Japan's representative craftsman closest to the site
Inheriting Leo's genes! The persistence of a twisted and stubborn craftsman
Profile of Mr. Kakuta, President of T.S Factory
Mr. Kakuda worked at Dinah Musical Instrument Factory, where he worked in the body inspection department for famous brands such as F/J. After working as an instructor at the ESP Guitar Craft Department, he moved to his own workshop in Adachi-ku, Tokyo, where he was born and raised. After working as an instructor at the ESP Guitar Craft Department, he established his own workshop, T.S Factory, in Adachi-ku, Tokyo, where he was born and raised. Since then, he has been taking care of and repairing instruments for many famous manufacturers and popular musicians for over 20 years, while also making his own original guitars. His uncompromising workmanship as a factory-born craftsman has earned him the trust of many top musicians and instrument makers.
Forbidden workshop where no general customers are allowed.
T.S factory basically does not accept repairs from the general public. Entry into the workshop is also limited to a few concerned parties. What is the reason for this? Is there any secret? We attempted to go undercover to find out. I don't mean to be presumptuous, but.... If someone sees an instrument being repaired, they'll know who it is, won't they? When I looked around the workshop after being told that! What? Is this his guitar? Or, "I've seen that on TV! And on the cases waiting to be repaired, there were the names of eminent people. It is a real shame that I cannot tell you the names of the clients, as I do not want to mention them, as I maintain the guitars on the basis of trust. I thought it would be a little condescending to say, "He could have become very famous if he had mentioned their names," but I heard that this was against his aesthetics. But, on the contrary, such aesthetics may be the reason why he has gained the trust of front-line musicians. Without any exaggeration at all, I would like to tell you that this is a workshop where amazing top artists gather in secret.
He doesn't stick to anything, he doesn't cut corners anywhere.
The builder himself chooses and uses carefully selected high-grade woods... no!
All of the wood used in T.S factory guitars is purchased from AICHI Lumber. We don't go out to select them. Don't you think that a lumber shop that buys logs of lumber and selects them day in and day out has a much better eye for quality? A guitar craftsman who goes and selects wood on a whim may not always find the best one. It is much more reasonable to leave the wood matters to the wood professionals, and it leads to better results."
We are not concerned with the original sound of the wood by using an ultra-thin lacquer coating... no!
Fender used to paint their instruments with leftover paint from their side business, car paint. It just happened to be nitrocellulose lacquer. There is no secret in the paint itself. What is the true sound of wood? Even if the sound is produced at the board stage, the sound changes depending on the combination of woods and processing methods. It is important to apply the most suitable coating. If you are restricted by the paint, you will not be able to think freely.
We are not confident in our precision and high-precision finish...
Do guitars need that much precision? Well, a certain degree of precision is necessary. That's not the most important thing. For example, if the painted surface is finished as beautifully as a mirror, it looks good. But there are cases where it is better to leave a certain amount of unevenness in the surface to make it sound better. A perfectly straight joint may, on the contrary, hinder the sound. I think that the builder's self-satisfaction is the only way to achieve the necessary level of precision. Would you use such a precision instrument on a sweaty stage?
Active circuitry makes it impossible to create a wide variety of sounds...
Basically, it's passive. "Basically, it's passive, but if you ask me to do active, I can do it, but active is just the sound of the circuit. But active circuits sound like a circuit, and they all sound the same. It's not interesting. Also, most of the circuits these days are very extreme. Where do you use them? For example, if you seriously boost the bass in a place as big as a live music club, it is no longer a sound but a vibration. Do you need that kind of sound? As long as it produces the sound necessary for playing music, it's enough. Nothing more, nothing less."
What we are making is a tool.
They are not ornaments or works of art. They are tools for musicians to play music. Therefore, we are particular about how stress-free it is to use it. We put a lot of effort into the grip of the neck. Even though it's brand new, the moment you grip it, you'll feel as if you've been playing it for years. You may think you're just going to play it for a while, but you'll forget the time and keep playing it. That is the kind of guitar we aim to create. Please don't hang it on your wall."
The sound is determined by the musician
I don't want to say, "This model has this sound. Of course, there are things that we are aiming for, but that is not for the creator to say. Even Strat, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, they all have their own original sounds. It is only the musician who is applauded in the spotlight. I don't want people to say that the guitar sound is good; I want people to say that the musician's sound is good. For our part, we just do our best to make these musicians feel comfortable and concentrate on their performance. I don't want the instrument to make a statement, but rather to be a tool for the musician to faithfully deliver the message he or she wants to convey.
Leo in downtown
What do you think? How twisted. I've come in contact with many guitar makers, and usually the builder's particulars and assertions are more passionately spoken about. But he is not particular about anything. Or should I say, he is particular about not being particular? This leads directly to the sound of the instrument in the shortest distance. It can be said that he is thoroughly rationalistic.
Yes, he is truly a "downtown Leo. The rationality of Leo Fender, whom he admires, and the innovative frontier spirit that comes with it, can be said to have been inherited here.
The rationality of the shortest distance to the sound is a major point not only in terms of sound but also in terms of price. How much would it cost for an ordinary guitar like this to be handmade in a Tokyo workshop? It is this rational thinking, which eliminates unnecessary elements, that makes it possible to create instruments that are "player-friendly" in many respects.
Sneaking into T.S factory
T.S factory is located in downtown Tokyo, and is quite spacious for a workshop in Tokyo, with a variety of specialized tools on display. Even for the author, who is familiar with a number of workshops, the space is surprisingly large and well-stocked, and one can see tools that one would not find anywhere else. Some of the tools were of the "what is this used for? I was surprised to see such a wide range of tools.
There was also a large variety of lumber in the store. There were not only rare woods but also old ones. T.S factry's guitars are made from "just some lumber around here and there," but the age of "some lumber around here" is different. They pretend not to care about anything, but in fact, they are very particular about it.
Guitars being installed and guitars waiting to be installed.
This is a newly assembled body. Most of the models have a laminate top, which is made of multiple layers of wood, and this is said to give the ideal sound. You say "I don't care about anything," but you really do care about it.
There are also set-neck and semi-acoustic models. The body with red binding is something to be concerned about.
Semi-acoustic models after painting is completed. The model with red binding has a unique coloring. I am looking forward to seeing the finished product.
This is also a very unique body. The body was carved out of a stump. The annual ring around the position of the rear pickup is a distinguishing feature of the body. But once the parts are installed, they are hidden from view. T.S. Factory is particular about the parts that no one notices. Is that the aesthetic of T.S factory?
From another angle. You can see the three-dimensional annual rings that are unique to stumps under the top wood. The spirit of Leo can't help but be felt in his challenging attitude to incorporate a variety of woods without being bound by the conventional wisdom of common woods, and his talent in putting together a sound with these woods.
When I visited the next time, the painting had been completed. Once the paint is on, you can no longer tell that it is a stump.... But we are very much looking forward to seeing how the sound will be finished.