Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nagoya Suzuki label

Their guitars have printed on the label 'est. 1887' but that date has more to do with their production of violins. The production of guitars seems to have started,in the early 1900's, but didn't really pick up until the 1950/1960's..

One reference says...
"Masakichi Suzuki was Japan's first violin producer. His father was a samurai moonlighter and made shamisens in Nagoya. Masakichi succeeded his father's craft business that soon failed. In the push for westernization in Meiji, he naturally became interested in shamisen's western counterpart: the violin. In the 1880s, he started to manually produce and sell violins. He founded the Suzuki Violin Factory in 1900. By 1910, his factory was producing 65,800 violins per year. Nagoya became the manufacturing center of string musical instruments...

Kiso Suzuki and Nagoya Suzuki were one company before the 2nd World War. But after the war they were split up into the Suzuki Violin Company (now Kiso Suzuki Violin Company) and Suzuki Violin Manufacturing Company (now Nagoya Suzuki Violin Company). And there the relationship ended. According to some sources, the two companies (and now I hear the third - Manji) were headed by sons or relatives of Masakichi Suzuki.

Both companies made guitars that commonly have a laminated back or sides, many times the top also is laminated, but the sound, playability, and volume are what makes them so popular. Both Suzukis used a very high grade of laminate and the construction usually shows a high degree of craftmanship. To some players, the neck shape of their guitars is one reason they seem so playable.
Nagoya Suzuki made violins and mandolins, and is still in business making violins, but no guitars. They seem to have stopped making them around 1989.

Nagoya Suzuki had a 'Three S' brand of guitar that seems to be consistently very highly valued by everyone that owns one. They also produced an Insignia series of guitars in the 80's that had solid woods used in the manufacture and had more of an electric guitar-type of neck - thinner than a typical acoustic guitar.

There are thousands of players worldwide who would like to know more about their Suzuki guitar. It's a common story that when someone has G.A.S (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome) and needs to let a guitar or two go, the Suzuki is the one that stays behind and can't be replaced. Probably the skill acquired from violin-making and the other instruments played a large role in the good craftsmanship, according to one web source cited previously. It makes sense. Good wood, or good laminate, and good craftsmen, make a good guitar.

If you own a Nagoya Suzuki guitar- congratulations on what you probably already know - that you own a well-crafted and good sounding instrument. One that is still undervalued in the opinion of many players (in other words - a good buy). Maybe you'll hang on to it and see that there is something special about many of their instruments. In any case, as Tetsu said..."Have a nice life with Suzuki guitar."