One man did the impossible. T-cophany played one of those crappy toy guitars beautifully.

Parents who’d like to introduce their kids to an instrument as a fun way to express themselves might be tempted in the very low-risk investment of a 100-yen toy guitar from one of Japan’s many discount shops. However, having tried one myself I would like to warn everyone to stay as far away as possible from those things.

Without exaggeration, you can make a more stable guitar than these ones just by using some rubber bands and thumbtacks. These abominations would undoubtedly turn any impressionable youth off music for the rest of their lives and should be avoided at all costs.

That being said, how would such a mess sound if played by a true guitar virtuoso such as T-cophony? The 35-year-old musician has gained a large following online for his use of various simultaneous techniques such as finger tapping and harmonics to create incredibly soothing layers of sound. But don’t take my word for it, here’s a sample.

While T-cophony certainly knows his way around a standard guitar, could he possibly make a 100-yen atrocity sound as sweet? On 5 October he posted the answer in a YouTube Performance titled If T-cophony plays a $1 Guitar.

In the beginning he can manage a clean chord progression out of the four strings. Without knowing first-hand just how unwieldy those things are, this might not sound impressive and come across a bit like a ukulele. However, after a few seconds he really starts to open it up and erases all doubt.

It was a beautiful performance that earned heaps of praise from listeners.

“That is so beyond a regular guitarist. Amazing!”
“Wow you made that even better than I expected!!”
“Ssssiiicccxkkkkkk! Ffffing amazing!”
“T-cophony with a $1 guitar is so much better than me with a $1,000 dollar guitar.”
“Cute!! Lol”

Again, it really needs to be emphasized that he isn’t just playing a toy guitar, he’s playing a remarkably crappy toy guitar with almost no capability to make a coherent tune. However, in the comment to the video he states: “I had to make some improvements to it to play this.”

That immediately raises some red flags. The toy by itself is virtually unplayable, but through customization and the additional expenses that comes with it, the toy’s flaws can be worked out. However, in doing so, he wouldn’t really be playing the actual toy, as found in stores.

So, to understand more about what went into this performance, our own Meg Sawai caught up with T-cophony to ask how he did it.

Meg: “While playing the toy, how does it feel different than a regular guitar?”

T-cophony: “Actually I mentioned it in English in the comment section, but the toy was modified slightly. The guitar as it is has very loose tuning pegs which makes the sound unstable. I put glue on the back to stop them from moving, but the sound was still too small by itself. So, while recording I tried a lot of things like putting a tiny microphone inside [laughs].”

Meg: “It looks like you’re playing so smoothly, but even for someone with your skill that seemed like a difficult challenge. If that’s the case, would it be crazy for an amateur to try and imitate it? Do you have any tips?”

T-cophony: “On the back of the package, there’s a warning that ‘This is a toy and cannot be played,’ so I think it’s quite difficult to use it like a real instrument! Even if you learn to use it, you can never really get the hang of it, because when you press too hard it will go out of tune easily. I’d warn anyone who wants to buy it thinking anyone can play it, that it is completely unplayable!”

So there you have it. Aside from a little glue and mic set-up, T-cophony is pretty much playing the toy as it was bought, which is utterly amazing.

By the way, T-cophony attributes his unique sound to a troubled childhood and near-fatal stroke he had at an early age which still affects his mind to this day. The mellow tones which never veer too far into sounding sad or happy is his own way of trying to keep balanced.

In the end, this story is a reminder that some things at 100-yen stores are not always what they seem. What looks like a guitar is explicitly a useless toy and what looks like a toy poop is explicitly not a toy. So perhaps it’s better to save your money and buy some T-cophony music instead.

Source: YouTube/T-cophony
Top image: YouTube/T-cophony
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