The Wonders of Vintage Japanese Guitars

February 10, 2010

There are sooo many old Japanese acoustic guitars out there. Some are lying under beds, some have been bequeathed to younger members of the family and sadly, way too many will eventually end up at the dump. We love nothing more than to get our hands on these under appreciated beauties. Why? I hear you say. Well, it’s like this.

1. Build Quality. The Japanese were for many years the masters of replicating everything from cars to guitars. Their attention to detail was nad still is meticulous, especially when it came to copying and replicating American guitar design.

2. Materials. The timbers used to make these guitars were sourced from every corner of South East Asia. These timbers were “old growth”; in plainer words, the timber was taken from established forests. The advantages of this type of wood are long term stability and strength. Further to this, many of these timbers were species that are now on the endangered list and are therefore illegal to log and/or export. Now, while we consider the cutting down of established “old growth” forest timber a crime, it would be an even bigger crime not to make the most of what is already there. Whilst the build quality of the modern Asian made guitar (i.e. China, Indonesia, Vietnam etc) is exceptional, most of the timbers used are “plantation” timbers or more overly “new growth” timbers. Though this forestation is certainly light years ahead ecologically, it tends to yield timber which is brittle and can be unstable, making many repairs, such as a broken headstock untenable.

The moral of this story is simple, if you have an old Terada, Yamaha, Ibanez, Suzuki, Yairi, Tokai, Takamine, Emperador, Morris, Pearl or Tama (yes! they made guitars to) just to name a few, you probably have a guitar that given the right bit of TLC will wipe the floor with most of its modern competitors, including those beautiful guitars that cost $2000.00 plus. Ok Then, enough of my yacking, enjoy the pictures.