMG]






    I apologize for the terrible photography. If anyone want a different pic, let me know and I'll take them in the morning. Thanks!
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Late 60's. Looks as if it has the neck made from a bunch of pieces of maple all laminated together.
  5. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Wow, that's like the love-child of a Teisco, a Kay, and a Framus! Crazy. My best guess (based on the pickguard, control plate, and pickups) is that it was made in the same factory that made Teisco instruments, but with some other bizarre design elements; and the Inter-Mark name was probably just an individual exporter who had the Teisco factory stamp his name into the neckplate. Again though that's just a semi-educated guess, I could be off.
  6. -Sam-


    Oct 5, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Whatever it is, it's got mad retro vibes!
  7. My wife's grandfather found it somewhere and gave it to me when I first started playing. At the time I opened the case, gave it a dirty look, and stuck it in the attic. A few years later, I know a little more and have an appreciation for the obscure and pulled it back out and found my attitude had changed, lol. I think it's pretty neat looking but I'm trying to figure out what the heck it is. Has a buzz when plugged in, I haven't opened it up yet, though.
  8. Godbody


    May 27, 2008
  9. PSPookie


    Aug 13, 2006
    Marietta, Ga
    Whatever it is, it sure looks cool.
  10. I'm dying to know what it is. I would even take some info on Inter-Mark. I haven't been able to find anything about them, either.
  11. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    Funky - I'm actually taking a shine to it, which is odd as modern bass designs are usually much more my style than the prototypical '60 bass.
  12. cdef


    Jul 18, 2003
    Michael Wright of Vintage Guitar wrote very briefly about these. The brand is actually Cipher; I've also seen the name Columbia used on some guitars. They were imported into the US by an East Coast company called Inter-Mark and sold in department stores, rather like Silvertones. That's all the Blue Book has to say as well. There are some eBay sellers specializing in 60s vintage Japanese guitars that have moved a number of Cipher/Columbia/Inter-Marks, but nobody seems to have any further information.

    The striped metal control plate certainly suggests a Teisco/Kawai provenance.
  13. That's more than I knew before, thanks. Keep it comin'
  14. EfEmDee


    Oct 19, 2012
    SE Wisconsin
    Hopefully y'all will excuse the necrothread bump. had a few blog posts dedicated to Ciphers, but they've seemed to disappear recently (edit: google cache link here). Intermark/Inter-mark was just the importer as stated above, but I can find no connection to the Columbia brand.

    Every Columbia solid body guitar I've seen is in the vein of the Aria 18xx series /Epiphone ET270/Univox UC series, with the Conrad and Columbia guitars seemingly boutique branded deals. Best-guess is that it may have been Shinko, who also made the Pleasant and Nardan brands.

    Back to Inter-mark: They imported the Cipher brand from 62-66, with at least three solidbody electrics, one semi-hollow, and one 12 string and one bass in the catalog. Most seem to have originated on the East Cost, as that is where Inter-Mark had their HQ. My "Trooper" model is no different (I am the third owner, and purchased it from a bandmate in New Jersey 20 years ago).

    It's hard to tell exactly what factory in Japan they came from, but I can say that the bass has a definite pre-Kawai merger Teisco "flavor", with a short (31.5") scale and zero fret.

    Here are the photos I have of mine, many of which are high-resolution:
  15. Thick McRunfast

    Thick McRunfast Not just good, good enough

    Sep 30, 2012
    Portland, Oregon USA
    Always been a sucker for the handsomely sculptured cutout
  16. EfEmDee


    Oct 19, 2012
    SE Wisconsin