We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
User avatar
eno
Posts: 341
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:56 pm
Location: Boston, USA

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by eno » Thu May 04, 2017 2:49 pm

rinneby wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 1:45 pm
This is a great story! Have you posted it in the Kohno/Sakurai thread too?
/Jon
No. I copied it from vintagekohnoguitars site
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Masaru Kohno No.6 1967
Rokutaro Nakade 1967, 1962

henders
Posts: 106
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 2:49 am
Location: California, USA

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by henders » Thu May 04, 2017 8:47 pm

eno wrote:
Wed May 03, 2017 12:53 pm
rinneby wrote:
Wed May 03, 2017 5:55 am
Thank's for your post Eno, much appreciated. I've also seen a model called C138S. It's on the famous auction site right now.
/Jon
Yes, there are also C134 and C138 models.
Here is another beautiful Brazilian RW back of one of the C136S (also on the auction now)
C136S.jpg
What strings have been using on your C136S?

User avatar
rinneby
Posts: 972
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:52 am
Location: Sweden

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Thu May 04, 2017 8:53 pm

henders wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 8:47 pm
eno wrote:
Wed May 03, 2017 12:53 pm
rinneby wrote:
Wed May 03, 2017 5:55 am
Thank's for your post Eno, much appreciated. I've also seen a model called C138S. It's on the famous auction site right now.
/Jon
Yes, there are also C134 and C138 models.
Here is another beautiful Brazilian RW back of one of the C136S (also on the auction now)
C136S.jpg
What strings have been using on your C136S?
I can't speak for the Takamine's, but in my opinion Japanese guitars from the 60s and 70s works well with lower tension strings like Daddario EJ43 and EJ45 for example. I know Sakurai, among others, swears by Savarez Cantiga Creation Normal Tension 510MR, but they haven't convinced me yet, maybe they suit newer guitars.

/Jon
Last edited by rinneby on Thu May 04, 2017 9:05 pm, edited 4 times in total.
1950 - Jose Ramirez II
1977 - Kuniharu Nobe No.15
1990 - Antonio Raya Pardo 1A
2004 - Alain Raifort Grand Concert
2007 - Curt Claus Voigt Torres

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

User avatar
eno
Posts: 341
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:56 pm
Location: Boston, USA

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by eno » Thu May 04, 2017 9:01 pm

henders wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 8:47 pm
What strings have been using on your C136S?
I haven't received C136 yet, I just bought it a few days ago :D
But on my C128 I used Savarez Alliance some years ago but at some point switched to nylon like Hannabach 8151 because I got tired of that metallic sound of carbon strings. But C128 is probably quite different from C136. For C136 I'm going to try a variety of strings but I guess Ramirez strings should work well because C136 is a copy of Ramirez. What strings do you use?
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Masaru Kohno No.6 1967
Rokutaro Nakade 1967, 1962

henders
Posts: 106
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 2:49 am
Location: California, USA

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by henders » Thu May 04, 2017 9:53 pm

I've been using hard tension D'Addario, which is what I've used for years and what I think worked well for my other guitar. I've only had the takamine since end of last year and have not yet tried anything new with it. I'm thinking to, if not use a different brand, at least try normal tension. I think the guitar has a powerful enough voice to not really need HT, and also, since it is 660 scale, make it a bit easier on the left hand.

bullpuppy
Posts: 187
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 7:29 pm

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by bullpuppy » Thu May 04, 2017 11:59 pm

My new baby. 1971 Sakazo Nakade 1200Y

I must say that I am really impressed with this guitar. I received the guitar knowing of some issues and got it at a low price. The finish look like it was exposed to very high heat at some point and parts of it stuck to the case and damaged (the case smelled really bad). In addition the finish had lumps, probably bubbles from the heat. The bass strings were rotten and the D string broke on tightening plus the treble were brittle. I could see that the neck needed reset. The machines had some cracked rollers. The machines were set of six individual tuners, they were silver and were good quality, but I replaced them. The rest of the guitar was in good order. I had a PM with a member on the board who had praises for the high level Nakade so I felt it was a worth fixing, I had a Sakazo Nakade at on time that was a unsigned student model but really was good, feather light, nice sound. The Nakade 1971 1200Y guitar was priced a 120000 yen in 1971. The more famous Kohno highest priced guitar was a rare model 20 priced at 200000 yen. This 1200Y has solid brazilian rosewood back and the sides are cypress lined Brazilian rosewood. The top is spruce and the bracing is Ramirez. I started working on it without knowing how it would sound.

I did the neck reset. Like so many Ramirez guitars and spanish guitars there was no re-enforcement under the fretboard on the body. The top showed some cave above the soundboard. So over a period of days with the jacks and clamps and some moisture I slowly eased the top and the upper brace back to its original position. Once in the position I put in a cedar reinforcement to support the top and the forward brace. Next I had to level out the finish. Fortunately the finish was thick enough that I could level out all the damage without going through it. Once polished it look nice, thinner and much better for the sound. It still has scars and dents that, with some more time, I could repair but at this point I wanted to hear it. I put on some Labella 2001 median tension strings and let is set overnight to stretch out.

Well the next day I played it and had that 'love at first sound' moment. I know these strings take 3 days before the trebles reach their full sweetness but OMG this guitar sings on the first day. It has very high volume, beautiful clear trebles, lovely mid tones and deep base. It is very even deep with a quick response really great dynamics. Comparing it to my collection of high level guitars on hand (Kamori, Tomita, Inaba) and several Kohno and Ramirez 1A that I have had in the past I can say that this particular guitar comes out ahead. I was told by a knowledgeable member that this is a Ramirez copy and physically it is, except the neck has a thinner profile. Sound wise it has the character of the Ramirez 1a crossed with the best Kohno I have ever heard (1974 no. 20) . It needs little more work. Some fret dressing, more finish touch ups, there was a divot in the the neck. It is a keeper and will be my primary guitar.

The pictures are at this link.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/50n54e0o9mbs ... Pbpja?dl=0

Alms
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 8:40 am
Location: Kitchener-Waterloo Canada

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by Alms » Fri May 05, 2017 1:41 am

What a thread! I have to admit that I am often nervous about older Japanese classical guitars due to the weather extremes in Japan and where I live here in Canada. However, I have been considering a GC31C so should I venture out and give it a try I will contribute to the love festival here, which is a wonderful thread to find.
Almansa 457

User avatar
rinneby
Posts: 972
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:52 am
Location: Sweden

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Fri May 05, 2017 7:21 am

bullpuppy wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 11:59 pm
My new baby. 1971 Sakazo Nakade 1200Y

I must say that I am really impressed with this guitar. I received the guitar knowing of some issues and got it at a low price. The finish look like it was exposed to very high heat at some point and parts of it stuck to the case and damaged (the case smelled really bad). In addition the finish had lumps, probably bubbles from the heat. The bass strings were rotten and the D string broke on tightening plus the treble were brittle. I could see that the neck needed reset. The machines had some cracked rollers. The machines were set of six individual tuners, they were silver and were good quality, but I replaced them. The rest of the guitar was in good order. I had a PM with a member on the board who had praises for the high level Nakade so I felt it was a worth fixing, I had a Sakazo Nakade at on time that was a unsigned student model but really was good, feather light, nice sound. The Nakade 1971 1200Y guitar was priced a 120000 yen in 1971. The more famous Kohno highest priced guitar was a rare model 20 priced at 200000 yen. This 1200Y has solid brazilian rosewood back and the sides are cypress lined Brazilian rosewood. The top is spruce and the bracing is Ramirez. I started working on it without knowing how it would sound.

I did the neck reset. Like so many Ramirez guitars and spanish guitars there was no re-enforcement under the fretboard on the body. The top showed some cave above the soundboard. So over a period of days with the jacks and clamps and some moisture I slowly eased the top and the upper brace back to its original position. Once in the position I put in a cedar reinforcement to support the top and the forward brace. Next I had to level out the finish. Fortunately the finish was thick enough that I could level out all the damage without going through it. Once polished it look nice, thinner and much better for the sound. It still has scars and dents that, with some more time, I could repair but at this point I wanted to hear it. I put on some Labella 2001 median tension strings and let is set overnight to stretch out.

Well the next day I played it and had that 'love at first sound' moment. I know these strings take 3 days before the trebles reach their full sweetness but OMG this guitar sings on the first day. It has very high volume, beautiful clear trebles, lovely mid tones and deep base. It is very even deep with a quick response really great dynamics. Comparing it to my collection of high level guitars on hand (Kamori, Tomita, Inaba) and several Kohno and Ramirez 1A that I have had in the past I can say that this particular guitar comes out ahead. I was told by a knowledgeable member that this is a Ramirez copy and physically it is, except the neck has a thinner profile. Sound wise it has the character of the Ramirez 1a crossed with the best Kohno I have ever heard (1974 no. 20) . It needs little more work. Some fret dressing, more finish touch ups, there was a divot in the the neck. It is a keeper and will be my primary guitar.

The pictures are at this link.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/50n54e0o9mbs ... Pbpja?dl=0
This is a perfect love story. I'm very happy for you and this only makes me want to try a Sakazo from the 60s or 70s even more! Did you remove the whole neck when you did the reset? I suppose it wasn't a Spanish heel then? Was it an easy fix?

Also, did you measure the thickness of the top before and after the new finish?

/Jon
Last edited by rinneby on Fri May 05, 2017 7:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
1950 - Jose Ramirez II
1977 - Kuniharu Nobe No.15
1990 - Antonio Raya Pardo 1A
2004 - Alain Raifort Grand Concert
2007 - Curt Claus Voigt Torres

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

User avatar
rinneby
Posts: 972
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:52 am
Location: Sweden

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Fri May 05, 2017 7:26 am

Alms wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 1:41 am
What a thread! I have to admit that I am often nervous about older Japanese classical guitars due to the weather extremes in Japan and where I live here in Canada. However, I have been considering a GC31C so should I venture out and give it a try I will contribute to the love festival here, which is a wonderful thread to find.
Welcome! The Yamaha GC31C is actually a pretty new model (1998 and forward) compared to many of the guitars mentioned here. With that said it's a good guitar with solid cedar and solid Indian rosewood back and sides, polyurethane finish and ebony fretboard. You should try it for sure. But don't be afraid to look into the second hand market as well, and older japanese guitars. We can answer any question you have if you happened to find a guitar that you like.

All the best from Sweden.

/Jon
1950 - Jose Ramirez II
1977 - Kuniharu Nobe No.15
1990 - Antonio Raya Pardo 1A
2004 - Alain Raifort Grand Concert
2007 - Curt Claus Voigt Torres

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

User avatar
rinneby
Posts: 972
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:52 am
Location: Sweden

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Fri May 05, 2017 2:41 pm

Got my Seizo Shinano No.83 today and it's mixed feelings. To begin with the guitar is very nice looking. I like the headstock, bridge design, rosette and the woods are beautiful. It's lightly built. No cracks or fixes as far as I can tell. On the inside there is one slightly broken brace, that buzzes when I play certain notes. The tuners are ok, but nothing more, will probably change them. Also the frets are in pretty bad shape, sticking up here and there. But hey, what can you expect from a 50 year old? The action is on the high side, but there is room on the saddle to go lower. Because of this it's hard to comment on the sound and the guitar probably needs to wake up and be played some to reach it's full potential. With that said I like what I hear and I think this guitar has that special something. It's definitely on par with Masaru Matano and Ryoji Matsuoka for example. Maybe even be better, time will tell. The sound is well defined with great midrange and not harsh at all, but still with a clear high end. It's pretty loud too. A somewhat romantic sound I suppose. The scale is 660mm but it feels easy to play, feels like 650. I will probably get the guitar fixed next week and will come back with a final judgement by then. Here are some pictures from today:

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

All the best from Sweden

/Jon
Last edited by rinneby on Fri May 05, 2017 8:15 pm, edited 12 times in total.
1950 - Jose Ramirez II
1977 - Kuniharu Nobe No.15
1990 - Antonio Raya Pardo 1A
2004 - Alain Raifort Grand Concert
2007 - Curt Claus Voigt Torres

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

bullpuppy
Posts: 187
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 7:29 pm

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by bullpuppy » Fri May 05, 2017 4:59 pm

hi Jon,

Nice looking Shinano. I have had three different models and years. The 83 and 93 are suppose to be his high end models and I have yet to hear one. The hard thing about shinano for me is the modeling numbering system and that there is the luthier shinano own work, the factory shinano which he owned or worked for, and it seems a signed workshop shinano. Ryoji had a similar set up, but in case of Ryoji my experience has been they all japan made ones sounded from really good to great regardless. The lower model shinanos I had were intermediate level and I had a signed one with no model number that had really nice tone but not great volume. It always an adventure with vintage japanese.


On my Nakade 1200y. There are many ways to set a neck or resolve high actions. Most japanese guitars, even from the big names, don't use the traditional spanish foot. I don't use it either. The spanish foot does work but the japanese improved on it in my opinion. On most Kohno guitars I have examined he used a combination of a dovetail and and inside block to support the area under fretboard. Others used a dovetail with a C shaped block that supports the area under the neck and the block continues and is attached to the bottom. At a glance you would think that it is a spanish foot but you have to look behind the block to see if there is a wider block that supports the dove tail. All these design changes were there to allow to make the neck separate from the body and, more importantly, to help prevent the neck from taking a set. To do a reset on the traditional spanish foot (by the book) is the most involved and intrusive (you have to actually take the back off and remove the sides from the block) . I have done it but the amount of work, cleanup, and risk of damage is high. There are luthiers that specialize in it and my hats off to them, it is a specialized skill. Resetting a dovetail (by the book) is easier but requires removing the fretboard from the body, removing the 12th fret, drilling holes into the dovetail and steaming the neck off, building up the dovetail and resetting the angle of the neck to the body. I have done too many of these and I really don't enjoy it. This Nakade appears to have a spanish foot but I have been fooled by a before and I did not want to take a chance. The action was not that bad, the neck lined up little higher than the half way on the bridge and I needed about 5 mm to get the action to 3.2. So there are a couple choices to correct this. On way is to reshape the bridge (i.e. lowering the height of the saddle area, deepening the saddle slot, and adjusting the break angle by either redrilling the string holes and/or converting to 12 hole bridge. Another way is to plain the fretboard (i don't do this). On this one a I first removed the fret board from the body and checked how far above the body and the fretboard was and how much downward force it would take to have the neck line up with the top of the bridge. It didn't take much and the fretboard was only only about 3 mm from the soundboard. I check to see how much the top was caved in and it was about 2mm. So I chose to slowly return the top to flat and re-enforce it under the fretboard and the forward brace and re-glue the fretboard back on. Some will say that all sorts of problems would occur doing it this way or the fix will not last. I never had that problem as long as your neck angle is not too extreme. Do the proper straightening, reinforcements and let the glue dry for a week and allow for 1 mm of slip back.

henders
Posts: 106
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 2:49 am
Location: California, USA

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by henders » Fri May 05, 2017 5:08 pm

rinneby wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 7:26 am
Alms wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 1:41 am
What a thread! I have to admit that I am often nervous about older Japanese classical guitars due to the weather extremes in Japan and where I live here in Canada. However, I have been considering a GC31C so should I venture out and give it a try I will contribute to the love festival here, which is a wonderful thread to find.
Welcome! The Yamaha GC31C is actually a pretty new model (1998 and forward) compared to many of the guitars mentioned here. With that said it's a good guitar with solid cedar and solid Indian rosewood back and sides, polyurethane finish and ebony fretboard. You should try it for sure. But don't be afraid to look into the second hand market as well, and older japanese guitars. We can answer any question you have if you happened to find a guitar that you like.

All the best from Sweden.

/Jon


I have a Yamaha GC31 from 2007, though it's the Spruce top. Overall it's a decent instrument. It's best quality is its playability, which is excellent-- extremely easy. Very comfortable neck. Frets and fingerboard are wonderful under the fingers. Tone and volume are moderately good. It's been a good student instrument, which is what I bought it for. Playability was more important to me at the time than other factors. I think the cedar is the one to get with that model. There are more favorable reviews or mentions it seems. Try before you buy, if that's possible.

User avatar
rinneby
Posts: 972
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:52 am
Location: Sweden

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Fri May 05, 2017 8:07 pm

bullpuppy wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 4:59 pm
hi Jon,

Nice looking Shinano. I have had three different models and years. The 83 and 93 are suppose to be his high end models and I have yet to hear one. The hard thing about shinano for me is the modeling numbering system and that there is the luthier shinano own work, the factory shinano which he owned or worked for, and it seems a signed workshop shinano. Ryoji had a similar set up, but in case of Ryoji my experience has been they all japan made ones sounded from really good to great regardless. The lower model shinanos I had were intermediate level and I had a signed one with no model number that had really nice tone but not great volume. It always an adventure with vintage japanese.


On my Nakade 1200y. There are many ways to set a neck or resolve high actions. Most japanese guitars, even from the big names, don't use the traditional spanish foot. I don't use it either. The spanish foot does work but the japanese improved on it in my opinion. On most Kohno guitars I have examined he used a combination of a dovetail and and inside block to support the area under fretboard. Others used a dovetail with a C shaped block that supports the area under the neck and the block continues and is attached to the bottom. At a glance you would think that it is a spanish foot but you have to look behind the block to see if there is a wider block that supports the dove tail. All these design changes were there to allow to make the neck separate from the body and, more importantly, to help prevent the neck from taking a set. To do a reset on the traditional spanish foot (by the book) is the most involved and intrusive (you have to actually take the back off and remove the sides from the block) . I have done it but the amount of work, cleanup, and risk of damage is high. There are luthiers that specialize in it and my hats off to them, it is a specialized skill. Resetting a dovetail (by the book) is easier but requires removing the fretboard from the body, removing the 12th fret, drilling holes into the dovetail and steaming the neck off, building up the dovetail and resetting the angle of the neck to the body. I have done too many of these and I really don't enjoy it. This Nakade appears to have a spanish foot but I have been fooled by a before and I did not want to take a chance. The action was not that bad, the neck lined up little higher than the half way on the bridge and I needed about 5 mm to get the action to 3.2. So there are a couple choices to correct this. On way is to reshape the bridge (i.e. lowering the height of the saddle area, deepening the saddle slot, and adjusting the break angle by either redrilling the string holes and/or converting to 12 hole bridge. Another way is to plain the fretboard (i don't do this). On this one a I first removed the fret board from the body and checked how far above the body and the fretboard was and how much downward force it would take to have the neck line up with the top of the bridge. It didn't take much and the fretboard was only only about 3 mm from the soundboard. I check to see how much the top was caved in and it was about 2mm. So I chose to slowly return the top to flat and re-enforce it under the fretboard and the forward brace and re-glue the fretboard back on. Some will say that all sorts of problems would occur doing it this way or the fix will not last. I never had that problem as long as your neck angle is not too extreme. Do the proper straightening, reinforcements and let the glue dry for a week and allow for 1 mm of slip back.
Thank's for the detailed explanation! I love the back on your Nakade by the way. I can see that it sounds wonderful ;)

/Jon
1950 - Jose Ramirez II
1977 - Kuniharu Nobe No.15
1990 - Antonio Raya Pardo 1A
2004 - Alain Raifort Grand Concert
2007 - Curt Claus Voigt Torres

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

Bertram Scrogshaw
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu May 04, 2017 3:23 pm
Location: York UK

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by Bertram Scrogshaw » Fri May 05, 2017 8:50 pm

I love my Yamaha C40.....but surely not all of the modern day Yamahas are made in Japan. Aren't some made in Indonesia and Germany?

henders
Posts: 106
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 2:49 am
Location: California, USA

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by henders » Fri May 05, 2017 9:10 pm

rinneby wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 2:41 pm
Got my Seizo Shinano No.83 today and it's mixed feelings. To begin with the guitar is very nice looking. I like the headstock, bridge design, rosette and the woods are beautiful. It's lightly built. No cracks or fixes as far as I can tell. On the inside there is one slightly broken brace, that buzzes when I play certain notes. The tuners are ok, but nothing more, will probably change them. Also the frets are in pretty bad shape, sticking up here and there. But hey, what can you expect from a 50 year old? The action is on the high side, but there is room on the saddle to go lower. Because of this it's hard to comment on the sound and the guitar probably needs to wake up and be played some to reach it's full potential. With that said I like what I hear and I think this guitar has that special something. It's definitely on par with Masaru Matano and Ryoji Matsuoka for example. Maybe even be better, time will tell. The sound is well defined with great midrange and not harsh at all, but still with a clear high end. It's pretty loud too. A somewhat romantic sound I suppose. The scale is 660mm but it feels easy to play, feels like 650. I will probably get the guitar fixed next week and will come back with a final judgement by then. Here are some pictures from today:

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

All the best from Sweden

/Jon

Beautiful guitar with especially lovely headstock. I look at these pictures and feel the need to have a guitar in my hands.

Return to “Luthiers”