VTG LIVE & READY TO GO!
Customer's Sale, but here for inspection.
Selling on commission for a customer.
Amongst regular sales of Classical guitars, also Brazilian, English and Spanish made, I have sold many Japanese made classicals, but this one is a little different....a really exceptional quality, Japanese Classical Guitar, retaining the original internal label reading...."Handcrafted Guitar * N. KUNIHARU * Kuniharu Workshop * Nagoya Japan * Model No. K50 * Serial No. 77004".....whether it can be assumed that the latter may indicate a production dating in 1977, or some other date in the 1970s I can't be sure.
Offering really excellent sound and playability, the guitar has some exceptional quality detailing and fittings, with richly coloured timbers, of the traditional combination of Solid Western Red Cedar top and Indian Rosewood back & sides.
There is a dearth of information regarding N. Kuniharu guitars on the internet, but a fair amount of information about the renowned Japanese luthier Kuniharu Nobe, and the Nobe family of luthiers, including his brother, Masaji, and his son, Masafumi. Speculation about the possibility of a connection is detailed in the Main Description section below.....needless to say if anyone reading this has additional, more extensive information I would be very grateful if they would share it with me.
Stock Number: VTGC1034.
I have sold quite a number of Japanese made Classicals from this period, which are invariably beautifully made with attractive woods and elegant detailing. They are very good sounding and playing vintage guitars, with great character. Of all the ones I have sold, along with the Tama classical I also currently have for sale, this has one has the most exceptional detailing features and fittings, undoubtedly of real style and quality.
Although it has no specific dating on the guitar itself, the styling & fittings, along with the conjecture above regarding the serial number, may indicate that it was made in the late 1970s. My customer bought the guitar in 2012 from the well-known guitar store, Guitar Village, for a price of £800, but is prepared to consider reasonable offers.
This is a really very elegant Classical guitar, quite exceptional amongst the many Japanese classical guitars I have seen, and will provide an excellent instrument for a student or an experienced player. As you will see from the photos the richly coloured woods are beautiful, and the finish retains superb depth of colour. The beautifully grained solid Western Red Cedar top has intricate decorative soundhole Rosette and dark-edged multiple binding. The elegantly carved Headstock has very handsome Rosewood facing. The Rosewood bridge, has smart light-coloured wood binding and Rosewood inlay.
The Rosewood back and sides are also richly coloured, particularly attractively grained, book-matched, with centre inlay stripe, and again the exceptional quality feature of edge bindings on the rear. The matching Rosewood sides have also have side bindings, top & back and end stripe - the whole guitar has the exceptional look of quality!
The dimensions appear to be quite traditional, with a 658mm./25.9" scale...a little longer than the now standard 650mm., which is quite usual in Japanese made guitars of this period, and full width, if slightly slimmer than some, fingerboard, 51mm./2" at the nut, on a reasonably shallow "D" profile neck.
In my internet research on N Kuniharu guitars I found very little information, and no really obvious link to the master luthier Kuniharu Nobe, other than the similarity of names, which seemed to be contradicted by the fact that all Kuniharu Nobe labels quote Tokyo as the location, not Nagoya, until I came across an eBay listing from a seller in Hong Kong, from which I have reproduced this quotation, with grateful thanks.....
"Master Kuniharu Nobe, one of the Grand Master Luthier in Japan during the Showa period, not only make great reputations to the guitar development in Japan, but also make a silent impact to the Europe's guitar making. Here is a short brief....
Nobe, Nakade and Taizou family are regarded as the three Grand Master Luthiers during the Showa period. Each family has their long history in guitar making, they were all gain best reputation before new luthiers such Kohno arise.
Kuniharu's father start their workshop in Nagoya during 40's and Kuniharu become one of the master in 60's. He build the best classical guitar in Japan and train up some of the most talented person to work under his supervision, one of these young man was Kazuo Sato....one of the best Germany luthier today.
Sato was employed, trained and worked with master Nobe from 1965 to 1971. After 6 years as a trainee in the workshop, Sato make a cold call to master David Rubio to introduce himself and ask for an employment. This is how impossible for a Japanese trainee speak very limited English to ask a UK master luthier for an employment, but finally he does! Being accepted by Rubio, Sato must have twice the best as the English guy in guitar building technique, he proof his ability to Rubio by showing what he learned from Nobe.
Sato work in Rubio's working from 1971 to 1974. Rubio guitar with his signature and "KS" initial inside was build by Kazuo Sato used Nobe technique. At the same time, Paul Fischer and Edward B. Jones were also employed to work with Rubio.
In 1974, Sato established his own workshop in Belgium and later moved to Germany in 1987. His instrument is highly inspired by both Nobe and Rubio which married their best.
Back to Kuniharu Nobe, he was passed away in late 80's and the Nobe workshop is continuing by his brother Masaji and son Masafumi. The workshop is running by 3rd generation and still making the best classical guitar in Japan. Currently Nobe guitar selling from 500,000 to 1,200,000 Japan Yen."
The confirmation that Kuniharu Nobe's father established the family guitar workshop in guitarmaking central, Nagoya, in the 1940s, appears to make the connection between this guitar and the Nobe family of luthiers, which their other labels with the Tokyo location did not...possibly we can view these guitars in the same way as Ramirez "Estudio" guitars, produced for a wider distribution, but in this case made in the Kuniharu Workshop?
The guitar is clearly all original, and having been very well looked after, really does not look to be 40 years old! The condition is excellent, beautiful finish, with only very few minor dings, on the top & back edges, and localised minor scratches, but only detectable on close scrutiny - all in all, really minor markings for a vintage guitar, from normal usage and in no way prejudicial. The only other"blemishes" are the front & rear strap-buttons, which had been added before my customer purchased the guitar. These would be easily removed.
The guitar has been inspected in conjunction with the highly respected professional luthier & classical guitar-builder I work with, and no sign of past repairs or ongoing issues found. The presumably original quality gold engraved machine heads are working well, set on beautiful Rosewood faced headstock. Playing-wise, there is only the very slightest visible wear to the frets and to the fingerboard.
The action at the 12th. fret is possibly a little lower than many classical players would prefer, at around 2.75mm./3.25mm., although this may be ideal for less experienced/student players, and, with excellently aligned fingerboard, the action would be easily raise by fitting a replacement, taller saddle, and the guitar plays very nicely indeed. The existing strings are aged, and whilst the guitar sounds exceptionally good with the existing stringing, a buyer will want to re-string with their own preferred choice of strings or, prior to sale, I can fit a set of quality USA made La Bella Classical strings, probably 850-B, with Golden Alloy Basses and Black Nylon Trebles.
There is no case included. However, I may be able to supply a Hiscox Liteflite hardshell case, if available at modest additional cost.