New Builder Profile: Steve Porter

We don’t often take on new Classical builders, but we’re more than happy to start a relationship with Mendocino-based luthier Steve Porter! Engineering fiercely resonant and dynamic guitars with a technical nod to Gil Carnal’s own techniques, Porter’s builds with “clarity and maximum string efficiency” at the forefront. Our first guitar from Steve is a French Polished beauty in Indian Rosewood and Carpathian Spruce and an elevated fingerboard. We had a few minutes to chat with Steve about his building philosophy, and more. Check out a transcript of that conversation below!

Here’s a link to our just-listed Porter Quantum Classical #36:

Brand New Steve Porter Quantum Classical, Indian Rosewood & Carpathian Spruce

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

Segovia and Steve Hackett. Gabriel Balough. Yes, Gabriel has one of my instruments.

Steve’s mosaic rosette before installation.

2. What builders inspire you today?

I had a table next to Gil Carnal at La Gutarra California about ten years ago and was amazed at the sound of the guitars he had made and was showing. He has been a mentor to me ever since and has inspired me to make the Quantum model guitar I make today. Jeff Elliott and Cyndi Burton have been an inspiration to me–Jeff through his building techniques and Cyndi through her French Polish methods which I use exclusively on my guitars.

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

I strive for clarity and maximum string efficiency. My goal is to create a guitar with a beautiful silky tone, that has a strong voice in solo concert, as well as in ensemble playing.

Note Steve’s use of Balsa wood and Carbon Fiber to support his braces

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

I will always strive to refine the guitar I am making. I don’t want to rest on my laurels because I believe my craft can always improve.

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

I brace my soundboard with balsa wood and carbon fiber. In my shop I work on a Scandinavian workbench that I built myself. I also have created many of my own machines, jigs, and fixtures for guitar building.

A view of Steve’s solid-kerfed rim assembly.

6. What do you enjoy doing outside of building instruments?

Reading, camping, spending time with my grandkids and walking along the Headlands of the beautiful coast where I live.

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

Building fine furniture and cabinets.


Lattice-braced top plate after shaping.

8. What music are you listening to right now?

Kurt Rodimer: the Goldberg Variations.

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

A Paracho knife.