Tai Hei Shakuhachi are made by Monty H. Levenson
who maintains workshops at his home in the hills of Mendocino County,
California as well as in Japan at the small farming village of Kitagawa
(Tokushima Prefecture) on Shikoku Island. Monty has been making
shakuhachi continuously since 1970 and has produced over 5,000 instruments
In 1984, Monty developed the precision cast bore technology which
enabled him to create affordable, high-quality shakuhachi made of
bamboo. Tai Hei Shakuhachi are now being used by traditional teachers
in Japan for their students and professional musicians worldwide
as their personal instruments.
Since it's inception twenty years ago, the precision cast bore technology
has been widely emulated by makers throughout the world. In 1992,
Monty trained the master craftsman Masuda Shuho in this process
and helped to retool his workshop in Kawasaki, Japan. This partnership
was cut short by Masuda's untimely passing in 2000.
While self-taught as a maker, Monty Levenson has collaborated with
many prominent players and craftsmen. He works closely with John
Kaizan Neptune whose pioneering research in the acoustical physics
of the shakuhachi has been incorporated into the precision cast
bore and jinashi flutes he makes. Monty has also learned all aspects
of harvesting and curing madaké bamboo from Nakamura Ginetsu
who has been making shakuhachi in Osaka for over 40 years and is
an authority on the subject. He has also teamed up with Roderic
Cameron, one of the world's premiere makers of European Baroque
flutes, to develop technologies related to the replication of historical
and modern virtuoso instruments. These endeavors have resulted in
a unique laser tracking lathe as well as a computer interface for
measuring interior bore profiles with the utmost accuracy.
2002 witnessed a number of breakthroughs at Tai Hei Shakuhachi including
the manufacture of jinashikan - long, natural bore instruments -
and the Shakulute or shakuhachi headjoint for the silver flute.
In 2004, Tai Hei Shakuhachi Publishing was officially launched with
the aim of preserving and expanding access to information on shakuhachi
craft work and the honkyoku tradition outside of Japan. Several
books, sheet music scores, CDs and videos are currently in print.