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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking for owners of Shiraki guitars. It seems there were very few of them made in the early 80's. They were made in Japan but so far my search has only turned up a few owners in Canada and The Netherlands. None of these guitars have serial numbers and they have a "mystery history". Three or four different models have turned up but the one thing they have in common is the uniquely carved(?) sound holes. They are all beautifully finished and constructed and mine sounds like no other guitar ever produced. Small, lightweight, arched top and back, with a pickup under the bridge and those unique "f-holes".

I know of perhaps two or three others like mine and they were all sold in either Ontario or the Maritimes. Anyone in the west ever see something like this or any other Shiraki guitar?


Besides the mystery of who made them there is also a question of how the grille work was done. A luthier told me he though it was laser carved. The width of the slits seems to vary in width according to to the grain in the wood. Maybe some of you luthiers can tell me how that may have been done.



 

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Hi Lester,
I to own a Shirak (i) guitar and I am from the west (B.C.). I don't know much about it but I have heard twice that Paul McCartney plays one. One just sold on ebay for 510 pounds (in England I think). Mine is a flat top with similar laser carvings for the sond hole. The neck is very nice and the sound is excellent but lacks a little on the bass end. I have met one other owner out here and his is similar to mine but with some differences in the carvings. There is no serial number and I would love to find out more about this guitar. Have you had any other replies to your post?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Shad,

Well, you're the first responder to this post but I have been in e-mail contact with some leads I got from Harmony Central. I'd like to see a photo of your guitar. It sounds similar to one owned by a guy in The Netherlands. Does it have an under-the-bridge pickup?

I don't know of any these guitars in the U.S., just Canada, France and The Netherlands so far. Nobody knows any more than I do about who actually made them. No serial numbers on any of them unless you have to crack them open to find it. Maybe it's time to start a Shiraki website.

Do you know Paul McCartney's e-mail address? :D
 

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Hi Lester,

I remember these guitars...I've never owned one, but always liked them. They are extremely hard to come by. The Shirakis were produced in the late 70s and early 80s under the supervision of the Matsumoko factory, although it it's not certain that they were actually produced on that site. I hope you're not offended that the guitar was produced by Matsumoko and in a factory setting, Matsumoko has an awesome reputation in that era for building the best Japanese guitars of the time. (Aria, Vantage, Electra etc.) They were known for really high quality neck-thru electrics, usally characterized by different exotic wood used for the necks than for the wings of the body, resuling in a stripe down the center kind of a look.

those guitars are of very high quality and workmanship, even for Matsumoko, and all the carvings and decoration is indeed hand done. The technology for laser carving of that nature and intricacy (especially on thin spruce or cedar) undoubtedly didn't exist in 1979. I seem to remember (as you have said) the spacing and consistency of the carved sections is slightly different throughout the guitar.

I remember my local guitar store in belleville ontario having one back in the early 80's. I wanted it bad, but was ridiculously poor :)

I think they are beautiful, and definitely rare. you're lucky to have one, thanks for the pics!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Wow! After 24 years of searching I finally have an answer. I knew there had to be a factory behind the production and distribution and I'm certainly not offended. It's a gorgeous guitar. The "master Japanese luthier" theory sounded too much like an urban myth, although if those soundholes are indeed hand-carved, they were definitely done by a master wood carver. It still boggles my mind since there is no stain or poly on the sides of the slats, like it was done after the finish was applied. I even wondered if it had been sandblasted through a template removing only the softer wood, as the darker denser part of the grain aligns with the slats.

Anyway, thanks for the answers to most of my questions on this.:thanks5qx:
 

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why wouldn`t the Japanese have master wood workers?...we were at a shrine today that been standing, well they aren`t sure but the first record of it is 820 A.D. and most of it is wood. Seems natural to me that they would have taken to guitar building quite naturally. Most of the best guitars the Japanese make today are unknown outside the country and many acoustic builder are pushing the envelope in terms of design. Thats a lovely guitar in the pics cherish it, and I`d wager there would be plenty of Japanese collectors who`d pay a lot of money for it should it ever come up for sale.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
You're right, the Japanese are known for their carvers of all sorts of material. I wasn't questioning their ability. It's just that "Shiraki was a master luthier from Japan" sounded like a convenient explanation from someone who didn't really know. I've simply never found any evidence to back it up or refute it. Even knowing they were connected with the Matsumoko factory doesn't rule out or confirm whether the Shiraki name refers to a specific person or not.

What I'd like to know now is how many were made. What I have seen or heard about accounts for less than 20. Most are full size flat tops with varying decoration, one electric 335 style, and 3 or 4 like mine. I guess my next step is to contact the Matsumoko factory if they're still around. Japanese collectors would need a lot of yen to pry this out of my fingers. :D

Shad: The one sold on e-bay was one of the guitars from the Netherlands.
 

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Hi Lester,
I look forward to hearing about your research on the Matsumoko factory, it would be nice to know how many Shiraki's were made. My Shiraki is very much like the one from the Netherlands that sold on ebay. I will post pics soon. On another subject, I recently picked up a guitar at an auction, it appears to be a Samick (Greg Bennett model) but the label inside reads Samich, with an "h". Is this a knockoff of the real thing or what?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
shad said:
Hi Lester,
I look forward to hearing about your research on the Matsumoko factory, it would be nice to know how many Shiraki's were made. My Shiraki is very much like the one from the Netherlands that sold on ebay. I will post pics soon. On another subject, I recently picked up a guitar at an auction, it appears to be a Samick (Greg Bennett model) but the label inside reads Samich, with an "h". Is this a knockoff of the real thing or what?
Well, I've hit somewhat of a dead end. In my reasearch of the Matsumoko factory I discovered they went out of business in the mid 80's. In one account, the factory was destroyed by fire in 1985, another has it being burned in 1988, after which many of the brands being produced (Aria, Univox, Westbury, Westone) were moved to the Samick factory in Korea. Chances are any records of production may have been lost.
In another account, the Matsumoko factory, which also produced sewing machines, was bought by Singer in 1987 after which all guitar production was stopped. Either way, the trail has been dusted over for the last 20 years.

It's funny you asked about Samick considering what I discovered. I don't know if Samich is a knockoff of Samick, which are likely knockoffs of something else. I don't know if any Samick is the "real thing".
 

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Hi Lester,
I have been trying unsuccessfully to post the pics of my Shiraki, I am now told that it can't be done with attachments anymore. The site people told me of another way to do it, but as I am a wee bit computer challenged it was all Greek to me. I do know how to send a jpg by email so if you are interested, send me a private message with your email address and I'll send them to you. I have been sending out some inquiries to some so-called guitar experts that I found on the internet, and guess what? they've never heard of a Shiraki! I'm thinking these guitars are very rare. Have you had any other responses?
Shad.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
shad said:
Hi Lester,
I have been trying unsuccessfully to post the pics of my Shiraki, I am now told that it can't be done with attachments anymore. The site people told me of another way to do it, but as I am a wee bit computer challenged it was all Greek to me. I do know how to send a jpg by email so if you are interested, send me a private message with your email address and I'll send them to you. I have been sending out some inquiries to some so-called guitar experts that I found on the internet, and guess what? they've never heard of a Shiraki! I'm thinking these guitars are very rare. Have you had any other responses?
Shad.
The owners seem to know the most and that ain't much! Sent you a message. I'll post your pics.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
shad said:
Hi Lester,
I have been trying unsuccessfully to post the pics of my Shiraki, I am now told that it can't be done with attachments anymore. The site people told me of another way to do it, but as I am a wee bit computer challenged it was all Greek to me. I do know how to send a jpg by email so if you are interested, send me a private message with your email address and I'll send them to you. I have been sending out some inquiries to some so-called guitar experts that I found on the internet, and guess what? they've never heard of a Shiraki! I'm thinking these guitars are very rare. Have you had any other responses?
Shad.
Here ya go , Shad. Nice looking guitar! The Dutch dude's guitar is similar to this. I'll see if I can find the pics and get his permission to post them or at least send them to you.


Shad's Shiraki







 

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i have this guitar since 1994, i think. (i live in belgium).
bought it second hand; the bridge was repaired by a luthier before i bought it.
i will post some other pics tonight.
nice guitar to look at, but i don't like the sound,
'sounds like playing in the toilet', a guitarist told me once.
 

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Hi Stefan,
Nice looking guitar, is it acoustic only or electric as well? I can't tell from the pics. I like the sound of my Shiraki, but I wish it had a little more bass. Have you seen other Shiraki's in Belgium?
Shad
 

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hello,

no, it is strictly acoustic, and i have never seen these guitars before.
the guitars on this site are the first i've seen.
i tried to sell it once, on ebay, but the auction did'nt go higher than 80 euros so i just kept it.

grtz
 

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Shiraki or Shirak Mandolin

I'm glad to see that Shiraki or Shirak instruments are so rare because I just inherited a Shiraki Mandolin from my father.He has had this Mandolin since the mid 80's and it is the same exotic wood and intricate details as the guitars you have posted.I've been looking on the net for any info about these Mandolins and I wouldn't be surprised if I've got one of one ! I live in Nova scotia. If anyone has seen one of these please let me know! I'll send a pic if I can figure out how to post a pic on this site .
 
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