Tak Matsumoto, Japan's biggest rock star and one of the world's foremost guitarists, dropped by the Gibson Custom Shop Tuesday afternoon in Nashville, Tennessee. Traveling all the way from his home in Tokyo especially to visit the Custom Shop, Tak toured the plant, stayed for lunch, and tried out several variations of Tak's wildly successful Signature Les Paul model.
"I just came here to say hi to Gibson," Tak said, speaking in part with the help of a translator who travels with him when he's in America. "I started working with Gibson almost 10 years ago. I thought it can't be. I've always loved the thick sound of the Les Paul."
As the frontman for best-selling Japanese rock band B'z, Tak Matsumoto helped design his first Gibson signature model in 1999. That gorgeous, canary yellow Les Paul would make him the first Asian artist to have a signature model Gibson.
"I didn't believe it was happening," Tak says today. "But dreams come true. I was very, very proud. We communicated [about the design] between Nashville and Tokyo."
Since the first Tak Matsumoto Signature model became a runaway seller in Asia, Gibson and Tak have paired to produce three more Tak-inspired Custom Shop models, including most recently, the Tak Matsumoto Double Cutaway in Cherry. His Les Paul model was also adapted into an Epiphone Les Paul for sale in the U.S.
When Matsumoto leaves Nashville on Wednesday, he'll fly to Los Angeles, where he owns a recording studio. There, Tak is set to begin recording his next album, which will commemorate the 20th anniversary of B'z.
"We have 23 songs now," Tak says. "It'll take us a year to record the album, and we're planning a big tour all over Japan."
Calling Los Angeles his second home, Tak Matsumoto spends roughly three months a year on the West Coast and takes inspiration from American guitarists and fellow Gibson artists Joe Perry, Zakk Wylde, and Slash.
Visit Tak Matsumoto and his band here.