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donderdag 28 augustus 2008


On this youtube movie Nathan is most likely playing a model 15
Juan Orozco guitar judging by the tuning knobs in combination
with the ebony fingerboard and the slightly slanted short sides
of the bridge where the strings are attached.
This is a link so you can immediately go to this version of
Classical Gas by clicking on the underlined text.

My comments on this video are the following: Of course guitars
never can be judged on the sound of a youtube movie as in my
expirience the Orozco guitars are more dark sounding, almost
pianolike the way the Kohno's from that period do sound.
Nathan plays with his right hand more towards the bridge than I
should do but that is personally of course but it affects the sound
in being more treble like.

New information about Juan Orozco's 
moves in Japan during the seventies

Around 1969 the first Japanese company Aria guitars arrived in the United States. Orozco is so impressed by the high quality that he booked a trip to Japan with the aim to have his high end classical guitars produced  there for his shop. Three days before the trip, a customer enters his shop and asks for new strings for his guitar. That guitar was produced in Japan, and on its' label the name  "Kohno" is written. Mr. Orozco is again impressed by the quality of that guitar. He writes down the address that is on that label.Without speaking a word of Japanese, Orozco visites a few days later Kohno. The two become friends. Kohno used henceforth Aranjuez strings on his guitars and is selling them in Japan as well. Orozco exchanged valuable expertise with Kohno at that time from which later the best classical guitars of the time emerged.During this trip to Japan Orozco also participates in an exciting experiment in which the sound characteristics of 15 guitars are compared with each other blindly, including instruments of Fleta, Hermann Hauser, Jose Ramirez and Kohno. This comparison confirmed Mr. Orozco that he has to collaborate with Mr. Kohno.
1976 - Mass HiradeOn another trip to Japan 1976, the Spanish guitar-maker meets Hirade Mass., who at this time for several years contributed to his great guitar expertise to make the company Takamine to international success. Orozco acquires the original machines and devices that Hirade used for the construction of its prestigious concert guitars. Until today they are in possession of Juan Orozco, now in Puerto Rico.1977 - Orozco guitars - forerunner of today's guitars ArtesanoIn the years 1977 to 1981 Mr. Orozco began importing prefabricated high-quality guitars, according to his specifications from Japan where he had an office in Tokyo as well. Probably he then refined them in his own workshop though I do have my doubt about this. The factory, which takes care of basic guitars, Hoshino Gakki is the founder of Tama Drums. There are 120-130 precious guitars made in the month, of which 75 pieces each for Juan Orozco. Here is his most famous models are created with the numbers 8, 10 and 15. The other models are built for the production Kohno and Sakurai.Orozco guitars from this era are now collector's items. In 1980, the model will cost about 8 $ 280, Model 10 is available for around $ 450, and 15 for the top model with rosewood back and sides to be a musician back then 500 - spend $ 600.Today, the instruments, depending on the condition that be worth up to ten times.Orozco initially used a head profile in the style of Fleta, but later he added his own design, which bears the famous diamonds and are used again on the present produced Artesano guitars. The importer for Europe is Martin Meckbach. Typical for the instruments of that time are the slanted bridge sides, the roses engraved tuners, the thickening around the soundhole and last but not least,  the unique wood inlay around the sound hole, the so-called  rosette. (See Artesano website of Martin Meckbach)The question whether they produced in this workshop in Nagoya guitars for Kohno and Sakurai is still subject of debate, and there is no official proof or statement about that link. It could also well be that they produced very high-quality copies of Kohno guitars but never delivered any instrument to Tokyo, but Orozco truly believed (or was told) that they did. Mr. johannes Orphal who provided me with lots of valuable information still is in close contact with Mr. Meckenbach. Mr. Meckbach could be the person to solve the mystery around the Kohno and Sakurai labelled guitars as he still is in close contact with Mr. Orozco.Aranjuez guitars

This Aranjuez labelled guitar popped up on a yahoo market
and most likely was ment only for the domestic market. The
Fleta head, placed on the earlier Juan Orozco guitars is there!
The slanted sides of the bridge as well and while this guitar
has been built with an ebony fingerboard we think it to be
a higher end guitar.

Nicely decorated back but only one reinforcement stripe in the neck.
The knobs for the tuners are clinched which mostly is a sign of a higher
quality tuner. Again all parts are executed with craftsmanship.

This guitar has been offered on E-bay in Japan and it is really interesting
to see its' label as that mentions: Matsuoka and besides that " inspected
and built under supervision of Mr. Sakurai" . I allready saw a label that
mentioned: Takamine, Kohno and Aranjuez. and thanks again to Dan
Lindsey who is allways searching for new things in this topic to be
discovered. He has a Japanese girlfriend!

Further in this Blog the lines and connections between the different
firms are discussed but it was at the end of the seventies in Japan
very common to come up with Kohno copies. I just do not
know wether if this guitar has the lattice bracing but anyway rosewood
(laminated probably) sides and back. With many thanks to Dan
Linsey who lives in Japan and could be a valuable source of
information in the near future.

This instrument is a 1979 Aranjuez guitar that
has been signed on the label by Juan Orozco.
No reinforcement of the neck with two ebony strips
but with the later designed head by Mr. Orozco.
Many thanks to Kate Plews. Nice jewels
she makes as well! Google for Breodesigns.

As my blog is quite frequently visited I'm able
to make the story of Juan Orozco even more complete.
It is well known that the Aranjuez strings are a part
of Juan Orozco's business. I didn't knew that at the
end of the seventies Mr. Orozco also launched a serie
of Aranjuez guitars. Let's examine the different
parts and compare them to the guitars that have
an Orozco label.

A picture of the back that puzzles me a bit as the wood
doesn't seem to be indian rosewood. And probably this back
has been veneered. Compare it with the wood around
the label further presented here. On this picture you can
see a part of the neck that doesn't have the double
ebony striped reïnforcement.

We've seen allready Aranjuez guitars with a "Kohno" label
under licency of Takamine and this guitar bears the same
label but with the addition "Matsuoka". Probably made
only for the Japanese market as these pictures come
from the Yahoo Japan auction site. They have been
provided by Dan Lindsey who allready came up with
other additional and interesting information.
Anyway, thanks again Dan!

A word about Matsuoka:

Unlike Matsumoku, the Ryoji Matsuoka guitar works
was a small scale guitar manufacturer with under 15 employees.
It is still in operation and sells low to mid-priced classical guitars.
The current operation is overseen by Ryoji’s son:
Toshiaki Matsuoka. The last that I have heard is that
Ryoji is still involved with the company and is the
chairman of the board.

For a few years during the 1960s and early 1970s ,
Matsuoka produced the higher end Aria guitar models for
Shiro Arai, founder of Aria . These Aria models either have
Ryoji Matsuoka's name on the label or are marked
RM with a red stamp on the neck block. Matsuoka
also made some models for Ibanez, including a few
steel string flattop and archtop models.

During the early 1970s, Matsuoka produced Fleta,
Hauser, Kohno and Rubio (David, not GV Rubio) models.
From 1975 to 1980 the company produced their own
line of guitars: the concert, artist and artisan series.

The Concert series includes the M20 ( lam spruce top,
nato neck), M30 (solid spruce top, mahogany neck),
M40 (solid spruce top, mahogany neck). All 3 models
have laminated rosewood back and sides and
rosewood fingerboards.

The Artist Series includes the M50 and M60. These guitars
have better quality spruce tops, laminated Jacaranda back
and sides, and ebony fingerboards

The Old World Artisan Series includes the M70 and M80,
which had a one-piece classic guitar neck and I believe
laminated rosewood back and sides.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Matsuoka models included
the M300, MH200, M150, M100, M80 and M60.
I know that the M300, and MH 200 had solid
rosewood back and sides. I believe (but I am not sure)
that the M150 had solid rosewood back and sides.
The M80, and M60 had laminated rosewood back and sides

This picture shows us Kate's guitar that most
likely has been made out of veneered mahogany.

This head is supposed to be introduced in the eighties on the
Orozco models but it is allready present at this 1979 Aranjuez
guitar. The inner carving for the tuners differs from the Orozco
models in the way the the lower ends have been finished
square as opposed to the round finishing on the Orozco guitars.
Kate's guitar has a similar headshape and details.

The lay out of this label appears to be quite similar to the
Orozco labels of that time. The label has been stamped
and signed in blue ink. The number seems to follow the same
codes as the Orozco's. The wood around the label isn't that
striped as the outer back so I think it to be veneered as
was quite common on Japanese produced guitars of that time.
The back on the inside also seems to be slightly
varnished similar to the Orozco (and Kohno) models.

Because of the fact Kate's label differs
from the previous example in this chapter
I decided to publish it. I expect this Aranjuez
guitar to be laminated but I'm not sure
about it. It simply has a different number.
I think it to be a more modest model than the
the first posted label.

Another Rosette as well and of course not visible on this picture:
The soundhole reïnforcement also is there the way it has been
done on the Orozco guitars: About an inch wide and rounded.
I'm still curious wether if they followed the lattice bracing
for the soundboard. I will let you know as soon as we
found out more regarding this subject. Mr. Johannes Orphal
has an Orozco labelled guitar that has no lattice bracing!

A laminated top but still a handwritten Orozco label...

By looking at the bracing one must conclude it to be a 
fan bracing which was not common on the high end models.

The endblock with several production markings.
Thanks to Johannes Orphal who provided me
with these pictures and has close contact with
Mr. Martin Meckenbach (Artesano site)

The picture above can be compared with the following one: 
The same rosette. This is what Mr. Orphal tells us about his guitar:
What one can see is that the bracing is totally different from the 
Kohno  “lattice” bracing. It is an extremely simple 5 fan bracing, 
with glue coming out at several places. There is also no horizontal 
bar under the bridge, what I interpret that the top might be laminated. 
Actually the top looks very different from the outside (I would say, cedar). 
The inside layer looks more like spruce. One could imagine that this 
is a flamenco guitar (the “F” in the label, and also the slot at the bridge 
is rather low) but the back and sides are laminated rosewood, 
so at best this would be a “negra” then.

One can also see that at the sound hole, the top “veneer” is not continued, 
but that there is a yellow ring-type structure around the sound hole 
(probably to hide the “sandwich”).

The rosette is beautiful and very probably hand made. Note that the 
fingerboard is also rosewood and not ebony. There are no ebony 
stripes at the back of the neck. The head is fully “Orozco” type 
 (already in 1977! in the catalogs etc., this headstock only appears 
in 1979, until then the “Fleta” type headstock was always shown).

The back is also laminated but varnished also from the inside, 
but again, no agreement at all between the outside appearance of the back 
and the inside. At the end block, there is some writing in Japanese, 
and numbers. The Spanish heel shows the data stamp: 770914. 
In Nagoya, and at the time of Matsuoka, this indicates the production 
date: Sept 14, 1977.

So this is a guitar from 1977 with Orozco headstock and label, 
but laminated top and back, and a very simple bracing.  

A nice shot of the rosette of Kate's guitar
that proves to be quite similar to the other Aranjuez.

The inner heel has been constructed in a same way they did
in the Orozco models 8 and 10. Also stamped in the same place.
Furthermore the inner lining appears to made of the same kind
of wood. I think it to be mahogany. Looking at the outer
ends of the soundhole you might be able to trace two layers
of wood: The soundboard and sticked on it from the inside:
The reïnforcement. The sound was descibed as being of really
high class. A comparision with a José Ramirez R2 and a
Bernabé guitar proved that this guitar was even better.
Many thanks for these contributions to Anthony Hermann.

Artesano Models:

Recently I got an E-mail from a company in Germany that
started a collaboration and are producing guitars again
under supervision of Juan Orozco. They had contact with him
several times and it is stunning to see that even at his age
he is still involved in guitar making one way or another.

You can registrate your (older) Orozco guitar there
and they are planning to start something like an Orozco
fanclub. I was honoured to put up the first Juan Orozco
guitar registrated. You can visit them at:
Martin Meckbach from Musik-Meyer is the one to contact
for more information.

While the Juan Orozco company is situated in Puerto Rico. The company has the guitars under the name of Artesano produced in Spain. I'm not informed about the different models and/or
quality but I found the following information on the internet.

Juan Orozco represents a noted family of guitar-makers from Spain's province of Andalusia. He established his business in New York CityNew York City: see New York, city.
New York CityCity (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. ..... Click the link for more information. in 1965, and since then the firm has specialized in the manufacture of flamenco and classical guitars, including such noted guitars as a royal family of the Spanish guitar, Los Romeros, now performing with Aranjuez Strings from Juan Orozco, luthierlu·thi·er n.One that makes or repairs stringed instruments, such as violins.
[French, from luth, lute, from Old French lut; see lute1.]Noun 1. ..... Click the link for more information.. Aranjuez Strings, introduced in 1968, met with rapid acceptance in the U.S. and abroad. The company produces guitar cases under the name of Artesano hard-shell cases sold in the U.S. and overseas, and refinished in the 48,000-square-foot factory in Puerto RicoPuerto Rico (pwār`tō rē`kō), island (2005 est. pop. 3,917,000), 3,508 sq mi (9,086 sq km), West Indies, c.1,000 mi (1,610 km) SE of Miami, Fla. ..... Click the link for more information.. The company also has guitars under the name of Artesano Classical Guitars, which are made in Spain but refinished in Puerto Rico. Exclusive agencies: Auxtria--Rudolph Eltner, MusikinstrumentationGrosshandel, A-! 8750 Judenburg, Kassengrasse 25, Judenberg, Austria.--Aranjuez Brazil, Rua Voluntarios de Patria PATRIA. The country; the men of the neighborhood competent to serve on a jury; a jury. This word is nearly synonymous with pais. (.q.v.) 2353/61, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Finland--F-Mussikki Oy, Aleksanterinkatu 11, PO Box 260 SF-00101, Helsinki, Finland. France--Strings Music Import, 18 Rue Faillebin, 69100 Villeurbanne, France. Germany--Music Meyer, 355 Marburg, Lahn, Germany. Holland--Van Wouw B.V., Molenpad 13-17, Amsterdam C, Holland. Spain--Aranjuez Espana, C/Jesus Aranbarri, 38-442 V-32, 37003 Salamanca, Spain. Switzerland,. Warry, Case Postale 47, 1162 Saint-Prex, Switzerland. Sweden--Gitarren AB Skanstorget 10 S-411 22 Goteborg, Sweden. The company is also the exclusive U.S. distributor for Ricordi Americana. Refer to "Ricordi Americana" in the Publishers section.

OROZCO CORP., JUAN--P.O. Box 812, Maunabo, Puerto Rico Maunabo is a municipality of Puerto Rico located in the southeastern coast, northeast of Patillas and south of Yabucoa. Maunabo is spread over 8 wards and Maunabo Pueblo (The downtown area and the administrative center of the city). ..... Click the link for more information. 00707-0812. Telephone: (787) 861-1045. Fax: (787) 861-4122. Email:

The above mentioned information can be found on:

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