We're all aware of the guitar-making process, but until it’s witnessed first-hand – or unless you’ve embarked on an ill-fated attempt to build your own electric guitar – it’s sometimes easy to take for granted the sheer level of expertise that goes into producing these instruments.
This is especially true for custom builds constructed by highly trained, expertly skilled luthiers, who have taken slabs of wood from their flagship form to the final product with nothing but their hands, tools, knowledge and patience.
Kanji Kawabata is one such example of a craftsman flying the flag for hand-built electric guitars, and his dedicated Instagram page – which painstakingly documents every step of the build – is a must-follow for all six-string fans.
Why? Well, not only is it an intriguing insight into the process behind constructing a guitar from scratch, it’s also hypnotically relaxing.
It helps that Kawabata’s builds are immaculate. Expertly constructed and exquisitely finished, the Japanese luthier’s models are mostly rooted in a traditional Stratocaster-style vibe, though arrive in all sorts of forms.
Single-pickup S models, standard Strat-style creations with curious single-coil arrangements, guitars with color-matched headstocks and more all make up Kawabata’s portfolio, which also experiments with a plethora of finishes.
Red, Blue, White, Sunburst and Metallic Gold are usually found strapped to the guitars, which have also been known to sport an intriguing “Wasabi Burst” colorway for extra aesthetic intrigue.
Kawabata’s clientele speaks volumes of his abilities. Berklee College tutor and John Mayer’s former guitar teacher Tomo Fujita is perhaps his biggest proponent, and the owner of numerous signature guitars built by Kawabata.
It is usually these signature guitars that receive the most attention on the account, and whose development gets fully documented. From hand-sculpting the body contours to forming the neck profile by eye, no stone is left unturned by Kawabata, who painstaking crafts necks, nuts, fretboards, and more in his workshop.
As we said, each step is recorded and uploaded to Instagram, meaning followers of Kawabata can get an insight into the lengths such luthiers go to in order to master their craft. That, and it can make for a welcome addition to an otherwise chaotic timeline.
The added bonus is, since they get shipped off to Fujita, we can hear them in action once they’re complete. And, as you’d expect, they sound just as good as they look.
Stratocaster-style guitars are just part of Kawabata’s build list, though. A scroll further down his page will reveal an equally well-finished build inspired by a '60s-era Gibson SG Junior, as well as a gnarly-looking bass guitar that looks well-equipped for metal.
Head over to Kanji Kawabata’s Instagram page to follow his latest builds.