My new musical best friend - the Masano guitar

We came home from Greece to a warm welcome last night from Django and Arlo. They were so delighted to see us, purring and rubbing against us in the way that cats save for occasions when they're particularly pleased - they made sure they stuck like glue for the rest of the evening. The boys are one of the two things I miss most from home when I go away - the other being my guitars.
The Guild has been a best friend for years and my recently acquired Martin, though not yet enmeshed in the fabric of my life like the Guild, has been instrumental in rekindling my interest in playing. Of course I can manage for a couple of weeks without them, but given the choice I'd rather not.
Old friend Guild D40
So... I was doubly pleased to be staying in the Mani home of our friends Ilona and John. John is a guitarist so I knew one of his guitars would be there and I remembered with relish the one I'd played on previous occasions. On our arrival, it was such a bonus to find it there -  not just a guitar, but one which I knew was a joy to play.
My new Martin semi-acoustic
The guitar in question is a small, but exceedingly nicely formed, steel-strung Masano - twelve frets to the body, a narrow fingerboard and a warm but sparkling tone. The action is perfect, very responsive with lots of sustain for fingerpicking, but best of all, infinitely playable for me with my small hands. Previously I'd asked John where it came from and he told me it was bought new many years ago from the celebrated guitarist, composer and retailer, Ivor Mairants of Rathbone Place in London.
Perfect spot for tinkling!
During our recent stay I spent many happy hours tinkling away on John's guitar, during which time I became more and more curious about its provenance. It had the Masano label on the headstock and on looking inside the body, I quickly learned it was made in Japan. Internet access was difficult in Greece so I resolved to do some digging when I got back.
Lots of knitting in the sun too on the terrace
 of Ilona & John's village home
There doesn't seem to be a lot of info on these guitars, but nevertheless it didn't take long to discover that the Masano label was a range of guitars specially commissioned by Ivor Mairant from master luthier Kazuo Yairi. Kazuo and his brother Sano learnt their skills at their father's knee, who was an internationally-recognised instrument maker.
More modern version of
Mr Yairi's guitars
When Kazuo started his career, each guitar was made in his workshop in a small village on a mountainside in Honshu, Japan. Although he now operates on a slightly larger scale with several hand-picked craftsmen working on the guitars, the calm atmosphere of the original workshop is valued and maintained. Kazuo is still involved in the supervision of the making of all his hand-built instruments, which are world-renowned for their quality and value-for-money.

So thanks to John and Mr Yairi I was provided with hours of musical fun and l'm looking forward to visiting this lovely old guitar again in the not too distant future.


  1. I have one too, masano that is just like yours. My best friend.

  2. I have an Ivor Mairants Masano jumbo, had it since I don't know when, perhaps 1980?! If it is actually a Yairi that would make sense, it's pretty well made. The back and sides are a ply of rosewood mahogany and maple! Never seen that anywhere else.


Post a Comment

Thanks for dropping by, please leave your message here.

Popular posts from this blog

Hand Felting and Stash Storage

Oriel Hat

Howard Hodgkin's India at The Hepworth