A Guitar for Paul: Leo Buendia’s Latest Jumbo

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.”


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!