When you think of outrageously oversized custom electric guitars – the kind that get chiropractors salivating – a few prominent examples probably come to mind.
There's Jared Dines, and his infamous Ormsby 18-String guitar (not to mention his even more monstrous 20-string Mountain Dew Meme guitar). There's also the 17-string bass guitar – itself a knock-off of Dines' Ormsby model – that Elwood Francis used at a November 2022 ZZ Top show in Huntsville, Alabama.
Then, of course, there's the backbreaking guitar king, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick famous for taking the stage with a custom, quintuple-neck Hamer.
Be sure to – if you weren't aware of him already – add Masayoshi Takanaka to this list.
A legendary fusion guitarist, revered in his native Japan for his extensive contributions to popular and rock music in that country over the decades – especially the late '70s and early '80s – Masayoshi Takanaka also has a famous fondness for ludicrous custom guitars, the most famous of which is his incredibly campy, and incredibly awesome, surfboard electric guitar.
You can see Takanaka take the ungainly six-string for a spin during a 2008 performance of his song, Beleza Pura, below.
Given the sheer size of the thing, it's amazing how smooth Takanaka's phrasing is, especially in the more rapid-fire sections of the samba and bossa nova-influenced song, which can be found on the guitarist's appropriately named 1978 LP, Brasilian Skies.
The whole thing, though, is worth watching just to see Takanaka's shit-eating grin when he enters the stage at around the 2:27 mark, holding the guitar. And who can blame him?
"It's hard to play, as expected," Takanaka said of the monstrous six-string in a Japanese TV interview. "I just play this because I wonder if people watching me will find it fun, but I wonder if some percentage of them think I'm stupid," he continued, laughing.
"It weighs about 6 kilograms (~13.2 pounds)," he went on, "so if I play two songs with this guitar at a concert, I will get a little more exhausted."
Incredibly, though, the surfboard axe might not even be the craziest guitar Takanaka's ever used on stage. That distinction most likely falls to a custom lap-steel model the guitarist used prominently during a performance of the song Left Alone.
This guitar, mind you, has a fully-functioning miniature model train set on its body, which runs while Takanaka plays – because why not?
Watching these entertaining videos, it might be easy to dismiss Takanaka as less a serious guitarist than a novelty act, but that would be a mistake. Indeed, Santana shared a bill with Takanaka during their 1981 tour of Japan, with Carlos Santana even inviting Takanaka to take part in some electrifying onstage jams.
YouTuber T2norway's mini-documentary on Takanaka highlights some excellent starting points in the guitarist's discography, such as his seminal 1979 album, All of Me, his 1981 fusion/fantasy concept album, The Rainbow Goblins, or his amazing, self-explanatory 1978 cut, Star Wars Samba.
Whether writing about goblins or the beach – or playing a typical Stratocaster or a guitar in the shape of a surfboard – Takanaka imbues his music with an unmistakable, endearingly melodic six-string touch. His discography is well worth exploration.