We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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rinneby
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We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:42 pm

This thread is dedicated to lovers of Japanese classical guitars. Here you can share your experiences, pictures and your unique or unexpected findings. Which is the best Japanese classical guitar that you have played? The biggest letdown? The biggest surprise?

My interest began when I learned that Masaru Kohno won the first prize out of 31 participants at the Liege Concours National de Guitares in 1967. The judges were Ignacio Fleta, Robert Bouchet, Joaquin Rodrigo, and Alirio Diaz among others. From that moment I knew I would one day own a Kohno, but it also aroused my interest in other Japanese luthiers.

Today I'm a proud owner of a Masaru Kohno (Kono) from 1965 and it is my favorite guitar. My biggest surprise to date is a Kazuo Yairi YC-250 from 1976. My biggest letdown was, lo and behold... A Kohno No.30 from 1975. Not that it wasn't an excellent guitar, it looked and sounded wonderful. But sadly it wasn't the guitar for me, with its big body and 660 mm scale.

I've also played and owned guitars made by Hiroshi Tamura, Kazuo Hashimoto, Kazuo Yairi, Makoto Takeiri, Masaki Sakurai, Masaru Matano, Ryoji Matsuoka, Tsuji Wataru, Yamaha, Fernandes and Asturias, to name a few. I would love to try a Hideo Ida, but Masaji Nobe, Sumio Kurosawa, Shunpei Nishino, Osamu Tomita, Kazuo Sato and the Nakade family is also on my shortlist.

So what is your story?

Image
Masaru Kono No.5 - 1965
yairi_yc_250_1.JPG
Kazuo Yairi YC-250 - 1976.
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Last edited by rinneby on Sat Apr 08, 2017 10:06 am, edited 31 times in total.
1965 - Masaru Kono No.5
1973 - Ryoji Matsuoka No.80
1976 - Kazuo Yairi YC-250
2007 - Lorenzo Frignani

You are the instrument, not the guitar

dandan
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by dandan » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:22 pm

My first good guitar was an Asturias John Mills model and I've been a fan of Japanese guitars ever since. I've tried other guitars, even owned a few(well, more than a few) but it always seems to be the Japanese guitars which speak to me. I now tend to only buy Japanese guitars. To date, I've owned 4 Asturias guitars, a couple of Yamaha GC models, a Yairi, a Matsuoka and others. In particular, I love Nakades. I've owned 4, the two I currently own and one from each of their sons. I prefer the older generation. The 1960s is my favourite era.
1969 Rokutaro Nakade A9
1966 Sakazo Nakade model D
1977 Aria AG80

beanctr
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by beanctr » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:55 pm

I'm pretty happy with my Yamaha GC-42S, its at the same level as a Kohno Pro J I had. Of course my first classical was a Yairi CY-116 which I still have and like. R
"Guitar Hobbyist"

MaritimeGuitarist
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:14 pm

I owned an Hirade H5 for many years. I thought it was a wonderful instrument for the price. They seem to be underrated as few people seem to consider them when they are looking for a good quality student instrument. I wonder if it has anything to do with their association with Takamine...

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joelmalit
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by joelmalit » Tue Mar 28, 2017 3:52 am

The very first Japanese classical guitar that came into my possession is my best guitar. I spotted it in 2011 in a surplus shop along side with some other old Japanese guitars. It used to have a slightly bow and twisted neck/fretboard, some popped-up fretwires, broken tuning pegs, some cracks between the sides and bindings, and the guitar itself was totally covered with thick vintage dust. It was unbelievable that I bought this guitar and until today.... I'm a bit confused to think of a reason why I bought this.

It took me some time to fix all it's flaws... well, unprofessionally I did it and it doesn't looks nice.

One of my unexpected findings about this guitar is the unusual sound.... very deep bass and trebles that seemingly lamenting in extreme sadness. It's soundboard which is less than 2mm in thickness is probably a laminated/plywood but it is the thinnest soundboard I have ever seen... very close to 1mm. It is so thin that there were times during the hot season (less humid) that you can see some dents on the top where the fan braces are located under it. There are times that the soundboard is bulging upward below the bridge and inward near the soundhole.

This also happens to be my worst guitar; it is super sensitive to climate temperature/humidity...you cannot just play it whenever you like. It is very hard to tune most of the time and it will not just accept any brand of strings to get the acceptable tune and sound I like. Polished bass strings is most suitable; if I use normal unpolished bass strings...then it will give you a lot of very loud squeaks. There are times that I wanted to smash this guitar on the wall. Another thing I like about this guitar is the wavy sound of the trebles as if there is a built-in auto-tremolo... near to the sound when someone is using a trem bar on a stratocaster.... very funny sound, but it's true to my experience with this guitar....very strange indeed.

Currently, I have more than 20 Japanese classical guitars.... they are really amazing guitars...all of them. But nothing is comparable with this specific guitar I am talking about here. It's maker is almost unknown - Yusuke Kyo as the old kanji label was translated for me here by Mr. Whooper some years ago. You cannot just search on the internet more than 20 of this brand still existing. Probably the one I have here is the most popular one.
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Last edited by joelmalit on Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
1995 Carl Hellweg-Dieter Hopf CS38, Yusuke Kyo N-12, Ryoji Matsuoka M80R, Kodaira AST-40, Meiko 1967 by Masaru Matano, Yamaha G120A, Yamaha CG131S, Tokai L-50, Fernades GC-15, 1966 Kasuga 80, Terada 700, Craftman C35S, other japanese vintage guitars

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rinneby
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:26 am

dandan wrote:My first good guitar was an Asturias John Mills model and I've been a fan of Japanese guitars ever since. I've tried other guitars, even owned a few(well, more than a few) but it always seems to be the Japanese guitars which speak to me. I now tend to only buy Japanese guitars. To date, I've owned 4 Asturias guitars, a couple of Yamaha GC models, a Yairi, a Matsuoka and others. In particular, I love Nakades. I've owned 4, the two I currently own and one from each of their sons. I prefer the older generation. The 1960s is my favourite era.
I would love to try an Asturias John Mills one day as well, only heard good things about this particular model. It was made in the 80s and was the highest model at the time right? I own an early Asturias ATS-50 (signed by Tsuji Wataru) that I like, it has 655 mm scale and great deep sound. Easy on the hands too.

The Nakade's are on my shortlist, especially Rokutaro and Sakazo's work.

/Jon
Last edited by rinneby on Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:16 am, edited 3 times in total.
1965 - Masaru Kono No.5
1973 - Ryoji Matsuoka No.80
1976 - Kazuo Yairi YC-250
2007 - Lorenzo Frignani

You are the instrument, not the guitar

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rinneby
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Location: Sweden

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:35 am

beanctr wrote:I'm pretty happy with my Yamaha GC-42S, its at the same level as a Kohno Pro J I had. Of course my first classical was a Yairi CY-116 which I still have and like. R
I have a somewhat ambivalent relationship to Yamaha's. Some of them are really good, others not so. The vintage ones tend to be on the "dark" side so to speak, at least the guitars I've tried. I own a GC3D that is truly great, but has 660 mm scale, that I'm not too found of. I also own a GC7A, but it needs to be fixed before final judgement. The "modern" Kohno's, such as the PRO-J you speak of, has (as you know) a more piano like sound, so if you are into that they are beyond excellent. I can't speak for the GC-42S in comparison, but I'm sure it's great. Actually I was close to buy a GC30A some time ago, but bailed out in the last minute. I regret that... I own a Yairi YC-40 from 1989 and it's a student guitar, nothing more, nothing less.

I'm glad to hear that you are into Japanese guitars!

/Jon
Last edited by rinneby on Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
1965 - Masaru Kono No.5
1973 - Ryoji Matsuoka No.80
1976 - Kazuo Yairi YC-250
2007 - Lorenzo Frignani

You are the instrument, not the guitar

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rinneby
Posts: 641
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:52 am
Location: Sweden

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:40 am

MaritimeGuitarist wrote:I owned an Hirade H5 for many years. I thought it was a wonderful instrument for the price. They seem to be underrated as few people seem to consider them when they are looking for a good quality student instrument. I wonder if it has anything to do with their association with Takamine...
I also heard good things about the earlier Takamine's No.5 from the 70s and 80s, but never tried one. To my understanding the top on some of these models were made in the Kohno workshop. They were often stamped with a red Kohno mark.

/Jon
1965 - Masaru Kono No.5
1973 - Ryoji Matsuoka No.80
1976 - Kazuo Yairi YC-250
2007 - Lorenzo Frignani

You are the instrument, not the guitar

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rinneby
Posts: 641
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:52 am
Location: Sweden

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:43 am

joelmalit wrote:The very first Japanese classical guitar that came into my possession is my best guitar. I spotted it in 2011 in a surplus shop along side with some other old Japanese guitars. It used to have a slightly bow and twisted neck/fretboard, some popped-up fretwires, broken tuning pegs, some cracks between the sides and bindings, and the guitar itself was totally covered with thick vintage dust. It was unbelievable that I bought this guitar and until today.... I'm a bit confused to think of a reason why I bought this.

It took me some time to fix all it's flaws... well, unprofessionally I did it and it doesn't looks nice.

One of my unexpected findings about this guitar is the unusual sound.... very deep bass and trebles that seemingly lamenting in extreme sadness. It's soundboard which is less than 2mm in thickness is probably a laminated/plywood but it is the thinnest soundboard I have ever seen... very close to 1mm. It is so thin that there were times during the hot season (less humid) that you can see some dents on the top where the fan braces are located under it. There are times that the soundboard is bulging upward below the bridge and inward near the soundhole.

This also happens to be my worst guitar; it is super sensitive to climate temperature/humidity...you cannot just play it whenever you like. It is very hard to tune most of the time and it will not just accept any brand of strings to get the acceptable tune and sound I like. Polished bass strings is most suitable; if I use normal unpolished bass strings...then it will give you a lot of very loud squeaks. There are times that I wanted to smash this guitar on the wall. Another thing I like about this guitar is the wavy sound of the trebles as if there is a built-in auto-tremolo... near to the sound when someone is using a trem bar on a stratocaster.... very funny sound, but it's true to my experience with this guitar....very strange indeed.

Currently, I have more than 20 Japanese classical guitars.... they are really amazing guitars...all of them. But nothing is comparable with this specific guitar I am talking about here. It's maker is almost unknown - Yusuke Kyo as the old kanji label was translated for me here by Mr. Whooper some years ago. You cannot just search on the internet more than 20 of this brand still existing. Probably the one I have here is the most popular one.
This is a great love story! Very nice read and the very reason for this thread. I would very much like to see a picture of this mysterious guitar!

/Jon
1965 - Masaru Kono No.5
1973 - Ryoji Matsuoka No.80
1976 - Kazuo Yairi YC-250
2007 - Lorenzo Frignani

You are the instrument, not the guitar

dandan
Posts: 557
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:16 pm
Location: newcastle-under-lyme, staffs, England

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by dandan » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:05 am

rinneby wrote:
dandan wrote:My first good guitar was an Asturias John Mills model and I've been a fan of Japanese guitars ever since. I've tried other guitars, even owned a few(well, more than a few) but it always seems to be the Japanese guitars which speak to me. I now tend to only buy Japanese guitars. To date, I've owned 4 Asturias guitars, a couple of Yamaha GC models, a Yairi, a Matsuoka and others. In particular, I love Nakades. I've owned 4, the two I currently own and one from each of their sons. I prefer the older generation. The 1960s is my favourite era.
I would love to try an Asturias John Mills one day as well, only heard good things about this particular model. It was made in the 80s and was the highest model at the time right? I own an Asturias ATS-50 that I like,it has 655 mm scale and great sound. Easy on the hands too.

The Nakade's are on my shortlist, especially Rokutaro and Sakazo's work.

/Jon
I had an AST60 too, which was a decent student guitar, but not in the same league as the John Mills models. I've actually had two, one cedar and one spruce. The cedar had Ramirez-style bracing and a lovely warm tone. The spruce top was more of a Hauser type, also an excellent guitar, but I'm not really a fan of the Hauser sound, as it leaves me a bit cold. I preferred the cedar.
1969 Rokutaro Nakade A9
1966 Sakazo Nakade model D
1977 Aria AG80

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rinneby
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:17 am

dandan wrote:
rinneby wrote:
dandan wrote:My first good guitar was an Asturias John Mills model and I've been a fan of Japanese guitars ever since. I've tried other guitars, even owned a few(well, more than a few) but it always seems to be the Japanese guitars which speak to me. I now tend to only buy Japanese guitars. To date, I've owned 4 Asturias guitars, a couple of Yamaha GC models, a Yairi, a Matsuoka and others. In particular, I love Nakades. I've owned 4, the two I currently own and one from each of their sons. I prefer the older generation. The 1960s is my favourite era.
I would love to try an Asturias John Mills one day as well, only heard good things about this particular model. It was made in the 80s and was the highest model at the time right? I own an Asturias ATS-50 that I like,it has 655 mm scale and great sound. Easy on the hands too.

The Nakade's are on my shortlist, especially Rokutaro and Sakazo's work.

/Jon
I had an AST60 too, which was a decent student guitar, but not in the same league as the John Mills models. I've actually had two, one cedar and one spruce. The cedar had Ramirez-style bracing and a lovely warm tone. The spruce top was more of a Hauser type, also an excellent guitar, but I'm not really a fan of the Hauser sound, as it leaves me a bit cold. I preferred the cedar.
Would you buy a John Mills if you came across one again?

/Jon
1965 - Masaru Kono No.5
1973 - Ryoji Matsuoka No.80
1976 - Kazuo Yairi YC-250
2007 - Lorenzo Frignani

You are the instrument, not the guitar

dandan
Posts: 557
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:16 pm
Location: newcastle-under-lyme, staffs, England

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by dandan » Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:51 am

rinneby wrote:
dandan wrote:
rinneby wrote: I would love to try an Asturias John Mills one day as well, only heard good things about this particular model. It was made in the 80s and was the highest model at the time right? I own an Asturias ATS-50 that I like,it has 655 mm scale and great sound. Easy on the hands too.

The Nakade's are on my shortlist, especially Rokutaro and Sakazo's work.

/Jon
I had an AST60 too, which was a decent student guitar, but not in the same league as the John Mills models. I've actually had two, one cedar and one spruce. The cedar had Ramirez-style bracing and a lovely warm tone. The spruce top was more of a Hauser type, also an excellent guitar, but I'm not really a fan of the Hauser sound, as it leaves me a bit cold. I preferred the cedar.
Would you buy a John Mills if you came across one again?

/Jon
I would actually. A cedar top one anyway.
1969 Rokutaro Nakade A9
1966 Sakazo Nakade model D
1977 Aria AG80

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andreas777
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by andreas777 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:47 pm

At the moment I think I have 16 Japanese classical guitars, most of them Asturias and Yamaha guitars, beside some Spanish flamenco guitars and my unique travel guitar from Germany. I'm not sure how many guitars I own at the moment, but the last number I counted was 19 (not regarding guitars that I borrowed to friends or relatives).

I wouldn't say that I 'love' Japanese classical guitars, but I'm a pragmatic person: When I'm looking for a used guitar then choosing a Japanese guitar -in almost all cases- offers me the best quality for the lowest price. Not only the manufacturing quality is very high, but also the discount for such used guitars. Other than with non-Japanese guitars I was never disappointed with a Japanese guitar (so far).

I consider half of my Japanese guitars collectible items, like my Yamaha GC-6D and GC-10D, but also my Yamaha G-260S. Many of my Asturias guitars are from the 1980ies like my three John Mills guitars: two JM-20 with spruce top and one JM-15 with cedar top. Some years ago I took one of my JM-20 guitars to a local luthier who removed the old finish completely and put on a new shellac finish. The sound of these old guitars are fantastic, a pure traditional sound with good sustain.

In the far future I will probably list all my guitars in the "guitar for sale" section of this forum, and I guess that this will cause a large container to be shipped to Sweden ;-)
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19 classical guitars, 1 digital piano - no TV, no radio

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rinneby
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:23 pm

andreas777 wrote:At the moment I think I have 16 Japanese classical guitars, most of them Asturias and Yamaha guitars, beside some Spanish flamenco guitars and my unique travel guitar from Germany. I'm not sure how many guitars I own at the moment, but the last number I counted was 19 (not regarding guitars that I borrowed to friends or relatives).

I wouldn't say that I 'love' Japanese classical guitars, but I'm a pragmatic person: When I'm looking for a used guitar then choosing a Japanese guitar -in almost all cases- offers me the best quality for the lowest price. Not only the manufacturing quality is very high, but also the discount for such used guitars. Other than with non-Japanese guitars I was never disappointed with a Japanese guitar (so far).

I consider half of my Japanese guitars collectible items, like my Yamaha GC-6D and GC-10D, but also my Yamaha G-260S. Many of my Asturias guitars are from the 1980ies like my three John Mills guitars: two JM-20 with spruce top and one JM-15 with cedar top. Some years ago I took one of my JM-20 guitars to a local luthier who removed the old finish completely and put on a new shellac finish. The sound of these old guitars are fantastic, a pure traditional sound with good sustain.

In the far future I will probably list all my guitars in the "guitar for sale" section of this forum, and I guess that this will cause a large container to be shipped to Sweden ;-)
Agreed and agreed! This makes my very happy to read. Consider that container booked :guitare:

/Jon
1965 - Masaru Kono No.5
1973 - Ryoji Matsuoka No.80
1976 - Kazuo Yairi YC-250
2007 - Lorenzo Frignani

You are the instrument, not the guitar

Victor Seal
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Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:12 am

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by Victor Seal » Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:12 pm

I owned a Yairi CY115 that was a real nice guitar. Sadly, I was talked into selling it. Man, I would love to have it back.

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