macnylonguitar wrote: ↑
Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:39 pm
Hello, fellow Kohno & Sakurai Fan Club, Delcamp branch... I was not sure if there was some separate thread, etc.. This is what I found...Just introduced myself yesterday....and I have a nice Kohno / Sakurai story as part of that... so I will put it here..not sure if this is the right place for it....but here it goes...
Greetings, John K here...
I have been playing 46 years, have a Bachelor's of Music degree in jazz and classical guitar from Western Connecticut State University, 1987
Professionally, I have been an Apple systems engineer for many many years, having worked at Apple HQ in 2001-2003, iTunes 1.0... Trust me all things guitar, and especially nylon guitar are by a wide margin, far more fun and interesting.
It wasn't until after 5 plus years after I graduated in 1987 that I was introduced to the likes of fingerstyle guitar, steel string players initially, then nlyon: Preston Reed, Chris Proctor, Pierre Bensusan, and solo Earl Klugh.
I took a class with John Knowles (Chet Atkins’ good friend) and asked him about right hand tone and technique, and he said Chet told him (and others) "find a teacher that will teach you that, without necessarily having to swear an allegiance to any particular musical genre". I ventured out, and found Ben Verdery at Yale in New Haven, CT, and took no more than two lessons...got my nails and tone majorly improved, and on my way.
Since I started guitar when I was 8, I had right away been drawn to the sound of the nylon guitar, and the first piece I Iearned (by ear, no transcription) was "Mood For a Day" by Steve Howe (Yes). Thumb and index only...(make it harder on myself). Later, I got much more efficient right hand fingerings..
Even after being influenced by countless guitarists of so many genres: some of which were: Steve Howe, Paco de Lucia, Al Di Meola, Wes Montgomery, Allan Holdsworth, etc., I then heard Earl Klugh's Solo Guitar album, and was stunned and mezmorized.. no overdubs..
What I found out later is, even though Earl has some stellar arrangements, he is not limited to arrangements... he can and will truly "improvise" chordal / fingerstyle pieces, like a Bill Evans on piano.
His knowledge of the fret board harmony, and diving into voicings, George Van Epps, etc, helped him to get that mastery.
To this day, Earl is one of my favorites in his approach, with his right hand technique, tone, harmony / substitutions. I never realized the guitar could do this, or a nylon guitar could sound this full and beautiful on "jazz" tunes.
I also play electric: jazz and fusion, and am having a headless guitar built for me by luthier Rich Chaffins in West Virginia, sort of Strandberg influence, the idea of being an electric jazz guitar (chambered walnut), doing Ed Bickert, Ted Greene, Pat Martino type stuff, but also some fusion: a la Holdsworth, Darryl Gabel,etc..
I myself have been diving into fretboard harmony and studying it, I'd say systematically for the last 7-10 years, and I have some made some great breakthroughs, to sort of simplify / organize it.
Instead of just memorizing frets / finger positions, and maybe having no idea of the chord(s) (harmonic function), that one is playing, say in one voicing, that same chord shape can and will have 5 different names / functions. I am in the process of putting together some YouTube videos on this..and then consequential material / lessons to help get a more unifying understanding of fretboard harmony..
I also have had the nylon guitar bug for over 25 years now. Have had several hi end luthier nylons and steels: Kenny Hill, Jose Oribe, Larrivee, 1999 Taylor 912c (Chris Proctor), etc.
The last year or so I have been actively hunting for that next guitar. For me that means a lot of listening and most importantly, playing.
But getting access to, and playing hi end guitars of this nature and caliper, as many of you here know, is not necessarily easy..
On the web, I have been listening to some guitars that spoke to me: Manuel Adalid, Douglass Pringle, Tim McCoy..but one has to actually play the guitar, no substitute.
I just went to GSI here in Santa Monica and lined up about 7 guitars, $5K-$6500k range, and now I have realized after these many years, that's what the price range is for that caliper level of guitar.
I played a guitar that shocked me: not just the huge volume / resonance, but the ease of the left hand in fingering, the action was shockingly low for a nylon / "classical", and can go way lower (and with normal tension strings), the neck profile was shallow depth, I am thinking 21 mm or so (with carbon fiber strips)...to get huge volume required not really a great amount of right hand power:
A 2018 cedar Sakurai / Kohno, Professional J.
This guitar blew me away, how easy it is to play. The trebles / upper trebles are solid (stiff, not flabby, nor too hard to fret) in left hand feel and tone / volume. I never heard / experienced this in another nylon I have ever played before.
The fretboard stunned me.. what feels like a radius, perhaps 20", and perhaps stainless steel (shinny) frets. I thought I was playing just a wider version (51-52 mm) of say a Kiesel HH2 fretboard. I could do all my left hand legato runs, and that is just not possible with high action.
The basses are huge, and also shocking were the middle strings, 4,3,2. They were cutting thru and popping out. On prior nylons, those strings / notes, especially in the 5th fret and up areas, are practically dead sounding and muffled.
I believe there is a Kohno / Sakurai Fan Club here (thread?), please I want to sign up. My next nylon guitar, for sure, will be this guitar. My search is over... Cedar or spruce? Always been a spruce fan, but cedar was great on this guitar...
When I took that class with John Knowles in the early 1990's in Connecticut, what was John playing, a Kohno, makes too much sense to me now. Look forward to this site and thanks so much... john