Masayoshi Takanaka Surfboard Guitar

Masayoshi Takanaka Surfboard Guitar

Masayoshi Takanaka is a Japanese fusion guitarist. He is famous for his signature playing style, spectacular performances, and extraordinary guitars. One of the most famous is the Surfboard Guitar.

But before we talk about it, let’s meet the guitarist himself if you haven’t already. This man deserves attention no less than his famous instrument.

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Who is Masayoshi Takanaka?

Masayoshi Takanaka was born in Tokyo in 1953.

In 1971, Tsunoda Hiro and Shigeru Naruke invited him to join the rock band “Fried Egg” as a bassist. This marked the beginning of his career as a professional musician.

In 1972, he joined the band “Sadistic Mika Band” as a lead guitarist.

In 1975 the band broke up, but Takanaka continued to work as part of the later-formed band “The Sadistics.”

In 1976, he made his solo debut with the “Seychelles” album. In his following solo albums, he released numerous hits such as “Ready To Fly” and “Blue Lagoon.” His most famous work is “Rainbow Legend,” released in 1981.

He has performed live with international musicians such as Lee Ritenour, Santana, Narada, Michael Walden, and others.

He worked for Kitty Records and Toshiba EMI before founding his own label, “Lagoon Records,” in 2000. Since then he has toured the country every year.

Masayoshi Takanaka’s music is characterized by its smooth, upbeat, and feel-good vibes. His tracks are lively and highly melodic, often featuring catchy guitar solos.

Surfboard Guitar

This guitar was custom-made by Japanese luthier Takeda Yutaka in 2003. He was working for the Ram Trick Company at the time.

But, anyone who sees this instrument for the first time has a reasonable question: “Why?”

In fact, if you heard Takanaka’s music, you’ve already know the answer. What stands out in Takanaka’s music is its uplifting and positive character. It’s the kind of music that can instantly brighten your mood. In addition, Takanaka lived in the Bahamas for a long time. And this had a significant influence on his music, giving it a laid-back tropical vibe.

This is how Masayoshi Takanaka himself describes the story of creation:

“It’s a strange story… When Shigeru Naruke passed away, I thought about it a little. “You can do what you like while you’re alive. When you’re dead, you can’t do anything”…So I decided to make a surfboard guitar. I’m jumping the gun a bit, but I was thinking, “Oh, come to think of it, surfing was popular around the time of the Bubble Era… I have a summer song that goes well with it…” and then I thought it would be interesting to make a surfing guitar. I heard it was hard to make.”

Takeda Yutaka

Master Takeda Yutaka said on his blog that he was a big fan of Takanaka’s music in his youth, often listening to Sadistics and early solo albums and even copying some of his songs.

In 2002, he met Takanaka and began collaborating with him on repairing his guitars.

“My first job was repairing the famous sunburst Stratocaster that appears in his second solo album.”

Takanaka once told him: “I want to use a surfboard-shaped guitar at the event.”

Takeda Yutaka was a little embarrassed by this request but agreed. Here’s what he said about it:

“I was a little happy to make Takanaka’s guitar, but a surfboard-shaped guitar… I had mixed feelings, but after detailed discussions and careful consideration, I decided to modify a real surfboard and install a guitar.”

Takanaka Surfboard Electric Guitar

So they took a real surfboard, hollowed out a hole in it, and put a guitar in there. According to Takanaka, the neck and pickups are from Yamaha.

Here’s what Takeda Yutaka said about the process of creating this masterpiece:

“I still thought it couldn’t be a toy, so I made it with realism in mind.”

“The surfboard itself is hollow inside, so you can’t attach the neck or parts directly to it. So I attached the neck to a small wooden body and screwed it in from the back of the surfboard.”

“In order not to sacrifice playability, we made sure it wasn’t too heavy and left enough clearance around the neck.”

“Considering maintenance, the guitar part is removable.”

“And we managed to deliver it to the studio where they were rehearsing just before the event. Of course, we didn’t compromise on the guitar part and did a job that we couldn’t be ashamed of.”

The guitar was originally light blue but was later repainted red. On some videos, you can see the original color, on others it’s red. Well, now you know that these are the same guitar.

Takanaka played this guitar in light blue during his 2004 and 2005 live tours. Bu-Speed of Love “Live 2004” and Crossover Japan “Live 2005” ft. Issei Noro.

During his performance at “Live 2008,” he already plays a red guitar.

The process of making the guitar was kept secret. This was meant to be a surprise for the show’s viewers. But in the end, shortly before the show, information about the guitar was leaked to the press. Nevertheless, the instrument caused everyone’s surprise and delight both during the first performance and in the following ones.

Takanaka later used the surfboard guitar many times during his performances. In one TV interview, he conveyed about this instrument:

“It’s hard to play, as expected. I just play this because I wonder if the people who watch me will like it, but I wonder if some percentage of them think I’m stupid. It weighs about 6 kilograms (~13 lb), so if I play two songs on this guitar at a concert, I’ll be even more tired.”

In another interview, Takanaka confessed:

“I could manage for about two songs. But if I was asked to do it for two hours, I’d die.”

He also added that it was so difficult to make this guitar that the master told him: “I’m not doing it again.”

Besides the surf guitar, Takanaka is known for other incredible instruments.

Custom Railway Stratocaster Diorama Guitar

For example, the resonator “train guitar.” The body of this guitar features a diorama, a functional miniature model of a railroad. A train that runs while Takanaka plays. We wrote more about this guitar in the post about Masayoshi Takanaka.

If you’ve already read our article, you know that Masayoshi Takanaka is definitely worth checking out, as are his incredible instruments.