Kunisada 19thC Woodblock Print
"Thank you for the work you have put into this 2.4, it was worth the wait. Its sound is quintessential shakuhachi, even at barely audible dynamics—which are delightfully fluid in maintaining—the tone remains captivating and complex. For a seemingly light flute considering its length, the wide spectrum of sound and power it glides through seems to defy its own mass.
"Having only ever played a 1.8, I'm adjusting to the awkwardness of the required grip, but even so, I quickly found myself in the kind of intimate and immediate relationship with my sound that usually takes a lengthy practice session to slip into. The picture with the diagram you sent to resolve this issue was particularly helpful. It was exactly that Tsu hole that I was contorting my hand on rather than allowing the next joint to cover.
"Obviously you are way more qualified than me to judge a shakuhachi, and you don’t need my comments to know that you have made a superb example. Still, I’m compelled to laud because in my 19 years as a musician, it never occurred to me to commission an instrument to be made specifically for me prior to taking up the shakuhachi and learning of your unique approach, and I’m very glad I did."
See photos of Paul's 2.4': AM-24-103
"I just wanted to let you know that I received the 2.4' shakuhachi and haven't been able to put it down. It's wonderful! The low Ro resonates so powerfully with such a light breath. I've been playing though Choshi and I keep getting surprised once I come back around to otsu at the end.
"This really is a superb shakuhachi. I greatly appreciate the work you put into it.
"Thank you so much!"
See photos of Erik's 2.4': AM-24-81
"I am writing you to thank you for your beautiful creation that is my 2.3 Shakuhachi flute. It makes a beautiful sound, and I find it easier to play that I anticipated. I have been having some fine meditative, breathing playing sessions.
"I'm glad and honored to know you Monty."
See photos of Nard's 2.3': AM-23-50
"WOW! This is a great flute. I found it very easy to play. Of course, I still have to learn more about its little secrets and get used to playing it. I guess you might say it has to break me in.
"My first 1.6 was one that you made about 15 years ago, which I thought was good, but the new one really surpasses it by a mile. The sound is crisp and clear and I am amazed by how easy it was to play into the 3rd octave. You know this flute really opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes the difficulty to produce certain notes is not the player but the instrument being used.
"I also wanted to thank you for the extras you included, especially the note you wrote in the book. I want you to know that I am the one who should be grateful to you. I get great joy form playing your flutes, and I am very happy to have received this wonderful addition to my collection.
"Be Well and Many Thanks."
See photos of Dominic's 1.6': AP-16-37
"The Shakuhachi has been deeply respected in Japan for centuries as an instrument with its own path to transcendence, and I can definitely sense this deep respect in Monty's superb craftsmanship of my 1.8 Nobe Kan flute. For years I struggled with various shakuhachi from both Japan and elsewhere, managing to create only a small range of dynamics and definition of sounds, but once I got used to the generous size of the delectable piece of madaké he had selected for me, and trained my breath to make the flute sing, I knew this flute was in a totally different ballpark to the others.
"Thanks for your craftsmanship Monty, it brings me no end of Joy."
Listen to original compositions by Francis
"By the way, the flute that I received from you in March is absolutely wonderful. I've really enjoyed playing it. It is truly a work of art, as beautiful to listen to as it is to look at. Thank you again for your outstanding craftsmanship."
See photos of Rob's 1.8': AP-18-809
"I just absolutely love this instrument! First blow of Ro and I was all smiles. This instrument is exceptional. It has such deep soul and character in otsu and kan - meditative and mesmerizing. An absolute joy to play and it’s beautiful beyond words. Truly exceptional craftsmanship as I expected from you.
"Thank you Monty for creating an incredible 2.4 for me. Sincerely grateful."
See photos of Eric's 2.0': AP-24-100
"I have to tell you that I am very happy with this flute! I am very impressed of the quality. The intonation is very accurate with large envelope of sound. Compared with my previous flute, it is incredebly easy to play precise frequencies without unwanted blowing-sounds. You did a great job! I have this great confident feeling of becoming more and more skillful when I keep practicing, which was not so strong until now. I know that the most important factor of a genuine sound is the shakuhachi player. However, your flute shows me a vast horizon of possibilities.
"Now, after some days of practice with your flute I am watching myself falling more and more in love with the sound and the appearence of this instrument. I could not resist to spend all my free time playing. The first blow was a bit unfamiliar. Playing today I cannot believe I am blowing these beautiful sounds so effortlessly. The silence after playing the last note before taking the next breath drags me into omniferous stillness. It's marvellous!
"Your work motivates me quite a lot. Thank you for gifting me with this great instrument."
See photos of Ivan's 1.8': AM-18-714
"Monty, The flute arrived! You truly outdid yourself on this one. Exactly what I was asking for. Beautiful sound and very easy to play. Thank you."
See photos of Eric's 2.0': AP-20-49
"Monty, The flute arrived today, and it is breathtaking. A beautiful piece of work and an incredible instrument. I love the markings on the bamboo, and the heft and balance is wonderful. I am thrilled. The sound is extraordinary--the breathiness and delicacy of the voice.
"Thank you for your artistry and care."
See photos of Tony''s 1.8': AM-18-488
"Monty, As I breath into my new Ni Shaku that you made for me, I'm filled with its beautiful resonating sound. It is loud, full and well rounded and at the same time soft and gentle as the sound fade into nothingness. You have created for me something that comes to life when interacting with it. At first when I opened the flute case and unwrapped it I was amazed at how beautiful this special piece of Madake is. Even when I'm not playing the flute I sit and look at it and hold it, there is just something very magical about it, I find it very hard to put down, It feels like there is a person standing there before me. The flute really emanates something very special about it.
"I truly have to commend you, not only on this flute but for all of the flutes I have gotten from you over the many years. All of the flutes I have gotten from you play with ease, joy, and glory, I'm truly grateful to be a part of them, they are a blessing to have. I have also bought many other high end flutes from other master makers in Japan and I always gravitate towards your flutes.
"This Ni Shaku that you made for me is a blessing to hold in my hands. I'm humbly thankful for this flute that you crafted for me, as well as the story of this rare Madake that you shared with me. My words in this message only scratch the surface of how I feel, not only for this flute but for your mastery of creating the best shakuhachi, and for being a humble and kind human being.
"Thank you Monty for your friendship over the years, and my you be blessed in all that you do. I greatly appreciate you."
"Hello again Monty, Sorry to message you so much but I just had to stop playing to tell you this Ni shaku is outstanding. It's unfolding itself to me, it's voice is so beautiful. I have to say the quality of this flute is beyond my expectations. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
"You have blessed me with greatness. I'm very greatful."
See photos of Andre's 2.0': AP-20-46
"The shakuhachi arrived today. What a joy! What a beautiful flute! I´m missing the words to say how great it looks and plays. The photos your sent gave me somewhat of an impression, but, now holding it in my hands, it is far more than I ever imagined. This shakuhachi is an absolute masterpiece—a work of art embodying the essence of the Zen aesthetic ofwabi sabi.
"I´m absolutly ecatatic about this flute. Immediately with the first sound, the space inside opens up. The tone is bright, full and clear, even in the smallest shades. Each tone is absolutely brilliant— both strong and present 'til the softest breath.With that said, there are no right words to express what it means to hold this shakuhachi in my hands, take it to my lips and breath.
"While the jiari you made for me is a true master level instrument, I´m also looking for a jinash-style shakhachi as welli. Please don´t think "What a bad guy; he gets such a brilliant flute and directly new wishes are coming". It is only an idea, because now I have this 1.8 as well as a 2.4 from you. I love the deeper tones, so a 2.8 of that same quality could be something for the future. Maybe you will find such a beautiful bamboo like the 1.8. If so, please remember me!
"Monty, thank you very much for your great work!"
See photos of Dan's 1.8': AP-18-540
"Monty, I would have written sooner, but I wanted to get to "know" my 2.4 that you made for me. I've had it for about 3 weeks now.
"First, I want to tell you how impressed I was with the whole process: you kept me advised as to how things were going, you responded promptly to my emails, you didn't even cash my check until you had sent my flute. Your business practices are those of a true, honest, dedicated craftsman. Thank you!
"I LOVE the flute. It is beautiful looking. It has a sweet, full, rich, complex sound, and blows easily. I have long fingers so, it fits my hands beautifully. Thank you very much for your beautiful work, and dedication to the art."
See photos of Ron's 2.7': AJ-27-2
"Several years ago when I first began to play shakuhachi I purchased a root end 1.8 from you. It has been my principle instrument ever since. I recently returned from a shakuhachi "pilgrimage" to Japan, and I took the 1.8' along. On this journey, we visited several players and makers. I tried many flutes, and did buy a couple from noted makers, but they do not play as well as the one you made for me. After weeks of working with these other instruments, I am back to your 1.8. It is an exceptional instrument having great strength and a spirit that encourages me to learn with it. It is my loyal and faithful friend, and has not been replaced.
"Now a confession. I have never been able to adequately play the 2.0 you sent me, as determined as I was. I even considered selling it at one point, and it has been in its bag most of the time. When I resolved the problem I was having blowing the 1.8, I pulled out the Ni Shaku and it plays wonderfully! I would say that I was not ready for it until now. Last June I showed it to Riley Lee and Kaoru Kakizakai and they agreed that it was an excellent and beautiful flute. I really does sound gorgeous, with fine resonance and clarity. Now I can work on making it even better.
"As I have told you, my life is now devoted to the shakuhachi, and with the combination of my teacher and Tokuyama's scores, life is very, very good.
"My compliments and gratitude, Monty."
"The 2.4' arrived and is incredible handsome. I am thrilled by its appearance. I couldn't have asked for more. I've been playing the shakuhachi off and on through out the day looking for what I call the "sweet-spot" (which to me is a combination of shakuhachi and player). The sound was there, but I couldn't find the "sweet-spot" until about 9:30 PM, when suddenly, as I was blowing a note, it arrived. It was so perfect that at first it startled me. I didn't even know what note I was playing (seriously), that's how startled I was. (Turns out it was Chi.) When I gathered myself up and played up and down the scale, I became utterly lost in the shakuhachi.
See photos of Jim's 2.4' AP-24-74
"I received the shakuhachi yesterday and have been playing it ever since. It is a joy to play and I love the sound it produces. It is beyond my expectations. The shakuhachi not only sounds good, it also is a beautiful looking instrument. The whole process of buying the flute was very easy, and it arrived in Sydney less than a week after you sent it.
Thank you so much!"
"Thank you! The flute you made for me is incredible. I did not believe, for the last 20 years, that I could ever play such beautiful, evocative tones. Last night taught me otherwise. I played simple pieces and was entranced by the subtle beauty of the sounds from your Tai Hei Shakuhachi. It plays all by itself without my conscious effort. I did not realize that my struggle all these years was based on playing the wrong flute. Notes and nuances that I used to fight to achieve simply leaped from the flute. No kidding. I am looking forward to years of enjoyment and enlightenment. Again, thanks so much."
Joseph A. Laronge
"I am very grateful because it has been five months since I received my shakuhachi from you. Since that time I have enjoyed playing on it and am amazed at the sound it produces. For years now I have been trying to achieve a true tone on the shakuhachi. I have been told that this goal would take a long, long time to reach. I tried so many different ways of playing and could just not understand what I was doing wrong. Since receiving your shakuhachi, my feelings for the flute have changed very much. I do not feel so tired after playing, my mouth is more relaxed, my fingers can feel the shakuhachi vibrate. I can really appreciate this instrument for its sound and Buddhistic influence. Thank you again, Monty, for all you have given me."
"I have been playing the flute you sent to me over the summer (I bought the advanced student model.). The quality of the instrument is outstanding. I am sure you get outlandish praise all the time, judging by the quality of the flute I have now, but I am really stricken by the sounds that come out of the thing. I have never played a more responsive instrument in all my woodwind days. The tone and resonance in their infinite variations are mindblowing. Thank you so much, it is an endless joy to play."
"It took some time but now that I finally have my own computer it became possible for me to thank you for my beautiful instrument by sending this mail. It's been three years now since I got my 2.4 pro.rootend model and I must say it's all that I hoped for: perfect pitch, good soundbalance between notes, ability to easily play a whole variety of great colors, good soundprojection together with great looks (I have to thank mother nature for that though you've chosen this piece of bamboo). As a professional percussionist I've been using the shakuhachi whenever there was space for it, so I took the instrument to different theaters in the Netherlands and Germany; we even played a tune at the North Sea Jazz Festival( the largest indoor jazz festival in the world) this year!. Apart from the professional side it's a perfect tool for meditation and breathing exercise and since spiritual growth is my main drive in this life, the shakuhachi became an beloved companion along the way. Suffice to say that I'm very grateful for my bamboo flute and I hope that people around the world will keep on finding peace and inspiration in playing on and listening to the beautiful bamboo flutes that you make.
Ignas te Wiel
"Yesterday evening the shakuhachi arrived safe and sound. What an instrument! I am amazed and delighted.The photos didn't do it
justice. It far exceeded my wildest expectations. I like everything, the colour, the beautiful inlaid bindings, and especially the shape. It is incredibly responsive and a pleasure to play. The low "Ro" is superb, pianissimo or fortissimo with equal ease and clarity. Now the onus is on me to do justice to such a wonderful instrument. You can be sure that it will receive the care and respect deserving of a shakuhachi with the spirit of Masuda Shuho, and the heart of it's creator, artist/craftsman extraordinaire, Monty Levenson.
The two-part shakuhachi bag is equally well-made and beautiful, a perfect match for my new shakuhachi."I am grateful beyond words. A million thanks for everything."
Shakuhachi player. Bangkok Thailand
"Well it has been two weeks or so since I received the shakuhachi
you made for me and I can't put it down! At the ripe old age of fourty
and having been around the world a few times, it takes a lot to truly impress me.
I must say the the shakuhachi you made me has gotten my attention. From
the moment I received my well wrapped Fedx box until now long after I
opened it, I have been impressed.
"I have just received a root end 2.8 from Monty. It is a truely wonderful instrument with a rich tone that seems almost infinitely mallable from a breathy, hollow sound to a reedy buzz and and with a great dynamic range... I don't want to put it down!
"Upon playing my first professional-level Tai Hei shakuhachi, I realized that it is much better than I had imagined it might be. I decided to purchase a professional model Tai Hei shakuhahchi because of the excellent reponse I received from the student model I had. The flute fed me as much information as I was giving it, allowing me to navigate its bore very easily, a reciprocal arrangment. This new flute is even more communicative. It plays and feels great- a quick, full, and even response throughout all registers. I feel humbled by it, to be honest. The pictures on the website really did not do the instrument justice—it is so beautiful. Thank you for making such a wonderful piece. I hope to do it justice over the coming years."
Michael Andrew Doherty
"I received my stunningly beautiful 1.5' yesterday and, to what extent I am able, put it through its paces. What a joy for a rank beginner to be able to pretty much play two octaves without hassle, right out of the box. It is sweet with just the right amount of sadness. My wife says my playing is pretty sad any way :) Thank you for the time and energy and care you put in to creating this gorgeous work of art. I love it, and I know that everyone who will see it and hear it, will feel the same. It was worth the wait. Everything, right down to the utaguchi cover, is subtle and elegant. And I have to say, I really like the small size. It feels very comfortable to me — it's the perfect fit for me. BTW, I printed out the information from the web site about this 35+ year old madaké bamboo. It's such a great story to go with the flute. It really has a great feel. I love holding it. Anyway, I'm thrilled. Thanks, Monty!"
"I thought I would write you a quick email and let you know how happy I am with your shakuhachi. I now know why people buy your cast bore Pro models and why I should have bought one years ago. This shakuhachi is easy to play, responds easily between registers, has great volume and tone, and plays softly as well."I first started taking shakuhachi lessons 11 years ago after meeting Riley Lee at a small concert in Bangalow, New South Wales, Australia. Well, I was hooked, but was not getting the sound I really wanted and found second octaves frustrating. Anyway, I persisted for perhaps five years and then got frustrated and went back to playing saxophones. But the interest remained, so I bought several long Shakuhachi (2.3 to 2.8) and played Ro and Long Tones as part of my morning meditation. Then a few years ago I decided to start again in earnest, but the earlier problems still remained. I bought a few more old shakuhachi which had great sound (sometimes) but still exhibited problems.
"To date I must have purchased about 20 or so shakuhachi from various makers, most of which have either been given away or sold. Why had I not saved myself a lot of money, time, effort and frustration, and purchased one of your cast bore instruments? I was fascinated by the whole process and mystique of shakuhachi making by the old masters, and mistakenly I thought that a cast bore shakuhachi was a plastic shakuhachi in bamboo clothing. Well, I have now been enlightened and I thank you for making such fine well-rounded shakuhachi."
"The 2.1' arrived a little after noon Friday. Wow! It is beautiful. And amazingly expressive. I was concerned that it might be harder to play than my vintage 1.8', but it is easier in all ways. It is easier for me to play quietly (important for me when I accompany spoken haiku or tanka) and to sound the highest notes. It can be played boldly and with great resonance. It responds well to windy or explosive attacks. And it is actually easier to hold because of the ergonomic hole placement. I am so glad that I decided to get one of your 2.1's. I am tremendously pleased with the instrument and really mean these things."
"I received the shakuhachi yesterday and I am astounded by it. I should have purchased one of these from you long ago. I just played Takiochi and hit the meri notes with an ease that I could not with other flutes. This shakuhachi plays easier and sounds better than my flute from Japan that was 5 times the price. I greatly appreciate it. To say I am happy with this flute is a gross understatement."
"I received the 1.8 shakuhachi today and I can certainly say that your website pics really didn't do it justice. What an instrument! The lacquered bindings turned out a reddish brown, which I love, and seem to blend with the flute perfectly. It's an easy player with nice solid feel that really sounds great. I'm happy to report that it's everything I'd hoped for. Far beyond any that I've had the chance to play. My only regret is that I didn't purchase it sooner. Thanks so much for your fine work on this shakuhachi."
|Shakuhachi: The Sound of Nature|
|Origins & History of the Shakuhachi|
|Bamboo Used for Shakuhachi|
|Precision Cast Bore Technology|
Professional Root-End Shakuhachi
Jinashi - Natural Bore Flutes
Advanced Student Level Shakuhachi
Student Level Shakuhachi
Shakuhachi Headjoint for the Silver Flute
|How Shakuhachi are Graded|
|Shakuhachi Repair & Restoration|
|Frequently Asked Questions|
Precision Bore Shakuhachi
Jinashi - Natural Bore Shakuhachi
|How to Order|