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Yukinobu Chai Classical Concert Guitar NP-15H

This guitar was ordered by Nibori Music Academy and made in 1983 by Master Luthier Yukinobu Chai. Yukinobu’s career started in late 1960s and over the years he became one of the highest respected luthiers in Japan. Most likely the major reason for that were very moderate prices for his wonderful instruments.

In that respect Yukinobu had business philosophy very similar to that represented by Ryoji Matsuoka, Kazuo Yairi or brothers Hiroshi and Mitsuru Tamura. In 1983 top Masaru Kohno model 50 or Sakazo Nakade Master 50 were priced 500 000 yen. In 1984 top Masaru Kohno model Maestro or Sakazo Nakade Master 80 were priced 800 000 yen. By 1985 Yukinobu Chai and Tamura brothers were still pricing their top models at 500 000 yen even though their instruments sounded no different than those made by the “elite” luthiers. In 1985 top R.Matsuoka models were M200 & MH200. Kazuo Yairi's top model was YC200.

In early 1980s Yukinobu became the major supplier for Niibori School of Guitar Ensemble, making not only whole range of prime (regular) models but also many alto, soprano, bass and contrabass guitars. Since Yukinobu's passing in 2011, his workshop is managed by his son Yukio, a great luthier on his own. Yukinobu's most famous pupils are Ichizo Kobayashi, Tatsuro Kobayashi, Sakae Ishi and Kuniyoshi Matsui.  

In early/mid 1970's Yukinobu was still relatively unknown luthier and his prices were actually lower than those proposed by Tamura brothers for similar grade guitars. Until 1974 Yukinobu's model 10 was made with solid figured Brazilian Rosewood b/s. Until early 1976 his model 10 was made with Jacaranda (straight-grain Brazilian Rosewood) b/s. By 1977 the same grade instrument was labelled as model No15 and starting in 1981 as model 20, both made with Latin America Rosewoods b/s.

In 1983 Yukinobu’s model NP-15H was priced the same 150 000 yen as Kohno 15 (which in 1985 was renamed to model Professional R and priced 200 000 yen). Yet, just like many other less prominent Japanese luthiers of that era, Yukinobu Chai simply had to deliver much more for the same price in comparison with Masaru Kohno models.

This guitar remains in at least very good cosmetic and perfect structural condition. It’s only cosmetic flaws are few very light scratches and few very small dents within the finish of the top. Other surfaces remain in at least excellent cosmetic condition.  

This guitar offers great volume and response, combined with very charming sweet tonality: sweet & very colorful trebles, somewhat metallic & deeply resonating basses, all well balanced, with great note clarity and separation, and all with very impressive sustain. It is simply a “joy to play”. If you wanted to purchase the same class brand new guitar made by leading Japanese luthier, you would have to pay no less than $5000.  



Top: Solid Spruce/lacquer

Back & Sides: Solid Latin America Rosewood/lacquer

Neck: Mahogany

Fingerboard: Ebony

Scale: 650 mm

Nut width: 51 mm

Its action is set to 4.00 mm under E6 and 3.50 mm under E1, with plenty of extra room on the saddle.

This guitar will be shipped in lightly used non-original original archtop hard-shell case.  


 Real Value of Japanese Vintage Guitars

The key to understand value of vintage Japanese guitars is to acknowledge galloping devaluation of Japanese yen in 1960s & 1970s. This devaluation was somewhat slower in 1980s. The best measure of this devaluation is Starting Yearly Salary of Japanese College Graduate (SYSJCG).

SYSJCG in 1965 was 19 600 yen, in 1969 – 34 600 yen, in 1970 39 200 yen, in 1972 – 62 300 yen, in 1975 79 200 yen, in 1977 86 200 and in 1980 - 100 000 yen.

During 1960s and most of 1970s model numbers of Japanese guitars were strictly interconnected with their prices in Japanese yen. In late 1970s and during following decades model numbers were no longer strictly associated with their prices. Many Japanese guitar makers introduced model names instead of model numbers. Others were still using model numbers with addition of letter abbreviations or other symbols.

The best and only logical approach while evaluating real value (real grade) of vintage Japanese guitar is to compare its price in Japanese yen with SYSJCG during the year guitar was made.

Any guitar priced 100 000 in 1970 (labelled usually as No10) would be priced 200 000 yen in 1975 (relabeled to No20 or 2000), 300 000 yen in 1977 (labelled as No3, No30 or 3000). Starting in 1977 Masaru Kohno introduced his new models No40 priced 400 000 yen and No50 priced 500 000 yen. By 1984 Kohno started using model names instead numbers and was raising their prices as he was pleased. Model 50 became model “Maestro”, model 40 became model “Special”, model 30 became model “Professional-J”. Naturally other Master luthiers were doing the same name/price changes.

Knowing all of that, you can bet on that Masaru Kohno No50 made in 1982 is practically the same grade instrument as Kohno No20 made in 1972, or Kohno no 30 made in 1976. Kohno No40 made in 1982 is exactly the same grade instruments as Kohno No15 made in 1972 or Kohno No20 made in 1975.

It is very important to mention that if modern era luthiers are using 40 years old woods to make a classical guitar, its price is at least $8000.

Product Specs

Listed4 months ago
ConditionVery Good (Used)
Very Good items may show a few slight marks or scratches but are fully functional and in overall great shape.learn more
Made In
  • Japan

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