Claescaster

Tag: Martin D45 clone

How to… carve a bridge

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973K. Yairi YW-1000 a Martin D-45 copy made in Kani, Japan in 1973

It’s been a while since I posted anything in my little DIY series, How to…, like me previous post about How to… reset a Levin neck or remove a bridge. I did carve a little floating bridge for my Levin 65 over a year ago but now it was finally time to carve a proper ebony bridge for my K. Yairi YW-1000.

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973I thought about getting a pre-made Allparts ebony bridge at first but felt that it would be more fun to make one myself from scratch instead. I ordered some rosewood and ebony blanks from Madinter, it thought it could be good to have some extra at home, and got started. First I removed the old bridge, it had two screws that was a bit tricky to get out but eventually I figured it out. I removed the bridge with a spatula that I heated on a normal clothes iron, it works like a charm every time. Start in a corner and work yourself towards the middle and be careful when it starts to loosen up so you don’t break it off and chip the top, it should come off slowly and without force. I planed the ebony blank and then used a cabinet scraper to get it even. I copied the old bridge and drilled the holes straight away. It felt easier to do this before the bridge was shaped, it would also have saved me a lot of time in case I messed up the holes and had to start all over again. Luckily everything went fine.

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973Once the bridge was sawed in to a good size, I made it a couple of millimetres bigger on all sides, I drew the outlines of the final shape. I mounted the bridge blank on a piece of scrap wood with two screws so I could more easily work all around with the bridge firmly secured. I used a chisel to carve out the shape on the sides and from the top down towards the wings. I got a good round shape with a half round rasp and then it was just a hell of a lot of sanding to remove all the lines from the rasp and to get it smooth and nice.

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973I glued the bridge on and after 3 days I strung up both E-strings and used a drill as a saddle so I could move it around until I got the intonation right, I forgot to take a picture of that. I marked out the saddle and then sawed a 3 mm slot. Next step was to create a bone saddle to match and string it up. Easy peasy, well it was a hard days work but it was easier that I thought.

K. Yairi YW-1000

1973 K. Yairi YW-1000K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973, Taken from my Instagram

I did it, finally I found myself a K. Yairi YW-1000. This has been a goal of mine for years, or at least since October 2013. You never see them for sale in Europe and to buy one from the US or Japan would set you back at least $1500-2000 plus import taxes and the risk that it gets confiscated in customs, some countries are really picky about Brazilian rosewood crossing their boarders. This K. Yairi YW-1000 was made in the 48th year of Emperor Shōwa, meaning 1973, I love the Emperor based serial numbers. I will write a lot more about this guitar when I got it all set up, I need to re-glue the bridge first.

K. Yairi

K.Yairi YW-1000
The most beautiful Martin D-45 copies in the world, a 1976 K. Yairi YW-1000

I’m extremely happy with the two Morris I have and think that Terada is one of the better acoustic guitar builders in Japan. Having said that, I think everyone that is in to Japanese acoustics dream of owning a K. Yairi, at least I do. Unfortunately they are a bit too expensive for me, I’m sure they are worth it but you can get an old Martin, Gibson or Guild for that money. One thing that I really like with Yairi is that they use the year of the Emperor of Japan to determine the production year of their instruments, how awesome is that. See the list below.


Good materials are hard to find so it’s better to make guitars through limited production by hand instead of mass production. Trees are very important “precious” things so we should make good use of them. Guitars made with “heart” are the best use of trees.  Kazuo Yairi

When was my Yairi made?
By reading the number stamped on the heel block of your Yairi, you can tell in which year it was made. The first two numbers correspond to the year of the Emperor of Japan at that time, see chart below. The second two numbers refer to the month of production. Taken from The Fellowship of Acoustics

A.D.       Emperor                Year
1970      Shōwa                    45
1971                                      46
1972                                      47
1973                                      48
1974                                      49
1975                                      50
1976                                      51
1977                                      52
1978                                      53
1979                                      54
1980                                      55
1981                                      56
1982                                      57
1983                                      58
1984                                      59
1985                                      60
1986                                      61
1987                                      62
1988                                      63
1989       Heisei                    1
1990                                      2
1991                                      3
1992                                      4
1993                                      5
1994                                      6
1995                                      7
1996                                      8
1997                                      9
1998                                      10
1999                                      11
2000                                      12
End of Emperor Date Code
2001                                       01
2002                                       02
2003                                       03
2004                                       04
etc.

Emperor Shōwa and future Emperor Heisei on 10 April 1959
Emperor Shōwa and future Emperor Heisei on 10 April 1959

How to… fit a LR Baggs M1

Morris W-40 1973 My new Martin D-45 copy, a Morris W-40 Made in Japan by Terada in 1973

There was a bit of work that needed to be done when I first got my Morris W-40. First of all I polished the frets, cleaned her up and oiled the fretboard. Then I needed to take care of the action which was too low, imagine that on an acoustic guitar. There was a slight forward-bow on the neck which made a bit of rattle when I played solos in the middle of the neck, at least when I hit the strings hard. I adjusted the trussrod and gave her a slight bow the other way, meaning that cowboy chords still sound beautiful and the action is still very low for being an acoustic around the 12th fret. I changed the machine heads to a pair of Grover tulip copies in gold, maybe not the best ones but it looked so much nicer than the original plain ones in chrome. Then I fitted a strap button in gold, I can’t stand having to tie the strap to the head of the guitar. I’m still waiting for the Nitrocellulose lacquer I ordered so I can fill in the three dents on the back of the neck, which is going to be a new adventure since I have never done anything like it before. Last step was to fit my new L.R. Baggs M1 soundhole pickup. I’m getting pretty used to fit endpin jacks on acoustic guitars now so it was pretty straight forward even though it was a bit more hard work on this one. I’m not sure if it was because the wood is older, or the type of wood used in this, it’s Brazilian Rosewood and maple in the 3-piece back, Now it plays and sounds amazing, I’m really pleased with it.

Fitting LR Baggs M1
I prefer to fit the endpin jacks by hand, with a small round file and then even out the hole with sandpaper when it’s big enough

Morris W-40 1973
Morris W-40 1973

Morris W-40 Made in Japan by Terada in 1973, just look at that Brazilian Rosewood and maple 3-piece back