Front of a slope-shouldered dreadnought guitar body with sunburst
The heart and engine of this guitar is a lovely red spruce soundboard from Old Standard Wood.

The commissioner of No 28 got in touch with me after seeingĀ number 27, the first slope-shouldered dread I built. He was sure that was interested in a J45-like guitar, but it needed to work well for strumming and fingerstyle playing. I knew that the Adirondack spruce tops I buy from Old Standard Wood would produce a crisp, articulate sound great for fingerstyle, and we decided on Tasmanian blackwood for the body wood. Sourced halfway around the globe from Australian Tonewoods, this acacia species is a relative of Koa, and has a mass similar to Honduran mahogany but a harder surface. The result is a sound that has many of the desirable qualities of a mahogany guitar (dry, woody tone and a relatively quick decay) with increased definition and crispness. The acacia worked beautifully with my water-based dye sunburst technique, and looks very deep and shimmery under the sunburst and waterborne lacquer finish.

The top is an absolute powerhouse. When I first played it, I was instantly aware of how “awake” the neck is, with plenty of tactile feedback for the player. It has the powerful, beefy bass desired in this size of guitar, but the mid-range and higher treble notes have dimension and interest far exceeding what I would expect from a guitar this large. All of the purflings, bindings and rosette are crafted from real wood, and Taylor Mullins (Holter Pickguards) made a custom celluloid pickguard that looks perfect. I’ve used an adjustable neck joint inspired by Mike Doolin, though I keep tinkering with the joint design. This guitar is electrified via a K&K Pure Mini.

Overall, number 28 is a beaut, and a thrill to play; I hope it provides many decades of thumping excitement and rich sound.



Here is a sound sample played using a Clayton “Raven” pick.

I know I’m nearing completion when it’s time to make guitar bridges. Number 28 (Tasmanian blackwood sides & back) is close now. I am sanding out its finish, which means that the bridge will probably go on in the next week or so. I roughed out four bridges for upcoming guitars: African blackwood (a nearly black rosewood), granadillo (the golden brown bridge pictured below), and two East Indian rosewood (the brown purple blanks which will be used on the slope-shouldered dread siblings.)


I’ve put just about as much finish as I want to on these bodies. Meanwhile, I’ve pushed the neck blank toward being a neck, complete with frets, color and finish. I still need to apply some final finish top coats to both the body and the neck, then, while the finish has a chance to cure up, I’ll make the bridge, saddle, and nut. Because of the adjustable neck joint I use, once everything is cured, the guitar will go together pretty quickly. So far I’m happy with the looks, feel and sound of everything, so stringing this one up will be fun!


See the first installment of the build gallery
See the second installment of the build gallery
See the third installment of the build gallery
See the fourth installment of the build gallery