Thursday, 18 June 2015

Kiro Suzuki and Grand Guitar Co. acoustics with relative sound hole.

While doing a little research into Suzuki guitars for a possible repair/purchase I came across these pictures on a facebook group dedicated to Suzuki guitar fans. Apparently these old Suzuki guitars are amongst the best for made in Japan quality in the 1970s and get high praises from those who own and play them.

These 2 guitars, a Kiro Suzuki and a Grand Guitar that were quite obviously made around the same time in the same place have what is called a Relative Sound Hole according to the label on the Grand Guitar. I admit, I'm a little puzzled by this one. I understand offset sound holes, and sound holes on the upper bout, but what's the advantage here, other than to give the guitar an odd crop-circle-esque appeal?


R.W. Haller

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  1. I have to say, I’ve seen a lot of weird sound holes in my time, this is definitely on the odder end of the spectrum. I’m reminded of A hofner Archtop featured on this very blog, having both f-holes and a diamond sound hole at the base of the neck. It may be that is it attempting to add a little more treble, a bit more bright to playing the treble strings, especially as it is subtly offset in that way. Kind of like a bridge pup being as close to the bridge as possible.

    I do own a Suzuki of my own, It is a simple P-Bass, but it has some of the nicest features ive seen on a lawsuit guitar. It has a 4 piece eastern ash body with one of the most accurate and attractive sunburst finishes ive seen. They got it completely right! The fading, the transition, the differences in colour it’s all there. The neck plate is not accurate, and the tuners are smaller than standard, but I bought a fender bridge cover and pup cover and both fit seamlessly with predrilled holes! It was stored w/o a case for 20 years, so it’s dented a bit, the neck is bent but not terribly so, and it’s basically all original. Great instrument, decent sound.

    But it is also a confusing instrument, as it points to a lot of what went on in japan at the time. It is called a Suzuki Electric Bass, but I doubt they built it. The guitar you haveshown here, coming under twop different brands, is not an uncommon practice. Stroes would order for their area, and have 100 or whatever run off in their own brand. A store in Melbourne Aus, sold low end takamines under the ‘wayne’ brand. A particular Rickenbacker 4001 copy was sold under over a dozen brands worldwide, all identical bar the brand. Suzuki alos make ‘Fernandes by Suzuki’ acoustics as well!

    There appear to be two particular brands, Kiso Suzuki and Suzuki Violin co. The cheaper nastier models always appear to be products of the violin co. but are possibly just branded Suzuki in order for the company to have more products to sell. I think you may have misread earlier, amnd the name is definitely Kiso Suzuki, but who knows. Maybe there is a third company! I looked it up and saw it explained here and this is difference between the companies:

    “Kiso Suzuki and Nagoya Suzuki were one company before the war - a 3-factory company started by Masakichi Suzuki that produced the well-known "Suzuki Violin" violins. But after the war the company was split up into the Suzuki Violin Company (now Kiso Suzuki Violin Company) and Suzuki Violin Manufacturing Company (now Nagoya Suzuki Violin Company). And there the relationship ended”

    There are links to sites dedicated to the other types of Suzuki guitars… Basically it’s confusing. Do your research and figure out what label and what headstock logo means what, and if you see a ‘Suzuki Electric Bass’ Give it a go. It’s really good.

  2. I would think it would add volume to picking near the bridge; surely change the sound someway when down there. I'd love to try it and find out!

    Thanks for picking up the slack here with your posts Rich, appreciated!

  3. Maybe it's intended to give a little sympathetic ring-back to the treble end strings? It might make it sound a little brighter. My concern would be the bracing. Is it structurally sound?

  4. Maybe it's intended to give a little sympathetic ring-back to the treble end strings? It might make it sound a little brighter. My concern would be the bracing. Is it structurally sound?

  5. According to Testua Ito, the patent holder of the October 1974 US patent whose name also appears on the Japanese patent sound hole label awarded in 1973, the second sound hole was to decrease noise and produce a clearer tone, which he found was improved only when the second hole was half the size of the main sound hole and placed 1.5 cm from the bridge. Additional holes negated the improvement and he claimed impressive noise reduction. The two hole guitar was produced by Kiso Suzuki and Grand Guitar Company and possibly related to Yakami and Nagoya guitar company. Some of these guitars were made for export. The two hole sound board apparently did not catch on, though there are some produced for both steel acoustic and classical nylon between 1974 and 1978.

  6. It appears that all of the two sound hole guitars were manufactured by Kiso Suzuki and that the Grand Guitar Company was their label and did so under patent assignment from Testuo Ito (who signed at least one label below his red scripted name on the patent) . All made in Nagoya. I know of one classical, and several WSF 50's and 80's and only one WSF 100 that was apparently a prototype sold in Japan and had a three piece rosewood back and beautiful split diamond inlays (like the pre '47 Martin D-35) on the fretboard and the bridge. When playing the two sound guitar, the volume is significantly less with the second hole is covered as I guess would be expected. It is a very nice sounding instrument.



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