There is nothing better than getting to know our builders, the creators behind these works of art we represent here at Dream Guitars. We had the amazing pleasure of discussing life and craft with Dontcho Ivanov. Following is our interview with the creator of the wonderous Snow Parlor. Enjoy!

LW: Hi Dontcho, first off thank you for sending us this latest Snow Parlor! It’s incredible. Parlors seem to be a specialty of yours. What is it about small-bodied guitars that particularly interests you?

DI: I’m really glad you like the guitar. Even if I currently build more full-bodied guitars than Parlors, I am still particularly fascinated by small-bodied instruments. Indeed, I have always been attracted to 19th century Romantic guitars, such as Stauffer, Lacote and Panormo, which are all small guitars. What’s funny is that I’ve always played full-bodied guitars, but I like the ergonomics of smaller bodies with their folkish voice. The tone is surprisingly big with sparkling mids. I look to give my parlors an open and balanced voice for acoustic blues and ragtime with a lot of sustain. The bigger version of my Snow Parlor, which has an almost 00 body, offers a little more bass response, which I like a lot. But in my opinion and in general, a small-bodied guitar should be light and reactive. It should resonate well in your chest!

LW: We’d love to discuss your introduction to guitar, as well as lutherie. When did you first start playing, and start building?

DI: I started playing classical guitar when I was 14 years old in Bulgaria, my home country. I was also playing electric guitar in a rock band. At 18, I got my first good classical guitar, a Paulino Bernabe student model, and fell in love with its sound. Because of that guitar, I decided to continue more seriously with my classical guitar studies. When I arrived in Montreal, where I live now, I studied classical guitar interpretation at the University of Quebec in Montreal and got my BA. Thanks to my teachers Alvaro Pierri and José Harguindey at that time, I had the opportunity to play many great handmade guitars. Two guitars impressed me a lot: one was made by René Wilhelmy and the other one by Daniel Friederich. It was such an eye-opener to realize how much inspiration you can get from a good instrument! I was 38 when I started building guitars and without a doubt my experience with those two amazing instruments still motivates me to build guitars that inspire and bring out the best in a guitarist. To me, it’s important to always be in contact with great instruments. That’s one thing I love about the many guitar shows I exhibit at. Aside from presenting my work, I have the precious opportunity to meet so many amazing and inspiring builders and try their guitars, which certainly contributes to my development as a luthier. To play your best you have to play a great guitar, and to make a great guitar you have to be in contact with great guitars.

LW: Walk us through your approach to voicing. Is there a particular tone or quality that you’re aiming for?

DI: To me, voicing is giving the guitar its soul, so this is one of the most important and intriguing steps in the process of building. It’s also one of the more complex. There is a lot to keep in mind when it comes to voicing, with so many things to consider. My bracing is based on the parameters of my teacher, Mario Beauregard. I also pay particular attention to how the soundboard and the back work together, the correlation between body size, bridge location and type of wood. In terms of sound quality, I am aiming all the time for sensitivity of the instrument, evenness between notes and registers, and of course, volume. 

LW: What, in your opinion, sets you apart from other builders?

DI: I feel like I share the same concerns as other luthiers, which is the sound of the instrument. For that reason, I don’t think anything makes me so different. But of course, everyone has their own approach and their particular style. I have heard people calling me “the maple guy.” It’s not a label I’m particularly fond of, since I’m drawn to all types of wood. In fact, if anything does set me apart, it could be my particular obsession with using the highest quality wood. This not only gives you the best acoustic results, but working with precious wood also hones your craft. In a nutshell, quality wood inspires your work to be its best, in the same way a great instrument inspires a player to play better and to evolve in his art. 

LW: Everyone has opinions about tonewood. We find most folks think Brazilian Rosewood is king, but you seem to build a lot with Maple and other Rosewoods. How do you feel they compare to Brazilian, or other woods?

DI: If Brazilian Rosewood is king, then Maple is a prince. It always seems fresher and younger in my eyes. But to me, it doesn’t matter so much what wood you use. What’s important is understanding what a particular wood can give, understanding its character and particularity and work it to bring out its full potential. Some types of wood are suitable for a particular use and others have a very wide range of applications. If a wood excels in qualities like stability, ease of work, visual appeal, if they smell good, and on top of that they have a particular resonance, these woods become precious to us luthiers, and we cling to them. To me, Maple is a precious tonewood, especially when I think about some European species. It’s been used for centuries by the European luthiers and appreciated for its frank and direct response. With Maple you can build responsive lightweight instruments, which I like a lot! That said, I love Rosewoods too: their smell, their beauty and of course, their complex and rich sound. For my OM model, I like to use Madagascar Rosewood, because it gives a rich and balanced tone with clear note definition with a lot of harmonics, perfect for many genres and styles of playing.

LW: What’s on your bench right now?

DI: First, it’s my new bench, since I have a new work space! Presently I’m working on two Romantic guitars, both commissioned, one classical with a cedar top, and one Snow Parlor 00, which I’ll exhibit in Berlin. When these are done, I have an order for a Flamenca blanca, commissioned by a very talented Montreal-based guitarist. 

LW: Who are some of your favorite guitar players? Have you built instruments for any of them?

DI: All my customers are my favorite players so yes, I have! That said, if Pierre Bensusan, Mark Knopfler, or Hugo Rivas called to commission a guitar, it would be a special thrill! As it is, I am content and fortunate to have built instruments for some really great and talented players. I feel very privileged to have such a great exchange. 

LW: If you had not become a guitar maker, where do you think life would have led you?

DI: It’s difficult to imagine doing something other than building guitars, but just before the lutherie bug hit me, I was in woodworking, building stage sets for a museum. If I hadn’t taken this path, I don’t think I would still be doing that. I like to think that I would be making a living at another of my passions, like maybe cooking. 

LW: What music are you listening to right now?

DI: Let me have a look at my playlist. Let’s see…here’s Carlos Garcia, pianist from Argentina, Roland Dyens, a French guitarist, here’s Debussy! and here’s also the new album of a good friend of mine – the very talented trumpetist and multi-instrumentalist, Miron Rafajlovic!

LW: In what ways do you predict your building style will evolve in the next five years?

DI: On the artistic side, it’s hard to say how my building style will change. I don’t worry too much about that aspect of my building. But I do have definite goals in terms of sound control and production efficiency. Currently, I build about six guitars a year, and I hope that in 5 years this number doubles. I have recently moved to a new workspace whose layout allows me to be more efficient in my production. This new workspace will also allow me to upgrade my system for collecting and retaining data about materials and their specificities. Improving my system of recording my observations and testing will allow me to streamline the voicing process and have a better control over my main preoccupation – tone design. It will be interesting to look back five years from now and see how far I’ve come in these areas. 

With so many great builders to choose from, you’d think it would be hard for Dream Guitars owner Paul Heumiller to pick the proper luthier for his next instrument. However, if you’ve ever played one of Leo Buendia’s masterpieces, you wouldn’t be so surprised to learn that one of Leo’s 12-fret Jumbos was in Paul’s sights. A Buendia is the complete package: rolling curves, flawless fit-n-finish, sensuously colorful voice, unflinching projection. We took a minute to chat with Paul and Leo about the process of working together for Dream Guitars’ owner, rather than one of our clients. Scroll through, and don’t forget to check out some photos of the bulding process below!

PAUL: “After being incredibly inspired by several of Leo’s instruments, I decided that he would be the maker to add a large-body instrument to my collection. We had a jumbo of his a few years ago that simply rocked my world, and I knew it was a voice that could inspire me to write. I had the great opportunity to play eight or ten of Leo’s guitars before ordering my own and I sat with Leo last summer with two of his guitars in hand. We discussed what I liked and didn’t like about them, and I described in detail the voice I was wanted to get out of the next instrument for my music. Leo and I are brothers in guitar, so I knew he understood what I wanted and I’m super excited to finally have the instrument soon.

“My role in this process is exactly what I do when I help any of our clients build a custom guitar. I understand completely what the player wants and make sure that the maker gets that message. I know enough about lutherie that I can talk in detail with the builder until I’m confident he understands what we’re looking for. In this case, I asked Leo to make sure that it’s a little tighter and more focused and that I can hit it very hard and have it hold up and be extremely resonant. Being a large body I did not want the top too thin or floppy. I made sure he knew the tunings and strings that I like to play and I asked for a custom longer multi scale fretboard similar to my personal favorite guitar by Jordan McConnell, so it will be 25.5 inches on the treble to 26.25 inches on the bass. This is scale that I’ve found works for me over the years through trial and error. I’ve had the pleasure of playing thousands of guitars, and each one teaches me something that I can use to help others, and myself, create great instruments with great builders.

“One unique story about this guitar: Leo and I were together at a show and were able to choose the master grade Adirondack top together from my friend Randy Lucas. Randy had a special stash with him and we found one that rang like a bell. I can’t wait to record this guitar and share it with you all. And thanks in advance to Leo! It’s been so nice to be able to trust you completely in your passion and understanding of the guitar. I have complete confidence that once I hold it it will be love at first sight.”

LEO: “I’m in love with this guitar, and I’m happy I’ll be able to play it in the future [once it’s finished]. Honestly, I’m expecting a very unique-sounding guitar. For sure, it has a different character than other guitars I have made. I’m very much looking forward to stringing it up soon. It was such a pleasure to make a guitar for Paul, who has a vast knowledge of guitars and such passion for them. We had the good fortune of having time together in person at The Swannannoa Gathering last summer where we were able to spend a long while playing and sussing out just what he was looking for. He had a very clear vision and it was really gratifying to go back to the shop and bring it to life.”

Specs:

Base Model, Small Jumbo #034/2017
Soundboard, master grade plus Adirondack Spruce
Back and sides, old growth Brazilian Rosewood
Cutaway, Florentine
Rosette, custom segmented broken w/green burl Maple tiles
Neck, Brazilian Rosewood
Bridge, hand-carved Brazilian Rosewood
End graft, custom green burl Maple
12-fret to the body fingerboard
Bridge pins, ebony with Abalone dots
Binding, Ebony with black/white purfling
Top braces, Sitka Spruce
Back Braces, Mahogany
Saddle, 2 1/4” string spacing in compensated bone
Nut, 1 3/4” width, scalloped, in compensated bone
Head-cap veneer, Brazilian Rosewood (curly with curve inlay beside triangle)
Back of headcap veneer, Ebony
Tuning machines, Gotoh 510 Stealth in antique bronze and black buttons
Fingerboard, Ebony with Ebony binding and white Maple purfling
Fingerboard, custom inlay at 12th fret w/green burl Maple
Scale length, multiscale 25.5” to 26.25”
Truss rod, double action
Fret wire, medium nickel-silver 18%
Fretboard radius, 16”
Case, custom carbon fiber Karura hardshell case
Wedge, Manzer-style tapered body
Back strip, interrupted, green burl Maple
Strap buttons, Cocobolo
Finish, French Polish

Buendia’s graceful multiscale bridge

Paul’s personal Brazilian Rosewood

Old-growth Adirondack Spruce from Randy Lucas, Multiscale from 25.5″ to 26.25″

Manzer-style body wedge

Paul’s personal Brazilian Rosewood

Paul’s personal Brazilian Rosewood

Florentine cutaway, body wedge

2/2/18: Strung up and shining like a diamond, Paul’s Buendia made the rounds at NAMM with some great friends. Next stop, Dream Guitars!

Baker Rorick, founder of the Woodstock Invitational

Lance Allen

Leo at the booth

Paul’s at the booth!

We had a lovely visit with E.J. Henderson just the other day and an incredible 45-style 0 guitar hot off her bench. We couldn’t resist the temptation to snag a few photos (or a few more than a few) while this beauty was in the shop! Its proud new owner will be taking delivery of this 0-45 any day now, and we’d be lying if we weren’t a tiny bit jealous. Especially considering it’s only a few days old, the voice was crisp with great projection.

Adirondack Spruce top, Pink & Paua Abalone Shell

Adirondack Spruce top

Black Walnut back and sides

Black Walnut back and sides

Ebony belly bridge, inlaid wings

Adirondack Spruce top

E.J.’s namesake on the headstock

Adirondack Spruce top, Pink & Paua Abalone Shell

Pink & Paua Abalone Shell

Ebony belly bridge, inlaid wings

Top-of-the-line Waverlies

E.J.’s namesake on the headstock

Adirondack Spruce top, Pink & Paua Abalone Shell

Pink & Paua Abalone Shell

Pink & Paua Abalone Shell

Paul attended two shows last year, the Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration and the Woodstock Invitational Luthier’s Showcase, and there he met a number of new builders with some truly awe-inspiring builds. Naturally, we took several of them on as new builders for Dream Guitars! Alongside Isaac Jang and Loïc Bortot, we’re also proud to have added Michel Pellerin to our ranks! We have one of his big-voiced Jumbos in the shop right now, which you can find on out site here: https://www.dreamguitars.com/builder/501-pellerin-guitars/. In addition, we’d like to share his responses in a brief interview we conducted with Michel earlier this year. Enjoy!

What or who inspired you to begin building guitars?

When I was in college studying jazz and classical music, I was in a guitar ensemble class. I was 17 years old. There were 30 students in the same room, all with their personal guitars, and I discovered that there were so many different sounds, levels of volume and tone. Mine was one of the worst in every aspect, an all-plywood Sonata classical guitar (I’m not proud of it, but it is what I could afford at this time). The year after that I applied to the Quebec National School of Lutherie with the thought of building two nice guitars for myself. I didn’t plan on guitar building becoming my career at that time.

2016 Pellerin Jumbo in Engelmann Spruce

 

What builders inspire you today?

Without any hesitation, Mario Beauregard is the one! I have always loved his artistic taste and his classy lines; always astonishing. The first time I really played one of his guitars (an OMC Blackwood/German spruce I remember like it was yesterday), I realized that perfection could be achievable.

Please describe your goals in voicing an instrument. How did you first find your voice, and how do you continue to experiment?

My goal is to have a balanced instrument. Strong and defined bass notes, but not too much, a wide and even midrange, and clear and rounded trebles. Highs with an envelope, not harsh, and sparkling harmonics. All of this with nice bloom and long decay, like a grand piano. Of course, I can adjust these qualities regarding what the musician needs.

Birdseye Maple Heelcap, Wenge Bindings

 

Where do you think your building style will take you in the next five years?

I have had a wonderful evolution since 2011, when I took Ervin Somogyi’s plate voicing class. Since then, my guitar tone has improved a lot due to refining my bracing, recording data, tuning tops and backs to a specific note, and minimizing energy loss. My goal is always to maximize evenness, tone, and volume for a wonderful playing experience. In the next five years, I hope to achieve what Mario Beuregard is able to do in his instruments today. I don`t mean to copy his voicing or his guitar building, but to learn to know exactly how a guitar will sound before closing the soundbox. I want to be able to know where to carve to remove a wolf-note, or how to mitigate a boosted frequency. I want to achieve what I would call “Anticipated Fine-Tuning.” Of course, studying with him would be a dream come true.

Any interesting facts about your building process or shop arrangement that you’d like to share?

I work in my shop with my friend of almost 15 years. François Paradis is a luthier specializing in oriental music. He`s a multi-instrumentalist and a djembé music teacher, but mostly an Indian sitar player, left-handed, and…he’s got perfect pitch. What luck I have to have him in the shop! I like to try and test different woods, different bracing patterns, but, always following my tone. Even a guitar with 6 or 12 strings or a multi-stringed instrument such as a harp-guitar (one of my specialties), a Pellerin will stay a Pellerin to your ears.

2016 Pellerin Jumbo in Birdseye Maple

 

What was your favorite, or your first, instrument that you ever played?

The first instrument I received from my mother was an EL Dégas electric guitar. I was 15 year old. It was not the best guitar, but I wasn’t able to leave it alone. I slept with it. I only stopped playing when my fingers hurt. I loved this guitar so much.

What do you enjoy doing outside of building instruments?

Playing (and camping in the summer) with my children; I have two (Florence, 7 years old, and Jérémie, 11 years old). Training myself (running outside, hiking, gym, crossfit). I’m fascinated by ancient cultures like the Mayas, Incas, and Aztecs. I love sushis (making them and most of all eatting them!). I love to travel and discover other cultures, especially for food!

If you had not become a guitar maker, where do you think life would have led you?

I would say: technical designer on Solidworks, Autocad, etc., a CNC operator, or maybe a mechanical engineer.

What music are you listening to right now?

I love a lot of different styles. Snarky Puppy, Steve Vai, Michel Cusson, Justin St-Pierre, Antoine Dufour, Stephen Bennett, but also Gentle Giant, Yes, Mr.Bungle, NOFX, Metallica or Animals as Leader, depending on my mood. Right now, I have Marie-Mai (a Quebec female singer) in my car’s CD player…my daughter’s choice.

Dream Guitars has the ability to reach out and pluck those dream guitars from out of the air, where mere mortals are unable to find recordings of these beasts, let alone actual guitars. Paul’s kept himself at the center of the world of high-end guitars for 17 years now, patiently building his knowledge base and making connections between players, builders, and collectors, diligently placing new voices into practiced hands, providing discerning clientele to inspire luthiers, and reuniting collectors with the instruments of their childhoods, or their parents’ childhoods. As a result, Dream Guitars has become one of the focal points for preserving the world of fine lutherie and maintaining the market for anyone with a voice or a guitar model at stake.

Accordingly, Dream Guitars is exactly the place you want to come to if the instrument you’re looking for is off the beaten path (just look at the country roads that lead to our showroom), masterfully constructed and exceedingly rare. When one of our clients came to us with his collection of Holy Grail guitars, Paul was more than ready to help out. One quick flight to New York and a careful car trip back, and Dream Guitars has now gotten a hold of three irresistably collection-worthy instruments: a 1935 Larson Brothers Prairie State 15″, a 1938 Larson Euphonon Dreadnought, and the grand master of all–an all-original 1930 Martin 000-45! This last one is particularly difficult to find: there were only 21 made in 1930. Add to that the voice, with all its 86 years’ of music, and the completely original state of its parts (right down to the cast iron key for the case), and the chances of finding a guitar like this in the wild are nigh impossible. 

Valued at $135,000, this Martin is an incredible find, and Paul was able to line up a buyer within a matter of days. Soon the chalice will be passed and this Holy Grail guitar will be en route to its new owner. In quick order, the Larson Prairie State also sold as well, and both guitars are going to trusted clients who respect the historicity of these instruments. This is what it’s all about for us: connecting players and collectors across state lines (and national borders) to foster a healthy market for the exchange of these irreplaceable instruments.

Before we let this one go, however, Paul wanted to compare it with some of the contemporary voices that we have in the shop, so we set up a little taste test between the 1930 Martin 000-45 and a McConnell 16 Inch, Matsuda M1, a Traugott R, and a Wingert 00. Here’s Paul:

“The taste test was really fun. Dream Guitars is well known for representing many modern makers who are moving toward something different than traditional, vintage voicing, who instead search for new, individual forms of expression and musicality by chasing the fascinating new ideas in their heads. It’s wonderful to have a chance to play many of these prewar Martin guitars because they are quite different from these contemporary builds. On the one hand, it’s nearly impossible to replicate what happens to a guitar after 80 or 100 years of being in the world. The finish gases off or is worn off, and the wood dries out while millions of notes vibrate through its fibers. This chronological process yields a distinct kind of energy and body–something that contemporary builders of traditional styles are seeking to recreate. A similar, but distinct quality of energy can also be found in the very finest modern guitars, even after just one year of being played in and opening up.

The advances in bracing and voicing for the modern guitar, I believe, allow us to get closer to a sound that’s comparable to these prewar instruments, but much earlier in the guitar’s life. I attribute quite a lot of these advances to one simple thing: how much time each builder spends on one guitar. If they take their painstaking time to consider whether or not to pass the top through the thickness sander one more time, or to take one more pass with a chisel at the scallop of a brace. Constantly tapping the wood and striving for their own unique tone. To me that’s why you can pick up a recent McConnell, Traugott, Tippin, or Somogyi, to name a few, and feel the same sort of inspiration you feel from one of these outstanding vintage Martin guitars. It’s not the same voice, but the combination of so many advances in construction and voicing definitely allow these new instruments to compete on the same field as Holy Grail guitars. I truly believe we are in the Golden Age with dozens of makers building their own versions of luthier history.”

Click Here to Learn More about this Historic Guitar

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Early in 2015 I had the pleasure of playing my first Preston Thompson guitar. I was mesmerized by the warm and full voice that came out of the small 000 sized body. I remember Al Petteway and I talking about how magical the voice was. The build quality was also perfect in every detail.

I reached out to Preston and asked him to make us a Dream Series instrument. This is something we have only done with approximately eight to ten builders over the years. I very much look forward to seeing and hearing the first of many Thompson guitars. I’m certain our clientele will absolutely love them.

Following are a handful of specs featured on this incoming Dream Series guitar:

Top: Adirondack
Back and Sides: Brazilian Rosewood
Binding: Brazilian w/BW purf
Top Purfling: Herringbone
Rosette: Abalone 3-Ring
Back Strip: 45 Style
Tail Wedge: Brazilian w/BW Purf
Neck: Honduran Mahogany
Headstock Binding: Brazilian w/BW Purf
Headstock: Slotted
Neck Binding: Brazilian
Nut width: 1 3/4”
String Spacing: 2 5/16”
Heel Cap: Brazilian

This one is currently available for purchase here at Dream Guitars – Please call the shop for more information 828-658-9795. Following are a few additional early images of this beauty coming together as well:

Dream Guitar Front

Dream Guitar Front-Side

Dream Guitar Back

Dream Guitar Rosette

For more information on this incoming Preston Thompson 000-14BA Custom please call the shop 828-658-9795.

Update 7/18/16:

Here are a few new pictures of this beauty as it comes along:

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2

4

5

3-2

1-2

3

 

Update 7/27/16:

Here’s a great video of the Brazilian binding coming together on this incoming Thompson – Enjoy!

beardsell

We had the privilege of catching up with renown Canadian luthier, Al Beardsell and asking him a few questions on his building, interests and background. Following were his responses to our questions for him:

Q. What inspired you to begin building guitars?

A. My Dad, his workshop, my brother, Bill Lewis Music, Larrivee and Gurian guitars – probably in that order. My Dad was an amateur furniture maker, so I learned from him that if you want something done a certain way, do it yourself. My brother, who was a serial obsessive, made some guitars in high school, got bored and moved on to beer-making (he’s still a master brewer to this day). I swiped all of his guitar-making books, “borrowed” all his tools and wood, and got started. This brings us to Bill Lewis Music in Vancouver. In the 70’s, Bill had a music store that also supplied instrument building materials, plans and tools.  They also carried handmade guitars by Larrivee and Gurian, which I guess was a defining idea for me that you could actually make these things. This totally blew my mind – something so beautiful to look at and sound so beautiful. I was totally hooked.

Q. What builder(s) do you admire?

A. This is a long list but if I had to shorten it, a few standouts would be Pons, Lacote, Martin, Loar, Mario Macaferri/Selmer, Leo Fender, The Larriveans (Laskin, Manzer , DeJonge, Wren, etal), Collings. Builders who take an existing tradition and recontextualize it into something classic yet contemporary.

Q. How would you describe the voicing in your guitars? How did you find your voice?

A. Hmm, well the voicing is dependent on the needs of the player – a tighter sound, more open or separated notes, maybe more sustain for fingerstyle, maybe a darker sound – all these things are taken into consideration. It’s just years of trial and testing to arrive at where to make stiffer and where to remove stiffness, which woods to use, etc.

beardsell-3gms

New Beardsell 3GMS/25/27

Q. Can you explain your approach to sound ports? Why do you use two?

A. My approach has always been to offer the player something they may not have heard before – like what the guitar actually sounds like. The sound hole does a few jobs like allowing free air movement in and out of the box, tuning the air mode fundamental by size of aperture, and coupling the reflective and sympathetic sounds of the back with the top. There may be more to it, but these are the parts that I’m mainly interested in. Originally, in order to make the opening large enough to have a similar area as a 4″ soundhole, I split the sideport into two. This had an interesting effect of broadening the areas of the box being monitored and simply enlarging the sound projected. Also, moving the soundhole off the top does reconfigure the structural stiffness of the top. The soundhole does create a loosening of the top that must be counterbalanced by grafts and braces. By reducing this loosening, we can make the top thinner and therefore lighter. The main goal of the sideports in my mind is the acoustic connection made with the player even in amplified situations. Many times I’ve played acoustic shows where all I hear is amplified monitors. This tends to give the player a compressed dynamic range and they will pay accordingly – at top volume always. Having some sense of the instrument’s natural dynamic range will mean the audience will benefit from the player. The size has been reduced over the years to drop the air mode and develop more bass.

Q. What do you enjoy doing outside of building?

A. Curling, yoga, fencing, playing rock, being a dad

Q. What inspires you today?

A. I’ve been very inspired by the local music scene in Winnipeg. A year and a half ago, I opened a new shop (the former Garnet Amp factory) that is open to the public. We do repairs and pickup winding, restorations and, of course, guitar-making.  It’s a very different connection to the people who actually make music than the rarified environment of the luthiery shop.

Q. Where do you think your building style will take you in the next 5 years?

A. I’m looking at using more computer-aided design and control technology. I’m making more archtop electric guitars and pickups, and manouche guitars especially – my first love really.

Q. Which up and coming luthier impresses you the most?

A. There are a few in Winnipeg like Jordan McConnell, but he’s been around a while so he’s no pup!  I’m always amazed by the amount of new talent, all doing very high quality work. My assistant Lucas Roger is going to kick ass any day now.

 

 

As mentioned in a previous post, Leonardo Buendia, one of Ervin Somogyi’s current apprentices and an amazing up and coming builder, is wrapping up his 3 year apprenticeship with Ervin and is moving to his own shop in Oakland, California.

We caught up with Leo and asked him a few questions regarding his new shop.

1) Where will the shop be located? Why did you pick there?

Leo: My new workshop is located in East Oakland.  I was offered the space by Lewis Santer, whom I’ve known for 3 years and who for a long time shared this same space with Michi Matsuda.  Lewis has been in this shop for 10 years and it’s well-equipped and already set up in a very smart way.  It’s a pleasure to be able to work with Lewis, who was also Ervin Somogyi’s shop manager for many years.  The transition is going smoothly – I’m getting back into my rhythm quickly.

DSC01475

2) How are you configuring your shop? Why will it be configured this way?

Leo: Since everything was already set up for the construction and repair of guitars, I’ve only had to put together two benches–one in the dry room and one in the common space.  In the dry room I’m going to keep all of the wood I will be using for the guitars commissioned for these next few years.  The dry room is also where I will be doing all of the gluing.  I will be using the bench in the common space for shaping, scraping, sanding, etc.

DSC01477

3) Any sources of inspiration that you can point to in your new shop?

Leo:
Ervin Somogyi’s shop, of course, is a big inspiration for how I would like my shop to look. I love the use of different workstations and I’m emulating that.  It allows my work to be very efficient.  I also took away from my experience at Ervin’s that it’s extremely helpful to have plenty of backstock of blocks, braces, fingerboards, pre-bent sides, pre-bent binding, etc.

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4) Any neat facts about your building process in your new shop that you’d like to share?

Leo: In the near future I will be working on designing a different kind of headstock.  So far I’ve been molding the heads in the style of a classical/Spanish guitar.  In Argentina we play Spanish guitars, so I’ve always liked the headstocks I learned to make with Ervin, which are reminiscent of these. Now that I will have more time for experimentation and designing, I am going to make headstocks with a more modern style, while still avoiding the symmetrical and conventional.  This new design is more like that of my fanned fret guitar.  Another change that’s coming is that in about 6 months I will begin with a new model, the OO.  The big sound that it makes is very surprising given its small body. In fact, it’s the guitar I plan to make for myself.

Click here to learn more about an Incoming Leonardo Buendia OM Build

Click here to watch Paul interview Leo Buendia at this year’s Memphis Acoustic Guitar Festival.

This August is the 20th anniversary of Tom Rodriguez Guitars and his making of classical guitars. To commemorate this huge milestone, Tom has started on a very special 20th anniversary guitar. All materials on this anniversary guitar are old and extremely rare which Tom has been collecting through his years of building and saving for a very special occasion, such as this. Following is the list of materials included in this build:

Top – 40 year old Sitka spruce purchased from the estate of an old guitar maker. Tom hand picked it from 30 sets that were bought for its tap tone, stiffness and fine grain

Back & sides, peg head and bridge – 1800’s Brazilian rosewood from an old table top

Fingerboard – 40 year old ebony, hand picked for it’s beauty from a large selection of ebony fingerboards from the same collection of wood that the top came from

Neck – 1800’s Honduras mahogany, salvaged from an old 4 post bed – very dark in color and a singing tap tone

Brace wood – Hand-split Sitka spruce from the back supports of a 90 year old Cable piano

Linings – Quarter-sawn willow, the preferred choice of violin makers, 90 years old, from the same piano as the brace wood

Nut & Saddle – Fossil walrus ivory, 100 to 500 years old

Rosette & bindings – Brazilian rosewood, holly, cherry and ebony, all from various salvages and re-purposing projects

“One need only look at the quality of this wood, all of it having a history of it’s own, to imagine the character of sound that will emanate from this guitar. Celebrating 20 years of building is no small feat. Few makers ever reach that milestone and to do so you have to have an extreme love of the craft and desire to put music in the world. That’s what Tom Rodriquez and this guitar represent. We are simply delighted to be a part of this, this is why we do what we do here at Dream Guitars.” – Paul Heumiller, Owner

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1800’s Brazilian rosewood salvaged from an antique table top

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Detail of 40+ year old Sitka spruce top wood

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Quartersawn bridge blank cut from the same 1800’s table – underneath it is the trimmed off piece with the tax stamps still on it

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Detail of the hand split Sitka spruce brace wood from a 1925 Cable piano

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Split Sitka spruce brace wood from a 1925 Cable piano

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1800’s Honduras mahogany neck heel from an old bed – you can still see the edges of the turned legs before being trimmed away

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Headstock with 1800’s mahogany and Brazilian rosewood

This 20th Anniversary Rodriguez Guitar is now available in the shop. Please click here for more details.

August 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of Thomas Rodriguez Guitars and his making of classical guitars. To commemorate this huge milestone, Thomas started on a very special 20th anniversary guitar. All materials on this anniversary guitar are very old and extremely rare which Thomas has been collecting through his years of building and saving for a very special occasion, such as this. Following is the list of materials included in this build:

Top – 40 year old Sitka spruce purchased from the estate of an old guitar maker. Thomas hand picked it from 30 sets that were bought for its tap tone, stiffness and fine grain

Back & sides, peg head and bridge – 1800’s Brazilian rosewood from an old table top

Fingerboard – 40 year old Gaboon ebony, hand picked for it’s beauty from a large selection of ebony fingerboards from the same collection of wood that the top came from

Neck – 1800’s Honduras mahogany, salvaged from an old 4 post bed – very dark in color and a singing tap tone

Brace wood – Hand-split Sitka spruce from the back supports of a 90 year old Cable piano

Linings – Quarter-sawn willow from a 1925 Cable piano, the preferred choice of violin makers, 90 years old, from the same piano as the brace wood

Nut & Saddle – Approximately 20,000 year old mastodon ivory

Rosette & bindings – Maple, Brazilian rosewood, mahogany from a 1860’s square piano and red birch from an 1890’s piano

Tie block on the bridge — Ivory from a piano key from the 1860’s square piano

Inlays on the wings of the bridge — Mother of pearl cut from an early 1900’s lamp pendant

Position marker on the fingerboard — Mother of pearl from an 1850’s Martin bridge pin Thomas had from a restoration he performed

“One need only look at the quality of this wood, all of it having a history of it’s own, to imagine the character of sound that will emanate from this guitar. Celebrating 20 years of building is no small feat. Few makers ever reach that milestone and to do so you have to have an extreme love of the craft and desire to put music in the world. That’s what Thomas Rodriquez and this guitar represent. We are simply delighted to be a part of this, this is why we do what we do here at Dream Guitars.” – Paul Heumiller, Owner

rod1

1800’s Brazilian rosewood salvaged from an antique table top

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Detail of 40+ year old Sitka spruce top wood

rod3

Quartersawn bridge blank cut from the same 1800’s table – underneath it is the trimmed off piece with the tax stamps still on it.

rod4

Detail of the hand split Sitka spruce brace wood from a 1925 Cable piano.

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Split Sitka spruce brace wood from a 1925 Cable piano.

Here is the neck blank for the 20th anniversary guitar, it’s cut from a bed post from an 1800’s bed that was found in the attic of a friends 200 year old farmhouse. there were 2 beds, the one I got was too damaged for restoration so he gave it to me for the wood. you can see the post turning on the heel block...

Here is the neck blank for the 20th anniversary guitar which was cut from a bed post from an 1800’s bed that was found in the attic of a friend’s 200 year old farmhouse.

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The headstock on the left is the old wood which you can see the rich color from over a 100 years of oxidation. The neck on the right is Honduras mahogany from the 1960’s, for comparison.

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1800’s Honduras mahogany neck heel from an old bed – you can still see the edges of the turned legs before being trimmed away.

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Headstock with 1800’s mahogany and Brazilian rosewood.

piano

Decorative trim wood for the 20th anniversary guitar was taken from this Rand square piano, dating between 1820’s to 1860’s.

All the veneer for rosette and binding, rosewood, mahogany and maple from the Rand piano and red birch from the 1890’s piano.

All the veneer for rosette and binding, rosewood, mahogany and maple from the Rand piano and red birch from the 1890’s piano.

trim1

Amount of wood that it took to create the bindings.

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Detail of the complete binding.

rosette1

Rosette made up of wood cut down while Torres, inventor of the modern classical guitar, was still alive.

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Detail, Brazilian rosewood, maple, mahogany and red birch. Thomas opted to use the natural color of the wood rather than color dyed veneer. The rosette is 35 layers thick, hand scraped to be an exact thickness.

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Mother of pearl lamp pendant used for inlays on the bridge wings.

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The bridge is cut from the same 1800’s table as the rest of the guitar.  It is perfectly quarter sawn, super fine even grain and has oxidized to a rich, almost black color.

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Detail of the mother of pearl dot.

bridge2

Ivory tie block is from a piano key off of the 1800’s square piano.

bridge3

Finished bridge

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The guitar coming together

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Detail on back of guitar

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Top and back

brace1

Bracing for the guitar, asymmetrical lattice bracing. Thomas engineered his guitar from the ground up over his 20 years of building, He’s very proud to be making his own guitar and not just another Hauser or Torres copy.

brace2

All of the brace wood is Sitka spruce from the 1925 piano, hand split for the straightest possible grain.

willow1

Willow linings, cut from the 1925 Cable piano. Willow is the top choice for linings in high end violins. The neck heel is painted to keep moisture from traveling through the end grain, a common cause of humps in the finger board where the neck meets the body.

binding1

Big pile of spaghetti that will become the binding for the guitar.

binding2

Completed binding

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binding3
label

Martin began making the 45 Style way back in 1904. The main feature of this trim style is abalone inlay along the top, back, sides, around edge of fingerboard, around the soundhole, neck heel, and tail wedge. Over the years the 45 models have been coveted by Martin fans the world over.

Today, many modern makers still emulate the famed 45 trim package. We happened to have a few in the shop recently and thought it would be fun to show you the wonderful variety of guitars that can be found with this popular adornment. A picture is worth a thousand words so here are a few shots of our three in-stock beauties: a 1991 Martin D-45, a 2008 Wayne Henderson D-45 and a 2014 Huss & Dalton Custom TD-R.

As you can see in the pictures below, while they all have abalone borders in the same places, the color and quality of the Abalone varies quite a bit. Like all building materials there are ‘grades’ of abalone shell. Nowadays builders also vary the width of the trim to add their individuality to a time tested inlay pattern.

Most players agree that the 45 style trim is quite beautiful and we sure are glad that it continues to thrive at Martin and in the hands of the many fine custom Luthiers in our world today.

Click on any of the images below for larger view.

Left to Right: 2014 Huss & Dalton Custom TD-R, 2008 Wayne Henderson D-45, 1991 Martin D-45

front1

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The first two from the left below – The Henderson (Center Below) and the Huss & Dalton (Left) are Brazilian Rosewood. The last one on the right is the Indian Rosewood Martin. You can see how much variance there is in Brazilian, many colors, figure patterns, etc.

back

The Henderson(Center Below) below features quality Abalone with a variety of hues in it, blue, gold and white.

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Nice quality Paua Abalone here on the Huss & Dalton below. Lots of Blue in this shell.

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A key element of the 45 Style trim is that the Abalone is featured on the top, back & Sides. Pretty fancy!

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backmore1

 

 

 

wilborn-logoBen Wilborn is one of the builders that we have recently added to the array of fine builders that we represent at Dream Guitars. We receive numerous requests from builders, new and established, to be part of Dream Guitars. It’s very humbling to be the ones that they wish to represent their work. In the case of Wilborn guitars, we invited him to send us an example of his work because tone is the first thing we always look for in a new luthier’s instruments. It only took about 20 seconds to figured out that Ben knows how to get tone out of his instruments. We were also smitten with the fit, finish and overall design of his guitars – very elegant, leaning towards traditional but definitely having his own style…and so began our association with Ben.

We at Dream Guitars are known for commissioning unique custom instruments for clientele as well and we were excited to see al-wilsomething even more artistic from Ben. As a result, Paul Heumiller, owner of Dream Guitars and Ben went to work to decide on specs for a custom Wilborn parlor guitar. “I love to work with builders on custom instruments. Having seen thousands of guitars helps me develop an intuition for both stylistic and practical features on the guitar. At the same time I love to leave room for a builder to express himself. So Ben and I collaborated on a number of design elements in this parlor guitar, but then I left him to do the rest. I can’t wait to see the final instrument as I know it will be both beautiful and expressive aesthetically and musically.” – Paul Heumiller.

This incoming Parlor will feature Brazilian Rosewood and Vintage Sitka Spruce cut in the 1960s, Leapordwood Bindings, Brazilian Rosewood Fretboard and Bridge and a short scale, 12 Fret Neck. Yummy!

Click here to see our in-stock Ben Wilborn Guitars

Contact us to reserve this incoming Wilborn guitar or to inquire about the many custom builds we have in process at any given time. Capture your Dream Guitar.

wilborn-parlor-collage

Custom Wilborn Parlor in Construction

“Clearly straight fretted guitars work beautifully and have been around forever, but there are advantages to Fanned Fret depending on your playing style.” – Paul Heumiller

What’s up with the crooked frets? Yes the slanted frets on my guitars are awesome conversation starters. But that’s not what it’s all about.

According to Wikipedia, Ralph Novak, guitar builder and designer, patented the Fanned Fret at the end of the 80’s. While the patent has expired, he still holds the trademark of the term “Fanned-Fret”. Fanned Frets create a different shape to the guitar. The slanted frets lengthen the bass strings and shorten the treble strings. This is further achieved by positioning the bridge at an angle opposite to the nut.*

Fanned Fret guitars are multi-scale instruments designed with a real purpose.

To understand the concept, we need only look at non-fretted stringed instruments. Consider the piano and the harp dulcimer and you immediately notice the bass strings are always longer than the treble strings. The reason for this is to create proper tension with a longer, thicker string to produce full low notes. Conversely the treble strings need to be shorter so they can be tightened to produce the higher pitch. There is a beautiful resonance you get from a longer bass string. When you tune down to D or C or even further, a longer bass string makes all the difference in the quality of the bass notes. The treble string remains normal length or slightly shorter depending on what you need and can offer a great feel that allows for easy playing high notes, bending strings, etc. The combined string lengths or scales, can provide the perfect amount of bass, sweet trebles and playability that you want for your personal style.

Another benefit is slightly improved intonation. You can understand this if you look at a True Temper Fretted guitar like the Bamburg JSB currently on our website, a Micro-Fret guitar, or a Sitar. You will see that accurate placement for every note on every string would require many tiny frets. The Fanned Fret and its longer length bass strings help intonation across the entire fingerboard.

One other powerful benefit is simply the tension of each string in relation to one another. On a standard guitar as you play from the bass strings down to the treble strings, the treble strings are often more tense and noticeably tighter feeling. Fanned Fret guitars help even out the tactile feel and to me are smoother feeling when playing across the strings.

“There is also something about the splay of the fret that feels extremely comfortable, it seems to suit my hand beautifully, more naturally than straight frets.” Paul Heumiller

One other note I’d like to make is that there is very little difference in the overall feel of playing a fanned Fret guitar. I have handed them to many players in our shop without them knowing I was handing them a fanned Fret guitar and often they don’t even notice until they take a hard look at the fingerboard. On a technical note, you can choose where to place the one perpendicular fret and that decision will effect the feel at the first position and elsewhere. Common choices are the 7th, 9th or 12th frets. After owning several fanned fret guitars I’ve settled on the 7th fret for my playing. It keeps the first position very easy to play. “We once had a Jeff Traugott guitar where all the frets were slanted backward toward the headstock 10 degrees. This one purely ergonomic and can be comfortable to some players as well. Though you don’t get the multi-scale benefits.” – Paul Heumiller

Now let’s look at some common Fanned Fret scale combinations and the uses for each. Let me start by saying there are no hard and fast rules. I encourage experimentation and fearlessness in this regard. The least amount of fan that we typically see is a half an inch combining the two common Martin scales 24.9 inches on the treble to 25.4 inches on the bass. This is a great design for someone playing in standard and drop D and even DADGAD but not really going to lower tunings. You’ll feel very little difference at all but you will get improved intonation and clarity and the short trebles are a joy to bend. Other scales we often use for DADGAD players is 25 inch treble scale and 26 inch bass scale, Paul’s Somogyi employed this combination. This works great for DADGAD and even some C tunings. The one inch fan is still very manageable and very versatile. Both of these scales above can be used with standard gauge strings – light gauge works fine as well.

Paul Heumiller’s McConnell SJ Fanned Fret

For my personal McConnell guitar we elected to use 25.5 inches on the treble side and 26.25 on the bass side. Jordan McConnell and I decided on this scale combination as I primarily play this guitar in low tunings C9, Gsus4, and DADGAD down a whole step to C. Paul says “I left the trebles long because we wanted them to bite. But I can also put it in standard pitch and it works great. I use 12.5 to 55 gauge strings – just personal preference here.” On the longer side of Fanned Fret would be 25.6 on this treble side to 27 inches or so on the bass side. This big of a spread you’ll feel a bit more but it can go very low – all the way down to A or B, crossing into baritone territory. “I once owned a Traugott with this spread and it was killer!. Bill Tippin is currently building me a short Fanned Fret guitar, this one will be 24.75 – 25.5, I plan to play it mostly in Drop D and Standard and wanted really bendy trebles!” – Paul Heumiller

There’s really no limit to what you can do with the Fanned Fret to accommodate your music and your style of play. At Dream Guitars we are Champions of the Fanned Fret concept and almost always have one or two in stock. We work with many builders who offer Fanned Fret options and owner Paul Heumiller is currently working on a new Fanned Fret Baritone design with Ken Jones that will be available in Spring of 2014.

Give us a call to discuss your needs and see if a Fanned Fret guitar is right for you. We would love to help you design your perfect Fanned Fret guitar.


Sexauer Fanned Fret Guitar 24.9″ – 25.4″ Scales

“We all know that 12 fret guitars tend to have a different tonal profile than 14 fret guitars. Often they are often a little more complex and seem to just breath a little easier in the low end. This is largely due to the bridge position being shift down to a more central position in the lower bout. With a fanned fret guitar, the bass end of the bridge is in a ’12 fret’ position and the treble end is is in a ’14 fret’ position. This makes it easier for the bass strings to move the top and produce a nice full bass response. Meanwhile, at the other end of the bridge, the treble strings are still in a 14 fret position. The top is ‘tighter’ there and better able to produce good strong trebles. So… it seems to me that a fanned fret guitar, by virtue of the angled bridge,  gives us the tonal best of both the 12 fret and 14 fret design.” – Mark Blanchard – Blanchard Guitars

 

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanned_Fret_Guitars

True North Model 2 Grand Concert
Premium Brazilian Rosewood and Lucky Strike Redwood
Wedge Body, Contoured Cutaway

“I first heard of Dennis Scannell and his True North Guitars from Martin Simspon. Since then I’ve played a number of them and each was amazing and memorable. Dennis achieves a full and resonant voice that is perfect for fingerstyle guitar. I can’t imagine any player needed anything more.” – Paul Heumiller

This Model 2 Grand Concert was built with Dennis’ finest Brazilian Rosewood and a Lucky Strike Redwood Top. Hear the guitar and reads the details by clicking here.

 

Laskin

This amazing 1944 Martin D-18 comes to us from legendary musician David Grisman. David told us it had a sweet voice and great power, and he was right. We all love this guitar here at the shop. It is super lightweight and has a very woody voice with powerful trebles that are full and rich. The bass makes the entire lightweight body tremble and quake. It is setup beautifully, as you would expect since it was owned by David Grisman. This 1944 has all the specs of a 1943 Martin D-18, scalloped bracing included. Here’s you chance to have one of the last great Martins, and one with great provenance to boot.

1944 Martin D-18

“This is a really lovely D-18. It weighs nothing and you feel it vibrate ferociously as you play. It has more body and depth then some, the trebles are fat and really sing out, making it equally adept at lead or rhythm work. It is largely original and in perfect playing condition. Lightweight, powerful, owned by David Grisman, what more could you want? “ – Paul Heumiller

” There is nothing like a vintage D-18 for playing Bluegrass or any other flatpicking style. This is one of the nicest I’ve seen and it has power to spare with lots of tone and volume. I think David put some great mojo into this one as well. Just imagine who may have played this guitar at one time or another. I’d buy it in a second if I could.
Al Petteway

“It’s hard to say just how good this guitar is. Forget, for the moment, it’s beauty. The tone is simply magical. Trebles so full and rich you wonder how Bruce Petros does it. The bass from this amazing set of Brazilian Rosewood is warm and round, at once huge and controlled. Together it makes for a complete guitar, one that is balanced and exquisite on every note. Now for the beauty…. The pictures tell the story… look closely for all the details on this Tunnel 13. The rosette, bridge, etched buttons all hold wonder for the eyes. What a guitar…” – Paul Heumiller



The Petros Tunnel 13 is a thing of beauty and tone. This one is extra special as we custom ordered it with some of the finest Brazilian Rosewood you’ll ever see. Paired with the exceptional sounding Tunnel 13 Redwood top you get one of the fullest, juiciest sounding guitars you’ll ever lay ears on.

The Petros Tunnel 13 also boast unique Pearwood bindings on the headstock, neck and body, etched pearwood buttons, abalone top border and custom Tunnel 13 rosette and bridge inlays as well. The neck is carved from Butternut. Elegantly beautiful from head to toe and very special even in a world full of wonderful guitars. The Tunnel 13 is a rare gem sonically and aesthetically.

Here is the full story from the Petros Website: Southern Pacific Railroad’s Siskiyou Summit Tunnel #13 was built in the 1880’s using virgin Redwood timbers harvested in Southwestern Oregon. These timbers witnessed the October 11, 1923 hold up of the SP Train 13 Gold Special, pulling 13 cars, by the DeAutremont brothers. Four men were killed in the robbery attempt. When these magnificent Redwood timbers were salvaged from this historic tunnel after a fire in 2004, Petros Guitars managed to acquire some of the nicer sections. When these diamonds in the rough were opened up, it was discovered to be exceptional, master-grade tone wood, air dried in this tunnel for more than 120 years. Paired with light weight, figured Claro Walnut from Oregon and a light weight Butternut neck from Wisconsin, this guitar is light as a feather (3 pounds, 14 ounces) with the resonance of a 120 year old guitar. After a century of silence, Petros Tunnel 13 Redwood guitars are giving voice to the remarkable Redwood of Tunnel 13.


“Bozo Padunavac is a legend in the guitar world. One of the very early independent Luthiers and a true master of the art form. During his many years building he made only a few true masterpieces like this 40th Anniversary Archtop and this is truly something to behold and to play. Worthy of a Museum, but better yet we hoped it will be loved and played daily by one of our wonderful clients. This one deserves a great home.” – Paul Heumiller

Bozo Beograd

A very special instrument from master luthier Bozo Padunavac. This is a 40th Anniversary Beograd Archtop model featuring Bozo’s signature ornate Abalone inlays and elaborate custom purfling. The maple back and sides and European Spruce top make for a rich and powerful voice. The incredible hand inlay work makes this a true work of art as well. Every surface is adorned with Paua Abalone, Herringbone and too many fine details to list so we’ll let the photos tell it’s story below. Be sure to admire the brass Tailpiece, gorgeous Headplate and amazing fingerboard inlay.

It’s hard to fathom, but this incredible archtop plays and sounds as good as it looks! The action is smooth and even, like an electric, and the tone is both complex and round. This guitar really sings with a flat pick.

Please click here for additional specs and photos:

“This is a very special instrument with all the bells and whistles. A perfect addition to any collection of archtops. It plays like and electric and is smooth and silky.” – Al Petteway

 

 

“I saw this guitar when Michi debuted it and we are delighted to have a chance to offer it to our clients. Everything about this Matsuda guitar is an expression of art and music. The low extension and capo work very simply and allow for instant access to creativity. Beside the obvious move to Low D, in alternate tunings many other possibilities come to life as well. It’s so well implemented that you do not need to retune either. Putting all the artful touches aside, this guitar has an inspiring musical character. It’s voice is beyond impressive, it’s sonorous, open and full of life. Michi is only making about 6 guitars per year so it is very rare that we have a preowned Matsuda. Here’s your chance to own perhaps the most creative builder working today.”Paul Heumiller

“The tone on this work of art is unsurpassed. The low D extension is pretty cool, if you play a lot in Drop D tuning, although you have to remember the fingering doesn’t change from standard tuning when you use this feature.”Al Petteway

This incredible Matsuda M1 guitar features a custom split headstock and Low D extension “capo” that drops the low E string down a full step. This wonderful instrument also showcases Michi’s impressive artistic talents. From the sweeping rosette, to the multi-dimensional side soundport to the ergonomic “sloped” neck heel, this is as fine a guitar as we’ve ever seen. The old growth Brazilian Rosewood back and sides and perfect Italian Spruce top make for a sublime, full tone with rich bass and musical treble that are clear and present. An incredible guitar that can change tunings with the flick of a wrist.

  • Body Size: Medium
  • Scale: 25 11/32 in. (643.65 mm)
  • Nut Width: 1 3/4 in. (43.7 mm)
  • String Spacing: 2 1/4 in. (57.15 mm)
  • Body Length: 19 5/16 in.
  • Upper Bout: 11 3/16 in.
  • Lower Bout: 15 1/2 in.
  • Serial #: 67
  • Body Depth @Neck Heel: 3 3/4 in.
  • Body Depth @Tail Block: 4 7/16 in.
  • Frets to body: 14
  • Back/Sides: Brazilian Rosewood
  • Top Wood: Italian Spruce
  • Fingerboard: Brazilian Rosewood
  • Neck Wood: Mahogany
  • Bridge: Ebony Belly
  • Rosette: Custom Rosewood
  • Binding: Ebony
  • Fingerboard Bindings: none
  • Headplate: Custom
  • Headstock Bindings: Ebony
  • Headstock Inlay: None
  • Top Trim: Custom
  • Back Strip: Rosewood
  • Fret Markers: None
  • Tuners: Sperzel
  • Tuner Finish: Gold



1956 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

This is a beautiful, all original vintage 1956 Les Paul Goldtop with a carved maple top and mahogany back and neck. It features a bound rosewood fingerboard with trapezoid inlay, a pearl logo and Kluson tuners with tulip shaped tuner buttons. It has many advanced features such as the stop tailpiece and Tune-O-Matic bridge made famous on late 50’s Les Pauls. This guitar features 2 “Soapbar” P-90 pickups with cream colored covers. Since it is pre 1960 it has a nice full neck. This guitar has that worn in feel that cannot be reproduced. This is a lightweight Gold Top that screams. The neck is simply wonderful, and the entire guitar sings with a classic tone from a bygone era.

“Ok, now we are having fun! This is the real deal, a completely original, solid, lightweight, incredible soulful 1956 Les Paul Gold Top – The one to own. This one has to be played to be believed. The feel is that special and the tone from the original P-90s is powerful. We all hope this one sticks around a while because it’s just too much fun to play! This is the market to buy instruments like this. You’ll be happy you did 10 years from now, both because of all the fun you’ll have had, plus it is sure to increase in value.” – Paul Heumiller

“This is the kind of guitar that makes your heart stop. It is so beautiful and so wonderfully crafted that it is mesmerizing. I simply cannot walk by it without holding it and playing it. Boaz spent countless hours tirelessly creating this museum quality piece, he even cut the Abalone from the shells. The details are too many to mention so be sure to carefully study the photos. The tone is majestic and warm, delightful in every way. This will be a prize in any serious collection.” – Paul Heumiller

Dream Guitars is thrilled to offer this stunning museum quality Baroque style guitar by Israeli luthier extraordinaire, Elkayam Boaz. The amount of detailed workmanship in this instrument is mind-boggling — from the multi-piece back to the eleborate rosette, soundboard inlays, wooden bridge extensions, friction pegs with ivory seats, ivory strings stops, and back of neck inlays. This is a true work of art.

This very guitar was the subject of a wonderful article in Acoustic Guitar Magazine by luthier Rick Turner in November 1997. The Boaz Baroque Guitar’s voice is detailed and articulate, intimate and sweet, and of course, perfect for period music.

 

    Measurements 

  • Body Size: Medium
  • Scale: 650 mm (25.6 in.)
  • Nut Width: 53.2 mm (2.1 in)
  • String Spacing: 55 mm (2.15 in)
  • Body Length: 17 3/4 in.
  • Upper Bout: 9 5/8 in.
  • Lower Bout: 12 3/8 in.
  • Body Depth @Neck Heel: 3 in.
  • Body Depth @Tail Block: 3 1/8 in.
  • Frets to body: 12
    Woods & Trim 

  • Back/Sides: Brazilian Rosewood, Maple
  • Top Wood: German Spruce
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Neck Wood: Mahogany
  • Bridge: Ebony
  • Rosette: Abalone & Wood
  • Binding: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Bindings: None
  • Headplate: Ebony
  • Headstock Bindings: None
  • Headstock Inlay: Custom
  • Top Trim: Abalone
  • Back Strip: Custom
  • Fret Markers: Custom
  • Tuners: Friction Pegs
  • Tuner Finish: Ebony

 

 

*Paul’s Pick is a new feature on the Dream Guitars website that highlights exceptional vintage and handbuilt guitars that deserve more attention — guitars with exceptional tone, playability, appearance and provenance. For more information on the featured guitar, or any instrument we offer, please call Paul or Steven at (828) 658 – 9795.

“This guitar represents one of the interesting stories in the guitar world. How instruments come to be is as exciting as the music they make. The story of Dave of England is a great one in the guitar world. You can definitely sense the commitment to Tony Zemaitis’ work in this Queen of Hearts guitar designed by artist and author Paul Schmidt and built by Kevin Parsons and Dave Brewis. Very lightweight and energetic, this one is a joy to play and to behold.” – Paul Heumiller

Dave of England "Queen of Hearts"

The guitars of the late great Tony Zemaitis are the stuff of legend! And with good reason too — they were played by some of the biggest names in the history of Rock and Roll. George Harrison, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Eric Clapton amongst them — Rock royalty does not get bigger than that! Sadly, Tony Z passed on in 2002, but before he did, a gentleman named David Brewis contacted him with hopes of commissioning a guitar. Tony explained that he was now retired, and he would no longer be building, but he graciously offered Brewis one of his official jigs in which to build a guitar. Within weeks Brewis was given 10 jigs and patterns, and permission to build guitars with them utilizing the talents of luthier Kevin Parsons. In so doing, Brewis was dubbed “Dave of England” and “Keeper of the Jigs and Keeper of the Patterns”!

Dream Guitars is fortunate to have one of these fine and rare guitars to offer. This is a Queen of Hearts guitar designed by artist and author Paul Schmidt and built by Dave of England guitars. With it’s distinct styling and imaginative lines, this guitar could easily have been built by the hands of the master himself. But it is more than an interesting piece, it is also an extremely toneful one. The neck is on the slender side, and the guitar itself is lightweight. It has a fine fast attack, superb for Townshend-esque strumming — but played softly, it has a sweet remarkable tone that is very responsive to dynamics. In all, it is a wonderful guitar with a distinct look and a truly special voice.

    Measurements 

  • Body Size: Jumbo
  • Scale: 25 in. (635 mm)
  • Nut Width: 1 5/8 in. (41.4 mm)
  • String Spacing: 2 1/8 in. (54.1 mm)
  • Body Length: 20 3/8 in.
  • Upper Bout: 12 1/4 in.
  • Lower Bout: 16 3/4 in.
  • Serial #: One of Five
  • Body Depth @Neck Heel: 3 3/4 in.
  • Body Depth @Tail Block: 4 3/8 in.
  • Frets to body: 14

    Woods & Trim 

  • Back/Sides: European Sycamore Maple
  • Top Wood: Sitka Spruce
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Neck Wood: Mahogany
  • Bridge: Ebony Smiley Face
  • Rosette: Abalone Heart Shaped Rosette
  • Binding: Maple
  • Fingerboard Bindings: Ebony with Paua Perflings
  • Headplate: Rosewood
  • Headstock Bindings: None
  • Headstock Inlay: Metal ‘Queen of Hearts’ Plaque by Danny O’Brien, Metal ‘Art of Music’ Truss Cover
  • Top Trim: Wood Lines
  • Back Strip: None
  • Fret Markers: Paua Hearts at 12th Fret
  • Tuners: Grover Imperials
  • Tuner Finish: Chrome

For more information on this superb guitar, or any of the fine guitars listed on this site, please call Paul or Steven at (828) 658-9795.

 

 

 

Last week’s our new Paul’s Pick* segment showcased a stellar vintage Martin 000-45 from 1930. We figured that since we’re already discussing  incredible old Martins, we’d be remiss if we failed to mentioned another exceptional classic that is currently in our shop; this gorgeous 1931 OM-28.

This is one of the all time great vintage Martins, a vintage, prewar 1931 Martin OM-28. 1 of 166 made that year and just 487 pre-war OM-28s ever made. Born over 80 years ago, this guitar has an incredible story. It was purchased by crew members of the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga for their superior just before the bombing at Pearl Harbor. The Saratoga was moved just days before the bombing and this beautiful Martin survived to delight the seamen throughout their tour of duty.

This wonderful vintage OM-28 has stunning Brazilian back and sides, an Adirondack top, and the purest sweet old Martin sound you’re going to find. Abolutely one of the best sounding guitars to ever grace our walls. This fine early example comes in a period correct case, and has superbly well dressed and crowned bar frets, that feel more like modern frets than the old-timers.

This vintage Martin OM-28 guitar is largely original, but like all these old timers has had some work done as described in the condition statement here. What you can’t see is the amazing voice, so put on your headphones and be sure to listen to this treasure. Playing this fine pre-war vintage 1931 Martin OM-28 is such a pleasure, it is far more than a collectible. This is a guitar that will work its way into your heart and never leave!

To hear audio of this guitar please click here!

“I’ve had the pleasure to play many fine prewar Martins, but this is the best OM-28 I’ve played to date for two reasons. First, the tone is etheral, so sweet, strong and resonant. It weighs nothing and just vibrates in your arms. Second is it’s playability. A superb setup was done with painstaking fret dressing. I guarantee you have never played bar frets that feel this good. Each fret was perfectly crowned and the ends rounded, so your finger slide over them as if they were modern frets. This is the vintage prewar Martin OM-28 we all dream of, now it can be reality. This is the time to buy vintage gems as they are devalued, but we all know they won’t stay that way…” – Paul Heumiller

Here’s a video of the the great Mary Flower playing this fine old Martin!

 

*Paul’s Pick is a new feature on the Dream Guitars website that highlights exceptional vintage and handbuilt guitars that deserve more attention — guitars with exceptional tone, playability, appearance and provenance. For more information on the featured guitar, or any instrument we offer, please call Paul or Steven at (828) 658 – 9795.