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donderdag 28 augustus 2008



Also in these guitars the lattice bracing used in the
Orozco / Kohno / Sakurai guitars can be found!
That's why I've included this short Ibanez interlude.

This is the lattice bracing that can be found in an Ibanez
catalogue of the Masterclass series of 1980.
Clearly visible is that the headshape and the double
ebony reinforcement for the neck are also there!
It is a well known story that Tama produced the Artwood
steelstring series of that time but as can be seen here
the influence and production of Tama reaches further.
Further in this blog I made a rough design of this bracing
but I made it seen from outside so the one longer brace
comes under the higher strings in both cases!

Nice shot of the head so well known to the Orozco
and Kohno enthousiasts! Let's see what Robert Ruck
the American luthier who is very active in guitar research
too saus in an interview regarding this subject:

"I was very impressed with Masaru Kohno's guitars.
The early ones were very Spanish inside and out,
but he developed a bracing system that was a huge
departure, an early lattice-style bracing.
He had a major cross brace under the soundhole,
and about 2" to 2" and ½" below that,
he had a very light cross brace.
This is somewhat similar to Fleta's two very strong cross braces.
Under the bridge, Kohno had a strap about the width of the
bridge and at least 1.5 mm thick that ran the entire
width of the top, and the fan braces were mitered over it.
It was like a symmetrical 8-fan-brace pattern, except he left off
the outer one on the bass side, so it was an offset 7-fan pattern.
Then, below the fan braces, instead of a closing V
he had another continuous cross brace.

One very rigid fan brace ran under the bass end of the bridge
and mortised over both the bridge strap and the lower cross bar.
The bracing looks like a grid and is very stiff,
but in some ways he frees the top.

Those Kohno guitars sound like pianos! They are very even,
with powerful trebles that sing up to the highest notes,
and much longer sustain than any Spanish-style instrument."
(With many thanks to Johannes Orphal who sent me this

Ibanez Classical guitar 2858

This guitar came to me in an auction and because of the
fact it only had one string we were able to investigate
the bracing of the soundboard. That's the reason why
I publish these pictures. It is widely known that de TAMA
factories produced the later Ibanez Artwood series which
are known for their outstanding qualities.
The Tama guitars and especially the dreadnought
ones are becoming a myth in itself!
The Ibanez series start with the 2850 though from
the 2860 model the instruments were supplied with an
ebony fingerboard. The cheapest guitars in this serie had
plywood tops, comparable to the later GA 60 Ibanez
models. Even those guitars are worth every penny.

By clicking on this picture you can easily determine the solid
top. Though the fingerboard is very dark it is in fact
a rosewood one. As a cost saving process some of
the Ibanez guitars had veneered sides and back but 
keep in mind that the sides from the Jose Ramirez 1A
model are veneered as well and this feature can also
be seen in the nineteenth century french guitars.
The odd thing here is that the inner veneer layer
is also made out of rosewood!

The back of this Ibanez guitar immediately shows us the lack of the
two ebony stripes that are placed in the neck as a
reinforcement as was done on the Orozco, Kohno and
Sakurai instruments.

A nice shot of the rozette that betrays its' exquisite
workmanship! The quality of building
is allmost flawless.

Also interesting is to compare the tuners on this guitar with the ones
on the TAMA, Orozco, Kohno and Sakurai examples:
No roses here! But very smoothly working.

The veneered head in the Ramirez style.
Dimensions are very close to the original as
I'm in the posession of a 1981 clase 1A Ramirez.

A nice shot of the sides that are bookmatched.

And of course the label that states this instrument
has been manufactured in Japan.

Ibanez Andorra 2857

Another example out of the Andorra series that
bears model number 2857. The headshape differs
from the Ramirez headshape of the model 2858 but
again the lattice bracing is there and workmanship
also on this guitar is immaculate. Remember that these
guitars were priced at DM 518,- back in 1976.
This one is a real early one: 1974 as the first two
digits on the heelblock states.

What surprised me was that the neck of this Andorra
series Ibanez was equipped with a double ebony neck
reinforcement as has been done on the Orozco's a.o.
Another remarkable feature are the small sides of the
bridge where the strings are attached: Slanted as
was the model Tama used on most of their classical
guitar models. Small detail but significant.

In fact this is the most interesting part as this bracing
has been taken from my Orozco model 10.
We were able to compare this bracing with the
bracing in this Ibanez labelled instrument.
Exactly the same, so no fan bracing as
José Ramirez did. The thickening around the soundhole
is visible in my drawing but also on the picture above!

With many thanks to Joris de Baat who took these pictures
we are able to see the side under the higher strings (pitch)

And these braces can be found under the bass side.
Joris thinks it to be a kind of reverse fan bracing but I don't
agree with him. All braces are placed parallel to each other.
We call it a lattice bracing

Joris even made a panoramic view of the bracing
that is written in my mind so it was easy to conclude
that alongside some other features this guitar
must have been produced in the TAMA factory as well.


The comments at the end of this message states that there are no
connections between Kohno and the copies made in Japan
by the Tama factory. Juan Orozco puts it another way:

He talks about a collaboration between
Kohno, Sakurai and himself in developing a guitar for the
worldmarket that either had a Kohno, Sakurai or
Orozco label sticked inside.

At the end of the seventies when I was studying classical guitar
some students came up with either an Orozco or a Kohno supplied by
the same distributor.
These guitars appeared at the same time which can't be a coincidence
having read lots of other stories.

The only Ryoji Matsuoka - Masaru Kohno connection that I know of is that during the 1970s Ryoji Matsuoka sold a classical model that was a very good copy of a high end Kohno model 50. I owned one --- it was a great playing and sounding guitar. The guitar had Kohno’s trademark double ebony neck support. Kohno copies were popular in Japan after Masaru Kohno won the gold medal in lutherie at the 1967 Liege Concours National des Guitars / Queen Elisabeth International Music competition in Belgium. Robert Bouchet was one of the Jurors. A couple of other Nagoya guitar makers, including Tama, sold a Kohno copy with the double ebony neck support. Juan Orozco of New York also sold a Japanese Kohno copy guitar under the Orozco label. You will sometimes see these instruments for sale on ebay, but beware as some ebay sellers will purport that these guitars were made at the Kohno workshop or under contract with Kohno. According to Masaki Sakurai, Masaru Kohno’s nephew and successor, they were most definitely not made at the Kohno workshop and have no connection with Kohno-Sakurai guitars.

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