21st c. Luthiers from Japan click for more

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Takeshi Iwamoto Acoustic world style 3 soprano ukulele
Iwamoto Acoustic World S3 Soprano
In being on the look out for nice Ukuleles I come across a few small, possibly part time luthiers from Japan who's Ukuleles I usually only see advertised for sale in music shops, and if they have any web presence it is in a language that is difficult for me to translate. Very often there is little information on them beyond a name and sometimes a brand name, however the instruments they make look very well made and worthy of note.

Kiyoshi Nishigai - Mugendoh

Based in Nakamura, Tokyo he has been working as a luthier since before 2002 and the name Yumetsuru-do seems to crop up with his work as well as Mugendoh. He learned luthiery at the Roberto Venn school of luthiery in Arizona, USA and makes Guitars, Mandolins and Soprano and Concert Ukuleles, (he also makes Banjo necks but you have to supply your own drum). With Ukuleles as well as making the figure 8 models in 12 or 14 frets, for Soprano and Concert, and Pineapples he makes a couple of more unusual models. One is a kind of Ukulele / ƒ type Mandolin hybrid he calls the Mandolele; in truth it is just a Ukulele with a fancy florentine flourish though it could quite easily be tuned as a 4 string Mandolin. The other is a square necked slide Ukulele in the Weissenborn style, (though I don't think being Soprano or Concert scale still they have a hollow neck?) He calls this type of Ukulele the Waizenropu. He also likes doing double neck ukulele or Ukulele / Mandolins too but it is only on the double necks that I have seen him make Taropatchs. Two distinctive features of his Ukuleles are the two part saddle one saddle for the G and another for the C,E and A angled to improve the intonation. The other is the little blue figure playing a pipe that he uses as a logo. Apparently it has something to do with Hopi indians and he picked it up during his time in Arizona. This appears on the headstock, and the owners name can too, as a custom option.

Takeshi Iwamoto - Acoustic World

Based in Suginami-ku, Tokyo, he started making musical instruments in 1978 and started using the Acoustic World branding in 1981. I have seen a number of instruments of his that have The Iwamoto on the headstock rather than Acoustic World, (I think these are his top instruments but I'm not sure?). His main instrument appears to be the Mandolin but he does make all the usual chordophones including Violins and Ukuleles. From what I can see he has a standard Ukulele catalogue based loosely on Martin with a choice of Soprano, Concert or Tenor, s1, s3 or s5 levels of decoration, and 12 or 14 frets to the body.

Takeshi Kosaka Guitars

He is based in Funai-gun, Kyoto Prefecture Japan. He started in luthiery studying with Shiro Tsuji in 1978, and after a period of being a musician and travelling the world he started his own workshop in Ayabe, making Guitars in 1991, moving to the current location in 1997. In the intervening years he has added an number of folk instruments including the Ukulele to his catalogue. The current Ukulele range is long neck, (Super) Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone scale in a variety of woods. The non-traditional shaped one he does in Concert and Tenor only and I run into a lot of difficulty on the name he gives it as the translators keep translating it a "Mumps" (?? I do hope this is correct). He has made archtop Ukuleles in the past based on his archtop Guitars and he gives all of his instruments a lifetime, (his, I presume), warranty.

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