I suppose I should make a formal introduction.
My dad knew I was looking for a guitar so I could start teaching myself, and his co-worker’s daughter happened to be selling hers. I decided not to buy it cause I had no idea what it was, not to mention the fact that I’m notoriously picky about these kinds of things. He bought me the guitar anyway (using my birthday as an excuse), and I drove to Toronto to pick it up the first chance I had when I got back from Europe.
I asked Steve to do a demo of the guitar because his skills can really show it off.
It turns out the guitar is absolutely gorgeous, with solid spruce on top and solid koa on the back and sides. And being handmade in Japan in 1999 — the only year this model was in production — makes it an instrument that will never be replaced. An heirloom I’ll pass down to my children if I ever have any.
I’m sure the koa contributes to the clarity of the tone, which is rich and bright. There’s lots of sustain through the entire range that seems to go on forever, like hearing delicate water droplets ringing in a cave.
It plays like a dream. The action is set well for fingerstyle playing, though maybe a little too low for heavy strumming. But I tend not to really dig into the strings unless I’m drunk or high anyway. It’s has a nice heavy lacquer, which I’m hoping will make up for the lack of a pickguard.
The design is simple and minimalistic — exactly my style.
I can tell it’s a quality instrument every time I pick it up. It feels solid and stable without being heavy. The finish is flawless. The tuning pegs are nice and tight, but I never have to tune it anyway unless I accidentally knock a peg on something.
I named it Larissa after Doctor Zhivago’s great love, Lara, whose life intertwines with his at several points and in many profound ways. She was already with someone else when she met him, as was he, but somehow fate brought them together (and eventually left them apart).
In the same way, I wonder what this guitar has already been through before coming into my possession. What memories of it’s own does it have? What shows has it gone to? Who has it serenaded? What melodies has it played? It’s in such good condition that I wonder if the previous owner played it at all.
That’s not to say I’ll never need another guitar. I had my heart set on one with nylon strings for a more mellow sound, and being a dreadnought means Larissa is a little too big for me, both in the way she fits under my arm and in the scale length (making it a stretch on low strings near the nut). The neck is also 1 5/8 inches, which is a too tight for some classical and flamenco styles, but this will be perfect for when I’m looking for a bright, large sound with lots of projection.