The Taku Sakashta Guitar Project

February, 2013

The guitar making community lost a valued member on February 11, 2010, when Japanese-American luthier Taku Sakashta was killed outside of his workshop in Rohnert Park, California. I knew Taku for 15 years and was his colleague and friend. He was a uniquely hard-working individual as well as a luthier of rare talent. Those familiar with his work know that Taku brought a very Japanese aesthetic to it, such that his guitars were imbued with a cleanness of line that echoed the sensibility of the traditional Japanese rock garden. Taku’s workmanship was imaginative, original, and faultlessly CLEAN.

Taku’s murderer was caught, tried, and sent to prison for life. In the aftermath of these events Taku’s widow Kazuko sought to put proper closure to her husband’s affairs; so she asked a number of Taku’s closest luthier friends to take on and complete a number of guitar commissions that Taku had begun. I accepted one of these, and am close to being finished with it. It’s a guitar made mostly by me, with Taku’s woods, using Taku’s molds and templates. The result is the world’s only Somogyi-Sakashta guitar. It is presently in the hands of Larry Robinson, who is doing the final inlay work; he and Taku had already discussed an inlay motif before Taku died.

I don’t want to make this narrative very long; the whole point of it is to just announce the (almost) completion of this special project. But if anyone wants to know more of the facts and details please get in touch with me and I’ll give them the longer story.

Also, if anyone wishes to send a donation to Kazuko at this date, the gesture will be appreciated as much as if it had been offered nearer Taku’s death; the help is still needed. For those wishing to send a check or money-order, it should be made out to either Kazuko Sakashita or to Taku Sakashta Guitars (NOTE: ‘Sakashita’ is pronounced ‘Sakashta’): the account is in both these names. Donations should be sent to: Wells Fargo Bank c/o account No. 7478-148203, Elmwood branch, 2959 College Avenue, Berkeley, California, 94705. For those wishing to send a wire transfer of funds, it should be sent to the same account at the same bank, under the same name, and to the wire transfer-routing ABA number 121-000-248.

For those wishing to send woods, tools, materials, or anything else that cannot be sent into a bank account, luthier Tom Ribbecke has volunteered to be a repository of such more concrete donations, until they can be sold at auction together with Taku’s tools and woods. Todd Taggart of Allied Lutherie has generously volunteered to deal with that. Shipping of these donations should be made to Sakashta Memorial Fund, c/o Ribbecke Guitars, 498-D Moore Lane, Healdsburg, California, 75448. Tom gave me permission to also pass on his work phone number for anyone who feels the need to call him in regard to these matters: it is (707) 431-0125.

Sincerely, Ervin Somogyi