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Kevin Caton of Caton Guitars is one of our newest builders, and we’ve already sold one of his fantastic Sullivan models. We’ve got the next one in the works already! Coming soon to a Dream near you with Guatemalan Rosewood back and sides, Adirondack Spruce on top, Kevin’s Bevel Port, and a cutaway. Stay tuned for more!

B&S – Guatemalan Rosewood
Top – 5A Adirondack
Binding – Ebony
Neck – Mahogany Maple lam.
Bridge/ Fingerboard / Pegheads – Ebony
Additional Options – Bevel Port, Arm Rest, Florentine Cutaway, Gotoh 510 Delta tuners

19 3/4″ body length
15 1/4″ lower bout
11 1/4″ upper bout
3 5/8″ depth at neck block
4 1/8″ depth at tail block
25.4″ scale
1 3/4″ nut width
2 1/4″ string spacing @ saddle
14 fret neck
3 7/8″ sound hole

To learn more about their overall creative vision and very unique approach, we recently interviewed our friends Matthew Rice and Matthias Roux over at Casimi Guitars in Cape Town, South Africa to discuss a range of topics including their design, voicing, building style, inspiration, and more. Please see below for the complete chat. Enjoy!

Click here to see some of these beauties in action: https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/builders/casimi-guitars-.html

LW: It’s easy to say your guitars stand quite apart from the already distinctive crowd of modern guitars. What brought you to your particular aesthetic?  

M&M: Thank you, it’s nice to think we have some originality in our approach. There are several reasons why we do things a little differently. Firstly, our whole aesthetic was developed in relative isolation from the mainstream of modern guitar design. It all started off as a fantasy of mine in a sketchbook one afternoon back in about 2003 (while I should probably have been doing something else). In those days I was pursuing a career as a musician and I had a day job working for a music instrument shop in Cape Town as their in-house guitar tech. I had a lot of instruments pass through my hands, pretty much the full gamut from the good through the bad to the ugly. One thought that kept plaguing me was what a wasted design opportunity the guitar often was. It’s got all the essential ingredients of a great design, but so often there is something missing or something that could have been done with more care and attention to detail. As a musician, artist, and jewelry designer, these aesthetic disappointments drove me to explore the guitar as a design question, which I did as a series of sketches and doodles in my lunch breaks and as a way of twiddling my thumbs. These drawings were an exploration of the form of the guitar from a sculptural perspective and were in line with my design philosophy as a whole.

I have always been fascinated with how the laws of physics produce lines and vectors which are inherently beautiful. How the natural world constantly produces designs which are breathtaking in their perfection and how these governing principles give rise to forms which are perfectly suited to their function. Elegant, alive, athletic, dynamic, efficient, and authentic. Expressing a kind of divine essence. I aspired to reach for this same lofty ideal in all my work. (“Beauty is truth and truth is beauty. That is all we know and all we need to know,” as Blake put it.)  Years later I had the opportunity to build my own guitar with my longtime best friend Matthias Roux who was working for Maingard Guitars at the time. He and Colin Rock (another luthier at Maingard Guitars) decided to offer a guitar building course in the evenings. I jumped at the opportunity and brought along all my rather unorthodox sketches. We went through them together, weeding out the implausible ideas from the more realistic ones and after some hours we had a concept. That guitar was built as my personal instrument with no thought of marketing it to anyone else at all. It was simply my dream guitar, built with great love and a lot of help from two good friends. However, it became obvious that we were onto something special. The combination of my design fantasies and Matthias’s experience in building (at that point he had completed in the region of about 250 builds for Maingard) worked like a magic recipe. That same guitar became the prototype C2S and formed the basis for all our work as Casimi Guitars. 

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

M&M: Well, for both of us, favourites make a very long and diverse list. On the acoustic side, Michael Hedges, Mike Dawes, John Gom, Pierre Bensusan, Michael Watts, Derek Gripper, Guy Buttery, Habib Koité, John Mclaughlin, Andy Mckee…the list goes on and on (We did in fact build a guitar for Guy Buttery very early on). On the electric side, Mark Knopfler, David Gilmore, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Tom Morello, Ali Farka Touré, John Mayer, Jimmy Hendrix of course…so many! And we discover more all the time. Matthias has a strong background in Flamenco and therefore also followed players such as Paco de Lucia and Vincente Amigo. Between the two of us, I would say the spectrum is best described as immense and spans players and genres from Flamenco through Metal, Jazz, Ambient, Rock, African, Folk, Blues and many more.

LW: You utilize several design features that we haven’t seen before, your bridge setup for one. Can you walk us through your process in designing some of your more arcane features? 

M&M: Yes, indeed! If we take the bridge as a good example, my starting point in designing that was the same as for everything else. To remove everything non essential and to try to make it beautiful along the way. Specifically with the bridge, I wanted to get rid of bridge pins. Personally I can’t stand the things! Any gigging guitarist knows that awkward silence when you have to replace a string mid show. Once you’ve run out of stories and you’re still using your pocket knife to dig out that little pin that just won’t quit.. by the time you’ve got the new string on and are tuned up, half the audience is either asleep or sneaking out the door…Not great. So I wanted a pinless bridge, but one that still retained the advantages of having the strings attached under the bridge plate. Ordinarily a pin-less system means the string is only attached to the bridge. One big advantage of the pinned bridge is that the string goes through the sound board and pulls from underneath the bridge plate. This means it’s not pulling your bridge off, but is pulling from underneath your bridge. This also gives a better break angle and therefore energy transfer to the soundboard. In order to rid ourselves of pins, we needed a system that would allow us to insert the string and keep it in place using its own tension. This we achieved with a kind of modified keyhole design, but then we needed to cover the key holes so as to maintain proper air pressure inside the soundbox. We went round the garden several times with this. All manner of mechanisms were explored from sliding drawers to swivelling lids until we hit on the idea of using magnets to hold down a cap that would cover our keyhole system. The aesthetic of the bridge is also largely functional. Yes, its shape is supposed to please the eye, but it derives from several functional considerations. Firstly we wanted the back of the bridge to reflect the curve of the tail of the guitar. Something we always see with classical guitars is that, over time, the square bridge pulling on the rounded tail results in some rather unhappy looking corrugations between the bridge and lower soundboard. By making the back of the bridge rounded (parallel to the tail), we have spread the stress out more evenly across the lower portion of the soundboard resulting in a more even pressure load. This is a good thing for structural longevity, but arguably also for tonal transfer from string through bridge to soundboard and braces. The hollows are there to facilitate easy finger access to the magnetic bridge cap and they also cut down on weight and bring the bridge within the 30 to 34g ideal weight for our recipe.

The same thinking went into the hollow headstock. It’s really a traditional slotted headstock with the non essential middle spar removed. Since its reinforced from the inside with carbon fibre rods and is sandwiched between two hardwood veneers back and front, it’s well strong enough to remove the extra material in the middle. The machine heads are simply a set of Gotoh 510s fitted sideways. This also, was partially an attempt to create easier access for restringing, but we liked the elegant quirkiness of the look.

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

M&M: To put it in a nutshell, one of the first builds to carry the Casimi name was an African Blackwood and Engelman spruce C2S. This guitar was built using a traditional Martin X brace and two tone bars just like what we were used to from Maingard. There were one or two modifications that had taken place since the prototype, but essentially it was one of those magical instruments that just bursts with life, tone, power projection, and all the qualities one is looking for and it’s hard to nail down exactly why. It was a monster straight off the bench. It was built as a shop guitar and for exhibition, so it hung around our workshop for two or three years and we really got to know it. It was really quite close to the voice we were always chasing, and it has been the voice of that guitar that we tried to emulate thereafter. Eventually we decided to experiment by adding a soundport and were able to notice the immediate way in which it tidied up the basses and brought the secondary harmonics into a happier alignment. In around 2014 we decided to experiment with some other bracing patterns. There were some crazy moments with U turns at the last moment. Matthias had an idea he wanted to do using a kind of fan bracing on a steel stringed guitar. I turned around one day and found him putting that top through the drum sander to remove them all after he’d spent a few days carefully shaping and listening. After extensive research and much hard thinking we decided to try a lattice brace pattern. An amazing friend of ours who was an industrial designer helped us to research and develop the jigs and patterns necessary to achieve this. Once we had built a guitar with this new system, we noticed immediately how it brought out the midrange of the instrument. This was the missing piece we had been looking for! Most guitars with the Martin pattern seem to have a kind of scoop in the mids. The lattice really seemed to do a little of the opposite. Suddenly we were hearing thick creamy mids, and it was amazing what an emotional quality came through in the chords. I suspect it has something to do with bringing the voice of the guitar closer to the tonal range of a human voice, so it conveyed this human emotional quality much more. Since then, we have used the lattice as our exclusive bracing pattern. It slowly evolved from build to build and we kept track of these minor adjustments along the way so as to track what differences they made. We’ve managed to reach a tone we like, but there is always more to learn and improve. It’s a constant process.

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

M&M: That’s an interesting question. Much of the challenge at present is to find ways of making more of these crazy guitars more quickly without compromising quality. Simply put, a Casimi takes two experienced luthiers around 2.5 months to produce. We’d like to be in a position to be putting out about ten per year and I think that’s possible in around two to five years. So there probably won’t be any radical changes in aesthetic or tone during that period. Most of the evolution will occur behind the scenes, refining our production.

LW: Any interesting facts about your technique or shop arrangement that you’d like to share? 

M&M: It’s a pretty standard setup. I guess that might be the most interesting part about it. I think some people look at our work and think it was produced in a very high tech dust free lab, but it’s really just a simple old workshop. We like things to be efficient and clean, but we also like our workspace to be a little bit homely and friendly.

LW: Working as a team also sets you apart from many one person operations. What is your working dynamic in the shop? 

M&M: We’ve been best friends, since we were little kids so we know each other extremely well. It’s a pretty seamless partnership. We’ve both got our niches and processes that we have gravitated towards, so it dovetails very nicely. The most obvious advantage is that we have our various areas of expertise. It just so happens that these are perfectly aligned and two brains are better than one. It also spreads the workload somewhat. Of course there’s also the moral support and camaraderie that makes it all the more fun!

LW: What do you each enjoy doing outside of building instruments? 

M&M: The work doesn’t really ever stop but, Matthias loves playing guitars, and cooking, and soccer with his son Surena. I divide my spare time between family, Systema (Russian Martial Arts), music, and art.

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

Matthias: Possibly Cheffing, but he’s always been pretty single minded. He went straight out of high school into an apprenticeship at Maingard Guitars and never looked back. That’s an interesting question for me though…I could have seen myself as a musician, artist, industrial and jewellery designer, pilot, actor, film maker, screenwriter, martial arts instructor or journalist. Pretty wide spectrum, really.

LW: What music are you listening to right now?

M&M: For both of us, I guess all the artists listed already. Currently in my most listened list are Roger Waters, Amused to Death, Sona Jobarteh, The Police, Derek Gripper, Nils Petter Molvaer, Arvo Pärt and Massive Attack, and we are both constantly whistling Michael Watt’s tunes.

LW: Okay, heaven forbid the shop is burning down. You can grab only one tool as you get out of there. What is the tool? 

M&M: The first thing that comes to mind is our precious wood stash! And our all our templates!..and Japanese chisels…and our Lee Nielsen Planes…Are you sure we can only grab one?

Oh boy oh boy, just in time for the holidays–our latest build from Sweden’s Ted Åstrand is coming soon to a Dream near you! This will be our first Å-SJ, with an impressive lower bout for added power. African Blackwood back and sides paired with a Moonspruce top and Ebony bindings (plus a cutaway for all you fretboard travelers and capo aficionados).

We are more than excited, and you should be too. Stay tuned!

The team at Preston Thompson Guitars is a well-honed machine, creating some of the finest traditionally-inspired instruments on the market today. They have recently embarked on an exclusive series to showcase their finest efforts, ideas, and materials–appropriately named the Masterpiece Series–and we are proud to have found a home for the first, a 45-style OM bedecked with a unique take on inlays with extensive MOP and Abalone vines and ferns (https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/preston-thompson-masterpiece-series-custom-45-style-shipwreck-brazilian-rosewood-adirondack-spruce-1.html). Now they’re hard at work on Masterpiece Series #2, this time a Koi fish inlay treatment on a 00-14QMA body that rivals some of the finest inlay artists in the field. You’ll find premium Quilted Western Maple for the back and sides, Adirondack Spruce on top, and a short scale neck with a 14 fret body join.

Here’s a link to Christine’s blog on the Thompson website for more information about Simon Haycraft’s inlay process: http://pktguitars.com/acoustic-guitars/masterpiece-series-2-in-the-works/.

12/17/19 Update: Coming right along. Folks are mapping out the koi across the back, and it’s into the booth for some seriously popping color.

Longtime luthier Dan Bresnan is back at the bench, and this time he’s paired up with his youngest son Sean to bring some incredible guitars to market. We’re more than excited to be partnering up for this particular build, a Grand Concert with drop-dead gorgeous, 5A Brazilian Rosewood (Dan’s got more sets of this incredible stuff, too). Stay tuned for more details and photos as Dan and Sean bring this beauty to life!

The latest build from Tyler Robbins is underway! You won’t want to miss this one; every single one of Tyler’s guitars we’ve seen has floored us, and this one has some top-notch tonewoods to carry that even further, to say nothing of his expressive aesthetic.

Back: Brazilian Rosewood
Top: German Spruce
Rosette: Spruce with teal-orange resin, segmented
Arm Bevel: Brazilian Rosewood
Rib Bevel: Brazilian Rosewood
Binding: Black Rocklite
Fretboard: Brazilian Rosewood
Bridge: Brazilian Rosewood
Nut: 1.75″
Saddle Spacing: 2.187″
Scale: 25.5″, 12 fret body join
Neck: One piece Honduran Mahogany, reinforced with carbon rods
Fret Material: Evo gold Fret wire
Tuners: Gold & Black Gotoh 510 mini

German luthier Max Spohn is hard at work on two commissions for our very own Dream Guitars showroom–and for you if you like what you see. Stay tuned as the builds progress. One is Max’s OM model, decked out in Cocobolo and master grade Swiss Moonspruce, and the other is his newly designed, wide-waisted 00 in Madagascar Rosewood and master grade Italian Spruce. See below for full specs on each.

Model: OM
Back and sides: Cocobolo
Top: Master grade Swiss Moonspruce
Neck: Honduran Mahogany
Fretboard: 14th-fret Ebony fingerboard
Bridge: Rocklite pinless
Binding: Rocklite with black/white purfling Saddle, 2 1/4” compensated Bone
Nut: 1 3/4”
Truss-rod: Stainless steel, double action
Headstock Veneer: Spruce with matching inlays
Back of Headstock Veneer: Cocobolo
Tuning Machines: Scheller with Horn buttons
Fingerboard Radius: 20′′
Scale Length: 25”
Cutaway: Florentine
Rosette: Custom Inlay with Horn and Silver Leaf

Here’s Max: “What’s special on this guitar is the material used for the rosette. The horn pieces are from an African cow and coated with silver leaf on the bottom side to bring out its translucency. This is my take on an old technique originally used for tortoise inlays on furniture where the tortoise was underlaid with gold leaf or a shiny red paper to bring out its colors and texture.”

Model: 00 Wide Waist
Back and sides: Madagascar Rosewood
Soundboard: Master grade Italian Spruce
Neck: Honduran Mahogany
Fretboard: 14th-fret Ebony
Bridge: Rocklite pinless
Binding: Rocklite with black/white purfling
Saddle, 2 1/4” compensated Bone
Nut: 1 3/4”
Truss-rod: Stainless steel, double action
Headstock Veneer: Madagascar Rosewood
Back of Headstock veneer: Madagascar Rosewood
Tuning Machines: Scheller with Ebony buttons
Fingerboard Radius: 20′′
Scale Length: 25”
Rosette: Custom Inlay with fossilized Mammoth Bone
End Graft: Fossilized Mammoth Bone

Here’s Max: “This is my new 00 model with a wider waist to enhance the bass response. I love small-bodied guitars because of their comfortable size and intimate sound. Though I wanted a small guitar with the bass response of a much bigger guitar. The material used for the rosette and end graft on this guitar are Fossilized Mammoth Bone I recently came across. I love playing with texture, opacity, and translucency in my inlay work, and this material really shows it. With a brass leaf coat on the bottom side, you can see the interesting structure of the bone which almost looks like a sponge. And the rusty colors perfectly match the color of the Madagascar Rosewood back and sides.”

1/22/20 Update:

Big news: we’ve commissioned tonewood maestro Don Musser to build an OM with some of his finest The Tree Mahogany–and you know if it’s Don’s best stuff, it’s pretty much the best stuff around. Don’s pairing The Tree with Engelmann Spruce on top which he harvested from his harvesting days in Colorado. For the fretboard, bridge, and headstock veneer, Don’s putting some exotic Brazilian Dalbergia he “ran across when working with a wood importer back in the 1980s. It might be a hybrid between D. Nigra and Kingwood. The inlays he sourced from his supply of pearl from the days when he shared a workshop with Chuck Erikson, “The Duke of Pearl.” More to come!

Eric Weigeshoff of Skytop Guitars is hard at work for our next custom build for the Dream Guitars roster. Striking “Pale Moon” Ebony & Bearclaw Sitka, a comin’ soon to a Dream near you!

11/26/19 Update:

12/31/19 Update:

2/11/20 Update: back from the finisher! Shining like a fresh diamond.

The Dream Guitars roster opens its arms wide for Max Spohn of Heidenheim, Germany. Paul met with Max at the Vancouver International Guitar Festival and was struck by Max’s aesthetic and tone. That baby blue guitar came home to us shortly thereafter! We recently caught up with Max to chat a bit about life & lutherie to better understand the man behind Spohn Guitars to welcome him to the Dream Team. Enjoy!

Be sure to check out the listing for our first OM here: https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/2019-spohn-om-pau-ferro-swiss-moonspruce-17.html

LW: Welcome! We’re excited to have your guitars in the shop. Can you fll us in on your path to lutherie? What first drew you to building guitars?

MS: I started playing guitar when I was six years old, and I have always been fascinated by the sounds this instrument produced. When I graduated from high school, I wanted to become an industrial designer, but when I prepared my application for university, I noticed that I was not satisfied with only designing things that other people would go on to build. I wanted to create something on my own instead. With the background of always having guitars around me, it was an obvious choice to build a guitar, and after the first week of my internship with German luthier Thomas Ochs I knew I wanted to become a luthier myself. Nothing has ever felt as natural for me as being a luthier!

LW: When Paul met with you at the Vancouver show, he was impressed by your aesthetics. Walk us through what you’re doing with inlay materials, color choices, the use of Spruce at the headstock.

MS: The design of a guitar means more to me than only representing my brand. It has to inspire the musician to explore worlds they haven’t witnessed before! To achieve this, I incorporate graphical elements into my guitars. Starting with the rosette, which is more of an inlay next to the soundhole of my guitars. Inlays can be found on various different spots like the headstock, end graft or on the back of the neck. But my overall goal is to maintain a simple aesthetic that is self-explanatory while surprising with its details. Each of my designs is one-of-a-kind and will never get reproduced.

I find a lot of fun in trying new materials like different burls, either dyed or in their natural color, buffalo horn or a special piece of bone that you will see in one of the next guitars I’m building for Dream Guitars. The color and texture always have to compliment the back and side wood while adding something unique and interesting to it.

The first guitar of mine you have in the shop now differs a bit from my other work, since this guitar was designed with a specific theme in mind. I have always loved Scandinavian design of the 1950s and 60s, especially the work of Danish architect and industrial designer Arne Jacobsen. With this in mind I reconsidered every aspect of my guitars, kept some of my previous designs like the body and headstock shape and redesigned others, like the bridge and heel shape. This was also when I first came up with the idea of making a Spruce headstock to achieve a uniform appearance on the front of the guitar.

LW: What has been the most exciting guitar for you to build to date?

MS: It is always exciting to try new things, so my first baritone guitar was something very special for me. But it is always the guitar I have currently on my bench that is the most exciting one I have built to date. When you are only building unique instruments there are always exciting things in a build. It doesn’t matter if it is a special inlay, a new piece of wood or an ergonomic feature that has to match the overall look of the instrument. The diversity found in making bespoke guitars is one of the greatest pleasures in lutherie, and is what keeps it interesting all the time. I doubt it is possible to build a guitar that is not exciting!

LW: Let’s shift gears and talk about your your approach to voicing an instrument. How did you frst fnd your voice?

MS: Since I started focusing on modern steel string guitars, I had a specific sound in my head that I wanted my guitars to create. I want it to have the clarity and midrange of a good steel string guitar combined with the sweetness and bass response of a classical guitar. Having such a specific sound in mind when building a guitar can be challenging, and it took some time to achieve a satisfying result. During my time with Ray Kraut I learned a lot about voicing guitar tops and how to get consistent results which helped me a lot getting closer to what I am after. Chasing the tone in my head is what will keep lutherie always interesting to me!

The typical sound of a Spohn Guitar is very well balanced with a thick treble and a low bass. To achieve this on my small and medium body guitars I use a symmetrical falcate bracing that really brings out the sweetness in the trebles.

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

MS: As I have mentioned above, I wanted to become an industrial designer during most of my time in high school, so I probably would be one today. Otherwise I would have probably become a professional chef since cooking is something I truly enjoy besides building guitars. It has a lot to do with lutherie like the appreciation of the ingredients and the care in dealing with them. Maybe I would be building other things by hand, doesn’t matter if it would be furniture, pottery or goldwork, but I would definitely be self employed.

LW: How do you have your shop laid out?

MS: I am currently working in a very small space which can be very challenging to keep clean and organized. Fortunately, I have a lot of natural light in it which is not only important for the quality of my guitars but also for my motivation. To keep such a small shop clean I reorganize it every now and then and optimize it. It is a great space for starting a business, but it is time to move to a bigger space soon.

LW: What music are you listening to right now?

MS: I currently listen to contemporary flatpickers like Molly Tuttle and Billy Strings a lot, which is a style I came to appreciate during my time in Eugene. But I also listen to the Motown and Stax Soul singers lately, as well as to Don Latarski’s latest album, River, which is truly inspiring in the shop. When it comes to fingerstyle music I am a big fan of Will McNicol and Vin Downes. I love many different styles of music so what I am currently listening to is constantly changing.

LW: And finally, what’s next for Spohn Guitars? How do you predict you will continue to grow and develop as a luthier?

MS: Next up is a new guitar model I am currently working on to expand the Spohn Guitars range that will be available through Dream Guitars soon! Besides this, there are many interesting things coming up like moving to a bigger shop as well as moving to another city. So there are some exciting times coming up for me. I’m sure all of this will inspire me to push my work forward in many ways.

Incoming! Bevan Frost is hard at work churning out the first Big Hollow 00 built specifically for us. The first guitar that’s headed our way will be a 00 in Honduran Mahogany & Lutz Spruce, with a rib bevel and bird’s beak neck joint. Stay tuned for pics from Bevan along the way!

“OM on left, OO on right. 
The one on the right is headed your way.”
“Sealing the end grain of the logo with hide glue.”
Gluing in the truss rod cap. I use epoxy here to grab against the metal rod.
“This morning I refined the bridge shape on this pyramid/ belly combo bridge. Lots of file work, as well as sanding. You can see the variety of tools I used to get it to its final form. I use the pyramid/belly combo for longer scales and bigger guitars like my OM model.”
“It is in the filler/sealer stage. Like almost every other point in the process, if it’s not done right it can lead to much more work and sub-optimal results. Do it right though, and you set yourself up for a minimum number of coats and sanding. The best way is almost always the quickest, simply because you’re not messing around trying to make something look better.  Next up I level with 320 then it’s on to Varnish. “
“It is going to hang for a month to cure then I’ll sand, buff, and assemble.”

10/2/19 update: Nearly there! Bevan’s headed in for final fit, finish, and setup soon.

We’re excited to announce we’re teaming up with Bevan Frost of Big Hollow guitars as his exclusive dealer. Bevan’s got a few guitars in the works already for us, and we recently took a moment to chat him up about his approach to building, and what we can look forward to in the coming months. Keep your eyes peeled for those guitars coming down the pipe, and enjoy our conversation in the meantime!

The first guitar that’s headed our way will be a 00 in Honduran Mahogany & Lutz Spruce, with a rib bevel and bird’s beak neck joint.

Here’s a link to all our Big Hollow guitars, past and present: https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/builders/big-hollow.html

LW: Let’s get started with some backstory. What first drew you to guitarbuilding?

BF: I played the trumpet in grade school and enjoyed it. I got to high school and I was excited about jazz band, but they said I had to play in the marching band if I wanted to play in the jazz band. That’s when I switched to the electric guitar. I took a more organic approach to playing it, as I’d always been frustrated by my inability to produce my own music on the trumpet. Obviously the cultural status of the instrument had a big appeal. In high school my aesthetic sense developed under a unique art teacher. A potter, he drilled into everyone an appreciation for craft, and a dedication to practice. I started to see the acoustic guitar as the more appealing form of the instrument, and then I wanted to make one. The local library had a book on guitarmaking, so I checked it out. I built a guitar from that book, and although it was an intermittent affliction, the idea of lutherie was in place by the time I graduated in 1998.

“This morning I refined the bridge shape on this pyramid/ belly combo bridge. 
Lots of file work, as well as sanding. 
You can see the variety of tools I used to get it to its final form. 
I use the pyramid/belly combo for longer scales and bigger guitars like my OM model.”

I attended a computer drafting program and got a job doing drafting at a civil engineering firm. It didn’t last, and neither did my health. Soon I was miserable from abdominal pain as the colitis I’d had since I was five flared up. Guitarmaking became the one thing that I lived for, something I could do on my own schedule as well as balm for the soul. I ended up living with my Dad for eight years while I battled that illness and laid the foundation for a career in lutherie. I love the guitar because it is an opportunity to present a harmonically designed whole, a work of art. At the same time it is a thousand little structural engineering problems, as well as a tool to use for expression. It must satisfy all these demands, and in doing so I get to be Designer, Engineer, Woodworker, and Musician. In what other field do you get to play in that many roles? That plus the promise of never-ending horizons of learning had me hooked by the time I was 25.

LW: These days, builders have to distinguish themselves from an already busy field. In what ways do you feel your guitars stand apart?

BF: My guitars are unique because I draw inspiration from vintage instruments, but reinterpret the forms. Many people are building direct copies of famous vintage instruments, or modern looking re-interpretations. I have put together a unique look, feel, and voice that instantly feels old. It’s like finding a parallel groove to your favorite vintage guitars, it feels familiar, yet has its own flavor. 

LW: Is there a particular player that you’d love to build a guitar for? Or have you already had the honor?

BF: Cory Seznec. I met Cory when he needed a banjo repair before a gig. We were fast friends, as he instantly picked up what I was laying down. He is a talented fingerstylist in the American Country Blues tradition, but he also lived and studied guitar in Ethiopia. He now lives in France, and plays with his band all over Europe. His rhythm is multi-layered and his compositions give me the tingles. I visited him last year in Paris while delivering a guitar to a client.  We are yearning to connect over a guitar but haven’t yet. http://www.guitarvideos.com/Products/Instructors/cory-seznec

LW: I’d like to talk about your your approach to voicing an instrument. How did you first find your voice?

“Gluing in the truss rod cap. I use epoxy here to grab against the metal rod. “

BF: My voice came from playing a restored 1890s Henry Mason parlor guitar. I was visiting with the great Bob Westbrook, who had brought it back from the brink. I saw it in process, as well as when it was done. I fell for the 12-fret slotted headstock, lightly built guitar; I immediately made a drawing of it so I could build one. Bob instructed me in hide glue and in how thin you can go on parts like the top, x braces, and bridge plate. I focused like a laser beam and just built single O and double O guitars. Lately I have been measuring the stiffness of the tops and thinning them to a uniform stiffness. I also measure the stiffness of the braced tops and carve the braces until they meet a benchmark. I would say the Big Hollow voice is open, rich, and balanced. My guitars give good tone from the bottom to the top of their range, with little change in volume or character. Responsive from pianissimo to fortissimo, a Big Hollow Guitar is a powerful amplifier, and opens possibilities and colors of expression that are a joy to experience.  The fact that they sound like great vintage guitars is because they are made according to the same principles.

LW: Other than building instruments, what do you enjoy doing?

BF: I am kind of fanatical about skiing, which is convenient because I live in a place that has snow from October until June. I downhill ski, uphill ski, and cross country ski. I play guitar with another father in my neighborhood who plays the pedal steel. If we were 25 years old, we would be really good, but now we can only get together intermittently. It is still the best though. The largest activity in my life lately has to be parenting. I have raised a six year old boy and a two year old boy. I have generally been parenting three days a week for the last six years. It has been a time of growth for me and my family, and it is awesome. Lutherie and parenting go real well together because I can adjust my schedule as needed, and during naps I can make progress.

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

“Sealing the end grain of the logo with hide glue.”

BF: If I hadn’t been ill I would have become a climbing bum, working construction jobs just long enough to buy food and gas to get to the next objective. I could also see myself as a musician. 

LW: Any interesting facts about your shop arrangement that you’d like to share?

BF: My shop is in a two car garage with a room above. I have the power tools walled off in one garage bay, and the upstairs is divided into a small finishing room, a entryway/practice space, and a workroom. I have a huge 5×5′ north window so I get that diffuse light the renaissance masters liked to paint by. I built the garage in 2012, framing up the walls a mere eight months after my 2011 liver transplant. 

LW: What music are you listening to right now?

BF: I like the Turnpike Troubadours

LW: What can we expect from Big Hollow Guitars in the upcoming years? In what ways do you continue to experiment and push the envelope?

BF: I really want to do a 12 string; I’d also like to bring out a modified V neck shape. I visited the Paris musical instrument museum and saw some crazy Baroque guitars. It would be fun to dip into that aesthetic. 

“OM on left, OO on right. 
The one on the right is headed your way. “

There you have it. We’ve had a blast with the first few Big Hollows to come through our shop, and we’re excited for what the future holds as Bevan’s exclusive dealer moving forward. Keep your eyes peeled for the first guitars to come down the line!

We’re proud to announce that Dream Guitars has teamed up with Raymond Kraut as his sole representative for North America. To celebrate the occasion, we sat down with Ray for a chat about life & lutherie, how his career has evolved over time, and what we can look forward to in working so closely together. We’ve also got two brand new Krauts, an OM and a Mod D, that are, as of this writing, available for purchase, which you can find here: https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/builders/kraut.html.

LW: I’d like to start with a bit of a then-and-now question. You’ve been on the lutherie circuit for some time. In what ways do you feel you’ve progressed since embarking on this career? In your eyes, how has Kraut Guitars evolved over time?

RK: I’m always changing and evolving, be it in design or engineering. I’ve always loved the tone of what has now commonly been described as “Somogyi-esque,” and have always been pleased with my ability to achieve it. However, I’ve always strived to find ways to make a guitar of this style lighter. Through the years I have done just that by way of using removable neck systems so as to build lighter headblocks, and now I use high-quality Port Orford Cedar interior laminates because of its lightweight and stable nature, rather than heavier alternatives like Rosewood. I can’t say it’s one thing that has allowed me to achieve this, rather, many smaller things which overall make for a significant difference in weight and comfort. Stylistically, I will always be evolving. I can’t seem to sit still on certain design elements, which always keeps me moving into other directions, be it with material choices, color or different ways of playing with line values. It’s really quite exciting for me and also makes me particularly skilled at inlaying in this manner. Every rosette or inlay, I seem to learn something new. I consider my work, in almost every aspect, to be constantly evolving from one guitar to the next.

LW: What lessons did you take away from your apprenticeship with Ervin Somogyi?

RK: Geez. Hard to list them all. I remember leaving Roberto Venn thinking that I knew all I needed to know about building guitars. I thought I would apply for Ervin’s apprenticeship despite this, just to see what it was like working in a professional shop and because one of my previous teachers strongly recommended it. The wealth of knowledge that Ervin has then far exceeded anything I could have ever imagined. I walked away with the equivalent of a Harvard education. It wasn’t just learning about the ins and outs of guitars, but life as well. Ervin changed everything for me, from understanding what a good guitar can be to open my eyes to the world of art and how important it can be in life. I had worked for Ervin for about a month before I ever had a chance to play one of his instruments. I remember fondly of how I almost dropped one of his guitars the first time I hit a chord on it as it in every way shocked me. Up until that point I coveted the guitars I grew up with thinking they were my holy grail guitars. Nope. Not anymore. So I walked away with an education on a whole new way of thinking about the construction of a guitar. One that allows the instrument to move and sound optimally to any style of playing. I also walked away with a much greater understanding of line value that continues to inspire me today.

LW: Besides Ervin, which other luthiers do you feel influenced by?

RK: It seems today that there are many luthiers trying new things to establish their own unique styles, something that sets them apart from the growing number of people entering the field. When I first started making rosettes that weren’t your typical ring, my teacher, John Reuter, introduced me to the work of Michihiro Matsuda. I’ll never forget Googling him when I got home from school and seeing his gorgeous masterpieces. I said to myself, this guy is expressing himself the way I envision a guitar to be. Not only a guitar but a visual piece that inspires. I have always been a great admirer of his work! I believe that being inspired by the instrument you play helps to open new doors as a musician.

LW: In your opinion what separates you from the pack of strong, young luthiers these days?

RK: It’s been interesting to see this field evolve over the years. I remember being the youngest luthier for a long time up until recently when its seems hordes of younger luthiers have found the joys of this craft. Many younger luthiers are clearly inspired by the works of both Michi and myself. A large difference I see is that many of them take designs from others that aren’t uniquely their own. I always want to encourage others to be inspired but to find their own voice in design. It’s tough to do. Every student I have had come to me wanting to do interesting inlay designs all started off making what were practically identical designs to mine. As flattering as that is, I would have them draw as many different styles over and over again until they think of something unique. It can be frustrating but in the end every one of them has crafted a design that is truly their own and honestly, really amazing! Aside from the obvious visual differences of my instruments, very few have had the opportunity to study with Ervin. I have never taken for granted the fact that I had the distinct honor of studying with Ervin, and it’s that knowledge I obtained from him that puts me in a different tonal spectrum than many other luthiers today. Experience in this craft isn’t something you can teach: it’s something you earn over time. When I see the new builders at shows, it makes me a bit nostalgic. It’s like looking back in time. More than anything, it’s my experience and maturity in my craft that set me apart.

LW: You’ve managed to move through several shop spaces while maintaining your workload. Why the moves, and how did you balance that with completing orders?

RK: Ugh. Yes, I have had many shops. More than any luthier I have known. I guess it was just life and a world of unforeseen circumstances. The first shop I opened up in Springfield, OR I leased from the city. It was a very old building that sat above a mill race (a small river used for the logging industry). Only a year after setting up shop there, the city passed a new bill that would require tearing down that building for the sake of salmon habitat. That was quite a blow to me, having just settled in. They were good to me though, and offered me a larger space close by. Three years I spent in that shop before deciding to move my shop into my house. Subsequently, after one year of being there I bought another house and I had to move once again. After a couple years there, I needed more space and found myself renting a large space outside of Eugene for some time, only to fall victim to the marijuana scene. By that I mean it was legalized in Oregon, and all of a sudden there was a strong demand for space. Owners of these buildings were selling out left and right to the pot business, and many small business were getting the boot so the newfound owners could have more room for growth. I finally decided to make a big change, one that would allow me enough space and security that I wouldn’t need to move ever again. My wife Allyson and I purchased acreage just north of Tucson, AZ where we have began construction of our dream shop and house. As tired as I am of moving, it has been a great benefit for me. It’s made me greatly aware of space and its value. I feel I could be an architect for all the considerations I have learned over all my moves. Who knows, maybe I’ll write a book someday on setting up the luthier’s workshop!

LW: Now that you’ve settled into a groove, what projects of late are you the most excited about? What aspects of your most recent orders have you found most inspirational?

RK: Honestly, all my work is inspirational to me. In a way, I designed it that way. Every design on my guitars is unique, so every guitar has something new that keeps me excited, one after the next. That being said, I have recently made a decision to start building a couple of guitars that go beyond my usual style. I have some unique designs coming up that defy what we think of as a normal guitar, and of course I’m excited by those!

LW: I’d like to change gears here a bit to discuss our new arrangement. First, we’re grateful and honored to be your sole dealer in America, and we’re excited to see where we can take Kraut Guitars. So. What led you to shift your business model toward a sole dealership?

RK: As previously mentioned, I have a lot of experience in this field. Not all of which has been good. I was never trained to run a business. I was trained on how to build some of the best guitars in the world. Building guitars is where my passion is, and over the years I have found myself having to put up certain boundaries to maintain that feeling. This was an interesting learning experience for me, as I find myself very much in love with building guitars and therefore it’s personal to me. With all the recent changes in my life, I now, more than ever, believe in finding a good balance to life in every outlook. The most important thing to me in my working life is maintaining my passion for the craft, so I decided to focus all of my time on building and new ideas. In order for me to have this time, it was best to reach out to someone I trusted to represent my guitars for me.

LW: In working exclusively with Dream Guitars for the North American market, how do you predict your process and workflow will evolve?

RK: I believe this gives me more time to evolve as a luthier. I’ve spent so much of my time handling non-guitar building things that now I will have more mental space to do what I do best. I have so many ideas that I would love to bring to the playing world, and more than anything that is what I aspire to. It’s important for me to not only imagine but to create.

LW: Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

RK: After my apprenticeship with Ervin, I really became aware of how important it is to pass along the knowledge we’ve spent a career procuring. After reaching ten years in the business, I decided to open my doors to anyone interested in apprenticing with me. I felt a need to start passing on my knowledge, and this has allowed me to find yet another joy in my world through teaching. I have had the pleasure of teaching quite a few students, all of which seemed to absorb what I taught them and have really made strides in developing their own unique craft. I hope to do this more over the years so long as I can convince others to come live in the beautiful Sonoran desert!

We’re excited to announce our latest partnership with Dion James of Alberta, Canada, with an incredible No. 4 model in Birdseye Maple & Italian Spruce. Dion’s guitars let the quality of the materials, and the skill of the craftsperson, speak for themselves. These instruments have modern curves, and are intimately familiar to the ears as well as much as the hands. Dion was kind enough to chat with us a bit about life and lutherie; read on for a better understanding of the man behind the guitar, and check out our No. 4 here: https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/2019-dion-04-european-birdseye-maple-italian-spruce-29.html.

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

DJ: Hmm, that’s a tough one. There are so many good players out there. I’m a big fan of Nick Drake, he had such an interesting approach to the acoustic guitar. I think Johny Greenwood of Radiohead is a genius, such a subtle touch with no ego attached to his playing. Will McNicol is a great player and composer. I’m a big fan of Tom Brosseau, and was lucky enough to have him tour with one of my guitars, in fact it’s the second of the two guitars available through Dream Guitars. Tom and I are in conversation about building him a signature model in the future, fingers crossed we’re able to make it work.

LW: Let’s talk wood. What are your favorite tonewoods to work with, what makes them suited for your particular style?

DJ: My favorite tonewood changes all the time. At present I’m smitten with Maple. I build using a Nomex-centered, “hollow core” back, which creates a very loud guitar with tons of sustain. As such, I prefer lightweight woods as they add to the quickness of response. Of course, different players have different needs and I employ the proper tonewood for each client.

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

DJ: I use a symmetrical bracing pattern and employ many small braces, with the goal of even distribution of stiffness. I use deflection testing, frequency testing, and good old feel to bring my guitars into their final shape. I’ve been pushing towards my voice for over a decade now, and it was about four years ago that I really found my sound. I would describe my voice as sweet, voluminous, even, and articulate. At this point the bones of my instruments are pretty set, though I’m always tweaking the details. As of late I’ve really been pushing away at the perimeter of the soundboard, decoupling braces from the rim, allowing the soundboard a greater range of motion. I can get away with this loosening of the soundboard structure because of my very rigid rim and upper bout. These structural elements free the soundboard from some of its load-bearing duty, allowing it to be optimized to the movement of air and thus the production of sound. 

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

DJ: The guitar is made of so many little decisions, each time I reach my goals a new level of detail appears. I’d say that the next five years will take me deeper into the minutiae, with a focus on continuous refinement. My instruments, by design, are free of heavy ornamentation. I’ve always focused on structure, lines, and continuity. I suspect the next five years will be all about refinement, of both sound and design, and working on things I can’t yet see. 

LW: Any interesting facts about your technique or shop arrangement that you’d like to share? Photos always welcome.

DJ: Certainly. I would describe my technique as a blended model, never purist. I believe in accessing the history of vintage instruments, taking the positive and modifying where we’ve acknowledged structural flaws. I use hand tools, because I love the process and because they are often the best tool for the job, but I’m not afraid to employ the accuracy of a machine. A good machine can save time and energy, freeing me up to focus on the elements that are most important. 

In terms of shop arrangements, I share a shop with other builders, and always have. The cross pollination, even between the experienced and inexperienced builder is so valuable to my process. I’ve got something to learn from everyone. 

LW: What do you enjoy doing outside of building instruments?

DJ: I’m a person of many interests. I’ve had to pare things back because I’m also the kind of person who want to pursue things to the tiniest detail, and that requires more time than the days and weeks offer. Gardening is a great passion of mine. My partner and I grow and preserve a lot of our own food. I’m a year-round cyclist, and I love riding my skateboard. My partner is pregnant and I anticipate great joy in spending time with our child! 

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

DJ: I’m certain I’d still be self-employed. Having grown up on a family farm, the concept of having a boss is fairly foreign to me. I’d likely be an urban farmer. I’m endlessly fascinated by the untapped potential of the urban landscape to produce food and the healthy relationships that come from the attachment to one’s sustenance. 

LW: What music are you listening to right now?

DJ: It’s all over the place, but I’ve really been into 80’s and 90’s female-fronted R&B lately. Sade, Janet Jackson, etc. So good! 

LW: If you could choose only one tool to work on guitars, what tool would that be?

DJ: It’s really hard to beat the feel of a well-honed plane, probably my Lie Nielsen jointer plane. 

Small Accessory Box

A while back I wrote a blog article titled “The Case Against Cases.” The point I was making there was that you should keep your guitars accessible and easy to get at so that you play more, so nothing prevents you from practicing or performing your music as much as possible.

Two years ago I bought a Civil War-era log cabin high in the mountains of Western North Carolina where we heat primarily with a wood stove. In the winter months, the cabin is routinely 10 to 20% humidity, which is far below the recommended 40 to 50% for guitars. The first season I kept them in their cases and used Planet Waves Humidipaks. It was a good solution to keep my guitars safe, but it was counterproductive to my practice and playing. For some reason just that extra two minutes of opening and closing the case prevented me from using all of my fine guitars as much as they deserved. Instead I only used one or two, and ignored several others that I adore. Not an ideal situation.

Enter our friends at American Music Furniture. From their shop in Pennsylvania, Darryl Jennings, John Farrell, and their team of fine craftsmen build top quality display cases that are humidity controlled, protective, and beautiful. I had them build mine with top grade Walnut to match the logs in my cabin, and it has room for six acoustic guitars. With full glass on the front and sides and an adjustable lighting system, my guitars always look their best. It’s one of the nicest pieces of furniture in my home now and a real showpiece even without the guitars inside.

The humidification system works beautifully. They install very strong seals on the door and throughout the unit so water lasts a long time. I have only had to fill it once every few weeks, which is a wonderful change from the daily routine of watering whole-room humidifiers. There is a built-in hygrometer with low-water indicator, and a fan to disperse the humidity when needed. You simply set the desired humidity and leave it alone.

I am beyond delighted with the quality, the materials, and the craftsmanship, but the best part is now I play all of  my instruments whenever I want. Open one door and I have access to an array of the finest instruments I’ve ever owned. Thank you AMF, I am more than delighted with my case. I can’t recommend you more highly.

Follow this link to AMF’s website so you can get one of these for yourself!


Reno, Nevada-based luthier Ben Wilborn has just embarked on an epic build–coming soon to a Dream near you. This time we’re looking at Ben’s Modified Dreadnought, his WarHorse model, with Brazilian Rosewood carbon dated to the late 19th century and Tunnel 14 Redwood on top. Add to that a cutaway, arm bevel, Curly Koa bindings, 25.4-24.9″ multiscale fretboard, and Visesnut flight case to the mix; if there are any stops left to pull for this build, it’s only a matter of time until Ben finds them. As he does, and the WarHorse approaches, we’ll keep you posted here!

3/27/19 Update from Ben: “the laminated sides are done, and built up into the finished ribs, complete with basswood arm bevel support and Kevin Ryan’s A-5 kerfing. The fingerboard is jet-black Gaboon Ebony, cut in a 25.4 to 24.9 multiscale. Moving right along.”

4/29/19 Update: Ben: “Woodworking is done. Into the booth we go!”

7/1/19: Nearly here! The WarHorse rises up, freshly glossy. It won’t be long before this beauty touches down at our doorstep.

Friends, here’s a guitar for the ages. One of our favorite builders of late, Leo Buendia, has come together with us on a custom project for one of our longtime clients that’ll stand apart from the already distinct group of custom Buendias we’ve commissioned over the past few years. This time, a one-piece back from The Tree Mahogany. Yes, you read that right. And it’s paired with a master grade Adirondack Spruce top, itself appointed with a chip carved rosette with Cedar insert and red Washi paper backing. To say this is a one-of-a-kind guitar feels like a gross understatement. Keep up with our build thread, and watch as Leo brings this beauty to life!

Model: OM
Fretboard: 14th-fret ebony fingerboard
Bridge: hand-carved Ebony
Bridge pins: Ebony with Pearl dots
Top braces: Sitka spruce
Binding: Ebony with black/white purfling
Saddle, 2 1/4” width, compensated Bone
Nut: 1 3/4” width, scalloped and compensated Bone
Truss-rod: lightweight, double action, including wrench
Head-cap Veneer: Highly-figured “The Tree” Quilted Mahogany
Back of Head-cap veneer: Ebony
Tuning Machines: Schaller M6 in gold with Ebony buttons
Fingerboard: Ebony, with Ebony binding and Maple purfling
Fingerboard Radius: 20′′
Case: Hoffee custom hardshell case
Scale Length: 25”
Soundboard: Master-grade Adirondack Spruce
Back and sides: Highly-figured ‘The Tree’ Quilted Mahogany
Cutaway: Florentine
Rosette: Hand-carved design with Cedar insert and red Washi paper
End graft: Custom hand-carved design to match rosette
Back Braces: Lattice Honduran Mahogany
Fingerboard Custom Inlay: 3rd to 19th in Spalted Maple
Back of the neck: Rectangular purfling Spalted Maple custom inlay
Body Wedge: Manzer-style tapered body
Headstock design: Wide shape with custom, hand-carved design to match rosette
Finish: French Polish body, Nitrocellulose Lacquer neck

3/29/19 Update:

7/3/19 Update: At long last, finished. We’ve had a few days to play this incredible instrument from Leo, record it and photograph it, and now it’s time to send it on to its new home. Here’s a link to the full listing! https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/2019-buendia-om-cutaway-the-tree-mahogany-adirondack-spruce-053.html

We recently landed an incredible new OMC-H from Portland, Oregon-based luthier Gage Halland. Right out of the box, the gorgeous sunburst and energetic tone were the first things we noticed, and it’s only gotten better each time someone picks it up. To celebrate our new relationship with Gage, we sat down for a quick chat about life and lutherie, his work with Michael Greenfield and John Greven, and where his builds are taking him. Give it a listen, and be sure to check out our listing of the sunburst OMC-H pictured here: https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/halland-omc-h-sunburst-mahogany-sitka-spruce-002-17.html.


LW: I’d like to start with an obvious question. Why guitars? What first drew you to build these instruments?

GH: I started playing guitar in jr. high with big dreams of being great at it…I wasn’t. As early as 16, I was drawing acoustic guitars in all my notebooks at school, but still didn’t have a passion for playing them. I was daydreaming about building them and didn’t know why. As far as I knew, the major manufacturers were the only ones building guitars so I moved onto other things. It was another ten years before I was given a book that pointed me to the door of John Greven (who would become my first mentor) and introduce me to the work of a man that would later become my master, Michael Greenfield.

LW: You describe your work with Michael as a time where “the perfectionist nature of Greenfield Guitars perfectly suited my obsessive “always make it better” attitude. Can you expand on that? In what ways do your and Michael’s philosophies dovetail?

GH: I have this incredibly irritating habit of seeing how something is done (no matter the task) and asking, “why are we doing this? Is this the highest/best approach to the task? How can we make it better?” I must have shortened Michael’s life by a couple years when I got there! Once I quieted that part of my brain and started listening to what he had to teach me, I realized that his approach was very much the same. He never left good enough alone, and it was incredible to see/hear guitars at this level and see their creator sweating over how to improve them still.

When I returned to Portland to create my own instruments I found Michael’s shop motto far more ingrained in my psyche than I had realized: “Perfection is acceptable.” That has become the driving force behind my work now. I want to always be improving and exploring new ideas, techniques, materials, etc. I doubt I’ll ever be content with the what I’ve done before, I’ll always be pursuing perfection.

LW: That’s an appropriate motto for both of you. After such excellent tutelage, what is your current approach to voicing an instrument? How do you continue to experiment?

GH: I’ve had two incredible teachers with very different ideas of what makes a guitar sound great. Greven taught me about the history of the steel string guitar and his approach is to make an incredibly light, responsive guitar. Greenfield showed me what the modern guitar is capable of and his measured approach to instrument construction. I would say my instruments definitely lean more towards the Greenfield camp.

When it comes to voicing my own instruments I aspire to the sound of grand pianos and old church bells. These things have undeniable tone and you’ll never find a lightweight version of either. I like to think of it as mass applied musically.

I’m constantly researching new materials and methods for creating a better musical instrument (I currently have some components that are manufactured by defense contractors!). I’m not afraid to deviate from the guitar construction norms to get to the sound that I’m after.

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

GH: Michael Watts’ emotive, “warm-honey” style of guitar playing is one of my favorites. I recently received Forest Bailey’s new album and his smoother take on the percussive style is really great. Of course I have to mention McKee, McManus, Bensusan and the like, these players where my introduction into fingerstyle guitar and I’m still amazed every time I put one of their albums on.

At heart I’m a singer-songwriter fan and I’ve had the privilege of building guitars for some of my modern heros. Barton Carroll is one of the best songwriters out there and quite the guitar player to boot (listen to his song “Every Little Bit Hurts” if you want prime examples of both)! I was also able to deliver a guitar to Al James whose knockout songwriting was the driving force behind his band Dolorean for many years. The band broke up a few years ago, but I selfishly hope that a new guitar might inspire some new recordings in the future!

LW: Talk to me about your current shop arrangement. How do you manage workflow?

GH: Aaaah my shop, well it’s…humble. I work out of a single-car garage in Portland. It started out as a temporary workspace three years ago and I just haven’t found anything better to date. It’s not my dream shop by any means, but I’m grateful to have anywhere to work within the city limits. I’m a little over the commute though.

I’d say my workflow follows the traditional lutherie shop, in that everything is done on one bench in the middle of the shop. I’d love to have task specific stations to speed up construction but there’s no space for that right now. The focus of my shop and workflow is to make efficient strides in the schedule that allow me to slow down and really sweat the details that set my guitars apart.

LW: So what’s on your bench right now?

GH: Right now I’m fortunate to be building two very special guitars.  A non-cutaway OM-H with some very special Brazilian Rosewood and an ancient Cedar top. The other is the first of my new body style which is similar in dimension to a traditional Dreadnought but most definitely has a modern shape with modern construction methods. This guitar is African Blackwood and Euro Spruce with all the bells and whistles (armrest, ribrest, cutaway, multiscale fretboard and some other features I can’t reveal just yet.) The OM-H is commissioned, but the new D-HC is available for adoption.

LW: That sounds exciting! What music are you listening to right now? What kind of music are you yourself playing?

GH: Mostly Folk and singer-songwriter stuff, Jeffery Martin, Barton Carroll, Dolorean, Derik Hultquist, Corb Lund and Hayes Carll are some of the names that immediately come to mind.

I’ve been working on Michael Watts’ tune Vetiver for quite a while. Every time I think I have it nailed I go back to listen to him play it and immediately head back to my practice space. I just can’t wring all the emotion from every note like he can!

LW: These days, there’s quite a bit of competition in the boutique guitar market. What sets you and your guitars apart from the pack?

GH: Pursuing tone, volume, clarity, sustain, and balance are the keystones to my approach in guitarmaking. The sound of my instruments definitely falls into the “modern fingerstyle” category, so note-to-note delineation is very important. I don’t want the player’s musical choices to be dictated by the sonic limitations of the instrument.

I’ve spent years tweaking my instruments into what I feel is a cohesive design where the shape, the feel of the guitar in your hands, and the restrained decorative elements give you an impression of the guitar’s sound before you pluck the first string. Fit and finish is where my obsessive nature shines through. Clean joinery is paramount. From my signature lambs-tongue detail on my arm and ribrests, to the beveled edges on the bridge, I want anyone who buys one of my guitars to get the sense of how much of myself I put into these instruments.

LW: You’ve definitely nailed the visual presentation: the fit-and-finish was the first thing I noticed when we unboxed your Mahogany OMC-H. If you had not become a guitar maker, where do you think life would have led you?

GH: This is a hard one. I have a deep fascination with old wooden ships and timber frame homes. I’d probably end up doing either of those things very happily.

LW: Okay, last question: what was the first guitar that you played where you really “got it,” where you fell in love with the instrument? Do you feel as though you’re trying to incorporate that feeling into the voice of your own instruments?

I was very lucky to find a 30s Gibson L-00 in the used guitar section of a huge music store chain.

It had mile-high action and had obviously been abused, but it also had all that wonderful L-00 tone and volume. It’s the only one that I regret selling. I don’t build in the traditional style, and I’m not going after a vintage sound, but instruments like that definitely leave an impression and that’s what I’m after, the lingering impression left by a well-built, handmade guitar.


We’re obviously stoked to strike up a relationship with Gage; his work speaks for itself. Do check out our sunburst OMC-H here: https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/halland-omc-h-sunburst-mahogany-sitka-spruce-002-17.html. Cheers!

Michihiro Matsuda stands at the top of the food chain when it comes to innovative lutherie, functional works of art, and a visual aesthetic eons beyond the ken of many of us. Matsuda has built numerous guitars for our clients over the years, each one a testament to his unique flair and spirit of experimentation. Some of those clients, having received one work of art from Michi, are so enthralled they commission another on the spot. Here for our latest collaboration with Matsuda, we’ve got an electric guitar on the bench that we’re confident the world has never quite seen before. Please keep up with our updates as Matsuda progresses in the build, and you’ll definitely want to check out our listing once the instrument is finished and we can showcase it in style! Are you excited yet? Cuz you should be. Stay tuned!

Here’s Michihiro’s premise:

“It is going to be a one-of-a-kind acoustic/electric, something in between my archtop guitar I made in 2017 and my deconstruction guitars. It will also be a sculptural piece of art. The top is hand-carved Sitka Spruce. The body is partial sides, and partial hand-carved back. I will use figured Maple for that. The basic tonal idea is the same as my deconstruction, so there is no sound box. I will use figured, tempered Maple for neck, and Mahogany with some Rosewood for main structure of the body. I will use two humbuckers. Controls will be simple: one volume, one tone, and one pickup switch. I am also going to design a new style of bridge.
It will not be an archtop guitar, not a solid-body, not a hollow-body electric.”

9/4/18 Update

12/3/18 update:

12/11/18 Update: Coming soon to a Dream near you! We’ll do a full work up with pics and video once it’s in hand.

Peggy White’s been hard at work yet again, this time crafting her Premier model with a jaw dropping set of Amazon Rosewood for the back and sides and Italian Spruce on top. Manzer body wedge for player comfort, and the next Kandinsky-inspired rosette (here in Ebony, Koa, and Maple). You can see this beauty for yourself at the 2018 La Conner show, so keep your eyes peeled!

Check out our previous Peggy White guitars here: https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/builders/white,-peggy.html

Premier Model
Italian Spruce Top
Amazon Rosewood B&S
Manzer Wedge
25.5″ scale length
1.75” nut width
2.25” string spacing
Evo frets
Ebony Binding and Appointments
Kandinsky-Inspired Rosette made with Ebony, Koa & Maple
Polyurethane Finish
Hiscox Case

We’re more than happy to announce our latest partnership with Glenn Nichols, restoration maestro and electric guitar experimenteur. The curves of his Corralitos model are velvet smooth in hand-rubbed varnish and a dark burst, with McNelly Bliss humbuckers and adjustable bridge (more on that later), and it’ll be available on our site soon. In the meantime, we chatted with Glenn about how his journey into lutherie and all the ways he’s pushing the envelope with his Corralitos model, from varnish finishes and Cedar necks to vacuum pressing the top laminates and implementing a wedge-adjustable saddle. Once we unpacked his guitar and tuned it up, the immediate response was, “Woah.” And it continues to wow us, even now. Enjoy our conversation with Glenn below, and look out for that Corralitos soon!

LW: You’ve been in the repair business for some time. What came first, fixing guitars or building them.

GN: My journey into restorations is the opposite of most repair people. I started at the end and worked my way backwards. My first job in the industry was in the finish department at Santa Cruz Guitar Company. I attended the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in 2003, which resulted in an entry level position spraying lacquer for SCGC. As my skills developed, I found myself running the finish department. This ultimately made every ding, scratch, or crack that happened in production my responsibility to fix. When you are repairing an old guitar there is some acceptance that the damage may show. When you are repairing a new guitar, it has to be perfect, or it’s no longer a new guitar. By the time I started to do restorations and structural repairs on my own, it all made sense to me. My time spent at Santa Cruz gave me the confidence to take on high-end and vintage work. I knew that in the end the repair would look good, because that’s what I had been doing for years.

LW: Your finish work is particularly impressive. Have you always gravitated towards finish work, or did you just wake up one day surrounded by air brushes and cans of lacquer?

GN: Ha ha! I have been a visual artist for as long as I can remember. I received a Bachelor degree in Fine Art from The Montserrat College of Art in 2002. I guess I traded in my paint brushes and tubes of paint for air brushes and cans of lacquer. Lots of builders come from a woodworking or engineering background, and when it comes time for finish the struggle begins. This is why so many builders farm out their finish. I’m not making judgements, it’s just that the learning curve is tremendous! After I spent nine years at SCGC learning nitro, I went to work for Kenny Hill Guitars to learn French Polish. This opened up a whole new world of materials and processes. I experimented with all sorts of shellacs, resins, oils, and alcohols. I started to mix my own varnishes. Again, by starting from the end and knowing the results that I wanted, it was easier for me to manipulate the materials. You won’t find lacquer on my guitars. The neck is a spirit varnish, taken from the European classical tradition. In my opinion, it just feels right, a hand-rubbed finish in your hand. The body is an oil varnish, taken from the marine industry. This varnish was originally used on Spruce masts, very durable and tough, but allowing for movement and vibration. My finish choices are not afterthoughts. The guitar is constructed as a canvas for these different finishes.

LW: I’ve seen an adjustable bridge & saddle setup like the one on your Corralitos model before, but I’m curious about its origins, and how you came to use it.

GN: I first saw this style of bridge on one of Christian Mirabella’s archtops. I had developed a similar, two-piece bridge that was not adjustable. The saddle had to be sanded to drop the action, just like an acoustic saddle. A traditional archtop bridge floats on two adjustable posts between the bridge and the saddle. This method has been used forever on great-sounding guitars, but I wanted a solid connection to the top. Everything that I had learned in the flattop and classical world depended on tone transfer at the bridge. Once I saw the wedge bridge, it all clicked into place. I may be able to have my cake and eat it too. Before I began, I emailed Chris Mirabella out of respect and asked for his blessing in exploring the design. A true gentleman, he promptly returned my email, offered his help and support, and told me the history as he knew it. Chris got the design from one of his close friends and mentors, Jimmy D’Aquisto, who had taken inspiration from a German upright bass maker. It was very important for me to have permission, and to do what I thought was the right thing. There is a lot of borrowing and appropriating in guitar building. I’ve found that in my generation of builders, we are very open and willing to share, as long as it is done honestly.

LW: What do you enjoy doing outside of building instruments?

GN: I am married and have two daughters, so they keep me busy. My new shop is in my home, so my family is a huge part of my life. I also have to admit that I’m a bit obsessed with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It was something that I picked up in Santa Cruz to relieve stress. I think most artists and musicians can be a little obsessive compulsive. It’s important to have a healthy outlet.

LW: I understand that you now share a shop with one of our favorite luthiers, Bill Tippin. What’s it like to work along side Bill?

GN: Bill is a long time friend and I think we have a very special relationship. I spend a couple of days every week working in Bill’s shop, doing whatever is on the agenda for the day. Bill is first and foremost a craftsman, and his shop is set up as such. He doesn’t have an assembly line, or a strict list of processes that are never to be broken. He is open, and creative, and willing to take chances. That’s why his guitars are so special. He allows for growth and progression. Bill could build you a guitar, a table, a fishing rod, or a boat. And they would all be top notch! We drink coffee, listen to blues, and solve problems. We laugh, and cuss, and work on guitars. Bill pushes me to do the best work that I can. Sometimes, he pushes me past what I think can be done, just to see if I can do it. I am very fortunate to have him as a mentor, and it all runs pretty smoothly, as long as I put his tools back where I found them.

LW: What music are you listening to right now?

GN: The Marcus King Band, I think they may be from your neck of the woods. Great guitar playing, solid band. I always have blues playing in the shop. I’ve been on a Hound Dog Taylor kick this week. I’ve been teaching my daughters how to play slide guitar. My seven year old plays a killer slide version of Beat on the Brat by The Ramones.

LW: What’s the most interesting repair or restoration job you’ve ever worked on?

I’m really lucky to have a lot of boutique and vintage instruments cross my bench. Sometimes the expensive ones are just guitars, and the cheap ones will put a smile on your face and leave you scratching your head. Sometimes a guitar will live up to its reputation and you may have to stick a mirror in the soundhole and figure out where the magic is coming from. I had a couple of laminate top restorations come through my shop that changed my life. They were an old Gibson ES- 225, and a Martin GT-70. They both really struck a chord with me, and when a guitar builder gets Guitar Acquisition Syndrome it can be a problem. Being in my line of work, I couldn’t afford to buy one, so of course I decided to build one. I started building the jigs and fixtures in a small shed in my backyard in Corralitos, CA. Those funky old laminate guitars were my inspiration for the Corralitos model.

LW: Lastly, can you speak to what kind of play feel and voice you’re shooting for with your Corralitos? What sets it apart

 from the pack?

GN: My goal with the Corralitos is to bring boutique methods of building to what is historically a factory guitar. The old laminate tops of the 50s and 60s were stamped out with large hydraulic presses, using three or four sheets of Maple or Birch. While they sound good amplified, acoustically they can be dead, flubby, and sometimes tinny and thin. The general rule with electric guitars is, if it sounds great unplugged, it will sound great amplified. I use six thin, alternating layers of Maple and a vacuum press to form each layer, plate by plate. The result is a very light, yet stiff top. Traditionally, top woods are chosen for their strength-to-weight ratios. The use of a vacuum press insures that there are no voids between the plates. The wood is not crushed into shape, it is pressed in an air tight chamber. (I have written a blog on my website that goes into greater detail of the laminate top process) [you can find that blog here: http://glenn-nichols-guitars.com/]. Attention to the details of the plate construction and bracing can produce a top that is very lively and responsive when played acoustically, while the alternating laminates help to reduce feedback when played at high volumes. The use of a varnish, rather than a lacquer, helps to add a beautiful warmth to the tone. I believe that the varnish makes the guitar feel more broken in than a brighter-sounding lacquer finish.
Another difference that doesn’t stand out unless you pick it up, is the overall weight. This particular guitar weighs in at 5.4 lbs , which is very light for an electric guitar. I used Spanish Cedar for the neck, blocks, and kerfings. While Spanish Cedar is a staple in classical guitars, it is not often used on electrics. I perform a lot of French Polish restorations on classical guitars and I believe that a French Polished Spanish Cedar neck is the perfect feel for any style of player. The use of Cedar not only cuts down on weight, paired with the varnish and French Polish, it also smells wonderful.
The pickups are handmade McNelly Bliss humbuckers. They are a low output pickup, based on old PAFs, but with a little more presence. They are very sensitive, and the clarity vs breakup can be easily dialed in by raising or lowering the pickup to taste. I used a 1950s style wiring with paper in oil caps to bring the full vintage vibe to life. I designed this guitar to be able to handle sweet and clear acoustic tones, to jazz comping and soloing, to overdriven blues and rock.

Excited to see this Corralitos for yourself? It won’t be long! Coming soon to a Dream near you.

Just when we thought 2018 couldn’t get any better for our lineup (we hit the ground running by recruiting Stuart Day), we landed a gorgeous guitar from Santa Cruz-based luthier C.F. Holcomb. This Kodiak resonator comes with more bells and whistles than a steam engine train–“The Tree” Mahogany body, Lollar P90, spider cone bridge and bone saddle, one-piece Cocobolo neck (the first one we may have ever seen), Christopher’s signature emblazoned across the headstock plate. This beautiful example of his prowess will be available soon, and in the meantime we had a quick chat with Christopher about life & lutherie, and of course dogs. Check it out!

LW: Many of the photos of your shop and those you post on social media have at least one dog in the frame. What’s it like to have canine companionship in lutherie, a famously solitary profession?

CF: I am lucky in the sense that I live above my shop with my wife Kira and two dogs, Penny and Greta. As peaceful as you would think working by yourself might be, I am surrounded by constant activity and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is pretty common for me to find focus even when the dogs are howling.

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

CF: I don’t know if I have a favorite guitar player. I’m constantly finding new music to fall in love with, but it is always nice to turn on the radio and hear one of my guitars. I feel a close bond with the people I build guitars for, and that is even stronger with those who make their living making music. Some of my favorite musicians and bands I’ve worked with are Lech Wierzynski (the California Honeydrops), Sam Chase, Aaron Lanes and Thomas Beneduci (The Good Bad), and Ben Morrison (the Brothers comatose). There are several other amazing musicians I’ve worked with, but it would be ridiculous to list all of them.

LW: You’ve been able to work with some industry giants like Scott Walker, Rick Turner, Jeff Traugott, and Richard Hoover. In what ways has that exposure impacted your approach to lutherie?

CF: Each one of my teachers has shown me their approach to the guitar building world. I don’t know if it’s luck persistence or both that put me in a situation where I was able to learn from such amazing luthiers. Collectively I would say the best gift they gave me was the guts to take on a project that might be outside of my comfort zone. Building solid bodies, acoustics, arch tops, semi-hollow, and Resophonic guitars is a tall order. I can look back on what I have learned over the years and not only design something that works, but every once in a while come up with something truly innovative.

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

CF: As a luthier working alone, I think it’s difficult not to experiment. When voicing an instrument I try to think about who will be playing it and how they play. It is great to think that you can build an instrument as light as possible but in the hands of certain musicians they will destroy something like that within months. If I am working with someone who is into playing with a light touch, I will make the instrument as light as possible.

LW: You offer quite an array of models. What sets them apart to your eyes and ears?

CF: Usually the reason I design a new model is because someone is looking for something that isn’t out there. It’s not so much what sets the guitars apart to my ears as much as the musician. I like starting an instrument with a sound and look in mind. It gives me focus and intention with my work rather than just pumping out the same thing over and over.

LW: Any interesting facts about your voicing technique or shop arrangement that you’d like to share? 

CF: My shop is relatively small, but it works out great for one person. To me it’s just a room full of toys. This is my second shop (the first was a one-car garage), and there is something special about being the one who sets it up. It’s like an extension of my body. There are also a bunch of surfboards and bikes floating around which add their own little charm to the place.

LW: What do you enjoy doing outside of building instruments?

CF: Kira and I are always diving into projects in Santa Cruz or Sebastopol on my family’s ranch. We go surfing, hiking, and all of the other stuff that goes with living in Santa Cruz. It’s pretty nice.

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

CF: No idea.

LW: What music are you listening to right now?

CF: Charlie Parr, Gregory Alan Isakov, Jason Isbell, etc.

LW: Here we are at the start of the new year. What are your goals for 2018, in lutherie and life?

CF: I recently started an apprenticeship with a Timber framer in Bonny Doon. I’m learning how to make buildings with traditional jointery, hand hewn beams, and sustainable logging techniques. To me guitar building isn’t just about guitars, it’s to gain as much knowledge as I can from as many different masters as possible. If I’m lucky, I will be a lifelong apprentice.

Christopher’s Kodiak resonator has been difficult to put down since the first day it arrived at our shop. Stay tuned, this gorgeous guitar is coming soon to a Dream near you!

This is one of my favorite parts of the business: working directly with our builders to come up with an exciting instrument just for Dream Guitars! Stuart Day recently joined our ranks, and to commemorate the occasion I had a chat with Stuart about life & lutherie, which you can find here: https://www.dreamguitars.com/welcome-aboard-stuart-day-newest-builder-joins-dream-team/. Stuart’s busy building us our first Day OM, which will feature some of his latest design features. I’ll keep you all posted as the SD1-VC build progresses, see below for specs.

SD1- VC (OM – Venetian Cutaway)
Back and sides – Cocobolo
Top – AAA Sitka Spruce
Neck – Honduran Mahogany
Fretboard, headplate, bridge – Gaboon Ebony
Tuners – Gotoh mini 510s
Binding – Ebony

Cocobolo back and sides

Cocobolo back and sides

Cocobolo back and sides

Stuart’s rosette and headstock design

Shooting board for truing up the segments for the rosette

Assembling the various pieces of the rosette

The rosette’s final shape

Sitka Spruce top

I’m now living my first winter in my Civil War log cabin heated primarily by a wood stove in the mountains of western North Carolina. I absolutely embrace living this way and enjoy the peace and serenity. The atmosphere here is perfect for making music, and I’m playing more than I have since I was a teenager. However, the dryness of winter and the wood stove have made it impossible for me to keep my guitars hanging on the wall; even with three “whole house“ humidifiers running. Feeding them 12 gallons of water a day, I cannot get the cabin to stay above 20%. This comes as no surprise to me as for years I’ve repaired cracks in the guitars of people that heat with wood, and forced hot air is just as bad. I have had to begrudgingly resort to keeping my instruments in their cases this winter, where they can be protected by D’Addario Humidipaks. These wonderful inventions originally come to us from NASA. They maintain a consistent 45% humidity by either emitting or absorbing moisture. That said, I really don’t like having my instruments hiding their cases. Here’s why.

As owner of Dream Guitars, many people might think that I’m a collector of instruments, but I’m really not. I do have a number of them but they’re all tools for songwriting. I play guitar in order to write songs. And I want them around me all the time so that when

inspiration strikes I can grab the right tool for the job. My baritone for something very emotive, or an electric guitar when only volume will do. Most of

my life, I’ve been able to do this because I have lived in modern homes that were built tight, so a quality room humidifier was all I needed to keep my babies safe. This winter, that’s simply not the case. if I want to play a guitar, I have to search for the right case, twisting three or four latches, remove the Humidipaks, then tune it up and make sure nothing’s wrong–all the while hoping the original burst of inspiration is still within me. In practice, I’m mostly playing my carbon fiber guitar that hangs ten feet from the wood stove without issue or complaint. I recognize this is a first world problem, but even though the carbon fiber X20 is a fine guitar, it doesn’t inspire me like my McConnell or Mountain Song baritone. So if you keep your guitars in cases and you’re finding that they don’t get enough sunlight, I’d like to suggest you find a way to keep them out and within arm’s reach. Just try it see how much more you play, and how much more you smile.

There are several ways I’ve achieved this over the years. If you own your home, for about $1,000-1,500 you can install an evaporative humidity system directly to your furnace. This is by far my favorite approach. It’s a healthy humidity, it saves you having to carry water every day, and there are huge benefits to the human body having moisture in the air around us. Depending on where you live, in the summertime you simply disconnect the unit. All winter you’ll sleep better, feel better, and your guitars will too.

Idylis 4-Gallon Console Evaporative Humidifier

If you don’t own your home, or for any reason cannot install the above, get a quality whole house humidifier, even if you’re only humidifying one room. Don’t believe the square footage that they tell you they will cover. They will not! Make sure that it has a automatic humidity sensor so that you can set the percentage you want and forget about it. 40 to 50% is the range you want all year long. I would also get one that holds the most possible water, five or six gallons. You’ll be amazed how much water it takes to keep the room at 45%.

Guitar Habitat®

If you have just a few guitars, a great option is a humidified display case like our friends at American Music Furniture (http://americanmusicfurniture.com/humidity-matters/) offer. These are not only gorgeous pieces of furniture, but they can maintain a perfect environment for your dream machines. Since your instruments will still be in plain sight, you will continue to grab them all the time. Another big benefit of having your instruments visible is that you’ll be able to take better care of them. When a minor issue arises you can deal with it then, rather than two years later when you open the case to discover a major problem. I myself am the extremely satisfied owner of a case from AMF that can hold 15 guitars. One winter down and the next one starting up, I feel completely at ease about the safety of my collection.

There are so many guitars that have been decimated after being stored in the case for long periods. Dryness and inconsistent temperature are serious problems: just ask my repair team. If your only option is to to keep your guitars in their cases, you should definitely use something like the D’Addario (https://www.dreamguitars.com/product-category/accessories/humidification/) solution and force yourself to take them out and play them. They miss you.