Keeping up with pop culture in the ’60s—especially anything having to do with
the music scene—was a task nearly as hard as
trying to keep current with today’s cell phone
technology. It must have driven guitar manufacturers
nuts trying to deliver what the kids
wanted, craft a unique-looking product, and
do battle with all the other guitar makers who
flooded the market in the era of Beatlemania,
Brit rock, and the garage band explosion. Suddenly,
almost every youngster across the globe
was starting a band, and those players needed
guitars. The race to seduce the youth market
was on. Some companies—like Kawai—took the
competition to extremely bizarre levels. Take, for
example, Kawai’s “The Concert.” I nicknamed
mine, “Off With Their Heads”—which I find far
more in keeping with how the guitar looks. One
has to wonder who Kawai expected would buy
this aggressive, battle-axe-shaped nightmare!
Only made from 1968 to 1970, The Concert has
to be one of the ugliest guitars out there. But the
real weird stuff is what you don’t see. It’s actually
made with great attention to certain aesthetic
details that one would expect on more
expensive guitars. I’ll get more into that later.
PLAYABILITY & SOUND
Like a lot of people who collect whack jobs for
their looks, I don’t especially care if the guitar
plays well or sounds good. But The Concert manages
to do both. The feel of the multi-laminated,
23-fret (including a zero fret) neck is chunky,
but not unpleasant. Clean tones are very surf-y,
and the distortion sounds are quite musical.
(The bridge sound is reminiscent of an overdriven
Ricky 330.) The surface-mounted tremolo
works okay for slight bends. One warning:
Don’t play this sitting down. The axe will slice
into your leg!
I have never seen another of these for sale. My
friend and fellow collector Ron Upton gave me
this one 15 years ago, but it was badly water damaged.
Miraculously, guitar builder Paul Connet
brought it back to life. My guess is that an auction
price would be between $1,200 to $1,500.
WHY IT RULES
It’s the ugliness along with the sound and those
details I mentioned earlier. The body has a
high-gloss, piano-like finish with a beautifully
made, but subtle, German-style carved top.
The cream binding features a delicate,
triple parallel-lined black inlay that’s
almost like herringbone. It uses an
asymmetrical three-piece pickguard
material that I have never
seen before. And even though the
guitar’s body is solid, it has an
f-hole that is recessed into the
wood by about a quarter inch.
There’s a lot to see on this guitar
and, believe it or not, Kawai
offered a dozen or so other
with even more exaggerated
lines like the Liverpool. For
the faint of heart, Kawai also
offered some more conservative
takes on Rickys and Hofners.
But why go traditional?
Playing axe-shaped guitars hasn’t
hurt Gene Simmons’ career!
Peter Hook Discusses His Live Recordings of Classic Joy Division and New Order Albums (WATCH)
TC Electronic Introduces PolyTune 3- Next Generation Polyphonic Tuner with Built-In Buffer
Rex Brown Announces Debut Solo Album Debuts New Single (LISTEN)
This Week in Free Stuff: Light-Load Plug-in Instruments
Superbooth17 Day One: The Weird and the Wonderful
Puremagnetik K-Station Atmospheres Revives Love for the Kawai K5000S Additive Synth
The Art of Synth Soloing: Joe Zawinul, the Syndicate Years
Steinway Unveils Art Case Piano Celebrating Composer Modest Mussorgsky
Rediscovering LA Synthesis
Tal Farlow: Seven Guitars That Reveal the Jazz Giant’s Vision as an Innovator
Four Chronographs That Put You in the Driver’s Seat
2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT: The Weekday Warrior
We Start Wars—Featuring Nita Strauss—Premiere New Song, "The Animal inside"
While She Sleeps Joined Live by Bring Me the Horizon's Oli Sykes During Hometown Show
Ivan Moody Issues Statement, Will Not Be Leaving Five Finger Death Punch
Eric Clapton: 10 of His Best Under-the-Radar Solo Songs
Don Felder: Five Things We Learned from His New Ernie Ball 'String Theory' Episode
Chris Cornell Performs “Black Hole Sun” on ‘CBS This Morning’
Copyright ©2017 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470