Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Kawai F-500D

Kawai, another of Japans' musical instrument giants, are much better known for their pianos and fine violins than acoustic guitars, but they did dabble with guitars along the way! Dabble being apt, because there is a mix of quality out there; some very clearly entry level and novelty guitars, plywood construction and toys, both electric and acoustic, and then a much more select choice of high quality guitars made around the mid-70s to the early 80s, the top models of which were hand-crafted using selected tone woods, and made in much smaller quantities than the lower priced models. Manufactured at Kawai Gaki, these hand crafted models began at the F-500D model, priced at 50,000 Yen at release, up to the top of the range FD-15, priced at 150,000 Yen. I have two F-500D models, made quite clearly at two different years and by different hands. This is the earlier one of the two being featured in this entry, and is a firm favourite in my collection.

This F-500D is a much loved and used model, with the odd scuff on its back, and worn frets which i'll need to have replaced a little while down the line, the top beginning to belly slightly but not enough to cause problems... but i doubt this guitar would sound as good without all the signs of its use. Regarding its specs, it features a select solid spruce top which really is fantastic - laced with silk (that fine cross grain sheen you see looking at an angle across the wood), aged and tight grained, particularly around the centre of the body. Over all the years of playing, this has opened up to offer up a world of tone. It has abalone purfling round the body and soundhole, and select rosewood sides and back, with a mosaic inlay down the centre back joint. The bridge is honed from select rosewood, as is the fingerboard which features Mexican shell hexagonal position markers, and is bound to a select mahogany neck. The headstalk is Martin square shaped, with Gotoh machine heads and the Kawai logo inlayed in abalone. It is all solid and attentive stuff. The real magic in this guitar is the bracing inside - the hand-crafted point really comes home here, with hand-scallopped and shaped bracing, that is exceptionally clean and smooth. Notably these braces are shaped slightly thinner compared to those on the early 80s F-500D i have, which gives each their own character.

I have tried to take some photos to show the quality of woods and craftmanship in this model below:

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You can find additional photos here

1 comment:

  1. I have a beautiful sounding Kawai GT-651 Classical guitar. It has solid mahogany sides/back. Spruce top. Ebony fretboard. Steel reinforced neck. Thank your for this post. do you know anything about the Kingston Hummingbird knock-offs?

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