Kiso Suzuki guitar

Contributed by Paul Sargeant

Kiso Suzuki guitar

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This guitar was made in Japan by by the Kiso Suzuki Violin Company company. It is a copy of a guitar by the USA guitar makers Martin & Co.

In the 1970's several Japanese instrument makers decided to capitalise in the popularity of the guitar and began to copy American guitars and then export them back to the US and Europe.

Eventually the American guitar manufacturers threatened to take legal action, accusing those companies of stealing their designs, and the Japanese manufacturers made small changes to their designs to avoid infringing any copyrights. The guitars made during that period are now know as 'lawsuit' copies and have started to become collectors items in their own right, particularly in the face of the high prices being paid for classic American guitars of the era.

This guitar is an object that tells us how craftsmen and manufacturers change their product to follow cultural trends. In the case of the Suzuki company, first from traditional Japanese instruments to the western violin and then, as popular taste changed from classical music to rock and country, from the violin to the guitar.

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