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  #1  
Old 05-27-2019, 05:51 AM
sjm1580 sjm1580 is offline
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Default Kasuga Acoustic MIJ

Interesting looking, would anyone out there in acoustic guitar world have any insight on this guitar?

https://reverb.com/item/19362822-kas...y-70-s-natural
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Old 05-27-2019, 10:23 AM
NotALuth NotALuth is offline
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Not too much help Iím afraid but I know Kasuga had an acoustic line called K.Country in the early 70ís. This model is not in the catalogue Iíve seen but common to many Japanese manufacturers of this era the model nos. seem to give a guide to the retail price. I would suggest that this model would have originally been retailed at •44,000 (whatever that would work out to at late 60s or early 70s exchange rates?).

The Martin connection suggests to me that this is probably very late 60ís when Martin were looking at a number of Japanese manufacturers to make guitars for what became the Sigma brand. They were all made in Japan but QCíd in the USA. Just my guess, hopefully someone may have more definitive info.

Regards,
Clive.
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Old 05-27-2019, 11:46 AM
sjm1580 sjm1580 is offline
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Originally Posted by NotALuth View Post
Not too much help Iím afraid but I know Kasuga had an acoustic line called K.Country in the early 70ís. This model is not in the catalogue Iíve seen but common to many Japanese manufacturers of this era the model nos. seem to give a guide to the retail price. I would suggest that this model would have originally been retailed at •44,000 (whatever that would work out to at late 60s or early 70s exchange rates?).

The Martin connection suggests to me that this is probably very late 60ís when Martin were looking at a number of Japanese manufacturers to make guitars for what became the Sigma brand. They were all made in Japan but QCíd in the USA. Just my guess, hopefully someone may have more definitive info.

Regards,
Clive.
Thank you!
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Old 05-27-2019, 11:55 AM
Athens Athens is offline
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Default Kasuga

I was working in a small mom and pop shop in the mid/late 70's and Kasuga was one of the many MIJ brands around at that time.

I couldn't tell you one model from another at this point, but overall, for the money, they were well made and played and sounded good.

Would this be a campfire guitar or one for a new player to learn on or something similar?

If it's nearby I would definitely check it out.
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  #5  
Old 05-27-2019, 08:41 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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SJM, Kasuga was a fairly large scale manufacturer, not only of guitars but also of mandolins and banjos. They made most of the early Kentucky mandolins, from the very cheapest all-laminated models through their solid top/laminated back and sides to all-solid wood models. The high end Kentucky mandolins were not made by Kasuga, however, but by a small crew in a separate facility that I visited on my first trip to Japan and wrote about for Frets Magazine in an article that was published in 1984.

Kasuga guitar models covered the same wide price range, from all-laminated entry level models, through solid top/laminated back and sides to all-solid wood models.

However, even their all-solid wood models were what I would consider intermediate grade instruments rather than professional quality. They ran from okay to pretty good, but I never played one that I would want to own.

On my second trip to Japan in 1985, I played a tour of Japanese clubs and bluegrass festivals, the largest of which was the Takarazuka Festival. Most of the Japanese bluegrass bands that played there were made up of college students, and Kasuga brand instruments were easily the most common that I saw: there were probably ten Kasuga guitars there for every Yamaha guitar that I saw.

This wasn't a matter of perceived quality, however, but more like identification with the bluegrass musical style. The Japanese are very loyal to their group identities, and Kasuga was the main company catering to the Japanese domestic bluegrass music market. So most of the college students were playing Kasuga guitars, mandolins and banjos.

Kasuga only stayed in business for about another 18 months after I was there; by the summer of 1985 the Japanese yen had already risen considerably against the US dollar, and continued to do so for at least another year. That basically killed the inexpensive musical instrument industry in Japan.

With the exception of Morris and Takamine guitars, which served a different level of the market, very few Japanese guitar manufacturers survived past that devastating dollar devaluation. It killed that industry in Japan.

On that same trip in 1985 I visited both Yamaha's Taiwan factory and their company headquarters in Hamamatsu, right by Mount Fuji. At that point the only guitars that Yamaha was still making in Japan were its top end "LA" (Luxury Artist) instruments and the prototypes for their other guitar lines. By then all of their large scale guitar manufacturing was offshore.

Anyway, looking at the photographs of the Kasuga guitar in the ad, from what I can tell it it's one of their very basic bottom of the line all-laminate guitars. The wood of the top visible in cross section at the soundhole appears to be laminated. If you look at the picture of the bridge you can see that not only does it have the saddle adjustment hardware, the saddle is also supported by what appears to be a massive piece of metal.

So I doubt this guitar will have a very good acoustic tone. You can buy it if you like, but I honestly think you can find a used Seagull for less money that will sound considerably better.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 05-28-2019, 05:14 AM
sjm1580 sjm1580 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
SJM, Kasuga was a fairly large scale manufacturer, not only of guitars but also of mandolins and banjos. They made most of the early Kentucky mandolins, from the very cheapest all-laminated models through their solid top/laminated back and sides to all-solid wood models. The high end Kentucky mandolins were not made by Kasuga, however, but by a small crew in a separate facility that I visited on my first trip to Japan and wrote about for Frets Magazine in an article that was published in 1984.

Kasuga guitar models covered the same wide price range, from all-laminated entry level models, through solid top/laminated back and sides to all-solid wood models.

However, even their all-solid wood models were what I would consider intermediate grade instruments rather than professional quality. They ran from okay to pretty good, but I never played one that I would want to own.

On my second trip to Japan in 1985, I played a tour of Japanese clubs and bluegrass festivals, the largest of which was the Takarazuka Festival. Most of the Japanese bluegrass bands that played there were made up of college students, and Kasuga brand instruments were easily the most common that I saw: there were probably ten Kasuga guitars there for every Yamaha guitar that I saw.

This wasn't a matter of perceived quality, however, but more like identification with the bluegrass musical style. The Japanese are very loyal to their group identities, and Kasuga was the main company catering to the Japanese domestic bluegrass music market. So most of the college students were playing Kasuga guitars, mandolins and banjos.

Kasuga only stayed in business for about another 18 months after I was there; by the summer of 1985 the Japanese yen had already risen considerably against the US dollar, and continued to do so for at least another year. That basically killed the inexpensive musical instrument industry in Japan.

With the exception of Morris and Takamine guitars, which served a different level of the market, very few Japanese guitar manufacturers survived past that devastating dollar devaluation. It killed that industry in Japan.

On that same trip in 1985 I visited both Yamaha's Taiwan factory and their company headquarters in Hamamatsu, right by Mount Fuji. At that point the only guitars that Yamaha was still making in Japan were its top end "LA" (Luxury Artist) instruments and the prototypes for their other guitar lines. By then all of their large scale guitar manufacturing was offshore.

Anyway, looking at the photographs of the Kasuga guitar in the ad, from what I can tell it it's one of their very basic bottom of the line all-laminate guitars. The wood of the top visible in cross section at the soundhole appears to be laminated. If you look at the picture of the bridge you can see that not only does it have the saddle adjustment hardware, the saddle is also supported by what appears to be a massive piece of metal.

So I doubt this guitar will have a very good acoustic tone. You can buy it if you like, but I honestly think you can find a used Seagull for less money that will sound considerably better.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
Thank you!
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Old 05-28-2019, 05:34 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Youíre welcome.


whm
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Old 05-28-2019, 05:46 AM
sjm1580 sjm1580 is offline
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Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Youíre welcome.


whm
Wade,

Since you have obviously been there, done that, what brand and model would you search for to get a great sounding vintage MIJ Dreadnaught?

Thank you again!

Steve Morgan
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  #9  
Old 05-28-2019, 06:33 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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If having a good quality acoustic guitar made in Japan is important to you, Iíd recommend that you look for guitars made by Tokai.

Some of the Morris guitars are pretty nice, too, but truthfully most of the acoustic guitars made in Japan between the mid-1960ís through the mid-1980ís arenít up to the same quality standards as guitars being made in Asia right now. Construction techniques and CNC tooling have improved the overall quality an immense amount.

There are fans of that era of Japanese guitar manufacturing who will undoubtedly chime in (there was one manufacturer that started with the letter ďYĒ - what WAS their name?) but Tokai and, to a lesser extent, Morris were the companies that impressed me the most back during that era. The higher end Alvarez-Yairi and Ibanez guitars can be impressive. There are also Made in Japan Bozo and Lowden guitars (most of which were made at the Morris factory, as were many of the best Ibanez instruments.)

There were so many brand names that a lot of the time you just have to judge the guitars by their sound and playability, then look at the materials they were made from and the overall fit and finish. But thatís best done in person rather than buying online and hoping for the best.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #10  
Old 05-28-2019, 07:42 AM
sjm1580 sjm1580 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
If having a good quality acoustic guitar made in Japan is important to you, Iíd recommend that you look for guitars made by Tokai.

Some of the Morris guitars are pretty nice, too, but truthfully most of the acoustic guitars made in Japan between the mid-1960ís through the mid-1980ís arenít up to the same quality standards as guitars being made in Asia right now. Construction techniques and CNC tooling have improved the overall quality an immense amount.

There are fans of that era of Japanese guitar manufacturing who will undoubtedly chime in (there was one manufacturer that started with the letter ďYĒ - what WAS their name?) but Tokai and, to a lesser extent, Morris were the companies that impressed me the most back during that era. The higher end Alvarez-Yairi and Ibanez guitars can be impressive. There are also Made in Japan Bozo and Lowden guitars (most of which were made at the Morris factory, as were many of the best Ibanez instruments.)

There were so many brand names that a lot of the time you just have to judge the guitars by their sound and playability, then look at the materials they were made from and the overall fit and finish. But thatís best done in person rather than buying online and hoping for the best.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
Wade,

I'm really thankful you responded. I think you you prevented me from making a mistake.

I have been eyeing the Eastman line and want a ddreadnaught that I can drag around with me and won't have a coronary incident if I bump and scratch it.

Thank you so much!

Steve Morgan
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  #11  
Old 05-28-2019, 02:11 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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An Eastman will be a far better instrument than that Kasuga would be. Itís definitely the better choice.


whm
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  #12  
Old 05-28-2019, 05:33 PM
sjm1580 sjm1580 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
An Eastman will be a far better instrument than that Kasuga would be. Itís definitely the better choice.


whm
My path is much clearer, thank you for sharing your knowledge!

Steve
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