10 Questions We Ask Everyone

Kazutaka Ijuin (Japan)

Fifteen years spent in the light of Brian May Red Special

Kazutaka Ijuin is one of the most famous luthiers worldwide who dedicated more than a decade and a half to create perfect replicas of the famous Old Lady created by Queen guitarist and his father in the middle 60s. In 2007-2008 the Brian May Super guitar was developed and was a joint development design wise and technically between Greg Fryer in Australia and Kazutaka Ijuin in Japan. The instrument was manufactured in Japan between 2008 and 2010 and was sold worldwide by Brian May Guitars/House Music based in London. Queen drummer Roger Taylor owns an uncommon example of Kazutaka’s work, a Super in black, a present from Brian. We met Kazutaka in Anaheim, Los Angeles, during the last NAMM winter edition: he was there to present his first original creation, the Kz One Standard. If you were wondering if Red Special evolution was possible, no doubt that Kazutaka has the answer…  


GUITARS EXCHANGE: How did you end up becoming, or start out as, a luthier?
Kazutaka Ijuin: I decided to become a guitar builder after listening to Queen music and to know Brian May’s Red Special.

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Are you a jobbing artist or a solitary artisan?
Kazutaka Ijuin: I am a solitary artisan.

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Select one and talk about: soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop…or other. What was the last record or CD you bought? And listened to?
Kazutaka Ijuin: I haven’t bought any CD’s recently.

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Kz Guitar Works is worldwide famous for its Brian May’s Red Special Replicas. When did you started manufacturing that model?
Kazutaka Ijuin:  When I was 21 and an apprentice at a guitar craft school. I fell in love with its unique sound and story.

GUITARS EXCHANGE: We do know there’s an agreement between Kz and Brian May Guitars: you can only sell your replicas in Japan…is it true? If so, it can only mean that your replicas are pretty good. What’s your ‘secret’?
Kazutaka Ijuin:  No, it isn’t. We deliver worldwide. This is largely due to the fact that we mainly sell the “Kz One Standard”. The secret behind our quality, well, that remains a secret…

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Your new model ‘Kz One Standard’ was presented in Anaheim during the last NAMM winter edition. What inspires you to design and manufacture a new guitar? Is this your first original model (not a replica)?
Kazutaka Ijuin:  We wanted to make a guitar like the Red Special. However, we wanted to make it more accessible to more people. We hope the Kz One Standard well be the next world “standard”.

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Should we consider the KZ One Standard as the evolution of the Red Special? If so, in which way did you get it? Ergonomics, electronics, woods or what?
Kazutaka Ijuin:  Yes it is in almost everyway: different wood, different electronics, different neck, different hardware, but still the Red Special sound.

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Tell us something about the pickups onboard your guitars: are they handmade or what? Do you look for a given sound for any particular reason?
Kazutaka Ijuin:  The pick ups are from Adeson, a British pickup maker. We look for the Red Special sound, as it inspired me to become a guitar builder.

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Is the guitar sound in the wood or in the pickups?
Kazutaka Ijuin:  Both, just as important as its semi-hollow body.

...ONE BODY...  

7. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Electric or acoustic?
Kazutaka Ijuin:  Electric!

...ONE NECK...  

8. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What is the secret behind your choice of wood?
Kazutaka Ijuin:  Honduras mahogany looks and sounds good.


9. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Why should we consider luthier-crafted guitars as a viable option to guitars made by the large manufacturers?
Kazutaka Ijuin:  It is better to offer visiting guitarists a wider option of guitars to check out.

10. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Who plays your guitars? Who would you like to have play your guitars?
Kazutaka Ijuin:  We have just started, so only a few play our guitar, however we look forward to expanding the range of people who play the “Kz One Standard”.