ESTABLISHMENT OF HEADWAY
In the mid 1970s the Japanese acoustic guitar industry began to expand, thanks in part to the influence of such popular folk singers and groups as Yoshida Takuto and Kaguyahime. However, it was still hard to find an affordable, decent quality acoustic guitar in the Japanese market at the time. The domestic guitar industry as yet lacked the knowledge and experience to build quality acoustic instruments.
In 1977, Yatsuzuka Kei and Momose Yasuo, a young and enthusiastic guitar builder, launched Headway Guitars. Their quest was to provide second-to-none quality and world-class tone, comparable to the most prestigious and expensive guitars from the US. The very first thing they did upon launching the company was a thorough investigation of the Martin HD-28. They disassembled it to learn the construction techniques cultivated over many years by the pioneers. More importantly, rather than merely copying the design, through making various further improvements they established their own methods of acoustic guitar building, generating a unique tonal character
The first fruit of this labor was our long-selling HD-115 model, released at the close of the 1970s. Headway soon began to draw awareness and garner a great reputation in the market, often being referred to as “Japan’s best acoustic brand”.
FIRE AND DISCONTINUATION OF PRODUCTION
In 1983, having suffered a fire at the facility that resulted in the loss of jigs and all important tools for the manufacture of acoustic guitars, Headway had no choice but to cease production.
In 1984, the company was rebuilt under the new name Deviser. Our focus became building electric guitars and basses, as the popularity of hard rock and heavy metal music at the time was driving an increase in demand for these instruments. We launched new brands ― Riverhead in the 80s, Bacchus in the 90s, and more. Deviser also began OEM production of other guitar brands, which greatly contributed to further raising our quality standards. We tried and adopted many new techniques including neck-through electric guitar construction, building six-string electric basses, development of a new truss rod system, and much more.
RESUMING ACOUSTIC GUITAR PRODUCTION
While we were steadily enhancing our electric guitar and bass business year after year, we also became aware of a gradually growing demand for Headway acoustic guitars.
It was in 1999 that we received a letter from an enthusiastic Headway fan. He ran an online forum for Headway users, who gathered there to share information about old Headway acoustics from the 70s and 80s made before the fire and shutdown. We were most impressed with the online forum, by how much they clearly loved our acoustic guitars, and by how desperate they were for Headway reproductions.
The existence of this forum deeply moved Yatsuzuka Kei and Momose Yasuo, and they were inspired to resume the production of Headway acoustic guitars at long last. Shortly after making this decision, Momose set to work rebuilding all the tools and jigs for acoustic guitar production. Headway finally returned to the industry with the relaunch of the HD-115 in a limited run of 128pcs.
While still making guitars himself, Momose has embraced every opportunity to pass on his vast expertise to the next generation of young builders. In the 2010s, Headway launched the Aska Team Built and Standard series, made by younger builders who trained for many years under Momose’s mentorship.
In order to deliver Momose’s quality to a wider range of people, we also produce the more affordable Universe and JT series, with quality control supervised by experienced builders. Meanwhile, Momose continues to build his own Custom Shop guitars to suit the most discerning guitarists in search of their ideal instruments.