What's New for April, 2014?

Hello everyone and Happy Spring from Batumi, Georgia.

2014 has started out well and I'm expanding production. Several new tone woods have arrived in the shop, Granadillo, Bocote and Ziricote. Paolo, our senior luthier is doing better and is back to work.

The fanned fret/harp guitar crew have been busy in the shop. All of the instruments are made by hand so, it takes time to get them finished. This month, we will be finalizing the Bubinga/Wenge fanned fret guitars and Dyer harp guitars and Harp Ukuleles. There has been a delay on bass strings for the harp guitar. I found a new supplier and expecting them any day now to complete the instruments in the finish room and get them shipped.

The push now, April, is to move into the production of the new Fanned Fret Harp Guitars (Nylon and Steel string) 13 and 21 strings and continue to build momentum through Christmas, 2014. Details about the Fanned Fret Harp Guitar are at the bottom of this page.

The new tone woods, Bocote and Granadillo have arrived. These will be used in the new Fanned Fret Harp Guitars and standard Fanned Fret guitars. More Cocobolo is coming for the new models.

... and if all of that wasn't enough, Ziricote is here! It's a difficult tone wood to source. It's normally used on custom built guitars. The price will be about the same as Cocobolo. More details on Ziricote will be posted in a couple of weeks.

The "Song of the Month" is a fun "bluegrass-campground-jamming-sitting-around-the-fire" tune that's perfect for first year students: "Old Time Religion". The melody and chords are basic, the words simple and easy to remember and sing, doesn't go too fast and just about everybody has heard it. The download is below. It will be available for a few more weeks then replaced with a brand new tune, May 1st. Be sure you download and save it; the Song of the Month will not be reposted.

Bluegrass Guitar Volume 11 is being edited.

As more updates are available, I'll keep you informed with my newsletter.  Have a great April! Jay


Throwback Thursday

This clip comes from the Wickenburg, AZ Bluegrass Festival and Fiddle Championship 1993. It's not the best quality (a copy of a copy) but the spirit of the event is still there.

Every year, I would travel to this event with Marty Warburton and family and enter the various competitions. Some great and inspirational talent would grace that humble stage in the rodeo fair grounds. The west coast USA, in the 1980's and 90's, emerged some of the finest musicians in the world.

In this clip, Chris Thile had just won the Mandolin Championship at Winfield, KS. The first song he's playing here, is, as I remember, "Earl of Hereford" followed by "Salt Creek". It was a great pleasure to know Chris in those early days. Enjoy!


Fanned Fret Guitar

Click here for the latest updates on the Fanned Fret Guitar.



 Harp Guitar #100!

It took a little more than two years, but we're just about to release Harp Guitar #100. It is Curly Sequoia Redwood top with Wenge back/sides/neck, ebony finger board and bridge, bone nut and saddle. This is old growth redwood, left over from 19th century logging in central California. The wood has been silent for more that 1000 years and will now have a voice; how romantic!

This Sequoia Harp Guitar is available for sale. It's only $1495. This includes a heavy padded gig bag and free world wide shipping. It comes with a one year warranty and 14 day return policy. More photos and video will be posted when it leaves the finish room. Contact me to reserve it!

More redwood will be used on future harp guitars and fanned fret guitars. I chose Wenge for the back/sides for a complimentary contrast to the redwood. Of course, any combination can be used. If you would like a Curly Redwood Fanned Fret Harp Guitar, contact me and we can go over the specifics and build you a semi-custom instrument!

There are four luthiers working full time. The average output is about 12 harp guitars per luthier per year, so, that comes out to about 50 per year. For 2014, I'm hoping we can break that threshold somewhere between 50 to 100 as we modernize the production and get more help to keep up with the demand.

There are several new tone woods being added to the line up. Some are rosewood substitutes like Granadillo, Wenge and Bocote. I've found more sources for Cocobolo, a stunning Mexican rosewood and now Ziricote.

Ziricote is probably one of the most beautiful and mysterious of all guitar tone woods. It has a grayish hue to it's grain with spider-webbing like Brazilian Rosewood. It usually found only in high level custom guitars. However, for 2014, I will be sourcing as much of it as I can to produce the highest level Fanned Fret Guitars and Harp Guitars at a very modest price.

The quality of my Fanned Fret Harp Guitars will continue to go up and the prices will keep coming down!
sequoia redwood harp guitar

Ziricote Tone Wood!

Ziricote is most striking in appearance, similar to the spider-webbing of Brazilian Rosewood but in shades of grays and olive greens with black rather than reds with black. It is heavier than most Rosewoods, it works somewhat like Ebony, and tends to be brittle, but what it lacks in workability it more than makes up for in tonality.

It is used by some of the highest level luthiers in the world in their custom instruments.

I’m sourcing Ziricote at a good price to help keep costs as low as possible. If you would like a Fanned Fret Guitar or Harp Guitar with this tone wood, contact me and we can discuss the specifics.


New for 2014 - "Fanned Fret Harp Guitar"!

The Fanned Fret Harp Guitar for 2014 is a result of many requests and desire to meet these with an instrument that will satisfy most guitarists’ needs.

Requests have been coming in for a “seventh bass”, “nylon (classical) string”, “super trebles”, “fanned fret” and so on. The images at the right are the Nylon string version, 51 mm (2 inch) nut. Click on the images for a larger view.

The Fanned Fret Harp Guitar for 2014 combines many of the important features that meet these “upgraded” requirements. There are four new models to choose from with various customized features:

1. 13 String Fanned Fret Harp Guitar – Steel String

2. 13 String Fanned Fret Harp Guitar – Nylon (Classical) String

3. 21 String Fanned Fret Harp Guitar – Steel String with Super Trebles

4. 21 String Fanned Fret Harp Guitar – Nylon String with Super Trebles


Within these four models, there are several variations:


1. Nylon or steel string

2. 44.5 mm nut or 51 mm nut

3. Radiused or flat fret board

4. Any tone wood that's legal for import and export can be used for the top, back & sides

5. ... and more


Click here for all of the details of this fascinating instrument!


13 string fanned fret harp guitar nylon string
21 string fanned fret harp guitar nylon string

Bocote - New "Rosewood-alternative" Tone Wood Has Arrived

Bocote, from Mexico, has just arrived in the shop and will be one of the many new exotic species of tone wood that will be added to the line up. Bocote is related to Ziricote and will be a treat to use in our builds this year. It will be paired with Alaska Sitka, Carpathian Spruce and Curly Sequoia Redwood.

I'll be posting more photos and videos as the Fanned Fret Harp Guitars start leaving the shop with this new exotic specie.

2014 is going to be a great year for the harp guitar!

bocote harp guitar tone wood

"Old Time Religion" - March, Song of the Month


You will need a password open the .rar package with the tablatures and audio files. It's included in my monthly newsletter. Sign up today and get started playing "Old Time Religion"!

See this link for help with the .rar package (Windows and Mac) if you're new to downloading files.