Up for sale, a 1978 Masaru Kohno No.15 vintage classical guitar in exceptional condition, complete with a hardshell case. One of the most prominent and influential figures in Japanese guitar manufacturing, Masaru Kohno began his tutelage in Madrid in 1959 at the workshop of revered Flamenco and classical luthier Arcangel Fernandez. After returning to Japan to refine his craft, Kohno received first prize at the Liege Concours National de Guitares a few short years later in 1967. The chairman of the adjudicators at that competition was the “Stradivarius of the classical guitar” Ignacio Fleta, who remarked that Kohno’s guitar was “very much like his own.”
The No. 15 features a ladder-braced spruce top with Indian rosewood back and sides and an ebony reinforced Spanish cedar neck capped by an ebony fingerboard. The body measures 14 1/2" wide across the lower bout, and body depth is fractionally shy of 4" at both the upper and lower bouts. Tonally, this guitar is warm and sweet, with a dark, airy bass presence and pristine singing trebles. There’s a rich expressiveness to the tone akin to “Spanish sound” guitars produced by legendary luthiers like Fleta and Torres.
The Spanish cedar neck has a medium D-shaped profile carve with generous, inviting shoulders in all registers, measuring .850” deep at the 1st fret and .950” at the 7th with 12 frets clear the body. The ebony fingerboard retains the stock slender fretwire, only displaying a hint of wear beneath the strings on frets 1-2. This guitar plays comfortably in all registers, with a straight neck and the action height at the 12th fret measuring 12/64” on the bass side, and 9/64” on the treble side. The original bone nut measures 52mm (2") in width. The headstock sports a Fleta-esque shape with a handsome multi-ply rosewood veneer. The tuners turn smoothly and hold accurate pitch, featuring pearloid buttons and practically pristine gold plating.
The rosewood bridge sits flush with the spruce top on all sides, and the original hand-carved bone saddle is still at full height. The bridge also features an ornate mosaic pattern that matches the soundhole rosette, with string spacing at the saddle measuring 57mm. The dated label is visible through the soundhole, as is the serial number cleanly stamped on the heel block.
An exceedingly well-kept and crack-free example, this Kohno is framed by multi-ply rosewood/maple binding, accenting the bookmatched cuts of rosewood chosen for the back and sides. Cosmetic wear on the ambered gloss finish is limited to one microscopic finish chip on the top at the bass-side lower bout, some light scuffing along the strum path on the treble side, and a handful of pinhead-sized dings and faint finish scratches on the body as a whole. The smooth gloss finish on the neck profile is immaculate.
A modern hardshell case is included.