MASARU MATANO CLASSE 800 1981 - AMAZING RAMIREZ STYLE CLASSICAL CONCERT GUITAR - BRAZILIAN ROSEWOOD

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About This Listing

Masaru Matano Classe 800 Grand Concert Guitar 1981

This wonderful guitar was made in 1981 by Masaru Matano, one of the best luthiers Japan ever had.

Although this guitar has the same construction and similar looks as models Asturias C8 or Classe 800 or Asturias AST80 made just couple years earlier, it was made with ebony fingerboard, square cut headstock slots, higher end tuners and sold with original Meiko Guitarra label. This was in times when Asturias/Kurume workshop was already owned by Rokkomann Co.  

Guitars with original headstocks and Asturias labels were introduced by Matano for the first time in 1977. Years 1977-1978 were the years of Matano's transition in labelling of his models from "Classe xxx" to "Asturias xx". These early Asturias guitars didn't have any serial numbers on their labels. Serial number system was introduced by Asturias in 1981.

Many experts interested in Masaru Matano’s story couldn’t figure out what happened to him after in 1980 he sold his Asturias workshop in Kurume to Rokkomann Co. and left it in 1981. It is unclear why he had to leave the workshop that he founded in 1962 and successfully managed for next 18 years. Most likely facing financial troubles in late 1970s, he made a financial deal with Rokkomann Co. but was later forced to leave as the result of dispute with new owners. Since that moment Asturias brand belonged to Rokkomann Co.

Guitar you are looking at proves that Matano continued using a second workshop (most likely located in Fukuoka) as his back-up plan and perhaps was anticipating his deal with Rokkomann. First guitars sold with the same Meiko Guitarra labels were made in 1979 and most likely in limited numbers, since they are very hard to find. It is possible that these guitars were continued after Matano’s departure from Asturias/Kurume workshop.

It is a PERFECT CONCERT guitar. Even though its construction is based on Jose Ramirez blueprints, it is not a copy of Ramirez guitars. It is greatly improved Ramirez guitar. It not only rivals much higher priced top Masaru Kohno models, but also every Ramirez guitar you can imagine.

To recognize true value of this guitar, first you need to try all $10000+ “hand made in Spain” guitars available in your area, before playing this Matano’s masterpiece. This may very well be your “life changing” experience.  

This guitar absolutely deserves to be called a “Grand Master Concert Guitar”. It is very light, has incredible volume and is super responsive. Its tonality is simply breathtaking. It basses are deep but very clean, almost metallic, yet with bounty of overtones. With extended sustain they sound just like cello. Trebles are super clear, but sweet and colorful at the same time. Despite its very high volume note separation of this guitar is simply superb.

All luthiers and only very experienced players know how difficult it is to create an instrument that offers all these mentioned above sound properties. In the “regular world” the higher the volume of the guitar the lower its note clarity, separation and overall tonality. Masaru Matano however wasn’t a “regular” luthier. He was called “the Genius of the Sound” for a good reason.  

The construction of this guitar is based on Jose Ramirez blueprints and enhanced by Matano’s 7th sense. During 1960s and early 1970s Jose Ramirez was making the same construction guitars and selling them at the prices equal to $10000 today. Many Japanese luthiers were using the same blueprint. This construction greatly reduces the effect of damping of the sound by player’s body. The sound of such guitars is ultra-rich and “amplified” at the same time. In case of this model C8 Brazilian Rosewood b/s add uniquely charming colors and sweetness. IT IS TRULY VERY HARD TO FIND BETTER SOUNDING GUITARS!!!

Despite its age this guitar remains in at least very good cosmetic and perfect working condition. The most serious cosmetic flaws are few very small dents on its top.


SPECIFICATIONS:

Top: High Grade Solid Cedar/lacquer

The soundboard of this guitar is thin that you may see and almost touch its braces. It is so sensitive that if you drop a rice grain on it you will hear a decent “rumble”.

Double Back: 2 (book-matched) "Laminated" plates of Brazilian Rosewood that are not glued together.

“Laminated” is quite unfortunate term regarding Japanese made guitars. These "laminates" were made from 2 layers of solid wood glued together with natural resins. They were made so well that they performed as good as solid woods while being far less expensive in guitar production and far more resistant to cracking in regular use.

Double Sides: 2 separate plates of Laminated Brazilian Rosewood

Neck: Mahogany with Ebony reinforcement

Fingerboard: Ebony

With at the nut: 51 mm

Scale: 658 mm

Action is set to 3.3 mm under E6 and 2.8 mm under E1 with practically no extra room on the saddle.

This guitar will be shipped in used hard case in still good condition, but limited value.

 

To learn more about Masaru Matano and his achievements you may need to read next chapter titled: "Asturias Story"

“Asturias Story”

Asturias guitars have always had a great international reputation for tone and built quality. Asturias guitars are still made at the same small workshop located in Kurume, Japan. This workshop employs about 10 highly skilled craftsmen, each of them capable making a guitar on his/her own. Since 1981 Asturias workshop is led by master luthier Wataru Tsuiji

This workshop in Kurume began making guitars in 1962, under the name Meiko Gakki co. and ownership of Masaru Matano. Masaru Matano was Japanese luthier legend, until today remembered in Japan as “the genius of sound”. He earned this title before 1962, after improving the sound of many old violins, including famous Stradivarius violins.

Meiko Gakki workshop was making classical guitars in rather limited numbers, with emphasis placed on quality. Initially these guitars were sold under the Meiko Gakki label and just signed by Matano. Sometime in 1968 the labels were changed to Masaru Matano “Costructor de Guitarras” (and Meiko Gakki was placed below Matano’s name). Sometime in 1974 “Meiko Gakki” disappeared from the labels. During years 1974-1975 Masaru Matano introduced yet another series of guitars with their own unique design labels that had just Masaru Matano name on them and were marked as made in Fukuoka, Japan. This means that Kurume workshop wasn’t the only one Matano owned at that time. Well that is not all. During the same years 1974-1975 Masaru Matano with another group of associates was making wonderful La Esperanza guitars marked as made by Ongaku Geijutsusha Co. While most of Masaru Matano - Meiko gakki guitars had Cedar tops and Matano’s unique design headstocks, La Esperanza guitars had mostly Spruce tops and Ramirez style headstocks. La Esperanza guitars had exactly the same style labels as those used on Matano – Meiko Gakki guitars. While great majority of Matano’s own label guitars were not signed by him or anybody else, La Esperanza guitars had labels signed by their actual makers. Esperanzas made by Matano himself have his signature their labels. It is quite likely that La Esperanza guitars were made at Matano’s Fukuoka workshop.  

It is not a secret that (just like most other luthiers in the world) Matano always had a team of highly skilled associates. One of them was Tatsuo Tanaka. In late 1960s, Tatsuo was the only Matano’s associate, who could put his name on Meiko Gakki label. Tatsuo Tanaka could have been Matano’s partner at that time, but this is not confirmed by any published records. Also, there are no written records revealing the names of other Matano’s associates. It is very possible that Hiroumi Yamaguchi and Eichi Kodaira were among these associates. Both these luthiers started their own workshops in early 1970s and prospered well on their own, but joined “New” Asturias team in 1980. In 1980 Matano’s Kurume workshop was taken over by Rokkomann Co (Japanese leading lumber importer) and “New” Asturias workshop came into life. The details of this transaction are totally unclear and Matano’s disappearance in 1981 never explained to the public. Since 1981 Asturias workshop is led by Wataru Tsuji, a younger luthier who started to work for Masaru Matano in 1977.

In 1981 “New” Asturias workshop started to use serial number system on their labels. The design of Asturias labels (unchanged until today) was created sometime in mid1970s and used on some Masaru Matano’s guitars, while other guitars still had “Masaru Matano - Meiko Gakki” labels. Some of these earlier Asturias labels were printed as “Asturias by Masaru Matano”. Very few of these early (before 1980) Asturias guitars were ever signed by Masaru Matano.

Hiromi Yamaguchi’s name for the first time appeared on guitar labels in early 1970s. Yamaguchi established his own brand: “Cervantes” Concierto Guitarras. His Cervantes guitars, not only looked like Masaru Matano -Meiko Gakki ones, but were made exactly the same way, and sounded as great as Matano’s creations. The only difference were headstock designs. After Yamaguchi joined “New” Asturias team in 1980, he (or just his workshop) was still making Cervantes guitars. Cervantes guitars were made until 1982. In the same year 1982 Hiroumi left Asturias team and started building guitars under his own name. Hiroumi retired sometime in early 1990s. Eichi Kodaira, since early 1970s was making 2 lines of guitars, one with his own name on the labels and second labelled as Ecole Guitarras. Ecole guitars had more ornamental extras and were considered as more luxurious brand. Within “New” Asturias team, Eichi Kodaira was responsible for making all AST models. Sometime in 1983-1984 Eichi and a group of his closest associates moved to another workshop located in Suwa (Nagano Prefecture) and started making Asturias Kodaira guitars, identical with AST models earlier made at Kurume workshop. Yet few years later, Eichi stopped making Asturias/Kodaira guitars and continued making AST models just as Kodaira guitars. His workshop operates until today with only 3 employees: Eichi’s son and 2 other Kodaira family members.

All guitars made by these Asturias associated luthiers are very high grade, well regarded by a lot of international players who consider them as the best mid-price range classical concert guitars. It is also very important to tell you, that guitars made by these makers have always been very moderately priced if compared to similar grade guitars made by Masaru Kohno or other Japanese Elite luthiers. During 1970s until 1980 Masaru Matano’s top model was Classe 1000 (priced 100 000 yen). This model was the only “all solid woods” one in Matano’s lineup. This guitar however could easily compete with Masaru Kohno #20 from the same year. Until 1982 top Cervantes, La Esperanza and Ecole models were also priced 100 000 yen.

The key to understand value of vintage Japanese guitars is to acknowledge galloping price inflation (devaluation of Japanese yen) during 1960s & 1970s. This inflation slowed down in 1980s.

During 1960s and most of 1970s model numbers of Japanese guitars were strictly interconnected with their prices in Japanese yen. By early 1980s and during following decades model numbers were no longer strictly associated with their prices. Some Japanese guitar makers introduced model names instead of model numbers. Others were still using model numbers with addition of letters and/or other symbols.

It is then important to understand that two Yamaha GC10 guitars made 10 years apart are two instruments of totally different class. The same applies to any other Japanese maker/brand.  

The logical way to estimate the true class of any given Japanese made instrument is to compare its price with the average annual salary of wage workers in Japanese private sectors. This salary was: 450 600 yen in 1965 - 825 900 yen in 1970 - 1 868 300 yen in 1975 - 2 689 000 yen in 1980 - 3 163 000 yen in 1985 - 3 761 000 yen in 1990 - 4 107 000 yen in 1995 - 4 082 000 yen in 2000.

Any guitar priced 100 000 yen in 1970 (labelled as No10 or No100) would be priced 200 000 yen in 1975 (relabeled to No20, No200 or 2000), 300 000 yen in 1977 (labelled as No3, No30 or 3000) and 500 000 yen by 1985 (labelled as No50 or 5000).

Starting in 1977 Masaru Kohno introduced his new models No40 priced 400 000 yen and No50 priced 500 000 yen. By early 1980s Kohno started using model names instead of numbers and was steadily raising their prices without changing model labeling. His very top model 50 became model “Special”, and a decade later it became model “Maestro”. Naturally, all other Japanese guitar makers were doing similar pricing (labelling) upgrades.

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 1975.

In early 1970s the lowest Ryoji Matsuoka (all plywood) model was 10, followed by (solid top) models 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80 and (all solid woods) models 100 and 150. Models 50, 60 and 80 were made with non-solid figured Brazilian Rosewood (double) back and sides and top model 150 was the only one made with solid figured Brazilian Rosewood b/s.

In 1980 the lowest Matsuoka model was (all plywood) 20, followed by (solid top) models 30,40,50, 60 and all solid woods models 80,100,150 and 200. By 1990 the lowest Matsuoka model was M40 and the highest was M300. By 2010 the lowest Matsuoka model was M50 and the top model was M270.

You can bet that Ryoji Matsuoka model 50 from 1980 is of the same grade as model M100 from 2000, model 100 from 1980 is of the same grade as model M150 from 2000, model 150 from 1980 is of the same grade as M200 from 2000 and model 200 from 1980 is of the same grade as model M300 from 2000.

It is important to mention that if modern era luthiers are using 40+ years old woods to make an “all solid” wood classical guitar, its price is minimum $8000.

All vintage guitars made with Brazilian Rosewood are especially precious, including those made straight grain varieties and those with non-solid b/s.

Because response and tonal properties of Spruce soundboards are improving over time, long seasoned Spruces are far more precious than long seasoned Cedars.

It is not very difficult to find out what are current prices of such guitars made by world’s leading luthiers.

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Product Specs

Listed6 days 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
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