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donderdag 28 augustus 2008

TAMA GUITARS: TG-120 / 3558S and TC-10 / Experiences from other players


This is a TG120 Dreadnought from the second half
of the seventies. Simply great guitars soundwise.
Though the start was just copying the Martin D28,
this guitar has some alterations which makes it a real 
TAMA product. The way the first serie of Ibanez 
Artwood guitars has been produced is already 
clearly visible. Built in 1978.

So these instruments are coming from the same factory
as the Juan Orozco,Masaru Kohno and Sakurai models
of that time. TAMA even launched classical guitars
under their own brandname that are in fact the same
instruments and most likely of the same quality.
I believe they even used the numbers 8, 10, 15 and 20 
according to how Juan Orozco named his guitars 
although Tama prefixed them with TC (Tama classical)
See for this part of information the unofficial site
of TAMA by Jurgen Hufschlag.

The TAMA company allready changed the head around 1976.
Ibanez later used this headform in their Artwood series.
The same factory - the same materials - the same high quality! 
For the domestic market they used the brand "Bluebell".

Written on this allready small label is the name we more 
than often saw in other labeled models "Asahi".
And soundwise I must confess here that I sold my
Martin D28 (1978) for this one. Simply better
sounding but people are aware of it nowadays.


Tama 3558S

This is an example of the first attempt to copy the Martin
D45 done in the Tama workshops. They also had a model 3558P
that carries a plywood top. So here the S stands for solid.
Both sides and back are laminated. These models already
were very good quality wise but the second batch simply
was better in their (slightly) more complex sound.

At first glance a very well executed guitar but with a bit
too plastic looks to my opinion. Also the fretwork on
the later models was better. 

But of course nice to look at though I tend to believe that
the Japanese firm didn't use real abalone for the inlay of
the edges. The fingerboard inlays however...

The headstock with the full name on it.

And there was also attention for the back inlays.

The branded stamp which is a kind of a copy from the Martin 
firm. Simple but so gracefully!

Tama TC-10 Guitar

Presented here is the Tama TC-10 constructed for the
world market and in fact not made in the Kohno workshop
as some people others want to believe. Note the slanted
short sides of the bridge that can be seen on the Orozco
and Kohno guitars that are made in the same factory.

I've included tis picture is here the varnished inner
part of the soundbox can be studied. Kohno followed
this procedure also for the instruments coming out
of his own workshop.

The central binding  that simply is the same as on the 
Orozco model guitars.

An ebony fingerboard and of course the simple Tama label.

The double ebony reinforced neck

And of course the roses engraved tuners though there
is a difference concerning the knobs: These are clinched
as opposed to the Orozco knobs. In fact a plus.

Most guitar players won't be aware about this highlight
in craftsmanship but the bindings are wood and so 
meticulously done. Simply beautiful. The three fine
layers can be studied here but the Orozco model 10
is also equipped with the same binding purfling.

As becomes clear from the pictures here above, the
double ebony stripes are there as they are on the Juan 
Orozco models 8, 10 and 15. But what's more, the
bracing is exactly the same as in the Orozco guitars.

Expiriences from other players:

I've got a 1982 Kohno 30 that I've had since it was new. It was a great guitar new, but it's matured into a very, very nice guitar. I think these instruments are currently undervalued, and I've seen them used around $3500 several times over the past year or so. That's probably about half what they're worth. If John Williams played one this fall, the price would probably go up to about $10,000 practically overnight. The only thing that I wish I could change on my guitar is that it's 660 scale--I'd prefer 650 or even 640. I've also got a Kenny Hill Hauser (USA) that's a 640 and it's a breeze to play, sounds great, and is plenty loud.

I have a price list from Dauphin Co. from April 1, 1982. It gives the following model information: Sakurai had the models 7, 10, 15, 20, these were re-named the 7, Standard, Excellent, and the Concert. They were made in the Kohno workshop under his supervision. "They are similar in all respects to the corresponding Kohno models". The model 20/Concert was the signature model. Prices at that time: 7, 780; 10, 1100; 15, 1560; and 20, 1800. The price list does not give any specifications on woods, etc. It is possible that Sakurai made other models that Dauphin didn't import or are not on the list as the Kohno models given are 20 (Concert), 30 (Professional), 50 (Special). I hope this answers some of your questions. (

This is the guitar that turned me into a real guitar player. When I first started playing I was very fortunate to begin with classical training. I bought this guitar (made by Tama) in the early 70's and it has been a friend ever since. It has solid rosewood sides and back and a very fine spruce top. With a nice wide neck and relatively tall action it is exactly what a classical player needs. It can produce tones that range from subtle to powerful and from harsh to warm. To play Bach on this guitar borders upon a metaphysical experience. Absolutely a wonderful instrument.

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