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justonwo 03-21-2013 11:16 PM

Build Thread: Circa OM Adi Spruce and Madagascar RW
I was really inspired by John's 00-12 at Healdsburg 2011. It was one of the really stand-out guitars for me. I'm not usually a fan of 00-sized instruments but somehow this one managed to sound big and bold for its size and had a nice balanced sound with plenty of volume.

The thinking has evolved on this guitar, particularly as I've had an opportunity to play man examples of vintage Martin-esque instruments . . .00-12s, 000-12s, OMs, parlors. I've decided I love that sound and can really use that sound musically. So I'm editing the original spec . . . again, which for reference was a Euro spruce/African Blackwood 00-12. Then I switched to an Adirondack/Tas Blackwood 000-12. As it turns out, I ended up with a Larson style 000-12 with Euro spruce and koa in December (which I love), but then became concerned a the Tasmanian blackwood 000-12 would overlap too much with this guitar.

SO, we are back to the original plan of a 00-12 (a lot can happen in 2 years), but with my revelation in the last 9 months that I love the vintage Martin sound, we are going very traditional. If any of you know John, you will know he is very laid back. He's been very patient and accommodating about my design changes.

Body: 00-12 with cutaway, style 42
Top wood: Adirondack spruce
Back and sides: Madagascar rosewood
Neck: One piece mahogany
Scale length: 25.4"
Nut: 1 3/4"
Saddle: 2 5/16"

Fast forward a few years and here's the finished product:

justonwo 03-21-2013 11:19 PM

And just for kicks, here's Jim's stunning 00-12.

hobbesy123 03-22-2013 01:29 AM

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but after the last build don't you think your time and money might be better spent seeking out an instrument that actually speaks to you instead of taking the risk of having one built and finding out that it's not the one after all? No matter how skilled the builder there are always going to be variables that are beyond their control when it comes to the nuances of each specific instrument.

When Chris Thile bought his Loar there was a specific run of serial numbers he was looking for.... out of the surviving Stradivarius violins not all of them are considered exceptional. I've read about underwhelming Somogyis and I've read about magical Gibsons and Martins. There are duds and gems at every price point. I'm not saying anything you don't already know. I think it's fantastic that you're in a position to commision instruments and support these luthiers, but it also seems that you're in a place as a musician that you're looking for a very specific sound and it seems like a rather hit or miss way of finding it.

Teleplucker 03-22-2013 01:55 AM

There is a risk with every build, however John told me when I ordered my 00 that the 00 body style was particularly easy to work with and come out with the expected result with a high degree of consistency. Not an exact quote but that was the jist of what he was saying.
I don't think you have to worry, if you are looking for a pretty traditional sounding 00. The 00 with 12 fret neck joint and a cutaway is just about the perfect guitar in my opinion.
Good luck with yours.

steveh 03-22-2013 03:06 AM

Re some of the comments above, I'm guessing lightning isn't going to strike twice; at least I really hope it doesn't for your sake! I'm confident this will be a great build but that's based on intuition, nothing else.

I will say one thing for definite though: That could well be the nicest set of ABW I've ever seen!


Originally Posted by justonwo (Post 3407538)

Here is the African Blackwood we will be using.


colins 03-22-2013 04:58 AM

Hey Juston, get back on that bicycle and keep riding! I look forward to following another of your very entertaining build threads, and I hope the build and the final guitar both give you a great deal of satisfaction.

Love that ABW too, almost as much as the set in my Baranik CX.


jackaroo 03-22-2013 05:48 AM

Ever think to just buy a vintage guitar of you're after a vintage tone?

I'm in the cue at a few luthiers shops, so I'm in no position to judge you too harshly for getting back into the "build my dream guitar scenario"... Even though the Kraut experience was a bumpy one.

BUT, I agree that it's much harder to hit a moving tone target than to just decide if you like a guitar that exists already. I'm only shopping builders and creating guitars that don't exist or that I could never afford in the vintage world, like a Pre war 'bone or an AJ.

That slight negative aside...I know how exciting it is designing a build, and getting to know these talented craftsmen. So congrats!

Hope it works out well.


ukejon 03-22-2013 05:50 AM

Part of the allure of a custom build is wondering about the sound that will come out of the new beauty. John is certainly a builder who you can trust when it comes to tone. Worst case is you don't love the sound, sell it to someone who does and try again. Worth the risk!

jmagill 03-22-2013 09:13 AM


Originally Posted by justonwo (Post 3407538)
...we're going to build a 00-12 that is more of a modern interpretation of that vintage sound. I believe that is what Jim Magill was going for when he ordered his Italian Spruce/Macassar 00-12 - the one that the HGF guitar was based on, I believe.

The 00 you saw at HGF is indeed a twin to mine, and a 'modern interpretation' is exactly what we were going for in mine: lots of the vintage tone, but with a few more chime-y overtones, and a big, fully resonant voice. And that's exactly what John delivered.

I understand those who say if you want vintage, why not just buy vintage, but I'm assuming you want something customized to your own aesthetic, ergonomic and auditory preferences. With John you can get the vintage sound (minus the age, of course) with the look, feel and tone dialed in to your personal tastes.

There is no other luthier I know of with the same consistency of quality from guitar to guitar, and the 00 size is right in the center of John's comfort range and expertise.

If you can accurately describe to him what you want, I'm confident he can build you something great.

I'll be following this build thread with great interest. Best of luck with it!

justonwo 03-22-2013 10:01 AM

I understand the temptation to discuss the Kraut build in the context of this new build, but I'm hoping we can really focus the discussion on John's great guitars.

This build has been in the works for several months and the idea of working with John has been gestating for several years, so please understand that I haven't decided in the last few days to commission a new guitar as a rebound from the Kraut experience. It's a different builder, a different spec, and is likely to be completely different experience.

The Kraut was not my first commission. I have taken delivery of a Mustapick OM and a Baranik - both experiences were great, particularly the experience with the Baranik. The guitar he delivered, which was based on a guitar I had played, was/is exceptional in every conceivable way. The experience with Mike was/is exceptional in every conceivable way.

So I am not using this guitar as a way to recover from a bad experience. I'm simply progressing with a build that's been in the works for a long time.

And, to be clear, I am not trying to achieve a vintage Martin sound. I liked the sound of the modern voice on the 00-12 I played at HGF, and that's what I'm hoping for. So, again, this guitar is not going to be described in completely abstract terms. It will be described relative to a guitar John has already built. That has proven to be a successful formula for me in all but the Kraut experience.

I believe the experience with Ray Kraut was the exception, rather than the rule. I will continue to commission guitars from talented luthiers, and I will continue with guitars I already have in the works (Beneteau, Baranik, Osthoff, Circa). There are all highly talented - and reasonable - luthiers.

If we can, please let's leave the Kraut discussion locked up in the other thread.

ericcsong 03-22-2013 10:46 AM


Originally Posted by steveh (Post 3407588)
I will say one thing for definite though: That could well be the nicest set of ABW I've ever seen!

took the words out of my mouth. Congrats on the build and looking forward to seeing this come together!

MikeD 03-22-2013 10:59 AM

Love John and his guitars. I own a 00 cutaway and its my main gigging guitar. I owned a dread from him as well, but sold it to help fund the purchase of my 1934 D-18. I can't say enough about the man and his guitars. I have a build coming up with him this summer for a 12 fret Martin-style dread. I am lucky to live an hour from his shop and visit him quite a bit. I will concur that his guitars are about as consistent as it gets. He's a pleasure to work with, and comparing him to Ray and what happened in another thread is not fair to a man like John. Good luck and keep us posted. I hope to play your guitar on a visit to his shop. Looks like it will be a great instrument. Are you getting a slot head?

Rainbow 03-22-2013 11:09 AM

I will be following this thread closely too. :)
Heard so many good things about John and his guitars look elegant.

justonwo 03-22-2013 11:34 AM


Originally Posted by MikeD (Post 3408053)
Good luck and keep us posted. I hope to play your guitar on a visit to his shop. Looks like it will be a great instrument. Are you getting a slot head?

Thanks! I think I will probably be going with a slab head on this one. I won't be deviating too much from the HGF guitar, except for the choice of back/side wood. John felt this would be a particularly great set for a 00.

usb_chord 03-22-2013 02:47 PM

Great stuff. Looking forward to following this one. I didn't realize John builds from AB. . . and that set is amazing. I can't for the life of me figure out the style of guitar I want John to build - 00 or OM. I think it's time to create a thread of my own and get some help from you kind folks!

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