Yasuo Momose’s Departure

Craftsman Yasuo Momose, honorary technical advisor of Aska Ltd. and master builder of the Headway brand, passed away on March 19, 2024.

Last August, Momose was diagnosed with cancer and left Aska Ltd. to focus entirely on his treatment. He had been fighting the disease for about eight months.
Initially, his doctor gave him only two months to live but even after those two months passed, Momose often came to the factory and office when he was feeling well, surprising all the employees with his commendable mental strength. He was more concerned about his apprentices and guitars than his own health, and he left us with a lot to learn from him as a craftsman and a human being.

Although all of us at Aska and Deviser are deeply saddened by the loss, we will carry on with the origin, beliefs, and pride in Headway that Yasuo Momose left to his successors and continue to strive to produce the guitars that he set out to make.

We look forward to your continued patronage of Headway and all of our products. We would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to all of our users and all of our partners for their kindness and support during Mr. Momose’s lifetime.

About Yasuo Momose

Profession: String Instrument Maker.
Date of birth: 5th of May 1944.
Date of passing: 19th of March 2024 (80 Years old).
Position in Aska: Honorary Technical Advisor.

Work history
1962: Ida Furniture Ltd.
1964: Fuji Stringed Instrument Mfg.
1969: Hayashi Guitar Technical Section, Ltd.
1977: Technical Manager, Headway Ltd.
2004: Aska Ltd. Senior Managing Director
2023: Aska Ltd. Retirement

Masato Yasui, Kyouo Momose, Arata furihata

About Headway

This is the brand name of our acoustic guitars, which Momose has been involved in the production of since the launch of the brand. When the company was founded in 1977, the company name was “Headway Ltd.” but it was eventually differentiated and developed into “Deviser Ltd.” as the sales company and “Aska Ltd.” as the manufacturing company, the two companies have since cooperated to continue manufacturing and selling guitars. Headway’s acoustic guitars are available in a wide price range, from high-end models made by Aska Ltd. to low-priced models made overseas, and the Custom Series, including those made by Momose himself, are the top-of-the-line Headway brand models. The remaining two custom craftsmen, Masato Yasui and Arata Furihata will continue to produce the Custom Series guitars in Momose’s spirit, and will also manage the technical management of the entire Headway brand.

Making the slightest shaving and adjustment depending on the piece of wood.

Awarded in 2015, Master Craftsman of Shinshu

In 2015, Momose received the “Shinshu Master Craftsman” award from the Governor of Nagano Prefecture for his outstanding skills as a craftsman regarded as the best in his field in the prefecture. This award has been given since 1970 for the purpose of motivating skilled workers to improve their skills, raising the level of their skills, and enhancing their reputation in society.

FY 2015 “Master Craftsman of Shinshu” Yasuo Momose

Momose started his career as a guitar craftsman at the age of 20, and his skills were finally recognized after several decades as a guitar craftsman.

Momose’s work did not stop at acoustic guitars

Momose was involved not only in the production of acoustic guitars but also in the manufacture of many electric guitars and electric basses. Headway Ltd. started out as a factory producing acoustic guitars, but in the 1980s, when the popularity of electric guitars and basses increased, the company switched to manufacturing electric guitars, and Momose took the lead in establishing the foundation of electric guitar manufacturing methods and the brand.

Momose’s design of jigs and establishment of machining processes have become the foundation of the Aska workshop to this day, and in the electric guitar division, Momose’s spirit of guitar-making has been passed down along with his techniques to future generations.

Precise handwork that doesn’t compromise the quality no matter what

In this way, the guitars that Momose was involved with were of high quality but at affordable prices, leading to the later “Bacchus Handmade Guitars” and “Momose Custom Craft Guitars”.

The name “Bacchus Handmade Guitars”, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, was also given by Momose, who cited his own foreign language dictionary as the origin of the brand name, which described Bacchus as the “God of music” in that dictionary. Although it was pointed out later that Bacchus was the “god of alcohol”, he brought in the dictionary of the time to prove where he got the idea from making everybody laugh at the unlikely situation. This small story has been passed down in the company as a funny anecdote. Such a sincere and warm personality was Momose’s charm both as a guitar craftsman and as a human being.

By the beginning of the 2000s, Momose’s recognition and attention as a builder had grown, and in 2002 we launched Momose Custom Craft Guitars, an electric guitar and electric bass brand bearing his own name.
Momose Custom Craft Guitars was named after Mr. Momose but has been managed and led by Momose’s apprentices who are experts in electric guitars, meaning that while the man himself has left us, the quality of the brand that carries his name won’t change in his absence since his apprentices have been the ones in the care of it since the very beginning carrying both his spirit and the techniques they learned from him.

The actual dictionary that shows Bacchus as “The god of music”.

Yasuo Momose Image Gallery

Yasuo Momose’s Philosophy

Over the years, Momose built guitars with the support of many people. In the months leading up to his passing, he was in and out of the hospital repeatedly, valiantly trying to devise new bracing for acoustic guitars, and reviewing wood materials.
His enthusiasm, which kept him thinking about guitars even when away from work, is a living testament to Yasuo Momose, and reminds us one last time of his approach to guitars as a craftsman and his insatiable quest for excellence.

Finally, there is a phrase that Momose often said before his death: “I want people to take good care of their guitars, but not by always keeping them stored somewhere as a decoration. I want people to play them every day, even if only a little, and let their guitars develop their own sound over time”.

Since Headway’s inception, our philosophy has remained the same: “a guitar that can grow alongside you”, a guitar that is durable and can be played with confidence for a lifetime.

Yasuo Momose’s acoustic guitars will always have that “Yasuo Momose tone” and that “Yasuo Momose feel” to them, but it is you who will nurture them!
We hope that you will take good care of the guitars that Yasuo Momose spent his life creating and make sure to play them often.