A contemporary archtop designed with an offset x-brace and high but gently swept asymmetrical arch to achieve a beautifully balanced acoustic instrument with a dynamic range and richness of low and mid-range that is rarely heard in the archtop guitar. The inspiration for this instrument came from the simple understand that the landscape before modern jazz guitarists is not one restricted by jazz standards. Musicians today need more from their instruments and this instrument does that without compromising the precision and proper sustain that we want in an arch top instrument.
An ambitious instrument this was designed as a “contemporary classic”. I studied “traditional” archtops from Germany, France and the US from the 1930’s and 50’s and used the elements I saw to create an instrument that is fresh and new but seemingly rooted in more traditional design. The most important aspect of this instrument though is the tone. I designed and built this instrument from the inside out around the tone of the very best of the late 20’s and early 30’s Gibson L-5. Airy, precise, quick and acoustically large without being muddy. This guitar projects and has an amazing acoustic tone not heard in modern archtops.
“The SDG1 is a flat-top steel string instrument which represents many years of various incarnations of this design. Of all my instruments, this one has gone through the most iterations to reach the point it is at now. An instrument that is truly unique in voice with a piano like balance and depth with almost a slight growl to it. The reason it took me so long to arrive here was because while I was chasing balance in tone I inevitably always ended up feeling like the instrument sounded too sterile. Too controlled. It took me until around 2016 to finally arrive at the bracing pattern, air volume and approach to voicing which allowed me to build an instrument that I felt was completely balanced but also had a character in its tone which is undeniable.”
Through the course of my career I’ve built a bit of a reputation for embracing exciting and different one-off projects. There is nothing I’m afraid to dive into and I love the challenge, the risk and the triumph of using my skills and knowledge to create something truly special in the world of lutherie. Whether that means an instrument that tells a story through inlay or a complete ground up design of a one of a kind instruments to suite the players needs, I’m game. Here are some of the more custom instruments and elements I’ve come up with for clients.
In order for an instrument to rise above the rest it must have the perfect balance of tasteful and thoughtful design, aesthetic beauty and harmony, a tonal balance between power and sensititvity, character of tone, dynamic range, and an effortless playability. These things each in their own right represent years of patience and dedication. An almost monk like approach and willingness to serve the instrument and craft in order to make each instrument better than the last.
Materials are everything. Choosing the right material for the right job is crucial for not just building the best instruments I can but building them in a wise and ethical manner. I enjoy discovering new materials that help me solve problems.