We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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James A. Showalter
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by James A. Showalter » Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:26 am

Perfect.
Thnx.
1972 Morris No 12
1972 Ryoji Matsuoka, NO 18
1973 Ryoji Matsuoka, NO. 20
1990 Takamine C132S
2014 Sakurai Kohno Pro-J
Martin Guitars (D28, MC28, D12-28, J40)
National Resonator Guitar
Les Paul 1960 reissue

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rinneby
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:47 pm

Here's one of the first Japanese classical guitars I bought: A Ryoji Matsukoa No.20 (Kohno Style) from 1972 with original label and hand written signature in blue ink. I think these hand written (not printed) labels were used until 1974 or 1975, but I could be wrong. As you can see the top is pretty beaten up. However, the original orange lacquer was removed and now replaced with a thin layer of schellack, but nothing was done to improve the looks, or make it look new and shiny again. The rest of the guitar is in good condition for its age. Sound wise it's mature and actually pretty loud. A woody kind of sound, with quite clear trebles and bold midrange. The scale is 650/52 mm and the action is 4/3 mm with room left on the saddle, no cracks or repairs. Solid spruce top and laminated Indian rosewood (or possibly some kind of straight grain CSA) back and sides. The double reinforcement strips on the back of the neck is a nice touch and probably the reason why the action is still is OK.

Image
Image
Image

All the best from Sweden
/Jon
Last edited by rinneby on Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.
1964 - Masaru Kono No.7
1989 - Antonio Marin Montero (Bouchet)
2001 - Pascal Quinson
2017 - Tobias Braun (Santos Hernández, 1924)

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

rpavich
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rpavich » Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:01 pm

rinneby wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:47 pm
Here's one of the first Japanese classical guitars I bought: A Ryoji Matsukoa No.20 (Kohno Style) from 1972 with original label and hand written signature in blue ink. I think these hand written (not printed) labels were used until 1974 or 1975, but I could be wrong. As you can see this guitar is pretty beaten up. However, the original orange lacquer was removed and now replaced with a thin layer of schellack, but nothing was done to "improve" the looks, or make it look new and shiny again. Sound wise it's very mature and actually pretty loud. A woody kind of sound, with quite bold trebles. The scale is 650/52 mm and the action is 4/3 mm with room left on the saddle, no cracks or repairs. Solid spruce top and laminated Indian rosewood (or possibly some kind of straight grain CSA) back and sides. The double reinforcement strips on the back of the neck is a nice touch and probably the reason why the action is still is OK.



All the best from Sweden
/Jon
Beautiful
Asturias AST-100-heavily modified by Robert England.

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James A. Showalter
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by James A. Showalter » Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:31 pm

I wish my 1972 Ryoji Matsuoka, NO 18 looked as nice as the No. 20 Jon is showing. It has the same label, a single reinforcing inlay of ebony in the neck, a cedar top with (Indian - I would correct myself and bet that it is Brazilian) rosewood back/sides, no center strip on its back. It appears darker possibly because it still has the original finish and has lived in the moist south US probably all of its life which may contribute to the dark color. As far as sound I would say it is tonally very similar to the description by Jon. I like the guitar sound very much and am 60/40 right now convinced that it doesn't need to be resurfaced. It's wearing its age well.
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Last edited by James A. Showalter on Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
1972 Morris No 12
1972 Ryoji Matsuoka, NO 18
1973 Ryoji Matsuoka, NO. 20
1990 Takamine C132S
2014 Sakurai Kohno Pro-J
Martin Guitars (D28, MC28, D12-28, J40)
National Resonator Guitar
Les Paul 1960 reissue

rpavich
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Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:23 pm
Location: West Virginia, USA

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rpavich » Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:34 pm

how do these stack up in the scheme of things?

How do they compare for example with a Yamaha GC12.

OR some other commonly played CG?
Asturias AST-100-heavily modified by Robert England.

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rinneby
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:21 pm

James A. Showalter wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:31 pm
I wish my 1972 Ryoji Matsuoka, No. 18 looked as nice as the No. 20 Jon is showing. It has the same label, a single reinforcing inlay of ebony in the neck, a cedar top with Indian rosewood back/sides, no center strip on its back. It appears darker possibly because it still has the original finish and has lived in the moist south US probably all of its life which may contribute to the dark color. As far as sound I would say it is tonally very similar to the description by Jon. I like the guitar sound very much and am 60/40 right now convinced that it doesn't need to be resurfaced. It's wearing its age well.
Great picture! No need to fell dissatisfied though, surely you don't need two guitars with double reinforcement strips ;) By the way, I use La Bella 2001 Medium Tension on my No.20, it's a good fit.

All the best from Sweden
/Jon
1964 - Masaru Kono No.7
1989 - Antonio Marin Montero (Bouchet)
2001 - Pascal Quinson
2017 - Tobias Braun (Santos Hernández, 1924)

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

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rinneby
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Location: Sweden

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:23 pm

rpavich wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:34 pm
how do these stack up in the scheme of things?

How do they compare for example with a Yamaha GC12.

OR some other commonly played CG?
I've only played one GC-12 and some other new Yamaha's, and I think the Matsuoka's (regardless of model and year) are better. But then again, I like the sound of older instruments. However, the older Yamaha's from the late 60s and 70s are great. And the new top of the line of Yamaha's are very good instruments too.

/Jon
1964 - Masaru Kono No.7
1989 - Antonio Marin Montero (Bouchet)
2001 - Pascal Quinson
2017 - Tobias Braun (Santos Hernández, 1924)

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

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James A. Showalter
Student of the online lessons
Posts: 277
Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:20 pm
Location: Mississippi

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by James A. Showalter » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:46 pm

I didn't intend to speculate on how they stack up although I do have a grade assigned as per my personal favorite. They're all Japanese and I appreciate the tonal quality and character of each. There are enough clues to determine which is which.

I'm confident that the Ryoji has Brazilian rosewood back/sides. If there is an expert that can confirm or correct me I would appreciate it.

James
1972 Morris No 12
1972 Ryoji Matsuoka, NO 18
1973 Ryoji Matsuoka, NO. 20
1990 Takamine C132S
2014 Sakurai Kohno Pro-J
Martin Guitars (D28, MC28, D12-28, J40)
National Resonator Guitar
Les Paul 1960 reissue

Victoria Ferrell
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Location: Vacaville, California

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by Victoria Ferrell » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:41 am

Greetings All,

I own a Yamaha CG192C and I have to say that I absolutely love it! This model is the flagship of their midrange guitars. The warmth of the tones, the beautiful construction, the responsiveness of this beauty...for me, WOW! I also own a Suzuki Model 700. For a laminate guitar, it puts out a pretty good sound.

It was recommended that I pop on over here to check out an afofrdable Japanese built Luthier made guitar. Any suggestions?

Victoria
I don't want to play like other guitarists; I want to give voice to the song of my own soul.

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James A. Showalter
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by James A. Showalter » Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:40 am

Victoria,
Your inquiry is of a nature to bring out the opinionated amongst us. In my previous posts I've alluded to my preference for the top Japanese guitar. Of course a proper opinion would only include the Luthier made guitars and I lean toward the designs of the offerings from the 70's, the "Golden Age of Japanese Guitar". If not an original then a high-end modern instrument in the Master's tradition. In summary, there are several well respected luthier's from that age but Kohno is King and Masaki Sakurai currently wears his crown.

Just my 2-cents.
James
1972 Morris No 12
1972 Ryoji Matsuoka, NO 18
1973 Ryoji Matsuoka, NO. 20
1990 Takamine C132S
2014 Sakurai Kohno Pro-J
Martin Guitars (D28, MC28, D12-28, J40)
National Resonator Guitar
Les Paul 1960 reissue

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rinneby
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:20 am

BreathingSince72 wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:41 am
Greetings All,

I own a Yamaha CG192C and I have to say that I absolutely love it! This model is the flagship of their midrange guitars. The warmth of the tones, the beautiful construction, the responsiveness of this beauty...for me, WOW! I also own a Suzuki Model 700. For a laminate guitar, it puts out a pretty good sound.

It was recommended that I pop on over here to check out an afofrdable Japanese built Luthier made guitar. Any suggestions?

Victoria
As mentioned above, the guitars from the 70s and possibly even the 60s are your best bet, if you want to find an affordable luthier built guitar from Japan. Here is a short list to get you started:

Hakusui Imai
Hideo Ida
Hiroshi Komori
Kawada Ikkoh
Kazuo Ichiyanagi (Kazuo Toshi)
Kazuo Sato
Kuniharu Nobe
Masaji Nobe
Masaki Sakurai
Masaru Kohno
Masaru Matano
Mitsuru Tamura
Osamu Tomita
Rokutaro Nakade
Ryoji Matsuoka
Saburo Nogami
Sakae Ishii
Sakazo Nakade
Seiji Inaba
Shunpei Nishino
Sumio Kurosawa
Tatsuhiko Hirose
Teruaki Nakade
Toshihiko Nakade
Yuichi Imai

Kind regards
/Jon
1964 - Masaru Kono No.7
1989 - Antonio Marin Montero (Bouchet)
2001 - Pascal Quinson
2017 - Tobias Braun (Santos Hernández, 1924)

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

Victoria Ferrell
Amateur luthier
Posts: 39
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:09 am
Location: Vacaville, California

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by Victoria Ferrell » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:17 pm

James A. Showalter wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:40 am
Victoria,
Your inquiry is of a nature to bring out the opinionated amongst us. In my previous posts I've alluded to my preference for the top Japanese guitar. Of course a proper opinion would only include the Luthier made guitars and I lean toward the designs of the offerings from the 70's, the "Golden Age of Japanese Guitar". If not an original then a high-end modern instrument in the Master's tradition. In summary, there are several well respected luthier's from that age but Kohno is King and Masaki Sakurai currently wears his crown.

Just my 2-cents.
James
Hi James.

I thank you for your two cents. Some great things were made in the seventies, myself included. I am joking with regard to myself but I have heard your sentiment about Japanese guitars from the 70s, echoed on other websites. While I am advised that a laminate guitar IN NO WAY compares to those built by a luthier, I have one of Japanese make form the 70s which was really well made. The high notes sing and the basses are deep and resonant. So this just confirms to me that something special was happening in the 70s in Japan in the world of classical guitar. Thanks for your thoughts. I will investigate Kohno. :D

Victoria
I don't want to play like other guitarists; I want to give voice to the song of my own soul.

Marco32
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by Marco32 » Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:50 pm

Speaking about Kohnos from the 70s, how do you think they compare to Sakurais? Of course, the differences are more in the hands of the luthier as they are almost identical, but I’ve read that sometimes Sakurai used better woods.. price point aside, what are your preferences and why?

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rinneby
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by rinneby » Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:58 pm

Marco32 wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:50 pm
Speaking about Kohnos from the 70s, how do you think they compare to Sakurais? Of course, the differences are more in the hands of the luthier as they are almost identical, but I’ve read that sometimes Sakurai used better woods.. price point aside, what are your preferences and why?
Well, this question could also be asked in the Kohno/Sakurai thread. Anyway :) I will try my best to answer as I played a fair amount of Kohno's and Sakurai's from the 70s.

Generally speaking... To me the guitars from Sakurai are easier to play, much thanks to the 650 scale (after 1977 I think), instead of 660. The sound is quite similar, but I imagine the Kohno's have somewhat more "depth" and sustain to them, they often look nicer too. However, I find it hard to believe Mr. Kohno built all the Kohno-labeled guitars single-handed. Regarding the woods there are rumors saying Sakurai had a pile of excellent woods during the late 70s, this I cannot confirm. But I once owned a Sakurai No.10 from 1977 and that spruce top was magical. In terms of value, Kohno will always be held higher and he always used excellent woods as well.

So for me personally I prefer Kohno's guitars from the 60s and Sakurai's from the late 70s. There are of course always exceptions...

Hope it helps.

/Jon
1964 - Masaru Kono No.7
1989 - Antonio Marin Montero (Bouchet)
2001 - Pascal Quinson
2017 - Tobias Braun (Santos Hernández, 1924)

Feel free to ask me anything about Japanese classical guitars.

User avatar
James A. Showalter
Student of the online lessons
Posts: 277
Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:20 pm
Location: Mississippi

Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by James A. Showalter » Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:25 am

Victoria,
My favorite is the Sakurai Kohno Pro-J which is built in the Kohno shop using Masaru Kohno's basic design with touches by Masaki Sakurai. As most of us know Masaki Sakurai is the nephew of Masaru Kohno and he trained under him beginning as a youth. Masaki pursued a degree in mechanical engineering in the 60's and then applied his engineering skills to the art of luthier. If you search the net you can find a video produced by one of the Japanese TV productions about Masaki Sakurai and it shows how he used sand to visualize the vibrational modes on prototype wood panels and differing bracing options to determine an optimal thickness and structural binding for his guitars. So I think his designs are more well founded in the structural understanding of what guitar mechanics will resonate the highest amplitude sound. As far as great girls made in the 70's there will be no argument from me. The structural competency of that design was perfected with Eve and to my perception it has not been improved upon even to this day.
James
1972 Morris No 12
1972 Ryoji Matsuoka, NO 18
1973 Ryoji Matsuoka, NO. 20
1990 Takamine C132S
2014 Sakurai Kohno Pro-J
Martin Guitars (D28, MC28, D12-28, J40)
National Resonator Guitar
Les Paul 1960 reissue

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