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

New Builder Profile: Sam Guidry

Paul attended two shows last year, the Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration and the Woodstock Invitational Luthier’s Showcase, and there he met a number of new builders with some truly awe-inspiring builds. Naturally, we took several of them on as new builders for Dream Guitars! Alongside Michel Pellerin and Loïc Bortot (of Bouchereau Guitars), we’re also proud to have added American builder Sam Guidry to our ranks! We have one of his big-voiced Jumbos in the shop right now, which you can find on out site here: http://www.dreamguitars.com/detail/5400-guidry_sg2_2016/. In addition, we’d like to share his responses in a brief interview we conducted with Sam earlier this year.

One last thing! We recently hosted absurdly virtuosic guitarist and composer Clive Carroll at Dream for some video performances, and Clive recorded an original composition, “The Prince’s Waltz,” on Sam’s SG-2. You can find that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUYXHmQUXhY. Clive was kind enough to offer us a copy of the TAB as well, which you can find here: http://www.dreamguitars.com/tab/The_Princes_Waltz.pdf. Enjoy!

What or who inspired you to begin building guitars?

In high school I was on the college prep course with all the intention of going to university and becoming a “normal” person. Shortly after graduation, one of my best friends was killed in a car accident which sent me into an existential depression. I didn’t want to go to college, I didn’t want to get off the couch! After about two months of that routine, my mother found Bryan Galloup’s luthiery school on this thing called “the internet” (it was 1998 by the way) and she wouldn’t let me waste away on the couch, so my parents shipped me off to learn luthiery. My goal was to learn to do a good set up and then return back home and work in a music store. Then I made my first acoustic guitar. Even though I was not an acoustic guitar player, the experience changed me. I knew that I had found my calling.

2016 Sam Guidry SG-2 Birdseye Maple & Engelmann Spruce

 

What builders inspire you today?

I try not to be too influenced by any one maker, but for inspiration I often turn to Michihiro Matsuda. He gave a talk at a Northwoods Seminar at our shop which centered around the idea of taking ideas and growing them; at least that’s what I took away from it. To think that the guitar doesn’t have to be anything really makes you free as a designer. I do not do the kind of work he is known for, but in my own way, I am trying to always be thinking and moving forward.

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

My goal in voicing an instrument is to make an instrument that responds quickly, with clarity and balance. My method is different from most as I take a scientific approach that begins with rigorous material testing and leads up though precise tuning of body resonances. This approach was developed between Bryan Galloup and I over the last 15 years that we have worked together. We started researching how to control our voicing because we would build two guitars with the same materials and they would sound different. Over the years we would build and test, and build and test some more, each time learning a little more of the secrets the guitar holds. All of this research led to a voicing method that gives me a high level of control over the voice of the instrument. There is always more to learn, and currently I am studying the effects of higher order modes of vibration of the perception of tone.

Birdseye Maple Headstock with Ebony Inlay

 

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

I have been trending towards a minimalist style lately. I used to be obsessed with purfling, but I have been paring that away and looking for new ways to embellish my instruments. I will probably continue that trend for a while, but who knows when inspiration will strike!

Any interesting facts about your building process or shop arrangement?

I have a unique shop arrangement as I am the senior instructor at the Galloup School of Guitar Building and Repair. Firstly, this gives me access to a world class shop many folks would be envious of. Secondly, as a teacher it forces me to understand each process to the nth degree so I can explain what is happening to my students. This arrangement also gives me the time and incentive to develop new, more effective techniques to push the art of lutherie forward.

2016 Sam Guidry SG-2 in Birdseye Maple & Engelmann Spruce

 

What was your favorite, or your first, instrument that you ever played?

I have always been a guitar man. I received my first guitar for Christmas in 1994 (an Ibanez Iceman) and I have never looked back.

What do you enjoy doing outside of building instruments?

Aside from building guitars, I have two beautiful daughters, 10 and 1 ½ years respectively, that keep me busy outside of the shop.

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

My path to becoming a guitar maker has been almost accidental, seeming to be in the right place at the right time at key junctures in my life but if I wasn’t a luthier, I would probably work in retail, maybe a chapeau shop like “what size are you, sir, 11?”

What music are you listening to right now?

I used to be a big jam band fan but lately I have been getting into progressive metal. I really like a band from the UK called Haken and I am getting into the band Animals as Leaders lately as well.

New Builder Blog Profile: Isaac Jang

Paul attended two shows last year, the Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration and the Woodstock Invitational Luthier’s Showcase, and there he met a number of new builders with some truly awe-inspiring builds. Naturally, we took several of them on as new builders for Dream Guitars! The first was Isaac Jang, a Hollywood-based builder who studied under Kathy Wingert and now teaches building at the Musician’s Institute. We’ve already sold the two OMs we received from Jang, and we can’t wait for the next ones to arrive! In the meantime, we’d like to share his responses in a brief interview we conducted with Jang earlier this year. Enjoy!

What or who inspired you to begin building guitars?

I started playing guitar when I was 14 years old. Discovering Tommy Emmanuel was what sparked me to fall in love with acoustic guitar. Since then, I explored deeper into the acoustic guitar sound, and when I went to Bryan Galloup’s school of lutherie, my love for guitar making began.

What builders inspire you today?

My biggest inspiration is my wonderful, and forever mentor Kathy Wingert, who’s been the biggest influence in my guitar making. I am blessed to be building guitars in this golden era of lutherie where many of the mentors in the guitar making world have already established so much valuable resources for the younger generations. I’ve been in the industry for some time before I started making my own guitars, so I have a long list for the builders who inspires me.

Here are some of the builders who inspire me: C.F. Martin, Richard Hoover, Michi Matsuda, Ervin Somogyi, Claudio Pagelli, Sugita Kenji, Mickey Uchida, Mike Baranik, Jim Olson, Bryan Galloup, Gerald Sheppard, T.J. Thompson, Ken Parker, Mike Bashkin, Linda Manzer, Ed Claxton, Jeff Traugott, Tom Ribbecke, Mario Beauregard, Jason Kostal, John Slobod, Kim Walker, Bill Collings, and so many more, the list could go on.

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

My main goal in voicing is to have a balanced sound. I’d like to first have strong fundamentals accompanied by sweet overtones. I feel that if either of two characteristics stand out too strong on one end, then the guitar could sound too dry, or too wet. So I aim for the balance of those two.

When I apprenticed with Kathy Wingert for about 10 years, I never voiced her tops, but only got to see how she did it, and she gave me directions on my prototype tops. Later, I realized that she was teaching me to fish, not giving me a fish. While apprenticing with Kathy, I also worked at a repair shop at Westwood Music, and I was able to work on many great early Martins and Gibsons. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I wanted to work from the great examples, and go from there.

As much as my guitars appear somewhat modern, my building approach is very traditional: X-bracing, dovetail neck joint, hide glue, nitrocellulose lacquer, and etc. After my first few guitars, I wanted to see the consistency in my sound, and make small changes at a time. As I build custom guitars, I value each players need/want for their specific sound. When I met Paul Heumiller at the Memphis show in 2015, he gave me his honest feedback on my guitars and I made few changes when I voiced my next ones. I’m thankful that those small changes contributed to good feedback from many players from recent exhibitions at Santa Barbara, Berlin, and Woodstock in 2016.

Jang’s Uchida-style bend cutaway on our 2016 Brazilian OM

Italian Spruce