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Handmade & Vintage Instruments: Acoustic Guitars, Classical Guitars & Electric Guitars

It’s Show Time!

Our Experiences and Take-Aways from 2016’s Santa Barbara Acoustic Instruments Celebration & Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase

People often ask us how we find all the splendid guitars that we offer. Of course we have numerous methods for finding these fine instruments, but one of our most exciting avenues is attending guitar shows. Each year there are a few great shows that feature custom guitars by independent luthiers, often working in one-man workshops and with an unparalleled attention to detail. Dream Guitars owner Paul Heumiller recently came back from two such shows, the 2016 Santa Barbara Acoustic Instruments Celebration and the 2016 Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase. Heumiller: “At these shows many of the top luthiers in the world display several of their most recent developments, which gives us the rare opportunity to play a few different models of each maker. Being able to play more than one at a time is key for us at Dream Guitars, because it gives us a chance to honestly evaluate newer makers and evaluate their builds for consistency and quality of tone. It’s also important to meet up with established makers that we already work with in order to pick out our new favorite instruments to bring back for our clients.”

These shows invite between 80 and 120 guitar makers and are open to the public, which is another reason that we like to attend. Heumiller again: “It’s a joy to finally meet clients that I’ve been working with on the phone and over email for years. The shows are a great opportunity to see the faces and shake the hands of clients with whom I’ve worked for the past 20 years. It’s a part of the business I truly love, since guitar people are all great folks and we all have so much in common. I’ve made several dear friends while running between the shows over the years.”

As we mentioned earlier, the shows are one of the key ways that we discover new talent. This year was an exceptionally rich one for identifying younger makers that had something worthy of the Dream Guitars name. At most shows we expect to perhaps find one new builder that impresses us, maybe two, but this year we found no fewer than six! Heumiller again: “I think the fact that there are so many stellar young builders has a lot to do with the sharing of information these days. Young makers have so much access to good information that if they have talent they can much more quickly reach a high level of quality both in terms of construction and tone.”

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At the Santa Barbara show we invited Hollywood, California-based luthier Isaac Jang to join us. “I’ve been watching been him for some time now, and at Santa Barbara his OM just blew me away; the timing was right to start a relationship. Jang’s work has impressed me for years, and during that time I gave him advice and my honest opinion of his work. This year he did something about it, so we decided to purchase the Brazilian Rosewood-and-German-Spruce OM that he’d brought.”–Heumiller. We were also delighted to learn more about Jang’s past, namely that at age 17 he asked Kathy Wingert for an apprenticeship. Kathy wisely told him that he had to graduate from a lutherie school, get a job working in guitar repair, and then come see her. Isaac did all of that by age 19 and returned to Kathy’s door. He apprenticed with Kathy for a number of years, and it shows. Isaac is now a teacher at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood.

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While we were there we also made good on our long-standing respect for Michel Pellerin of Canada by offering to represent his work–and we brought back a beautiful Sunburst Jumbo he had recently finished. In addition, we met the truly inspiring creations of Benoît Lavoie. None other than Pierre Bensusan bought Lavoie’s guitar which we planned to get after the show! We are delighted at Benoît’s success; just goes to show we have good taste if Bensusan beat us to the chase, and we’ll wait until the next one is finished.

We also got to see the new work of Noemi Schembri from Italy. The tone of her guitars mesmerized us at Santa Barbara, and by the time we saw her again in Woodstock we simply could not resist any longer: we brought back an Madagascar Rosewood SJ and a Koa Baritone.

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In Woodstock we were introduced to the inspirational work of Canadian builder Loïc Bortot (of Bouchereau Guitars fame). After playing a few of his instruments, it was clear why he graduated first in his class at Quebec City’s National Lutherie School, and is now a teacher there. From that week we brought back his wonderful slotted head Mistral model. Speaking of teachers, we were also able to connect with Sam Guidry, a teacher alongside Bryan Galloup at the American School of Lutherie, and get one of his Maple OMs for the shop. Paul: “Bryan told me I had to look at Sam’s guitars, and I’m really glad I did. I’ve long respected Bryan, so when he tells me about someone new, I listen. At Woodstock I got to spend a lot of time with Sam after events; he’s a great fellow to be around, and he’s incredibly passionate about his craft. As soon as I played this Maple guitar I fell in love. It’s voiced for a big, round attack with superb clarity across the registers–which is why I’m stoked to get in the shop!”

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Paul: “The other aspect of the shows that is pure joy for me is seeing my old friends that I’ve known for many, many years. Many of them I met as young upstart builders when I first opened Dream Guitars’ doors, and they’re still building guitars today. The many dinners and glasses of wine from bygone years allow us to really get to know each other as human beings that share a common passion in the art of the guitar.” This time around it was wonderful to make a new friend in Richard Hoover, the founder of Santa Cruz Guitars, and Joe Glaser a repairman beyond compare. Paul: “I was delighted when Richard Hoover asked me to introduce him to a few talented young makers. He was beaming over the fine work of Isaac Jang and Leo Buendia like a high schooler opening his guitar case for the first time. Clearly the passion is still inside of Richard, and he so gracefully complimented his younger peers on their fine work. He told me later that ‘just when he thought we’d gotten this guitar making thing down these new guys come along and make it harder again with their new ideas!'”

The one common thread that binds these young makers together and excites us so much is their open mind, open heart approach to the craft. They don’t just want to build good copies of guitars, they want to push the envelope in all the right ways and create innovative musical tools to inspire musicians in ways not yet known to us. Paul: “This is something you can’t just feel by just looking at their guitars necessarily, but trust me: as I dined with these folks and taste tested dozens of their guitars I could feel the boundaries they were pushing and hear the voices they were pioneering.” These new builders are seekers chasing down their crazy dreams–while they fulfill the dreams of players the world over. We are beyond excited to consider what will become of the guitar world in the years to come. This is the golden age of guitars, and it’s not stopping any time soon. Let’s hang on and enjoy the ride!

Restoring Faith In A Holy Grail Guitar

With vintage instruments, there’s simply no telling what patches and pokery you’re going to find under the hood. Good news! Dream Guitars is well-acquainted with those surprises, and we know just what to do when they crop up. Recently, a client and collector came to DG with several obscenely rare Martins, among them a 1930 OM-45 that he was concerned was too quiet. Once Paul Heumiller got his hands on the guitar, his ear told him something was definitely awry. Having played many of the “Holy Grail” Martins for the 20s and 30s, he’d expected to hear a energetic voice with vigorous projection, but this guitar sounded timid, with a bad case of congestion.

Paul immediately suspected that the bridge plate had been modified, and after plumbing the depths of the OM-45 with a flashlight and a mirror, his suspicions were confirmed: glued where the original bridge plate should have been was a massive (over 3″ wide) modified bridge plate! It was probably installed in an effort to combat the tendency of the top to belly up as the string forces enact continual upward stress for years, over-doming the top around the bridge. On the one hand, the girthy bridge plate worked perfectly: this more-than-80-year-old guitar had very little belly to its top, unheard of at its age. On the other hand, the voice was something between a Chevrolet sputtering tailpipe fumes and a cat mewling in the rain, the top’s vibrations were so severely dampened.

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We assured our client that this was a problem that we could handle. Enter: Ken Jones, veteran of instrument restoration, who approached the repair with zeal as he prepared to remove the bridge. However, the situation was about to get more interesting, once the bridge was released. Underneath, where there should have only been a pale, unfinished Spruce top, there was a nasty black patch of Spruce and scaly epoxy. After repeated attempts to steam this patch free proved ineffectual (due to the epoxy’s high heat resistance), Elliot W. took chisel in hand and meticulously pared away the noxious epoxy with “surgical precision and the serenity of spirit that work of this caliber demands,” says Jones, finally releasing the Spruce patch.

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What’s next on the agenda? Ken: “Cleaning up the inside of the top, making a smaller, thinner bridge plate, and using our belly-reducer cauls to further sweet-talk the top back into shape. I have no doubt this will improve the voice of this guitar. This is a really cool, fun, and interesting repair that reminds me why I got into repair work in the first place–keeping these old dogs going because they just sound better and better with age!” In addition to releasing the bridge, releasing the pickguard helped reduce the amount of belly dramatically, making us very confident that this top will settle down and behave beautifully, once we’re finished here.

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Stay tuned as we continue to make good on the original bad repair of this 1930 OM-45! If reading about the magic of instrument restoration strikes your fancy, just you wait: we’ve got more exciting repairs on our bench, and we’re itching to bring you along for a play-by-play.

Update: July 25, 2016

The last time we checked in, this 86-year-old Martin had been divested of a poorly-executed repair that was compromising its top, with the last of the lingering epoxy scraped clear and the massive bridge plate and patch removed.

Much has happened since then! After brainstorming and consulting with other maestros of the repair world, Ken Jones and our team have landed on an elegant solution to simultaneously reinforce the top, fill the rectangular hole between the bridge and the bridge plate, and create a consistent platform to reglue the original ebony belly bridge: combine the patch under the top with the plug into one patch-plug.

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Spruce stock has been carefully trimmed to exactly fit inside the braces, then excess spruce has been routed away from the plug portion. The thickness of the top of the OM-45 is about .112″, so this piece was thicknessed to .168″ or 1.5x the thickness of the top.

 

Next, the thickness of the top (.112″) was routed away everywhere on the patch, except for where the patch will fill the hole in the top.

Before we could even consider starting on this exciting new leg of the repair, we first needed to patch the sections of the X braces where the previous colossal bridge plate was notched into them. If we hadn’t addressed those gaps, the top would have been at significant risk for further deformation. That finished, we then moved on to the spruce blank itself, shaped to fit between the newly-repaired X braces. The top of this Martin OM-45 is .112″, so the spruce blank  was sanded to .168″, or one and a half the thickness of the top, so that, once installed, the plug would sit slightly proud of the surrounding top. After transferring the shape of the rectangular hole in the top between the bridge and bridge plate to the blank, we then carefully routed the surrounding material until the “plug” part of the patch was .168″, and the surrounding spruce was .056.

Then, the location of the bridge plate was marked out on the underside of the patch, and the patch was then sanded from that point of contact to paper-thinness at its edge to minimize mass and allow the original top to vibrate as freely as possible without jeopardizing its structural integrity.

An edgewise view of the tapered back end of the spruce patch.

An edgewise view of the tapered back end of the spruce patch.

After looking at these photos, you might be asking yourself, “Why is that thing so wide?” The patch-plug has a large surface area in order to increase the amount of gluing area for the patch-plug, meaning that the patch-plug is glued to the underside of the top in addition to being glued to the end-grain of the sides of the rectangular hole left by the previous repair. By itself, an end-grain glue joint is inherently weak. However, with the additional gluing force of the lower section of the patch against the underside of the spruce top, we’re confident that this new patch-plug won’t pull up, which was the problem with the epoxied patch from an earlier repair which we had chiseled out. The large surface area of the patch-plug also provides a little more reinforcement to combat the bellying that was present when the OM-45 first appeared on our bench.

The patch-plug was then carefully scored partway along spring growth grain lines (which are softer) and broken into three pieces that equally divided the plug in order to fit into the soundhole, with blue tape on the back to act as hinges.

The "top" or the non-show side is scored about halfway through the patch with a sharp blade The score lines are in the soft, spring growth grain. Next, it is broken along those score lines. This is to prevent a seam from showing inside the guitar once it is in place. Also, a break will help register all three pieces together cleanly inside.

The “top” or the non-show side is scored about halfway through the patch with a sharp blade The score lines are in the soft, spring growth grain. Next, it is broken along those score lines. This is to prevent a seam from showing inside the guitar once it is in place. Also, a break will help register all three pieces together cleanly inside.

The moment of truth came when we first folded the patch-plug and eased it into the soundhole before pressing it into place between the X braces. Turns out: a perfect fit. 

So snug, it will stay in place on its own without glue or tape!

So snug, it will stay in place on its own without glue or tape!

Once we knew the dimensions of the patch-plug were exactly what we wanted, we then made several cauls for the top and bottom, and aged the new spruce patch-plug with Potassium Permanganate in order to make it blend in better with the surrounding 86-year-old spruce.

A special set of inside clamping cauls are mad to fit the patch.

A special set of inside clamping cauls are mad to fit the patch.

Now, a test fit is all fine and dandy, but it’s another matter entirely when the moment of the actual glue-up arrives. This time, everything must to be perfect. In keeping with tradition, we used hide glue and several cam clamps and deep-throated C clamps with the cork-lined cauls to cement the patch-plug with the original top. Hot hide glue is absolutely essential for a repair of this nature, where even clamping pressure is key, and hide glue’s ability to pull the wood tighter and tighter together as it cures helps ensure that the joint is airtight and even. Moreover, hide glue is tonally superior to rubbery aliphatic resin-based glues–but this comes at a price: a very short working time. Thus, appreciate how cool-headed and savvy is our repair staff: we were able to evenly spread glue on the patch, fold the patch, get it inside the guitar through the soundhole, unfold it, put it into place, then precisely arrange three cauls and five clamps inside a tiny soundhole, working by feel, before the hide glue could gel!

Only hot hide glue will do for a repair like this. Even clamping pressure is key.

Only hot hide glue will do for a repair like this. Even clamping pressure is key.

From the initial dry fit to the actual glue-up, this patch-plug was a star patient, and we’re quite happy to report that everything fits snugly, and the plug sits just slightly proud of the surrounding spruce.

The plug ended up just proud of the top so it can be sanded down to level.

The plug ended up just proud of the top so it can be sanded down to level.

Next on the docket? Sanding the plug flush to the top, then levelling the entire surface under the bridge. This last step is crucial and delicate: without a consistent gluing surface to attach to, the bridge will invariably pull up again.

As the work progresses and we get closer to refitting the bridge and restringing this Holy Grail Martin to its former glory, we’ll post more photos with each swipe of the sandpaper. We’re getting very close to hearing what it sounds like to right the wrong of that gruesome earlier repair! Dream Guitars’ owner Paul Heumiller’s ears will be the true test, once he compares the choked chords of the first time he strummed this OM-45 to its newly-restored self.

Incoming Preston Thompson 000-14BA Custom

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Early in 2015 I had the pleasure of playing my first Preston Thompson guitar. I was mesmerized by the warm and full voice that came out of the small 000 sized body. I remember Al Petteway and I talking about how magical the voice was. The build quality was also perfect in every detail.

I reached out to Preston and asked him to make us a Dream Series instrument. This is something we have only done with approximately eight to ten builders over the years. I very much look forward to seeing and hearing the first of many Thompson guitars. I’m certain our clientele will absolutely love them.

Following are a handful of specs featured on this incoming Dream Series guitar:

Top: Adirondack
Back and Sides: Brazilian Rosewood
Binding: Brazilian w/BW purf
Top Purfling: Herringbone
Rosette: Abalone 3-Ring
Back Strip: 45 Style
Tail Wedge: Brazilian w/BW Purf
Neck: Honduran Mahogany
Headstock Binding: Brazilian w/BW Purf
Headstock: Slotted
Neck Binding: Brazilian
Nut width: 1 3/4”
String Spacing: 2 5/16”
Heel Cap: Brazilian

This one is currently available for purchase here at Dream Guitars – Please call the shop for more information 828-658-9795. Following are a few additional early images of this beauty coming together as well:

Dream Guitar Front

Dream Guitar Front-Side

Dream Guitar Back

Dream Guitar Rosette

For more information on this incoming Preston Thompson 000-14BA Custom please call the shop 828-658-9795.

Update 7/18/16:

Here are a few new pictures of this beauty as it comes along:

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Update 7/27/16:

Here’s a great video of the Brazilian binding coming together on this incoming Thompson – Enjoy!

Sorry, Folks: This Seat is Taken.

Kim Walker Waiting List Closed Again

A luthier’s ability to succeed depends on a host of factors, not the least of which is their reputation, which can be a precarious thing. They need good tools, the best wood, a perfectionist’s disposition and a jeweler’s eye for detail. They need to be self-motivated, marathon woodworkers—and they need to be able to deliver on their promises. A luthier with a reputation for incomplete builds and exorbitant delays will not be long for the world of fine instruments. If, however, you have a reputation as ironclad and golden as Kim Walker’s, then you might just find yourself with eight years’ worth of builds on the calendar, and what do you do then? Close the book, and get down to business, which is precisely what Walker’s just done—again.

How has Walker achieved such a legendary status? Through years of honing his ears and his hands with an unwavering dedication to lutherie. Starting with George Gruhn and his repair shop, then graduating to Guild’s R&D department and custom shop, before launching his own Walker Guitars label in 1994, Walker has been at the forefront of both vintage restoration and contemporary innovation for his entire career. As such, Walker is one of a very select group of luthiers who successfully straddle the line between traditional and contemporary guitar building, the result of which enables his instruments to appeal to all audiences, from pre-war Martin collectors to the devotees of bleeding-edge luthiers like Steve Klein and Ervin Somogyi. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Walker has felt the need to close his waiting list again, in order to buckle down and dedicate his complete and undivided attention to the guitars already on his bench. Because Kim insists on working alone, he is able to ensure that every aspect of these guitars is 100% an expression of himself and his art. His way isn’t a school’s, or a builder’s with apprentices: this is one man with two hands, premium wood, and a studio space in which to create. 

Given his sterling reputation and master skills, it’s hard to put a price on an instrument of this calibre, and as the opportunities to own one of Kim Walker’s guitars become fewer, the respective worth of any one of his instruments is correspondingly increased. The resale value of a Walker often exceeds the original cost of the instrument (a fact Walker himself notes on his website) because demand is so high: no one wants to get rid of theirs, once they’ve managed to beg, borrow, and steal to get it in their hands in the first place. In the world of high-end guitars, a Walker is worth its weight in gold, and nearly as rare. Will Walker open up his waiting list again? That’s certainly the hope, but who knows just how many years in the future he’s already booked himself: it could be a lifetime in the waiting.

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2003 Walker Guitars SJ in Brazilian / Adirondack

Dream Guitars & The Golden Age of Lutherie

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We’ve all heard the phrase “The Golden Age,” which is defined as “the period when a specified art, skill, or activity is at its peak.”[i] Lately the term has been used to describe this epoch in the history of guitar-building (lutherie). From the unique vantage point at Dream Guitars (www.dreamguitars.com), they couldn’t agree more: today we are definitely in the middle of the Golden Age of Lutherie, and Dream Guitars stands at the center of this renaissance.

“I have had the chance to play spectacular examples of instruments from the late 1800s and the first half of the 20th century. Many consider these early guitars to represent the “Holy Grail” of guitars, but I truly feel that the explosion of the independent guitar-maker has challenged this conception. There’s no doubt that some of the pre-war guitars are among the best instruments on the planet today, but now there are dozens of contemporary makers whose instruments rival, and sometimes even surpass, these ‘Holy Grail’ guitars–and their talents continue to improve on the best ideas of yesterday.” – Paul Heumiller, Dream Guitars owner

“We are very proud of our role in these great days of the guitar. From the very beginning, it was a sincere goal of mine to help luthiers market their craft. In the early days as I visited shops and got to know these great people, their passion and artistry captivated me and I wanted to be a part of their success.”- Paul

Dream Guitars has built a platform for luthiers to successfully market their work, which is backed by Dream Guitars’ reputation for expertise and honesty–allowing a maker’s instruments to be seen and heard by people all over the world. “We have been able to help many luthiers to not only find homes for their instruments, but also to increase their prices to provide fair compensation for the years invested in their craft.” -Paul

Like everything in the modern world, easy access to information, including books, videos, symposiums, guitar shows, and training courses has expedited the growth of talent in the guitar-making world. But there’s something more than simply the proliferation of information at play here: something special has happened in the acoustic guitar world in particular. Paul: “Many of the older guitar builders talk of a time not so long ago when everyone guarded their secrets, but they all agree that somewhere along the line everything shifted. In the last 25 years or so, guitar-makers have opened up to each other–and that sharing is, in my opinion, the impetus for our current Golden Age.”

Paul continues, “I get to spend a lot of time with guitar makers at the various showcases around the world, as well as visiting them in their shops. Time and time again, I hear stories of how one builder has advised or inspired another. They speak of each other in reverent tones, each one wanting to raise the bar, but do so with the utmost respect for their contemporaries. They all want to see the craft itself improve, and that’s what’s truly special about what’s going on now in 21st-century guitar building.”

Another obvious trend is this year a number of new guitar-makers are on the scene. There are now hundreds of independent guitar-makers hanging their shingles outside of shops which range from the corner of a basement to 5000 ft.² master shops. As a result, some say the market is flooded with too many new makers. At Dream Guitars, they see both sides. Dream Guitars is constantly approached by new makers wishing to promote their instruments with them. Most of the time, Dream Guitars demos and critiques their instruments and advises possible improvements where they simply haven’t mastered the craft yet. Occasionally a builder shows tremendous promise and Dream Guitars offers to work with them and continue to offer valuable insights along the way so they can blossom. Paul: “One thing I see a lot are makers whose first few guitars look beautiful, but they haven’t yet found their voice. By that I mean they’re building a guitar that is perfectly beautiful and functional but sounds no better than an inexpensive guitar off the rack at any big-box store. They’re missing what I call the ‘White Magic:’ that builder’s unique voice which makes a guitar inspirational. Master Luthier Ervin Somogyi once told me, “The first fifty guitars you’re just gluing wood together.” There’s something to be said for that: it’s the years of experimentation and feedback from great players that keep a builder striving and searching for that intangible something that makes one guitar better than the others.”

This is evinced by the handful of makers whose order books are strained by ten plus year waiting lists, or whose guitars finally fetch a price that’s commensurate with the years of work they’ve put into their craft. These are the instruments that collectors covet and professional players are inspired by. These are the ones that define the Golden Age of Lutherie–the guitars that they will be talking about for the next hundred years.

Dream Guitars was perhaps the first website on the Internet to record every instrument that they offered online. They have now amassed a library of over 5,000 recordings of the finest hand-built instruments in the world. They have also created a Listening Studio which allows anyone to search their library of recordings by a myriad of guitar specifications, and use the recording to educate themselves about various makers, woods and general guitar differences. Dream Guitars has also created video interviews of many of today’s makers, either in their shops or at trade shows. All of this footage is available for free on their website.

Dream Guitars owner Paul Heumiller is one of the premier experts on acoustic instruments. While not an active luthier, Paul has studied guitar-making with Kent Everett of Atlanta, Georgia, and has performed shop repairs at Dream Guitars since the beginning of the company over 18 years ago. Heumiller has also been the only shop owner to be on the board of A.S.I.A., the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans. Paul is also a professional musician who has spent many years performing and teaching Fingerstyle guitar. He has been quoted in numerous publications and books. Recently, in 2015, Acoustic Guitar Magazine printed a two-page article, “Dream Weavers,” on Heumiller.

 

[i](http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/golden-age)

Q&A with Luthier Al Beardsell

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We had the privilege of catching up with renown Canadian luthier, Al Beardsell and asking him a few questions on his building, interests and background. Following were his responses to our questions for him:

Q. What inspired you to begin building guitars?

A. My Dad, his workshop, my brother, Bill Lewis Music, Larrivee and Gurian guitars – probably in that order. My Dad was an amateur furniture maker, so I learned from him that if you want something done a certain way, do it yourself. My brother, who was a serial obsessive, made some guitars in high school, got bored and moved on to beer-making (he’s still a master brewer to this day). I swiped all of his guitar-making books, “borrowed” all his tools and wood, and got started. This brings us to Bill Lewis Music in Vancouver. In the 70’s, Bill had a music store that also supplied instrument building materials, plans and tools.  They also carried handmade guitars by Larrivee and Gurian, which I guess was a defining idea for me that you could actually make these things. This totally blew my mind – something so beautiful to look at and sound so beautiful. I was totally hooked.

Q. What builder(s) do you admire?

A. This is a long list but if I had to shorten it, a few standouts would be Pons, Lacote, Martin, Loar, Mario Macaferri/Selmer, Leo Fender, The Larriveans (Laskin, Manzer , DeJonge, Wren, etal), Collings. Builders who take an existing tradition and recontextualize it into something classic yet contemporary.

Q. How would you describe the voicing in your guitars? How did you find your voice?

A. Hmm, well the voicing is dependent on the needs of the player – a tighter sound, more open or separated notes, maybe more sustain for fingerstyle, maybe a darker sound – all these things are taken into consideration. It’s just years of trial and testing to arrive at where to make stiffer and where to remove stiffness, which woods to use, etc.

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New Beardsell 3GMS/25/27

Q. Can you explain your approach to sound ports? Why do you use two?

A. My approach has always been to offer the player something they may not have heard before – like what the guitar actually sounds like. The sound hole does a few jobs like allowing free air movement in and out of the box, tuning the air mode fundamental by size of aperture, and coupling the reflective and sympathetic sounds of the back with the top. There may be more to it, but these are the parts that I’m mainly interested in. Originally, in order to make the opening large enough to have a similar area as a 4″ soundhole, I split the sideport into two. This had an interesting effect of broadening the areas of the box being monitored and simply enlarging the sound projected. Also, moving the soundhole off the top does reconfigure the structural stiffness of the top. The soundhole does create a loosening of the top that must be counterbalanced by grafts and braces. By reducing this loosening, we can make the top thinner and therefore lighter. The main goal of the sideports in my mind is the acoustic connection made with the player even in amplified situations. Many times I’ve played acoustic shows where all I hear is amplified monitors. This tends to give the player a compressed dynamic range and they will pay accordingly – at top volume always. Having some sense of the instrument’s natural dynamic range will mean the audience will benefit from the player. The size has been reduced over the years to drop the air mode and develop more bass.

Q. What do you enjoy doing outside of building?

A. Curling, yoga, fencing, playing rock, being a dad

Q. What inspires you today?

A. I’ve been very inspired by the local music scene in Winnipeg. A year and a half ago, I opened a new shop (the former Garnet Amp factory) that is open to the public. We do repairs and pickup winding, restorations and, of course, guitar-making.  It’s a very different connection to the people who actually make music than the rarified environment of the luthiery shop.

Q. Where do you think your building style will take you in the next 5 years?

A. I’m looking at using more computer-aided design and control technology. I’m making more archtop electric guitars and pickups, and manouche guitars especially – my first love really.

Q. Which up and coming luthier impresses you the most?

A. There are a few in Winnipeg like Jordan McConnell, but he’s been around a while so he’s no pup!  I’m always amazed by the amount of new talent, all doing very high quality work. My assistant Lucas Roger is going to kick ass any day now.

 

 

Sneak Peek: Guitars Not Yet on the Website (updated 5/25/16)

Bookmark this page for frequent updates. (Please scroll down for additional guitars.)

Schoenberg Soloist OMC

East Indian Rosewood and Sitka Spruce

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Dream Guitars adds Ben Wilborn to its Array of Fine Builders

wilborn-logoBen Wilborn is one of the builders that we have recently added to the array of fine builders that we represent at Dream Guitars. We receive numerous requests from builders, new and established, to be part of Dream Guitars. It’s very humbling to be the ones that they wish to represent their work. In the case of Wilborn guitars, we invited him to send us an example of his work because tone is the first thing we always look for in a new luthier’s instruments. It only took about 20 seconds to figured out that Ben knows how to get tone out of his instruments. We were also smitten with the fit, finish and overall design of his guitars – very elegant, leaning towards traditional but definitely having his own style…and so began our association with Ben.

We at Dream Guitars are known for commissioning unique custom instruments for clientele as well and we were excited to see al-wilsomething even more artistic from Ben. As a result, Paul Heumiller, owner of Dream Guitars and Ben went to work to decide on specs for a custom Wilborn parlor guitar. “I love to work with builders on custom instruments. Having seen thousands of guitars helps me develop an intuition for both stylistic and practical features on the guitar. At the same time I love to leave room for a builder to express himself. So Ben and I collaborated on a number of design elements in this parlor guitar, but then I left him to do the rest. I can’t wait to see the final instrument as I know it will be both beautiful and expressive aesthetically and musically.” – Paul Heumiller.

This incoming Parlor will feature Brazilian Rosewood and Vintage Sitka Spruce cut in the 1960s, Leapordwood Bindings, Brazilian Rosewood Fretboard and Bridge and a short scale, 12 Fret Neck. Yummy!

Click here to see our in-stock Ben Wilborn Guitars

Contact us to reserve this incoming Wilborn guitar or to inquire about the many custom builds we have in process at any given time. Capture your Dream Guitar.

wilborn-parlor-collage

Custom Wilborn Parlor in Construction

Andrew White Guitars Now Available at Dream Guitars

For more than a decade, renowned West Virginia luthier Andrew White has built an amazing reputation. Andrew has become well known for his ability to successfully pair traditional and non-traditional elements such as fan frets and modified body shapes. Many of his personally handmade guitars now demand more than $10,000 per piece.

In his personal shop, Andrew builds only a handful of guitars each year. In an effort to bring his instruments to a larger audience, he partnered with a well respected Korean guitar manufacturer, Artec Sound Co. The result are instruments that are incredibly consistent in their voice and playability, making use of modern designs with an emphasis on high quality fit and finish.

Andrew and Artec have together created three body sizes including the Freja, Eos, and Cybele. Each of these models are also offered in a variety of different tone woods and options.

Over the years, Dream Guitars has consistently received requests from our fans to expand our offering to include quality instruments in the lower price range between $500 and $3,000. This year, Dream Guitars did just that by adding a handful of new, fine instruments within this range. Andrew White’s new line of quality manufactured guitars was a no-brainer to be included in this initial expansion.

“It was fate that when I saw Andrew at the Healdsburg Guitar Festival this year we were looking for great guitars in an entry level pricing and he has just launched his line. It is exactly the kind of guitar we were looking for, a modern design with serious tone and quality build. Our clients will love these!” – Paul Heumiller

“These Andrew White guitars have an incredibly consistent tone and playability. The neck feels good and seems to have a slightly smaller string spacing than standard which makes it easier to reach those bigger stretches. The fit and finish is really nice and the woods are beautiful. ” – Al Petteway

Dream Guitars currently carries a beautiful representation of each of Andrew’s manufactured models. Click Here to view our current
inventory.

Want to see one of these bad boys in action? Click Here to watch Al Petteway himself playing an Andrew White 100 NAT, only $599 at DG.

Dream Guitars Announces More Affordable Quality Acoustic Instruments

At Dream Guitars we are fortunate to have a clientele that includes the hard working guitarist you see play on a Friday night in your home town to some of the world’s top collectors. Over the years our site has become a favorite of guitar lovers the world over and we frequently receive letters of appreciation for all the hard work we do providing the most complete resource for handmade acoustic guitars on the planet.

Many of our fans have been asking for a wider range of instruments and we are listening. Until now we have rarely offered guitars under $3,000 but in an attempt to help all players find the best guitars on the planet we are now.

We are currently adding a hand picked selection of fine guitars, ukuleles and more from $400-3000 that include some brand new and exciting designs by names like:

  • Avian Guitars Designed By Michael Bashkin & Harry Fleishman
  • And more!!

Paul Heumiller himself and the team at Dream Guitars are choosing only truly fine guitars in every price range. So whether you need a workhorse guitar for bar gigs, a second guitar for a vacation home, or just a great guitar that won’t break the bank, DG will have it all.

We are very excited with this new expansion and thanks to all of our clients for telling us what you need and want from Dream Guitars.

 
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