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Tag Archive for: Chubbuck Guitars

When chosing traditional tone woods, Pink Ivory is seldom the first species that comes to mind — primarily because it is next to impossible  to find large enough pieces to build guitars with. But Pink Ivory is indeed a supremely fine wood — both visually and tonally. With that in mind, it is our extreme pleasure to show you this exceptional new Pink Ivory Crescendo, from the shop of Tippin Guitars.

Legendary luthier Bill Tippin, of Marblehead MA, makes extraordinary musical instruments that effortlessly blend sophisticated detail, advanced design, and remarkable tone. This guitar features a stunning black willow leaf inlay, which has held special significance throughout Chinese history, and was the inspiration for the Willow Leaf Saber.

Willo Leaf inlay

Tippin Crescendo - Pink Ivory

Tippin Crescendo - Pink Ivory

Luthier Bill Tippin



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.





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






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!

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.

Amongst the pleasures of working at Dream Guitars, is the frequent opportunity it affords to speak with the most talented luthiers on the planet. To a guitar freak like me, these folks are real heros and celebrities, bigger than movie stars. I’m obsessed with them — though I do draw the line at having a fanboy pin-up poster of Bill Tippin on my garage wall. (Sorry Bill).

Sorry Bill.

Sorry Bill.


Kevin Chubbuck holding his outstanding hollowbody electric guitar.

So when I get the chance to have an extended conversation about tone wood or bracing patterns with one of my heroes, I’m in six-string heaven.

Over the past few months I’ve had several opportunities to speak with a great new builder that you may not yet be familiar with. His name is Kevin Chubbuck, the one man dynamo behind Chubbuck Guitars. Write that down, because it’s a name you’ll want to remember.

Kevin brings a unique perspective and discerning sensibilities to the craft of guitar building. After several years of honing his advanced skills at the Santa Cruz Guitar Company, he moved East to the beautiful city of Marblehead Massachusetts, where he works side by side with the aforementioned,  and always affable Mr. Tippin.

Thus far, Dream Guitars has had the honor of hosting two of Kevin’s instruments – each a real beauty. His basic acoustic model is called the Rogue, a small bodied guitar with refined, graceful lines and a nuanced voice.

Kevin Chubbuck's amazing Rogue Guitar.

Kevin Chubbuck's amazing Rogue Guitar.

The Chubbuck Rogue Headstock.

The Chubbuck Rogue Headstock.

The Rogue is an extremely fine fingerstyle guitar, but it also has the headroom of a larger instrument – making it an excellent choice for rhythm playing, and flatpicking single lines too. This guitar is no one trick pony.

Kevin Chubbuck is a guitar star on the rise, and I hope you get a chance to test drive one of his finely tuned acoustic guitars. Once word gets out, these guitars will be in high demand.