My Imai classical guitar is the guitar that I’ve had for the longest time of all my guitars. It’s my dearest and oldest comrade-in-arms although I sometimes haven’t been too kind to it, but more of that later in this blog-post.
I got my Imai classical guitar from my mother in 1980 when I was going to study music in a college. It’s a hand-made classical guitar built in 1978 by the Japanese luthier Yuichi Imai. The different kinds of wood for this particular guitar are Brazilian rosewood for the sides and bottom and German alp spruce for the top. The neck is cedar as usual for this kind of high-end concert guitars. It’s a very big and loud guitar, the scale length is 660 mm (26 inches).
I lived almost 24/7 with my Imai classical guitar during the years 1980-1982. After these two years in music college I started to play electric guitar again and since then I only use my Imai occasionally when in need for a good nylon string sound in a recording.
However, in the mid-eighties I was a member of an acoustic some-kind-of modern jazz & classical improvisation trio (two acoustic guitars and double bass) where I used my Imai classical guitar. In this situation I mainly used a pick, which isn’t the most appropriate way to handle a hand-made concert guitar. I even used my Imai classical guitar when we played swing-music on the streets in Germany. I think my then classical teacher would have killed me if he’d seen this.
After my time in the trio I kept my beautiful Imai classical guitar without strings in a wardrobe for many years – a terrible destiny for such a wonderful guitar.
Nowadays, I always have fresh strings on my Imai classical guitar and I use it every now and then for recordings. It sounds beautifully!
My Imai classical guitar has cracked seven times on the body because of the dryness in Sweden during wintertime (I probably didn’t use my damper enough in the beginning). The first time it cracked I got shocked. Actually, it cracked in three places at the same time and I thought I was going to die when it happened. Luckily, my then guitar teacher sent me to one of the best Swedish luthiers of all times, the late Karl-Erik Gummesson, and it was no problem for him to fix these cracks. He even said that the guitar might be better after this since the cracks may eliminate unwanted tensions in the guitar. After this incident my Imai has cracked four more times and that has always happened in February – the worst period in Sweden for acoustic instruments. The four last cracks were mended by a repairer for string instruments and he was really busy in February every year.
Here is a link to a tune from my album “Projects 1990-1996”, called Soft and Tiny, where I use my Imai classical guitar. And here’s another link to a slideshow, called East Caribbean 2002-2003, where I use my Imai classical guitar at some parts in the music.
I use a stone pick in these two music examples and I just love the sound of my Imai concert guitar!