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Gallopinghost 02-26-2014 11:53 AM

Ken Savage Guitars?
I was noodling around with a few guitars the other day and came across a Ken Savage 00. I consider myself knowledgable about solo builders, especially local ones, but I had never run across a Savage before.

Anyhoo, I'd been playing on several Collings, Goodalls, high end new and vintage Martin's--they always have a nice selection--and I pick up the Savage and WOW! It was a sweet little fingerstyle guitar. Responsive, complex tone, balanced up and down the neck. It just felt good. Possibly the lightest build I've encountered--other than a 51 Martin 00 that had been sitting in a barn for 27 years. I have large hands and it had a nice 2 3/8" saddle and 1 7/8" nut. I'm usually not a fan of short scale guitars with super wide necks, but this one was great. Just wide enough to comfortably walk the base with my thumb. No hard V like Martin insists building their smaller bodied 12 fretters with. It was shallow, almost like a Classical, but just enough of a shoulder to leverage vibrato and pull offs.

I was shocked! It was a 2006. If he'd been buiding for at least that long how come I've never heard of the guy? A bit humbling, actually.

I do some research and it looks like he turned a few heads in Healdsburg in aught two or three, but after that he went dark, or at least info on the web dried up.

Do any of you guys have or ever played a Savage? I'd love to get a few opinions if they're out there.

Thanks much!

theEdwinson 02-26-2014 12:47 PM

I met Ken Savage at Healdsburg '03, I think it was, and came to discover he was a neighbor. I was living in Seattle, and Ken was living in his house on six acres of wooded property out on Bainbridge Island. My shop partner, Aaron Andrews, and I went out to visit him, and were blown away by his huge, absolute dream of a workshop, and his craftsman-style house, which he built himself.
Ken had a lot of history in wooden boat building- hence the huge shop- and he was clearly a gifted craftsman in ALL the woodworking arts, from house building to lutherie. I think he was fairly new to guitar making at the time, but his instruments were pretty highly evolved.
At the time, I was working peripherally in Lutherie, still working a full time "real" job, so we kind of drifted out of touch. But Ken always impressed me as an amazingly talented and capable man, having built such a life for himself on pure "sweat equity".
I don't know if he dropped out of lutherie and got back into boat building, or just quietly retired to enjoy the fruits of his life-long labor, or what became of him. I hope he is still alive and well, and I will always wish him well. I regarded him as a man I would aspire to emulate.

Gallopinghost 02-26-2014 01:39 PM

Thanks for taking the time to chime in , Steve. That input means a lot, especially coming from a luthier such as yourself.

From my understanding he lives out on Lopez. Makes me wonder what the new property looks like.

theEdwinson 02-26-2014 02:02 PM


Originally Posted by Gallopinghost (Post 3839958)
Thanks for taking the time to chime in , Steve. That input means a lot, especially coming from a luthier such as yourself.

From my understanding he lives out on Lopez. Makes me wonder what the new property looks like.

You know, now that I think about it... When he was living on Bainbridge, he told us he had six acres of woodland property, which he bought when he was "younger". And he had a large, immaculate, craftsman-style house, full of museum-quality furniture, all of which he built himself.
I imagine that the property, and the house and shop, must have escalated astronomically in value during the '90s and 00's. Ken worked very hard all his life, never had a lot of money, but he built a great life for himself by investing in land, and using his own labor (sweat equity, he called it) to increase its value.
So maybe he decided to retire and sell off his holdings for a couple or three million, and retired to Lopez Island, where the urban sprawl and neuvo-riche of Seattle have not yet encroached. If so, I hope he is enjoying his life to the max in his own slice of paradise, because he truly earned it!

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