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Tag Archive for: Al Petteway

Dream Guitars at the 2015 Memphis Acoustic Guitar Festival

View All Interviews and Performances from the Show

The 2015 Memphis Acoustic Guitar Festival was great fun. I always look forward to the custom guitar shows as it affords me a chance to catch up with the many luthiers I am honored to call friends and see what wonderful creations they are developing as time goes on. This year I traveled to the show with Scott Bresnick, who works with me here at Dream Guitars. What follows is an understanding of what goes on at the shows, the story of a few guitars that truly impressed us, and some insight into the people who build these great guitars.

A custom guitar show is special in that you have the opportunity to play two, three or perhaps four guitars from each of the builders in attendance. Many of these guitars are custom-made for sale at this event. Others are already sold but they afford you a chance to hear multiple models and wood combinations at one time. That is what makes this type of show so special. Aside from visiting a shop like ours, it’s very hard to find all of these makers in one place. The 2015 Memphis Acoustic Guitar Festival consisted of one large hall that housed all of the luthiers and their instruments. Just outside this hall were other rooms for demoing guitars and additional smaller rooms with concert stages for demo concerts, workshops and listening concerts. There were also a handful of vendors, tone wood suppliers and manufacturers of guitar related accessories.

We arrived just in time on the first day to catch our own Al Petteway in concert. He played a rousing set of new material featuring many of the songs on the “Dream Guitars Vol. II: Hand-Picked” CD. This is a wonderful new album that features Al playing his and my favorite guitars that we pulled right off the walls at Dream Guitars. We also have a tab book for the entire CD and are producing video lessons for every song as well.

We have been working with many of the luthiers that attended the show for years. They’re always coming up with new designs, bracing changes and appointments, so it is always exciting to see their latest work. You can see a full list of the builders that attended the festival here. One such Builder is Thomas Rein, who recently revamped his bracing to incorporate a U-shaped brace on the lower bout. This guitar was my very favorite at the show. The tone was so round and lush while articulate and soul shaking. You can see this Thomas Rein guitar on our website complete with a video by Al here. We also interviewed Tom about his process and discovery of his new tone.

It’s no surprise that most of our other favorites at the show were the builders we already work with such as Bill Tippin, Bruce Petros, Brian Applegate and many others. I’ve been discovering and selecting builders at shows like this for many years. We are always on the lookout for a builder that is new to us and one that we believe our clients will find inspirational. This year I met Brad Daniels of Oxwood Guitars, Isaac Jang, Joel Michaud and several other rising builders that truly impressed us. We have invited each of these builders to make guitars for DG, so keep an eye (and ear) out for more on these folks.

There are also other builders that we meet at these types of shows and decide are not for Dream Guitars. We try to stay very true to what our clients expect, which is the best of the best. So for some luthiers at these shows, we provide constructive and honest feedback in hopes they can improve in time. An unseen part of what we do at Dream Guitars is to advise newer luthiers and tell them what areas of construction and tone they need to keep working on. We stay in touch and if they reach the level of expertise we require, we then begin to represent them. We truly enjoy supporting builders of every level and helping the overall craft.

Many of the attendees at the show are longtime clients and friends of the shop. We would stop in the hall and compare notes about what builders we’re enjoying at the show and the overall experience. One of my longtime clients commented that he loves coming to our shop because it is truly quiet, as we give each client a private appointment time. While the shows have quiet rooms, they are not that quiet. Often you are playing with two or three others in one open room and hotel conference rooms do not sound very good.

Scott and I brought along a video camera and throughout the weekend interviewed a number of the builders at the show. Our intention was to ask them questions to provide you with some insight into who these men and women are, and of course there is some guitar design discussion as well. We are after all guitar nuts, just like all of you. All of these videos can be found below and are also be available on our YouTube channel and featured on our website. We hope you find these entertaining and informative:

https://youtu.be/Vb6FTR_Sv7Q

Dream Guitars is proud to bring you some exciting news from Tippin Guitars including a brand new model and incoming DG inventory!!

Bill Tippin’s New Forte Model

First off, Bill Tippin introduced his newest creation, the Tippin Forte, at the recent Healdsburg Guitar Festival in California. This is a new model from him and is one of his most creative projects to date.

The Forte, based on his Crescendo model, was inspired by Tippin’s own personal guitar preferences. He found a way to boost the richness of the Crescendo — he increased the width of lower bout while maintaining the balance — and it’s slightly wider (3/16th”) at its widest.

Our own Paul Heumiller and Al Petteway had the privilege of playing the new Forte while out in Healdsburg. “The new Forte model from Bill Tippin has everything I love about the Crescendo, balance, clarity, power and Bill’s trademark full trebles, but it adds a bit more fullness to the bass for the player that enjoys a bit more thump in the chest. Outstanding!” – Paul H.

The Original Tippin Crescendo Model

The Crescendo, which is considered to be the cornerstone of Tippin’s entire line of guitars, is large yet versatile. Imagine a 14-fret OMT with the rich tone normally found in an 00012-fret size. The Crescendo manages to combine the feel of a 14-fret OMT while preserving the rich tone of a 12-fret body model, replete with incredible tone, balance and projection.

Dream Guitars has a pre-owned 2005 Crescendo in stock featuring Brazilian Rosewood and Carpathian Spruce – contact us if you’re interested in acquiring!

And, by the way, our own Paul Heumiller is anxiously awaiting to take delivery of his personal, custom Crescendo. Paul’s model is made from Brazilian/Moon spruce with a cutaway, MOP sparkle trim. What makes this custom job so unique is that it includes a short-scale, Fan Fret design, which will perform well in Drop-D, DADGAD and standard tunings.

The Tippin Al Petteway Signature Model

Also, Bill has embarked on a new build of the Tippin Al Petteway Signature, also based on the Crescendo model. Check out this video demonstration of the Petteway Signature on our YouTube channel. This instrument is representative of Bill at the top of his game, and when you listen to our studio recording you’ll understand what we mean. Interested in purchasing the incoming Tippin Al Petteway Signature model? Contact us today to learn more about your reservation options.

We do also have a pre-owned Al Petteway Signature in stock as well if you would rather not wait for the incoming guitar. This 2008 Crescendo Al Petteway Signature was actually originally purchased by Al Petteway himself and was the first Signature model ever made! This beauty features brick red Brazilian Rosewood, Moon Harvested European Spruce, an armrest bevel, beveled cutaway, and new heel design. Click here to learn more.

A while back, guitar great Al Petteway sat in front of the camera at our showroom in Weaverville, North Carolina, just outside of Asheville, and gave us all a lesson on how to play his own composition, “Tennessee Mountain Rag,” which is included on the “Dream Guitars, Volume 1, The Golden Age of Luthiers” CD and tablature book.

For the lesson, Al plays a Tippin Al Petteway Signature Model with Brazilian Rosewood and Moon Spruce, built by one of the great luthiers in the United States, Bill Tippin of Tippin Guitars.

“In this style of music, everything is out there to be had,” Al explains when discussing his writing method for this song, which taps into many other tunes and progressions in the genre, and the way he puts it all together to make it his own. This is songwriting, folks.

Al also details his chords as well as a cool “chicken picking” technique that he uses for a neat walk-down. He also details optional rhythm choices, which he points out are reminiscent of the style of Chet Atkins. He also shows you a neat lick he learned from listening to Atkins.

You can watch the video here on our Dream Guitars YouTube channel. The “Dream Guitars, Vol. 1” CD and complete book of tablature is available in our online store. All of this and more is available in the online shopping cart.

You should also visit his website at www.alandamy.com to learn more about Al Petteway, his wife, Amy.

Here at Dream Guitars, we discovered early on that one element of selling world-class guitars online was missing for our online customers: the sound. We then became perhaps the first online dealer of guitars to offer sound samples by recording every guitar we have in stock, played by any number of our favorite friends. In fact, we made every effort to use snippets of the same song for each guitar to give customers a great point of tonal reference.

If you are a fan and frequent visitor, you are no doubt familiar with, “The Crossing,” written and performed by Al Petteway and included on the “Dream Guitars, Volume 1” compact disc. In effect, it has become our unofficial theme song. In fact, we’ve noticed that many clients come into the showroom outside of Asheville, NC, and play snippets of the very same song they had heard on this site. Kind of cool on the one hand, but very telling on the other.

As a result, we have put together two videos: one with Al performing the piece, the other with a full-blown lesson from Mr. Petteway, complete with detailed instructions on how to play “The Crossing” from the composer himself. The videos are available on our Dream Guitars YouTube channel.

The “Dream Guitars, Vol. 1” CD and complete book of tablature is available in our online store. All of this and more is available in the online shopping cart.

You should also check out the world of Al Petteway at his home website at www.alandamy.com.

——-

 

Laskin

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

1944 Martin D-18

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

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

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

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

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

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



Recently Doug Young dropped by Dream Guitars and taught this great 3 part guitar lesson on arranging Amazing Grace for fingerstyle guitar. To follow along with the tablature, please click here.

From Doug’s website:

Doug Young is a fingerstyle instrumental guitarist based in the San Francisco South Bay area. An active perfomer in the local acoustic guitar scene, Doug hosts a monthly guitar showcase that has featured performers like Dorian Michael, Thomas Leeb, Steve Baughman, Teja Gerken, and many more. So far, Doug has released one CD, Laurel Mill, featuring his solo guitar playing, compositions and arrangements. Mel Bay has published his best-selling instructional book: “Understanding DADGAD: For Fingerstyle Guitar.” He is a Contributing Editor for Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and has also been published in Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine. In his role at Acoustic Guitar, Doug has written numerous instructional articles, gear reviews, and interviewed many of today’s top guitarists including Tommy Emmanuel, Sergio Assad, Andy McKee, Laurence Juber and Pierre Bensusan.

To learn more about Doug, his gig schedule, and his array of reviews and quality products, click here.

 

 

 

One of our favorite builders is the brilliant Jordan McConnell from Winnipeg, Canada. His guitars are impeccably crafted, and they offer stunning design and rich, articulate tones. Recently, Jordan informed us that he has developed a new model with the following dimensions.

Length: 19.5″
Lower bout: 15″
Upper bout: 11.25″
Standard scale length 25.25″

In Jordan’s words, “I like this shape for it’s versatility. It can be voiced to put the focus more in the midrange and trebles to create a very intimate and clear sounding guitar, but it doesn’t lack power and can still pack a pretty serious punch in the low end if that is desired. It’s a very comfortable size to play and can be more manageable than a jumbo sized body in a stage setting if someone is gigging a lot.”

If you would like to receive more information on this stunning guitar, or on any of Jordan’s other guitars, please give us a call. We’ll be happy to talk to you about these very special creations!

 

To see more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve James is a well known name among devotees of contemporary acoustic folk and blues; this notoriety based on numerous critically acclaimed recordings, a tireless international tour schedule and a sheaf of published work including articles, instruction books and videos. His instrumental versatility (on guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, guitar-banjo) also makes him a favorite at music camps and workshop programs.

Recently Steve stopped by Dream Guitars and played some of our great vintage and custom-made guitars.

Everyone knows that Al Petteway is an extremely fine guitarist, but what you may not know is that he is also an excellent guitar teacher. In this video Al instructs how to play  his  original tune “Tennessee Mountain Rag”. If you live in the greater Asheville area or just visiting, Al is available for one-on-one lessons that are sure to inspire. Give us a call anytime — we’ll be happy to schedule a lesson or two for you!

Dream Guitars was recently honored when classical guitarist extraordinaire, Charles Mokotoff, visited  our showroom and auditioned our wonderful collection of new and vintage classical guitars. We were immediately seized by Charle’s command of the instrument, as he treated us to  an impromptu overview of his current repertoire.

Because we are a premier acoustic guitar shop, we are fortunate to have an eclectic, deeply talented family of clients and friends. We are very proud to count Charles among them. I highly encourage you to check out his music soon.

From Charle’s website:

CHARLES MOKOTOFF holds both Bachelors and Masters degrees in guitar performance from Syracuse University and Ithaca College, respectively. He has served on the faculties of numerous colleges and universities in the New York and New England area as a lecturer in classical guitar and lute.

Prior to settling in the Washington, DC area in 1991, Mr. Mokotoff made his home in New England where he was widely recognized as an active guitarist and Renaissance lute player during the 1980s. During that period his career culminated with two Far East tours and a well-received New York City debut at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in 1987, featuring the Premier of Autumn Elegy by William Coble, written and dedicated to him.

Mr. Mokotoff has been hearing impaired for a good deal of his life and was featured inHearing Loss Magazine in January 2010.


 

You may purchase his CD “Autumn Elegy” from iTunes by clicking HERE, or from CD Baby by clicking HERE. Or enjoy his music live at one of the the upcoming recitals.

 

 

Kathy

Kathy Wingert is an artist that has complete control of her medium. I met her for the first time at the most recent guitar festival in Ft. Lauderdale, at the Hard Rock. Her displays are hugely popular at guitar shows — the lines of her instruments are so elegant, the voices of her guitars are so original, the inlay work is beautiful and so…non derivative.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Kathy’s skills. She is an exceptional luthier, and consistently builds instruments with supreme voices.

First a little biography please. How long have you been a builder? With whom, if anyone, did you study or do repairs? Please tell me about your “ah-ha” moment when you realized luthiery was to be your chosen path.

A tiny little seed got planted during a trip to a guitar shop, the World of Strings.  One of the employees showed me a billet of Indian rosewood and proudly proclaimed that he was going to learn to build a guitar.  I was very curious about where and how that got done, and he said he would be learning from his boss, Jon Peterson.

My ah-ha came during a moment of soul searching, which I happened to be doing in the library.  I was ready for a new chapter and a new direction, the kids had gotten old enough for me to start thinking that way, and I was wide open to new ideas.  As luck would have it there was a book on guitar making in my library.  (I wish I could say which book it was, I haven’t seen it since.)

Though I knew instantly and deeply that I could be good at guitar making, I also knew it would take a little time to find my path.  I was on the cusp of the internet, and back in those days, kids, you had to leave your house to get information.  I read my way through five libraries and had collected quite a few books, including books about sharpening chisels and the amazing number of ways a router could be used, but I hadn’t found in print the book that made it all make sense.  I really don’t know how long the discovery process went on, but one morning I woke up and I understood how to build a guitar, not from a plan, but from a design of my own.

The next hurdle was finding materials.  A kind employee of a woodworking store told me about a guitar making class at a community college, and after I had been in the class for two months, the instructor told me that Jon Peterson at the World of Strings was looking for someone.  I took in some necks I had carved and an electric drop top that I had completed and got hired in 1995.

Has being a woman, in a field largely dominated by men, been advantageous or disadvantageous in anyway?

It was annoying as heck in the busy repair shop.  If I went to the counter they’d just ask for the “repair guy.”  I think being a woman kept my client list a little leaner than some builders with whom I feel I am well matched, but time has sorted a lot of that out.  I do know that I have had more than my share of wonderful customers with whom I have enjoyed every part of the journey.

On your website, you mention that you are in love with your job, and how deeply you enjoy the creative aspects of being a builder. Can you tell me more about that emotional connection, and how it relates to building guitars for clients, who may have different preferences than your own?

The answer to that probably relates pretty closely to the issue of being a woman in a male dominated business.  I think many times the people I work with are just open to letting me do what I do.  I can tell you for sure guys have let me build some pretty frilly guitars for them while pretending it was my idea!

Look, I’m very invested in what I do, and I am emotionally connected, but I’m also 100 percent pro.  There is almost always a middle ground, and I can catch the vision even if a client’s tastes are different from mine.

Working with your daughter Jimmi must certainly add to the love and meaningfulness of designing and constructing your instruments. How does that collaboration work?  How much free reign do you allow her to incorporate her own ideas?

Jimmi just continues to get better and better busier and busier, so I’m loving what’s going out the door to other builders, and I stare meaningfully in her direction hoping she will have time for me again one day!

Jimmi works with me much the same way as she works with any builder.  A lot of the time she works directly with the client and then construction issues are sorted out with the builder.  When we’re working on one of mine we have the advantage of passing materials back and forth, but she works it out really well by mail too.

When someone calls you to commission a guitar, how does the communication process work? How do you discover what type of guitar to build for a client that has difficulty articulating how they’d like the

instrument to be voiced?

Sometimes it’s a matter of discovering how much a potential buyer might know about the subject of tone and wood differences.  If it’s an experienced collector I ask a few questions about what they like and/or don’t like about guitars that they’ve owned.  I always look for that little area of common experience and we work from there.  If it’s a less experienced guitarist or guitar buyer, I look for the same thing, but perhaps instead of talking about whether they like the punch of sitka or the twinkle of koa, I might ask a lot of questions about voices of singers or instruments in an orchestra.  The point, for me, is to find out whether they are looking for a guitar like mine.  Occasionally I have suggested other builders when I’ve felt there would be a better match up.

Speaking of voicing, please take me through the process of voicing a guitar with a contemporary sound, and how that differs from voicing a guitar that is more traditional.

I don’t know if I’m qualified to answer that one.  My work has been toward a sound that I wanted to hear, and I have learned through hard lessons what takes me away from that.  I have all the same anecdotal information about what makes a prewar Martin sound like they do, but I have never pursued that sound.

You have mentioned using a signal generator and Chladni patterns in voicing your guitars? Could you describe what Chladni patterns are and how you use them to help in the process?

When you play a harmonic on a string, you have divided it in segments, but the reason it physically works is because at the mathematical division of the octave or fifth or whatever, there is a nodal point on the string that allows it to vibrate freely around a still point when the conditions are right (meaning when the string is struck and your finger is on that node).  At those naturally occurring places, there is no displacement. When a guitar top is excited with vibrations, there are also nodal points and in those areas of little to no displacement, the glitter piles up.

The arrangement of the glitter patterns at a given frequency range indicates the efficiency of the top, or more instructively, the non-appearance of a pattern at a target frequency means I have work to do.

Chladni patterns are not a recipe for a great guitar, they are an indication of what you just did.  Hopefully, if you stumble on a great recipe, you can do it again.

I am not an expert on Chladni patterns or any other science approach to lutherie, so my use of glitter testing is merely a way to double check that I’m on the right track.  The range of frequency at which I get certain patterns are what I’m interested in, and the rest I do the old fashioned way.

The first Kathy Wingert guitar that I had the pleasure of playing had back and sides of blackwood. It immediately became my favorite tone wood, even passing Brazilian Rosewood as my tone wood of choice. Please tell me about working with blackwood, how you view its tonal characteristics, and when you would recommend it over Brazilian.

I love AB, but I’ve come to hear it very differently from Brazilian, and for a long time I wouldn’t have said that.  What I like and what I hear in the heavy woods, AB and cocobolo is a weightiness and sustain in the mids.  If you try to hold me to a blindfold A/B test, I’ll be happy to tell you that I learned a long time ago it’s darned hard to do!  I believe that 90% of tonewood choice has to do with the feedback the player gets and has very very little effect on the listener 15 feet away, at least not if there is any other noise in the room.

How important are trade shows and guitar festivals for bringing in new clients and expanding the growth of your business?

I think the trade shows and festivals are enormously important for custom lutherie as a whole.  I know I personally benefit from doing them, though many times it is long after the show.  I always see or hear something the kicks my fanny.  I also believe it’s really important for the community as a whole to show up, present well, and let people know that we are accountable to a larger community.  As a community, professional luthiers have built a lot of trust.  We have buyers who write checks for a deposit on something they aren’t going to see for years.  That’s huge.

You seem very environmentally aware. How can the traditions of luthiery evolve to embrace a new “greener” philosophy?

I might be wrong, but I think small builders working on a few instruments are remarkably green.  We waste as little as possible and most of us don’t do a lot clothes or shoe shopping for this career.  Many of us commute only a few steps from the house to the shop.

I am going to guess that the nastiest thing we do is over use abrasives.  I love working with planes and drawknives, but I have power tools and it just goes faster.  If I were to grab for that knife, the dust collector could stay quiet.

As for the protection of exotic hardwoods, it’s important to care, and it’s important to stop asking for woods that are in trouble from places that are over harvested.  The highest and best use of precious exotic woods is in fine instruments, and some of the controls that are in place should go a long way toward stopping the indiscriminate use of fine woods on not so fine factory instruments, or as flooring or lawn furniture.  It’s also important to understand that the trees won’t be protected if they have no commercial value, so it is important as a community that we fight for the woods that we need.  For those who are somewhat new to the subject, please re-read that last line!

Please tell me about your fascination with Harp Guitars?

That was a case of a customer wanting something I didn’t really want to do.  In fact, I refused for more than a year.  But the customer was a friend and he has patience, so he wore me down.  After I built one and had a minute or two to try to play one, I was interested in building more, if only for my own use.   I haven’t been able to hang on to one long enough to learn much, and what I do work out on one is easily forgotten, but harp guitars aren’t meant to make guitar playing harder, they are meant to make it easier once you get a toe hold.  The jumping off place is a lot more difficult on harp guitar, and I’m still there.

Some of your larger harp guitars have sycamore back and sides. Why sycamore? Tonally, what does this wood offer?

Some of my harp guitars are sycamore because I had it!  Harp guitar sets are hard to come by and I thought it would look cool.  It was very successful for harp guitar because it didn’t add a lot of clutter to the bass.  The bass was clear and strong, but not ringy.  The first thing you have to learn is to find the sub basses on a harp guitar, the second thing you have to do is shut them up.  I haven’t built a standard six out of sycamore, so my experience with it is limited to the outcome of those two harp guitars.

When I play your guitars, I am always impressed with the strength of the treble frequencies all the way up the neck, and how well balanced they are with the lows and mids. What is the secret to building an acoustic guitar that has such strong treble fundamentals?

Thank you!  Again, I can only tell you that my recipe has been added to over time.  I tease that it used to take me 120 hours to build a guitar and now I’m pretty sure it takes me twice that long.  There are all the added steps that I have acquired over the years.

I think one of the big secrets in guitar building, and one that gets talked about very little has to do with how well the neck tunes to the body.  I’m really lucky that my steel string headstock seems to be about the right size and weight.  I have nodal points that fall pretty much where I need them to be, and that little extra adds to consistency up the neck – or so my violin making mentor taught me.

In the next 5-10 years, what do you envision for Wingert Guitars? Will there be a continuing evolution in your designs? Will you branch off in new directions?

I have been working on something old rather than something new.  I love classical guitar and I have started taking time to pursue that.  I’ve built some passable classicals and have sold them at fair prices for their abilities, but I am ready to take commissions on classical guitars now for the right buyers.  By the time this goes to print, I will probably have had time to prototype the last couple of things I want to iron out.

I’ve learned over the last couple of years that I really enjoy teaching, but my personal evolution isn’t complete yet.  So much of what I do is intuitive or ingrained, it is hard for me to break it down for someone else, so in the next few years, I would like to get better at that kind of communication.  I think it might be so appealing because it is at a completely different pace from the daily madness of wearing all the hats.   To explain the steps to someone else simply requires taking a deep breath, and that’s kinda nice.

Finally Kathy, do you have any additional thoughts that you’d like to share with our readers, i.e., thoughts about guitars, information about you, thoughts about creativity, life lessons… anything?

Well, all of your readers need a Wingert guitar because they know lots of songs, will entice your creative muse to show up,  and will even improve your singing voice in just 14 days!

My great thanks to Kathy for her participation in this interview. Dream Guitars is proud to carry her uniquely voiced one of a kind creations.

 

Steven Dembroski

 

 

 

 

 

Even more waiting to be added to the DG website.

A few weeks ago, Paul received a call from a gentleman he’d never spoken to before. Like many conversations with Paul, this one ranged from guitars and motorcycles, fast cars, and the finer things in life.

John's Classical Guitar Shrine

John's Classical Guitar Shrine

The callers name was John, and within a few minutes he and Paul discovered that they had many things in common. What transpired from that first call lead up to a monumental event of Paul dropping everything, and driving North in the largest empty white van he could find. The next day, Paul returned to Dream Guitars in Western North Carolina, but this time the van wasn’t empty. If fact it was packed floor to ceiling with over a half a million dollars worth of the finest nylon string Classical Guitars we’ve ever laid eyes on.

Cases upon cases.

Cases upon cases.

Paul explains:

“One of the true joys of this business is the chance to touch, feel and play music on bits of history. Guitars are treasures and they tell a story. I was honored to get a call from John asking us to represent his prized collection of some of the very finest Classical and Flamenco guitars ever made. I dropped everything and drove 4 states away very excited to see the fruits of his years of collecting guitars. We spent a wonderful Sunday open case by case, each more impressive than the next, Monch, Pena’ Fernandez, vintage Contreras, Ramirez and Kohno, modern gems such as Blackshear, Redgate and Humphrey. There is even an unplayed 1994 Schneider Kasha guitar complete with a video of Richard Schneider discussing his design. Flamenco guitars by Ramirez, Conde Hermanos, even a rare Valda Sobrino Domingo Estesos, and a Ruck Flamenco cutaway. Just astonishing instruments!”

A small percentage of the collection.

A small percentage of the collection.

It may takes Dream Guitars a few months to get all these stunning instruments on to our website, but if you are a lover of Classical and Flamenco guitar, we invite you to make a trip to our shop now. Flights into Asheville put you just 30 minutes from us. We humbly offer you the chance to play the very finest collection of instruments perhaps in the whole of the U.S. Come enjoy them with us. You will be amazed.

The following builders are included in this collection, with multiple guitars from several of the builders:

Brand Model Product Year
Andres Caruncho Classical 2001
Bella J. Gemza Concert 1973
Bellucci Concert
Bernabe Concierto 2002
Blackshear Concert 1999
Blackshear Flamenco 2007
Bogdanovich Guitars Concert 2005
Conde Hermanos Concert 1986
Conde Hermanos Domingo Esteso Reedicion 2004
Conde Hermanos Flamenco 1962
Contreras Double Top 1985
Contreras 1969
DeVoe Flamenco 1988
Edgar Monch Concert 1972
Francisco Barba Flamenco 1968
Gioachino Giussani Concert 2008
Greg Smallman Reproduction Lattice Braced 2002
Hermanos Yague Concert 1987
Humphrey Millennium 1993
Ian Kneipp Concert 1998
Jeff Sigurdson Flamenco
Jeronimo Pena Fernandez Concert 1974
Jeronimo Pena Fernandez Flameco 1995
Jose Oribe Concert 1972
Jose Ruiz Pedregosa Concert 2004
Kohno 15 1977
Kohno 20 1976
Kohno 30 1980
Kohno 5 1970
Kohno Professional J 1993
Kohno Professional R 1989
Kohno Special 1993
Kohno Special 1996
Kono 3 1964
Manuel Rodriguez Concert 1982
Manuel Rodriguez e Hyos La Magnifica 2010
Manuel Rodriguez e Hyos La Maja 2010
Manuel Rodriguez e Hyos La Mereuilla
Miguel de Cordova Flamenco
Moreira Anniversary #1 2005
Moreira Hauser 2004
Moreira Santos 2003
R.L. Mattingly Concert 1968
Ramirez 1a La de Camara 1991
Ramirez Flamenco 1959
Redgate Lattice Braced 2006
Ricardo Sanchis Solista 1996
Richard Schneider Kasha 1994
Rubio Concert 1967
Ruck Flamenco Cutaway 1996
V. Da y Sobrinos De Domingo Estesto Flamenco 1950
Velazquez ‘Shop Guitar’ Concert 1961
Walker Twins

Walker Twins

I warn you, if you haven’t seen these guitars already, you may want to sit down. These two Scott Walker Custom Twins are the very same instruments that were the hit of the recent NAMM Show in Anneheim, CA. Crowds gathered around to see the intricate sculpting, deep quilting and exceptional details that only Scott Walker could imagine.

 

Mr. Walker is an exceptional builder. His instruments are rich with unique appointments and custom features that set them far ahead of the pack.

Honduran Mahogany

Honduran Mahogany

With Scott’s recent set of twins, he has taken his craft to yet another level creating instruments that are timeless and at the same time revolutionary.

 

Shared features include gorgeous, solid Brazilian Rosewood necks. The color is so dark and chocolaty you might just be tempted to sink your teeth into them — but don’t do that! These necks have been shaped to perfection, and are appropriate for guitarists playing any genre. The feel of natural Brazilian Rosewood against the palm of your hand is natural, and so comfortable, you’ll find yourself playing things you never knew possible.

The bodies are made of gorgeous flamed Honduran Mahogany, and capped with exquisite quilted maple so deep you could swim in it. The slightly tinted very natural color brings out the nuance and detail of the maples figure, and lends an earthy sophisticated look to the guitars.

Scott Walker is one of a very small handful of builders that we represent at Dream Guitars. We know our clients only want superior instruments, so we are extremely selective in who we choose to represent. Scott Walker’s inspiring creations, go way beyond what conventional electric guitars offer.

Call us to find out more about these exceptional instruments, and learn how they can be yours today. We prefer to sell these 2 as a set, but we are very happy to discuss individual purchases with you as well.

Don’t miss this chance to own a part of the Scott Walker Legacy!

ARTINGER CUSTOM GUITARS

ARTINGER CUSTOM GUITARS

The first time I spoke with Matt Artinger, I was blown away by his enthusiasm for designing and building exceptional guitars. Matt has an aura of “creative genius” all around him, and that energy is transferred in every single instrument he builds. Every Artinger Guitar is a great guitar — mediocrity is not in Matt’s vocabulary. That is why we are so thrilled to be representing Artinger Custom Guitars at Dream Guitars.
Incoming Artinger Trio!

Incoming Artinger Trio!

In the coming months Matt will be building a series of elegant, extraordinary guitars to be offered in our new Dream Guitars Electric Guitar Showroom. I encourage you to visit our shop, and give these great instruments a thorough. Your definition of what an electric guitar can be, will be forever altered!

Here are the first 3, due in soon! Call Paul Heumiller today to reserve yours!

James Olson, Larry Robinson, Kevin Ryan, and Michael Keller

Clearly, luthiery requires a diverse set of finely honed skills, but it also requires a deep aesthetic understanding. Do you consider yourself more of an artist or a craftsman?

I definitely consider myself a craftsman with a very strong artistic sense. I had always been fond of arts of all kinds — decorative, interpretive, pre-modern, impressionist, surrealistic. I am fond of many types of art. But I’m also very fond of many types of crafts, pottery, jewelry and knife making, and furniture. This is the world of my imagination.

MICHAEL KELLER

MICHAEL KELLER

When you’re starting to build a guitar and you’re trying to picture it in your visual mind, many artistic considerations come into play that go beyond crafting a fine sounding guitar. Different colors of wood, different colored shells, colored purflings, bindings and shapes, all become a pallet that is available to you to compose a beautiful looking instrument.

One must also realize ultimately you’re making a tool for a musician. No matter how beautiful or arty a guitar looks, if it doesn’t play well and sound great I don’t care how arty it is. I would much rather have a guitarist tell me, “I love the sound of the guitar”, rather than “the sound is OK but the inlays are great”. It’s really totally about the sound and playability.

Recently, flying back from a guitar festival I noticed one of the editors of a guitar magazine on the plane who had been at the show. We started talking, and he mentioned that he had played a lot of very expensive heavily inlaid guitars that didn’t play or sound very good. He said exactly what I was thinking from my own experiments at the festival. A lot of the guitars at the show were designed to be eye catching, but a lot of effort had not been put into making them play well. So the artistic side of guitar making is a field that one should embrace carefully, making sure the instrument sounds and plays well first. After that, as far as I’m concerned, anything goes.

Read more

John Osthoff 000-12C

This gorgeous new John Osthoff 000-12C is headed toward the Dream Guitars showroom. A stunning guitar with gorgeous African Blackwood back and sides! Give us a call to find out how this exceptional instrument can be yours!

John Osthoff 000-12C

John Osthoff 000-12C

Osthoff 00-12C

Osthoff 00-12C

The seat takes shape.

Brian Boggs is one of the most highly respected furniture makers in America. Known for his creative passion and attention to detail, Brian now brings his considerable talents to the world of music, giving us the ultimate Guitar Chair!

As soon as I sat in the Guitar Chair I noticed an immediate improvement in my playing posture. Long rehearsals and performances are definitely made easier when you are comfortable. I find that the Guitar Chair lessens back fatigue, and helps break the bad habit of slumping over the guitar. Paul and I both highly recommend the Guitar Chair by Brian Boggs. It is the ultimate guitar accessory!

What makes your guitar chair more appropriate for players than a standard kitchen chair?

The Bogg's Guitar Chair

The Bogg's Guitar Chair

What is different about the guitar chair is that the whole chair is designed around how guitar players move, hold their guitar, and position their hands. Beginning with the seat, I sculpted it to support the player comfortably, but it’s round shape and forward slant address the guitarist’s forward lean as well as leg movements. It provides comfort while rocking out on the blues or meditating on a classical number. The rolling downward of the front of the seat allows either knee to drop down or move to the side comfortably. No edges to catch you under the thigh so your legs don’t fall asleep.

The back is narrower and shorter than a typical kitchen chair. It also has a pitch designed for the position of a guitarist in performance. The lower portion of the back is carved back to so that when leaning forward there is still some support in the lumbar area.
A kitchen chair, on the other hand is designed for single position sitting, is tilted slightly backward, and usually has a trapezoidal seat shape. Having said all this about the differences, this design will make a great kitchen chair with a simple change to the pitch. I am working on that version now.

Hand crafted perfection!

Hand crafted perfection!

If someone wants to order a Guitar chair, and have it customized to match their décor, what is the process?

That will depend on just how much is needed to make the accommodation. They will need to call the shop and we will take it from there. If it is simply a wood choice matter, we can do that easily enough. Harder woods for the seat or back will cost more in labor, and the chair price will also have to reflect any additional wood cost if more expensive woods are chosen. Any changes to the design will add cost just because the chair can’t follow the usual well honed process we work with. It will need extra time and attention. That is always done on an individual basis.

Do we have plans to develop any other products especially aimed at musicians and guitarists in particular?

Brian Boggs -- sculpting the Guitar Chair.

Brian Boggs -- sculpting the Guitar Chair.

I don’t have new designs up and going right now, but a music stand and drawer unit for music storage are on my mind. We have the craftsmen to build them beautifully. It’s just a matter of getting the designs worked out.


What is the typical wait time for a custom order?

Right now we are looking at about 10 weeks. Production of the chairs is fairly constant. Orders arrive in a more erratic pattern, so our backlog will fluctuate from 4-12 weeks for a while. We will know when we get an order what the delivery time will be on that chair.

Can you tell us more about the mission of your company?

The Boggs Collective represents a new business vision that fosters the highest levels of design, craftsmanship and sustainability in studio furniture making. Our model integrates four key components: materials, workspace, training and visibility creating opportunities for landowners, loggers, sawyers and craftspeople to work collaboratively. With this full cycle collaboration fine craftsmanship, sustainable forest management and our clients’ needs are integrated into a mutually supportive and sustainable partnership.

The seat takes shape.

The seat takes shape.

For landowners, loggers and sawyers who practice sustainable forestry there is an assurance that their efforts are helping create value-added wood products that stimulate the regional economy. For craftspeople involved, it offers an infrastructure that allows woodworkers to focus on their passion. For our clients, it represents the chance to own timeless, handcrafted furniture produced in a reliable and sustainable manner. For all of us, it presents a new way of looking at the items we live with, an awareness of the labor and materials that go into each piece and a conscious choice to hold these values at the heart of our philosophy and practice.

THE BOGGS COLLECTIVE — MISSION

Our Mission – Design and produce exquisite furniture in a reliable and sustainable manner
Our Vision – To provide a model that supports furniture makers and forests sustainably
Our Core values – Excellence – creating conditions that promote our highest level of engagement in all facets of our work.
Innovation – creativity drive development of processes and products designed to support and inspire us.
Integrity – holding our values and beliefs present in both our individual and collective actions and products
Social and Environmental Responsibility – honoring our responsibility to the health and well being of our forests, communities and craftsmen.

Click here for the review in Acoustic Guitar magazine.

This week’s interview is with Gerry Humphrey of Humphrey Amplifiers. Mr. Humphrey’s amps recently made their debut at Dream Guitars. In a world of solid state acoustic guitar amps, the Humphrey Espresso really stands out. Beneath the beautiful hand crafted wooden cabinet beats the heart of a high fidelity tube amplifier. Paul, Al, and I took this sophisticated new tube amp for a spin, and found it highly accurate, full of great tones, and a delight to use.

Humphrey Amplifiers Espresso

Humphrey Amplifiers Espresso

Could you tell me a little about your background, and how you got into designing boutique acoustic amplification?

I’ve been in love with music, particularly the guitar, as long as I can remember, Steven. As a 12 year old, my first tube amp was a little Marshall 10W that I used to terrorize the neighbors! Of course, it wasn’t long before I was ‘encouraged to play acoustic instead.

Later, my chosen career path had me graduating from college in Scotland as an electronics engineer and jumping into the world of hi-tech — where I stayed for almost 30 years. My very patient wife and family stuck by me as promotion also meant several relocations, with the USA welcoming us 20 years ago.

Most recently I was an executive at a Fortune 100 company, but for the last couple of years I wasn’t truly enjoying what I was doing. That’s very important to me – life’s too short to spend it working on something that doesn’t inspire you.

I’ve always had an itch to start my own business, and when a good friend told me of his frustration at not being able to find the perfect amp, I did some market research and found there could be a real opportunity for the ‘right’ design.

What is your connection to luthier Brian Applegate?

We’re fortunate to have him as a neighbor. Brian was the good friend ‘that planted the amp seed about 5 years ago. He gave us the idea in the first place – the initial concept was his, and knowing my engineering background and love of the guitar he encouraged me to take a serous look at it. Brian not only gave me encouragement, he also offered advice and support as I fleshed out the initial design and the multitude of prototypes that followed.

He was our initial test-case too. We knew the circuit design wouldn’t be right until Brian was happy. That entailed countless tweaks, modifications and even a few total redesigns before we saw him grinning like a Cheshire cat when doing a sound check. That process took months, sometimes with multiple tests on the same day, but more typically one or two days apart. We called it ‘death by Brian’ 🙂

Following that, we left a couple of prototypes at his shop and he was kind enough to bring in his own customers to try them out. We’d hoped to get some constructive feedback, expecting to make some design changes. Instead, we got orders. We were blown away by the response – and apparently the customers were blown away by the sound. I guess we knew we were really onto something good at that point.

If a product, any kind of product, is going to be successful, it has to solve a problem.
Here’s the problem: Brian not only makes very beautiful acoustic guitars that sound incredible, he plays too, so he obviously has a very good ear for tone. When he needed amplification, although having various acoustic amps, microphones, PA’s etc., he found the closest he could get to the sound he really wanted was when using an oversized electric guitar amplifier, dialed down to keep it in a very narrow clean zone.
It sounded pretty good, but didn’t quite fit with the image or the surroundings.

He wanted the warmth and fidelity that only a tube amplifier could offer, but in a package that was more suited to a hand-built acoustic guitar, and didn’t look out of place in his living room.
With that in mind, I spent a lot of time looking at what’s available in the market, what people were actually using and asking lots of questions. Many people make compromises when it comes to amplification, playing their custom acoustic guitars through sound-systems & amps that effectively strip the rich and complex tones.

Some, like Brian, struggle to find the setup that lets them hear just how their guitar sounds, only louder.

Espresso Control Panel

Espresso Control Panel

A lot of folks actually enjoy the challenge, develop sophisticated setups using particular pickup systems and/or mics and swear by a specific brand/model of amplifier. Mostly, they’re happy with the result, for a time anyway.

 

What we wanted was a ‘living room friendly’ tube amplifier – one that was designed specifically for acoustic guitars. Sounds reasonable – after all, the best (and most expensive) stereo hi-fi amplifiers still use vacuum tubes today.

That’s why the Espresso amplifier incorporates a lot of hi-fi design methodology.

I was very pleased to learn that your amps employ EL84 tubes. Most people associate that tube type with the great Vox amps of the 1960’s and early Marshall 18 watt amps. How did you come to use this tube in the power section, and what does it offer that other tube types do not?

I love those amps, and the sound they get from the EL84’s. With an electric guitar of course! They’re set up to overdrive the EL84 tubes, pushing them to saturation point, giving the resulting sound a kind of ‘chime’ – the type of distortion that’s very pleasing to the ear.

If you don’t overdrive the EL84, in other words, you keep in the ‘clean’ zone, it’s wonderfully clear sounding. Some people say it sparkles or shimmers or words to that effect, but it’s a very subjective thing. Fact is, the ‘clean zone’ is ideal for the power level of this amplifier and the dynamic range of an acoustic guitar.

I did a lot of reading and a lot of testing and concluded not only that EL84’s were best suited, but that the JJ Electronics manufactured EL84’s, supplied by Eurotubes were the best sounding.

Your choice of speaker is quite unique. Could you tell me about it, and what led you to choose it?

Everything about tube amplifiers for electric guitars is designed, intentionally, to change the sound of the guitar in some way, including the speaker. Guitar speakers are made to breakup at a particular volume, or change the shaping of the frequencies produced in some manner – that kind of thing.

Espresso

Espresso

What we needed was a speaker that didn’t color the sound at all, one that simply produced an image of the signal driving it: a hi-fi speaker. Actually, it’s a 2-way speaker with a horn for the high-end and an Eminence 10” for mid/bass.

 

To make sure the 15W output from the amp didn’t come anywhere close to overdriving the speaker we looked for one that was built to handle much higher power levels, but with characteristics that would be ideal for the dynamic range of an acoustic guitar. There were a few technical specs in particular that we were looking at as we did our research, and then there was the testing . . .

It was both interesting and comforting that the lab test results matched with the choices made by our volunteer guinea pigs. The number one choice, by far, for clarity, transparency and ‘authenticity’ lined up with the one our measurements suggested would be best.
However, as time allows we’ll continue to look at other speakers to see if we can make improvements or simply offer options for customers.

Your cabinets can be built in a variety of optional hardwoods, which of course have different densities. Have you noticed any significant tonal changes when using, for example, walnut compared to maple?

Not particularly. If there are any, they’re very subtle. If anything, the parts that could alter the tone are the speaker baffle and the back-panel, but they’re made from 14-ply baltic birch so there’s not really any tone altering that happens there.

Type of wood obviously makes a huge tone difference in guitar construction. Consider the structure, the thickness of the wood compared to the width & length. It’s all designed to amplify and shape the sound.

In our cabinets, the top, bottom and sides of the box frame are made from 3/4” hardwood panels, dovetail jointed and glued. Relatively small panels, thick wood, very solid construction, not prone to vibration, that won’t alter the tone to any discernible degree, is what we’re aiming for.

If someone wants an Espresso with an effects loop, is that a possibility? What other options do you offer?

The short answer, Steven, is yes. There’ are some circuitry changes that need to further be refined before we’d release it, but that option is definitely in the plans for the near future.

We’re getting requests for different input/output configurations: dual channels; mic/instrument; XLR in; AUX in for iPod , balanced DI out, etc. To satisfy those, we’re working on a kind of ‘universal’ plug-in for the inputs, and we’ll address output needs on an individual basis.

On the inputs – we’d be able blend the channels at individual levels but we’d still be limited to a single tone stack with the space on the current control panel. Eventually, we may move some of the controls to the side or back to allow for more space.

Part of the initial concept was to keep it simple and clean, focusing on the quality of the sound, and having specific sound/tone tweaks satisfied through external boxes, pedals etc.

That’s how many folks tweak do it currently, but there’s growing interest in having it ‘in the box’. We like to cater to any requests that we can because that’s what customization is all about.

Humphrey Amplifiers Espresso

Humphrey Amplifiers Espresso

Although not a hard request, another option that’s been suggested is a parametric equalizer/notch-filter. So far, we’ve resisted using any solid state & we’d prefer not to go there, so we’ve been working on doing it the old-fashioned way. It’s a pretty complicated filter network, and to do it right adds a big chunk of circuitry. Right now, we’re not happy about how it effects the overall sound, but we’ll keep working it.

Will you be expanding your line to include amps for electric guitar as well?

At some point, Steven, that would make sense. It certainly would be an easier design than our acoustic amp, because we had to figure out all the things that went into making a tube amp do what it does for the electric guitar sound, and then eliminate them.
Likely, the first step would be to design for archtops & hollow-body electrics — something that retains the clarity but introduces a more bluesy/jazzy tone to the mix.

But there are other more organic products we’d like to do first. Two things that are in the plans are an extension cabinet and a dual-channel pre-amp.

Interestingly, something that wasn’t planned until much later is a stereo hi-fi model, based on the Espresso 15. Something you could plug your iPod into and get great sounds out of. However, having stumbled into a discussion about it at a recent trade show, we now have a customer that wants a significant number of them, so we’ll be bringing it out a lot sooner than we planned.

It’s actually very cool – and it’ll give us a platform for the dual channel pre-amp too – so we’re pretty excited about that.

What does your tube amp offer tonally that a player cannot get from a solid state device?

A more life-like sound. That’s the bottom line. Yes, the tubes are a big part of it because of the physics of how they work, and how we perceive/process sound. A small, but very important point is that using tubes allows for a much simpler circuit (signal path) than solid-state, with fewer components and connections, and therefore less interference in the signal path. That’s a really good thing for acoustic instruments.

One key area that’s often overlooked in the typical tubes versus solid-state debate is dynamic range – what some folks describe as ‘touch’ or ‘feel’. What I mean by that is the way in which an amplifier responds to changes between soft strumming & hard picking. Tubes run on very high voltages (ours run higher than 300 volts), which means they can respond more rapidly to the strength of the note played. It gives the player a much more natural ‘feel’.

Those things, along with the cabinet design – unique venting & offset speakers – give you an experience that’s a lot closer to the sound of your guitar than any solid-state amplifier can.

Are your amplifiers point to point, hand wired?

All our amplifiers are hand-wired. We use military-spec (very heavy-duty) fiberglass board with turret-pins staked in the appropriate spots. The components are mounted on the board and silver-coated hookup wire is used to connect them to each other and to the tubes. Oh, and the solder has a high silver content too – all good things for signal integrity.

We looked at using the point-to-point method (components soldered directly to each other and directly to tube pins) and although it would have been easier, we decided quality assurance would be more consistent and reliable with the board/turret scheme.

Finally, do you have any other thoughts that you’d like to share with readers of our blog?

We may be a new name, but we’ve put a tremendous amount of time into ‘getting it right’ and we’re very excited (overwhelmed, actually) about the reception we’ve had so far, Steven.

Also, we’re really pleased to be working with Dream Guitars. I know from talking with several luthier friends that Dream Guitars is very selective about the products you offer your customer base – and for good reason. The reputation you have, in the market you address, is extremely high so you need to make sure they meet the high standards your customers have.

My last words (for now 🙂 Steven, would be to let your customers know that testing a Humphrey is very likely to cause a sudden increase in their ‘gear collection’. So far, all but one person that’s tried a demo has either ordered an amp or seriously plans to within the next couple of months. The lead-time is reasonable right now (around 8 weeks), but expected to grow pretty quickly.

Thanks Steven – great questions!

Humphrey Amplifiers Espresso

Humphrey Amplifiers Espresso


Humphrey Amplifiers are stocked by Dream Guitars, and can be special ordered to fit your particular requirements. Please call Dream Guitars for more information.

 

    COMING SOON! PRS PRIVATE STOCK SC HBI w/ PIEZO – BRONZE!!!

    Check out the specs and give us a call to find out how this gorgeous guitar can be yours!!!!

    PS# 2956- SC HBI w/ Piezo– Bronze

    PAUL REED SMITH PRIVATE STOCK #2956

    PAUL REED SMITH PRIVATE STOCK #2956


    – 1pc Blistered maple top
    – Korina back
    – Mahogany neck
    – Cocobolo fingerboard, veneer and truss rod cover
    – 10k Outlined birds & PS Eagle only
    – Wide Fat neck carve
    – Gold side dots
    – DG-T finish
    – Archtop pickups
    PRS PS #2956

    PRS PS #2956


    – SC HB electronics
    – Gold hardware

    PRS PS #2956

    PRS PS #2956

Leave it to the brilliant mind of Joe Veillette to come up with something this original!

Veillette Terzilla -- 12 string unison Terz

Veillette Terzilla -- 12 string unison Terz

What do you get when you take a traditional 6-string Terz and double the courses like the Veillette Gryphon, or a mandolin? You get a 12-string unison Terz. After hearing its huge sound, Joe and Company began calling it “Terzilla”!

Tuned A to A, (G to G optional), Terzilla is halfway between a standard guitar, and Veillette’s ever popular Gryphon. What’s amazing is how Terzilla seems to really sing — having a voice that is very sweet and smooth, but with tons of volume. Joe Veillette says, “It’s one of the very best instruments we’ve ever built!”

This new approach to acoustic guitars feels and sounds like a whole new instrument – great for both ensemble and solo work. This amazing new instrument features a 22″ scale, a 13.5″ lower bout width, and uses unison courses, .010 to .047 strings. For extra comfort there is even an arm bevel on the face of the lower bout.
CLICK HERE TO LAUNCH VIDEO!

CALL DREAM GUITARS TODAY TO DISCOVER HOW ONE OF THESE EXTRAORDINARY NEW INSTRUMENTS CAN BE YOURS!

As we launch our new website — we thought it was a great time to introduce ourselves

Dream Guitars Entrance.

Dream Guitars Entrance.

to guests who may be visiting Dream Guitars for the first time. And for our old friends, we’d like to remind you of the many reasons we believe Dream Guitars should be your number one destination for custom, hand-built guitars.
Click here to launch video!

I’d like to take a few minutes and talk about experience. Dream Guitars grew out of a joint endeavor with world -renowned acoustic guitarist Martin Simpson. That experience led to the creation of a new type of guitar store.

Since 1995, Dream Guitars owner Paul Heumiller, has been bringing the very best custom and hand built acoustic instruments to an eager audience. Respected as a leading authority, Paul sits on the Board of the prestigious Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans, and is a member of the Guild of American Luthiery, and the Guitar Foundation of America.

Paul Heumiller

Paul Heumiller

Our shop is staffed by professional guitarists, including legendary Grammy Award winning Al Petteway. Unlike other shops, we won’t ever rush or pressure you. You get one-on-one consultations and guidance — and every opportunity to ask as many questions as you need to.

We seek out the best builders, and are highly selective before giving instruments the Dream Guitars seal of approval. Even our pre-owned inventory is given a full inspection — inside and out. Only guitars with superior tone and exceptional build quality are accepted. You can buy with confidence knowing we only offer the best.

Additionally, Dream Guitars offers a generous 3 day trial on any guitar shipped domestically. We are also experts at international shipping. We’re happy to ship to your home — wherever you are, and whenever you want. Our rates are very fair, and all of our instruments are fully insured.

We also take the fear out of ordering custom guitars. If you are not fully satisfied with a special order, we’ll resell your instrument, and refund the entire purchase price to you.

Do you have a guitar sitting around, that you no longer play? Dream Guitars can help there too. We have a highly successful consignment program that will help you get top dollar for your pre-owned instruments.

In addition to all of these things, Dream Guitars offers world class repairs, with all repairs performed by our highly skilled, carefully selected luthiers. Together, our repair department has decades of experience. No job is too big or too small.

Located just minutes outside of Asheville, North Carolina, the Dream Guitars showroom is nestled in the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Our shop is run by appointment — so when you visit, you will get our undivided attention, and as much time as you need to explore the nearly 200 guitars on our private showroom floor.

So give us a call, and let Dream Guitars be your experienced guide to the world of custom, hand-built guitars.

Photos From The Mountains -- by Al Petteway.

Photos From The Mountains -- by Al Petteway.

When visiting the Dream Guitars showroom, you’ll want to take full advantage of all the great opportunities that the Western North Carolina area provides. No matter what you like, Asheville has something for you. Click here to launch video!

Frommer’s named Asheville a must-see destination, and it’s easy to see why. The mountains are ideal for hiking, and other nature adventures – like zip line canopy tours, abundant mountain biking trails, and whitewater rafting. Our scenic drives bring you into the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the pristine wilderness.

If the great outdoors isn’t your thing, pamper your self at one of Asheville’s famous spas. Also, our downtown offers many unique shopping opportunities, and an unmatched variety of world-class restaurants to choose from. The areas top chefs are regularly recognized for their culinary excellence.

Asheville is known for its beautiful and historically significant architecture — from the historical Thomas Wolfe Memorial, to the majesty of the Biltmore Estate and it’s epic mountain views.

Asheville is famous for its rich, eclectic, thriving arts community. Whether you are interested in visiting galleries in the River Arts district, checking out fine arts, theater or folk arts — it’s all here for your enjoyment.

Photos From The Mountains -- by Al Petteway.

Photos From The Mountains -- by Al Petteway.

And then there’s the thriving Asheville music scene. Drawing performers from around the world, Asheville has become a key destination for performers of all genres. You’ll find the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, traditional mountain music, as well as a thriving local music scene – and of course our legendary drum circle in Pritchard Park.

The New York Times said, “Scores of talented acoustic musicians call Asheville home.” and the Houston Chronicle echoed, “The music scene in Asheville is boiling and about to explode.”

When you visit the Dream Guitars Showroom, you’re at the epicenter of the best guitars on the planet. So why not visit and play some great guitars — then explore this wonderful town of ours? We’re sure you’re going to love it here!

If there is one thing I have learned for sure while working in the world of custom guitars it is this; everyone loves Bill Tippin. I don’t just mean they love his guitars, (how could you not) — I mean that they love the man himself too.

Pink Ivory Staccato

Pink Ivory Staccato

Always quick with a funny anecdote, Bill has a knack for setting you at ease, and reminding you how great it can be to talk to good friends, share some laughs, and shoot the breeze about fine guitars.

Personally, Bill has been extremely generous with his time, educating me about the finer points of guitar construction and design. I bother him regularly for information, and he is always patient, and always willing to go above and beyond in explaining the alchemy that turns mere wood into breathtaking works of mellifluous art.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Tippin, and I found his answers to be both insightful and delightful. With that said, I present you now with a portion of our conversation. I’m sure you’ll agree, Bill Tippin really knows his stuff!

Bill Tippin

Bill Tippin

First, some basics. How many years have you been building? And how many guitars have you completed?

I started fixing guitars as a hobby, as early as 1972, and started building my first guitar in 1979. My son still has it.

At what age did you catch the bug, and decide that building instruments was to be your chosen path?

In 1980, after the completion of my first guitar — that was when the bug hit me. I made mistakes, but it sounded pretty good, and it was an exciting challenge. Soon after, my best friend asked me to build a D-45 style guitar, and like an idiot I said ok!

Not knowing much, it was a real quest.

I continued building 4 to 5 guitars a year, until 1992. I had a backlog of orders and I built a guitar for Aaron Tippin. Around that time I went looking for a dealer.

In those early years, what resources did you draw from to inform your craft? Did you learn to build as an apprentice, or were you solely self-taught?

My first guitar, was Inspired by a shop owner that told me, you can do it with your woodworking skills. Later, I had some great input from my friend Dick Boak.

From there I am self-taught.

Pink Ivory Staccato

Pink Ivory Staccato

If Bill Tippin the Master could go back and speak to Bill Tippin the student, what advise would you give yourself?

I could fill this page with the things I should have done or not have done, but all of this led me to a good place. I am pleased to be where I am today.

I know that you play the guitar. What type of music do you play most?

I play a little finger style in open tunings. I also play finger style blues, slide guitar, mandolin, with vocal accompaniment. I can also play  banjo but I wont brag about it. A lot of my musical diversity came from repairing instruments, as a necessity.

Which model Tippin guitar best fits your playing style?

I guess it depends on what style of playing I am doing. They all have their avenues of expertise, but they also all have things in common. For example, if you played finger style blues on a Staccato, It would sound great but it would have a different voice than the Crescendo.

Crescendos give you a bigger sound and more bass — and the Bravado would give you even more headroom and bass. They all have good balance and can be played the same way.

I have made three Crescendos, one Bravado, and one Staccato for myself, but I sold them all. So for now I dont have a guitar. I guess one of each would be my preference!

Of the many innovations you’ve added to the lexicon of luthiery, which do you feel is the most significant, and why?

I think the process of developing my top bracing. There is less wood per brace, but slightly more of them in various shapes. This allows the guitar to be strong enough to survive time, but also brings out the strongest tonal potential.

I am also pleased with the way I have treated the cutaway. I bevel the neck block and use an asymmetrical neck heel to help reach the upper frets with less obstruction. This is all accomplished without cutting away more of the body. (See photo.)

Tippin Crescendo Cutaway -- Heel

Tippin Crescendo Cutaway -- Heel

What is your favorite non-traditional tone wood?

Traditional for me is Sitka, Adirondack Red Spruce, Brazilian Rosewood, Indian Rosewood & Mahogany, etc. And I am still very fond of all of them.

For tone, and different aesthetics, I really like the Moon harvested Spruce from Switzerland, and Alaskan Yellow Cedar for the top, and for the back and sides I like Amazon Rosewood, and African Blackwood. There are many others that I like too, but these are my favorites.

Could you make a good sounding guitar from wood purchased at Home Depot?

I dont know. I have never tried! I hear that they sell Acrylic sheets there, and 2-X- whats. Who knows???

Now, I want to question the guys that ask me this one! HA!

What unusual goodies do you have stashed in your wood locker — I know you have some amazing Pink Ivory sets?

Lots of very good stuff. Clients can call me and we can talk about what the might want. Ive been a wood junky since birth.

Please describe the most experimental instrument you’ve attempted, or are planning to attempt.

I am going to build a guitar specific to my own playing needs, and perhaps help beginning guitar players too. My new model will only have 5 frets 1 5!  (Just kidding!)

But on a serious note, I have had someone ask me to build a harp style guitar. I have an Idea for a slightly different approach — so there is an interest.

For the most part, I am a builder who likes to stay focused on improving what I have created. There are unlimited avenues to explore when building an instrument. I like to create elegance with a theme rather than seeing how much inlay I can put on a guitar.

If the design requires a lot of bling then it still needs to work together with the rest of the instrument.

My sole preference is simple elegance. The use of different woods in a  design can be as effective as any thing else.

My pet peeve is to see a guitar full of bling, that doesnt sound very good — and there are many.

My primary focus is in the tone of the instrument. Right now I have a new model in the works. It will have a significantly different voice, and multiple strings… soon to come.

Have you ever built an electric, or an archtop guitar?

Yes, I have made a Tele thin-line style, a carved top electric similar to a Les Paul, and also a solid body 4 string bass. No archtop acoustic though.

How do you envision the state of the custom guitar world 5 years from now?

Well, I hope to still be here in 5 years. The economy will greatly affect how many of us can continue to build by hand. There is much more interests from the foreign market than there use to be, which is good. But even their economic structure is flailing, and the Lacy act is making it harder for us to interact.

There are also many good up and coming builders, filling the market with great product — that enters the picture as well. They deserve to be there too — so the question is how many guitars can be made per customer that can afford them???

When you examine other builder’s guitars, what do you look for first? Which details interest you the most?

The details are the builders interpretation of ones personality, i.e., what he or she wants to portray. In all fairness, that cannot be judged. What I do look at is how clean the work is, how good the tone is, and of course the playability.

Which pickup do you most frequently recommend for your guitars? And do you have a preference for amplification?

There are many to choose from that are very good. I like the Highlander, the D-Tar, the K&K pure western, and the McIntyre Feather. It really depends on the guitar. I also like a good Mic and a good PA system.

Pink Staccato

Pink Staccato

What is the name of your favorite piece of music?

Thats a tough one. I think I have to say its a piece that my Mother use to play on the Piano. That still moves me to this day every time I here it. The title is Clare de Lune by Claude Debussy…and then there was Frank Zappa! I like all kinds of stuff man, you dig?

And finally, the question all of America has been waiting for… are you the tallest luthier in the biz?

I am sorry but I cannot honestly answer that with out accurate data. Sorry. Im

66 ¼” bare foot, you tell me.

Do you have any final thoughts youd like to share with the readers of our blog?

I would like to say that it is a pleasure to be apart of such an elite group of creative people. Luthiers want to share their talents and teach their skills. Guitar building is a sophisticated art that has progressed to a level that has never been reached before yet it still has the old world comfort that gives people a sense of pleasure that soothes the soul.