This guitar was a real joy to design and build. My college academic advisor got in touch to request a guitar that would play jazz chords with clarity and aplomb and look imaginative yet crisp and classy. My advisor is a fine arts professor, a printmaker who had a tremendous impact on my development as a visual artist–I was thrilled to collaborate with him to design a guitar that looks as good as it sounds. We selected an Adirondack spruce top with sugar maple back and sides for fat, clear trebles paired with African blackwood appointments to increase the visual contrast. We chose a dyed color scheme that resonated with the deep purples of African blackwood. Finally, this guitar got a one-of-a-kind twelfth-fret inlay, designed by the customer, that is the perfect exclamation point.
I’m currently building a pair of commissioned guitars and having a great time because the two instruments have such different goals.
The first is a jazz machine: I’m shooting for the strong, independent voicings and fat, certain trebles I’ve seen in several of my previous builds. This one is a Grand Concert size 12-fret with a red spruce top over a double-wall sugar maple rim and back, one of my all-time favorite combinations.
The other is a street fighter, with plenty of confidence and swagger, lots of low-end thump and a devil-may-care attitude about clean trebles. It is inspired by the best J45 I have ever played, a maple-or-maybe-birch-backed “Banner era” belonging to one of the best old-time guitarists around. My build is a red spruce top over a red maple rim and back.