We at Dream Guitars welcome you all to come join us at our Concerts, Guitar Clinics, Setup Saturdays and other events throughout the year. Come visit Dream Guitars and the wonderful Asheville area!
Upcoming concerts to be announced. Please check back soon.
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.
We are pleased to add EddieLee Brown to our line-up of builders here at Dream Guitars. Let’s get to know more about this great up and coming builder.
EddieLee Brown’s first love is music. He played guitar and bass in a traveling rock band in the 70’s. More recently he has fallen in love with fingerstyle guitar playing. “Whether playing electric or acoustic, for me, tone is everything. I have always worked hard to develop a great tone as a basis for playing any instrument,” states EddieLee.
EddieLee has also been a photographer, a Bonsai artist and landscaper, and studied drawing. Each of these helped him develop a sense of design, proportion, and what is pleasing to the eye. He practiced as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine helping heal people with acupuncture, massage, and herbal medicine. This helped him develop a sensitivity of touch and understanding that one part of a system will affect other parts. EddieLee also has a master’s degree in electrical engineering with a strong background in physics and mechanical engineering. He loves physics and determining, from a scientific view point, how things work. This helps him be able to predict how a system will behave when one part of it is changed.
Brown had a nice stable of electric guitars and basses from his band days in the 70’s and 80’s but in the 2000’s, he found himself playing his acoustic guitar most of the time. When he decided to upgrade his old acoustic, he found the world of hand-built guitars. “The first time they handed me one, I could not believe the difference, and it changed my world. I bought a Goodall Rosewood/Red Wood, Grand Concert and fell in love with the guitar all over again. After playing and hearing the great tone and feeling how responsive it was, I would just stare at the beauty of the wood, design and construction. That is when I got the desire to start building,” quotes EddieLee.
EddieLee has now been building guitars for about 6 years, although he had studied guitar design and preparing a few years before that. He also spent time prior to starting his first guitar honing the woodworking skills he would need to produce great looking instruments. The first instruments he built were Native American Flutes which are wooden flutes. EddieLee has been playing these for many years, and loved the instrument. Their construction uses many of the same techniques and skills used in guitar building, so it seemed like a good “warm-up instrument” for him. “They are so much fun to make and I love the feedback I get from people when they get them in their hands. Guitar building followed soon after. It is a real joy to turn a pile of wood into a beautiful instrument and then hear other players make beautiful music with them,” says EddieLee.
In EddieLee’s building style, he works to combine elements from his past careers. “I think there is real value in mixing together the old methods using touch, feeling, and tapping and meld into that the newer science to produce a very vibrant instrument with great tone”, quotes EddieLee. Among others, he is currently using Chladni patterns, along with traditional methods, for sound board voicing. He also uses techniques to produce spectrographics of the sound produced by tapping the guitar and its components during the build process. This tool gives a visual and measurable representation of what he hears when tapping the guitar. “Although it can never give me all the information that my ears can, it does allow me to see the frequencies of the main vibration patterns, allowing me to adjust them precisely. I believe these and other science based ways of measuring and determining how the guitar is operating, lets me produce an instrument with better and more consistent tone. And for me, tone has to be there” quotes EddieLee.
Outside of building guitars, EddieLee Brown is still a musician. “I play mainly fingerstyle guitar but still love to get an electric now and then a fire up the old Mesa Boogie Mark IIC”, says EddieLee.
“EddieLee is one of the guys you meet and just know that he builds a great guitar. He came to lutherie later in life and brings all his vast experiences to a new form of expression, the acoustic guitar. I was so impressed with the tone of his instruments that I broke my own rule of waiting until a maker has built 20 or more guitars. EddieLee has some special design elements as well like internal mass elements to manipulate the character of tone. Very fresh and exciting” – Paul Heumiller
Dream Guitars at the 2015 Memphis Acoustic Guitar Festival
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:
Ben 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 something 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!
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.
Since the day I started Dream Guitars I’ve always wanted it to be more than just a guitar shop selling instruments. The sense of community and the shared love of music is one of the reasons that I got into this business and it’s what keeps it so enjoyable for me year after year. All of the wonderful instruments that we sell are for one purpose which is to make music which in turn makes the world a better place. I truly believe that. To that end we have always offered inspiration in the form of our Listening Studio, concerts, performance videos and lesson videos on dreamguitars.com.
Many clients are surprised when they realize how many lessons we have actually produced over the years. We have over 40 free lessons on our website and YouTube Channel today by such artists as Al Petteway, Steve James, Vicki Genfan, Clive Carroll, Konarak Reddy, Danny Ellis, Doug Young and Paul Asbell. In addition we have performance videos by these players and other friends who come by the shop, including Cliff Eberhardt, Loren & Mark, Jordan McConnell (The Duhks), Steve Baughman and Robin Bullock.
Have you visited our Listening Studio? Over the years, we at Dream Guitars have been recording each of our in-stock instruments, many by the one and only Al Petteway. As a result, we were able to compile all of these recordings into a database that now allows you to listen to thousands of individual guitar recordings while comparing and analyzing tone woods, builders, models, wood types, and more.
In addition, we are very excited to have just finished up Dream Guitars Vol. II: Hand Picked by Al Petteway as well. Volume II not only includes Music and Tab but will also include a Video lesson of absolutely every track available on our site in the coming months.
Hot News: Robin Bullock has also recently moved back to the Asheville Area and will begin to produce a regular lesson series for us as well!! Stay tuned for more on this.
So take advantage of the Listening Studio as well as all the Lessons, Blog Articles, Interviews and all we create for you. You can find them on our YouTube Channel, Facebook Page and of course dreamguitars.com. Most importantly keep making music!!! The world needs it!
Written by Paul Heumiller, Dream Guitars
Click on any of the images throughout the article for a larger view
For those who have never been to the Woodstock Invitational Guitar Festival, it is something quite special. Seventy or so of the top Luthiers in the world are invited by Baker Rorick to come to the small town in the Hudson Valley for a weekend of pure joy for guitarists. This is a small show and it’s overcrowded, but that’s a good thing. It ensures that the show will stay of the highest quality. Baker has no plans to grow the show or move it to a larger location and I think that will keep it very special. It’s already host to more guitars than you can possibly see properly in two days.
For me this year’s show was extra special. It had a real feeling of brotherhood. Perhaps the last few years, very hard years in the guitar business by anyone’s account, have bonded us all. Many builders (and shop owners) have barely survived, others have been forced to go back to a ‘real job’, but most continue to hold onto the passion that drives them to build the finest instruments that we’ve ever seen. Immediately upon arrival I received hugs and handshakes from my friends, the builders who whittle wood to make music. Making the show even more memorable is the fact that Scott Bresnick, the man behind the machine that is Dream Guitars, met me at the show as well. Scott quietly does vast amounts of promotion for us and has been my sounding board since I started DG in New Jersey. So this year is, as I said, was just extra special.
Now for the good stuff, the guitars. Woodstock is like the buffet at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. More food than you can possibly eat, but you’re sure as hell going to try.
As someone who has played thousands of guitars and all of them the finest in the world, I’m struck with the amazing quality of the voices of the instruments here at the show. A large number of the guitars are nothing short of mesmerizing and inspiring. I don’t say that lightly as I am admittedly quite spoiled hanging out at Dream Guitars all day. At a show like this it’s hard to go 10 feet without running into someone else you know and stopping and saying “hi” and catching up. It makes the going slow but well worth while.
I started at the stage where my good friends John Buscarino, Chris & Jeremy Jenkins, Michael Bashkin and Bill Tippin all had their instruments displayed. John had his Autumn Leaves 35th anniversary guitar, complete with an amazing carved tree on the back of the instrument.
Stage left was Keystone guitars from Japan, one of the newest builders to join the Dream Guitars family. Keisuke Nishi built a wonderful modified dreadnought for the show which I promptly snatched up for our clients.
Down on the main floor were a number of builders including:
• Cris Mirabella
• Joe Veillette
• John Osthoff
• Bruce Petros
• Kent Everett
• Julian Gaffney
• David Berkowitz
• Bernie Lehman
• Randy Muth – another builder we invited to join DG at this event
• Ken Parker
• Jason Kostal – indeed Jason Kostal’s guitars are the highest form of artistry
• Tim Reede and Raymond Kraut, both joining the DG Family as well
• Ryan Thorell
• Paul Beard
• Linda Manzer
• Michael Baranik
• And many more.
A veritable cornucopia of fine guitars. Some that have remained etched in my memory are:
Cris Mirabella’s arch top in black with maple accents:
Randy Muth’s guitars all have an amazing and unique voice:
Julian Gaffney, currently apprenticing with Ervin Somogyi, built a stunning guitar that I played for some time and truly enjoyed:
There’s always a big amount of laughter as well, like when Tom Ribbecke decided to probe Kent Everett’s new Petite Model guitar:
But this is just one room at the show. I stepped out the door and into the stage/bar area where there is constantly amazing music being played. All day long there are demo concerts and feature concerts and talks by prominent builders such as Bill Collings, Tom Ribbecke, Michael Gurian, Ken Parker, John Monteleone and Roger Sadowski.
Ear candy everywhere. A short walk across the drive and you enter the secondary room which houses a lot of tonewoods, Luthery tools and a fine display of guitars including multiple Grit Laskin guitars featuring Grit’s fabulous inlay work and two rare Steve Klein Electrics from the Jeff Doctorow collection (see photo below). Jeff is a good friend and fellow Jersey Boy.
John Slobod and his Circa guitars were also here in this room and he and I got a chance to sneak to a back office for some serious tasting. He had two small body guitars with him and each a cannon in its own right. He does things with Maple that are amazing, a lush full voice that’s even prettier than the insanely figured set of wood he actually traveled to Germany for. A few friends joined us as well so I got to hear the guitars from out front and in the driver’s seat and they are masterful.
Another great thing about shows like Woodstock is that it gives me the chance to touch base with Luthiers about what they’re seeing in the business in general. Most everyone has felt an uptick in 2014 with sales increasing. That coincides with what we have seen in the shop as well. Particularly high-end guitar sales have greatly increased in 2014. From where we sit, 2015 looks to be a great year for guitar makers and of course that means for guitar players. With instruments like this being crafted by great people with passion, we should all have plenty of inspiration to make our music for the world.
Below are a list of makers whose guitars we brought back from the show. Contact us here at Dream Guitars for more information:
• Randy S. Muth
• Keystone Guitars
• David MacCubbin
• Raymond Kraut
• John Osthoff
• Bernie Lehmann
• Kevin Pederson
• Tim Reede
Following are a few of the cool & unusual sights from the show as well:
Pellerin Harp Guitar:
Jeff Doctorow’s Steve Klein Guitars:
Lehmann Tiger Maple Bridge:
Manzer Unfinished Guitar:
For more information on the Woodstock Invitational Guitar Festival, please visit their official website.
Dream Guitars is proud to announce the acquisition of Acoustic Pro Musician
With the acquisition of Acoustic Pro Musician (www.acousticpromusician.com), Dream Guitars (www.dreamguitars.com) now has a dedicated web destination for quality instruments affordable to all players and staff tested gear.
Whether you need a stage instrument, are looking for a travel guitar or flight case, or you are new to the custom guitar world, Acoustic Pro Musician is your resource.
For the past 14 years, Acoustic Pro Musician (www.acousticpromusician.com) and its founder, Danny Brevard built a strong reputation within the guitar community. Upon Danny’s decision to retire from the acoustic guitar business, he reached out to Paul Heumiller and a deal was struck for Dream Guitars to acquire Acoustic Pro Musician and continue building the Acoustic Pro Musician brand and reputation of offering quality instruments and gear in affordable price ranges for all musicians.
“As you know, music is my passion and serving others has always been a priority in my life. As I have reached the age of 60, I’ve realized that there are things that I still want to do but I have to make some life changes to do them. Dream Guitars is perhaps the finest shop in the world and known for tremendous expertise and helping players in an honorable fashion. Paul shares my vision and passion and I am confident you will all be delighted to work with Paul if you haven’t already.” – Danny Brevard
The team of 8 professionals at Dream Guitars, and now Acoustic Pro Musician, look forward to continuing to build two strong brands into the future, offering customers the full spectrum of quality acoustic instruments and gear available throughout the world.
“I am extremely delighted that Danny has asked me to carry on his wonderful shop Acoustic Pro Musician. I have heard nothing but great things over the years and I have the utmost respect for Danny’s expertise and service. I will continue to operate Acoustic Pro Musician as it’s own entity, offering the same guitar lines and the great service everyone expects from Acoustic Pro and from Dream Guitars.” – Paul Heumiller
Dream Guitars is happy to announce its inaugural Dream Guitars “Black and Gold” Friday where some of the best deals of the year will be offered on our in-stock instruments.
This sale has begun and is presented throughout the day right here on this blog as well as our Facebook page.
Deals Good Until Current In-Stock Inventory Runs Out or Monday, December 2nd at 5pm, whichever comes first.
Current Deals – Click on the Image for More Details:
*Dream Guitars is not responsible for any errors or omissions on the deals offered during its inaugural Black Friday event on November 29, 2013. Offers subject to change without notice.
When Steve James spent time with us at Dream Guitars just before his rocking house concert performance at our Weaverville, NC, offices, not only did he demo several amazing National Resophonic guitars, he also taught us all a lesson in bottleneck slide playing the legendary “Guitar Rag.”
Your moment of musical history for today: Sylvester Weaver’s “Guitar Rag” is recognized as the first recording of slide guitar. That was way back in 1923, though Steve’s classic style is more than simply reminiscent of the period.
Now you can learn a thing or two from James himself right here at our YouTube channel, study the master’s moves and styles. There is an awful lot of information here and you’ll be able to apply what you learn as you progress as a player. Steve takes the time to demonstrate basic hand placement, string contact, touch, pick technique, vibrato, chords and more as he teaches the viewer how to play like a pro.
Steve James is world-renowned as an expert slide guitar master, not only touring and recording his own material and but acting as a sideman for such legends as Bo Diddley, Kinky Friedman, Buddy Guy and John Hammond. For more information and cool stuff, visit Steve’s homepage… after you learn how to play “Guitar Rag” his way — arguably the best way!