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Old 03-27-2011, 03:33 AM
steveh steveh is offline
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Default Build Thread: Jason Kostal Modified Dread AND OM

Iím very excited about a new build Iíve just commissioned and thought you guys might be interested in how I got there.

Iím in the UK and in between Christmas and New Year made the trip down to The Acoustic Music Company (TAMCO) in Brighton because Trevor has just taken delivery of a Somogyi modified dread in wenge. Iíve read tons about Somogyi but would at last get the chance to try one (as well as some guitars by his former apprentices). Suffice to say that by the time I left the shop a modified dread had made itís way to the top of my wish list! Iím not a fan of the typical dread at all Ė I fingerpick traditional tunes and never strum. My preference is for OM sized guitars that are responsive with lots of sustain and overtones Ė Iíve had lots pass through my hands but have ended up with a Traugott R, Sobell Model 1 (used to be Martin Simpsonís), and a Ralph Bown OMX (Ralph makes Clive Carrolís guitars); all are spruce over BRW. These are all great guitars but the Somogyi was a different sound altogether Ė not better, but different: Big, diffuse, reverby, and with the most astonishingly powerful bass Iíd ever heard Ė almost reminded me of a baritone but with much more clarity and response. However, because itís a different sound to my other guitars it couldnít replace them, so it wasnít simply a case of selling those to get the Somogyi. Ultimately I decided I just couldnít justify it to myself.

So, fast-forward 3 months and Michael Watts tells me he has one of Jason Kostalís guitars just arrived in the UK; Jason is currently working with Ervin Somogyi but just about to start up on his own. Michael asked if I would like to try Jasonís version of his mentorís MD? Yes! We got together a couple of weeks ago and had a great afternoon A-B ing all my guitars to Jasonís MD cutaway no. 31, which is german spruce over madrose. Fit and finish were pretty much flawless; no concerns there whatsoever and playability was also top-drawer. Again, a very, very different sound to the guitars I have here and A-B ing them directly was a bit like comparing apples and pears. Jasonís guitar was immediately very reminiscent of the Somogyi although clearly different, and definitely with its own voice. Like my guitars, the Kostal had bags of sustain, clarity, separation and was very responsive across the entire range but coupled with a bottom-end response that reminded me of the Somogyi and also that characteristic ďreverbyĒ sound (based on my n=1 experiment); Iím not very good at putting this into words but something like the Sobell is very dry, bright, and projects like a cannon; a very ďsteelyĒ and direct sound. The Kostal seemed to me to disperse the sound in a very different way, less direct and more enveloping. Not better, just very different. From recollection, Jasonís guitar didnít have the truly gut-wrenching depth of the Somogyi but at the same time I felt it was a bit more balanced across the registers and perhaps a bit brighter.

Anyway, I decided pretty quickly that I would order a MD off Jason; this time I just couldnít resist. However, I was also nagged by what a Kostal OM would sound like, especially after seeing the McGee pics on this forum: My Traugott is a very, very good guitar and pretty much does everything an OM sized guitar should but would a Kostal be just as good? Ultimately, I decided that ordering an OM from Jason would not be much of a risk given the quality of his MD so I contacted him and said that I didnít want one of his guitars, I wanted TWO!

I thought I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted from the MD Ė European over wenge; after all the Somogyi I played was wenge and that would be cheaper than the madrose of Jasons MD. I was much less certain for the OM Ė BRW would blow the budget (despite my lusting after the sets Eric has had up here at the AGF!) and may not make it into the UK.

Jason sent me some JPEGS of various sets and some suggestions and we to and froíed by email for the next week or so. One particular set of African Blackwood caught my eye. Iím not a fan of highly figured wood unless well quartered and all of the blackwood guitars Iíve played have been from pretty small trees. However, one set Jason sent me was unbelievably well-quartered and I became increasingly convinced that it would make a great guitar. By juggling a few other specs I was able to afford the upgrade over wenge and decided to go for it. Jason recommended the Blackwood for the MD rather than the OM since he believed that design would make the best use of its deeply resonant qualities. As far as the OM goes, I eventually settled on Honduras Rosewood, attempting to get that dry clarity of BRW but without having to sell my house in order to be able to afford it. Here are the two sets:

First the African Blackwood for the MD:



And the Honduras Rosewood for the OM:



So, two builds on order: An African Blackwood MD and Honduras rosewood OM, both with European tops. Iím really stoked about these. All I have to do now is waitÖ

I'll wake this thread up when they start. I just hope that's not before too long because I am dreaming about these daily.

Cheers,
Steve
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  #2  
Old 03-27-2011, 04:35 AM
ericcsong ericcsong is online now
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Steve, no need to wake up this thread when they start. People will be looking at this thread anticipating the guitars just as much as you! congrats on your commissions! I just played Jason's Braz/German OM and you are definitely in for a treat!
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Old 03-27-2011, 06:12 AM
vicov vicov is offline
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I'm almost lost for words Steve! One week, no more guitars, following week - two more on order! You have a fine taste in guitars, congratulations on your good fortune, you're a lucky man.
JK is the coming man & his prices will rocket sooner rather than later so now is the time (but you already know that).


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Old 03-27-2011, 06:17 AM
Fliss Fliss is offline
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Steve, did no-one ever tell you that it's possible to have too much of a good thing?

Huge congratulations, and thanks for sharing your excitement with us

Fliss
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Old 03-28-2011, 03:02 AM
Huckleberry Huckleberry is offline
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Blimey Steve, don't do things by halves do you?

I completely understand where you're coming from - I too was enchanted by that Somogyi at TAMCO, but also didn't want to go 'all in' to get it. I've also spoken to Jason about a possible MD build, though I'm committed to my current Baranik build at the moment (with absolutely no regrets - it will be a very special guitar and I'm keenly anticipating getting my hands on it around July). Jason seems to be quite the man of the moment, and I'll be following all the current build threads with interest. I might have to get in touch with Michael and play this guitar of his... though that might be the first step on a slippery slope

In my dreams, I'm still trying to figure out a way for the Somogyi to come home with me ("but honey, it's a bullet-proof investment..."). But I guess no matter how fantastic an instrument it is (and it really is), the cost of admission to the Somogyi hall of fame is still prohibitive.
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Old 03-28-2011, 03:17 AM
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Michael Watts Michael Watts is offline
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I'm really looking forward to watching this one progress! I came within a heartbeat of asking Jason to ahem... "set that blackwood aside..." for my next instrument...

The Honduran is gorgeous too!

Here's a vid of Jason's guitar in action!

http://vimeo.com/21527103
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Old 03-28-2011, 06:42 AM
ericcsong ericcsong is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Watts View Post
I came within a heartbeat of asking Jason to ahem... "set that blackwood aside..." for my next instrument...
you and I both sir!
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:18 AM
JohnM JohnM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Watts View Post
I'm really looking forward to watching this one progress! I came within a heartbeat of asking Jason to ahem... "set that blackwood aside..." for my next instrument...

The Honduran is gorgeous too!

Here's a vid of Jason's guitar in action!

http://vimeo.com/21527103
Michael,

LOVE that one. So awesome.
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Old 03-28-2011, 08:57 AM
steveh steveh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huckleberry View Post
In my dreams, I'm still trying to figure out a way for the Somogyi to come home with me ("but honey, it's a bullet-proof investment..."). But I guess no matter how fantastic an instrument it is (and it really is), the cost of admission to the Somogyi hall of fame is still prohibitive.
Hi Huck - I loved the Somogyi as is obvious from my post above. I would also have loved to leave TAMCO with it but, like you say, the price of entry is "prohibitive". If it could replace my existing guitars then I would definitely have considered it but it was quite unlike anything I'd heard before - Not "better" as I say above, but different and very very good. I'm a huge fan of that OM sound so getting rid of my existing guitars to fund the Somogyi MD just wasn't an option - I'd still hanker after a smaller guitar as well.

It's worth making the point that Jason's guitar (or at least no 31), while reminiscent of the Somogyi MD, has it's own voice. I thought that although they shared some characteristics, they were definitely different instruments. I guess what I'm trying to say is that getting an MD from Jason is not akin to getting a Somogyi MD for less outlay. Rather, you're getting (or at least I hope to get) a very, very good guitar that is in the same ballpark build wise/tone-wise (i.e. it's a MD), but from a different builder. As for the Kostal OM, I just didn't want to get the MD, then think "oh I want an OM as well", and have to wait even longer. I don't think two guitars from Jason is particularly risky given the quality I saw in no. 31 and I have well over a year to find the cash; I've asked that there are several months between the builds so that I don't have to fund one right after the other and so have plenty of time to raise the funds. I'm not a great hoarder of guitars, so as these come in, others will go out so that I don't have to rob the bank!

Cheers,
Steve
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:16 AM
Huckleberry Huckleberry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveh View Post
It's worth making the point that Jason's guitar (or at least no 31), while reminiscent of the Somogyi MD, has it's own voice. I thought that although they shared some characteristics, they were definitely different instruments.
I'm really glad to hear this - though I haven't played one of Jason's guitars yet (really hoping to sometime soon), he's clearly building a great reputation for himself very quickly. The last thing I'd want to see is him being painted into being a maker of 'Somogyi copies' - I want to see him doing his own thing, like Michi Matsuda and some of Somogyi's other apprentices.

Good luck with the builds - I'll be following the build threads closely!
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Old 03-28-2011, 11:02 AM
RayK RayK is offline
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Its great to see this coincidence that both Jason and I are embarking on a very similar project that is being recognized here. It will be a great one to follow and to see what a couple of Somogyi trained builders can do.

Its great to have another member of the Somogyi family out amongst the rest whose work is certainly looking great. I'm really looking forward to hearing his guitars at this years Montreal Show. I like Jason quite a bit and from what I've seen of his work thus far I trust he will make yet another great example of what our mentor can do for talented and committed builders.

Looking forward to seeing the progress.

Ray Kraut
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Old 02-28-2012, 12:15 PM
steveh steveh is offline
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The King is dead! Long live the King...

Ericís Kostal MD thread was closed by the Mods yesterday because at 345 posts is was apparently getting difficult for the forum software to cope with (happens at >300 posts). We were asked to ďfeel free to begin a Part 2Ē, if we wished to continue discussing Jasonís MD.

Well, no sooner had the Gauntlet been thrown down then Jason tells me my MD is underway. Accordingly, it's time to wake this Lazarus of a thread up! I hope this proves as entertaining for you all as the last Kostal thread.

Anyway, to kick off, I had been having some discussion with Jason about whether to bookmatch the ABW backs along the sap like this:



Alternatively, what about a backstrip, separating the sap, like this ABW Somogyi.



Difficult decision. So who can guess what the inimitable Mr Kostal did???

Like Eric, I am a terrible tease!

Cheers,
Steve
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Old 02-28-2012, 01:36 PM
Welshboy Welshboy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveh View Post
The King is dead! Long live the King...

Ericís Kostal MD thread was closed by the Mods yesterday because at 345 posts is was apparently getting difficult for the forum software to cope with (happens at >300 posts). We were asked to ďfeel free to begin a Part 2Ē, if we wished to continue discussing Jasonís MD.

Well, no sooner had the Gauntlet been thrown down then Jason tells me my MD is underway. Accordingly, it's time to wake this Lazarus of a thread up! I hope this proves as entertaining for you all as the last Kostal thread.

Anyway, to kick off, I had been having some discussion with Jason about whether to bookmatch the ABW backs along the sap like this:



Alternatively, what about a backstrip, separating the sap, like this ABW Somogyi.



Difficult decision. So who can guess what the inimitable Mr Kostal did???

Like Eric, I am a terrible tease!

Cheers,
Steve

Come on, Steve, spill the beans? What did Jason do?

I reviewed the madrose MD and liked it, but I had a very brief opportunity to play Michael's quilted mahogany MD recently and liked it even better, though the acquaintance was a fleeting one.

I'd be very interested to hear one of his OMs. Like you, I'm a big fan of the OM sound and my Sobell NW is a benchmark instrument for me.

I currently have a Baranik Meridian in ABW on order. I'm slowly turning over my little collection (I never meant to be a collector!). After the Baranik the next one will be......
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Old 02-28-2012, 03:09 PM
JoeCharter JoeCharter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveh View Post
Difficult decision. So who can guess what the inimitable Mr Kostal did???

Like Eric, I am a terrible tease!

Cheers,
Steve
Don't tell me he put the sapwood sideways? LOL

Awesome looking woods BTW. Truly awesome.

Now spill the beans!
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Old 02-28-2012, 04:27 PM
ericcsong ericcsong is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveh View Post
Difficult decision. So who can guess what the inimitable Mr Kostal did???

Like Eric, I am a terrible tease!
steve, you are a tease! thanks for the kind words about the other thread. did Jason put the sap on the sides? or is he doing something creative in the center? My bet is he isn't doing his normal center strip because its been done on that Somogyi. He likes to individualize his creativity! but I'm probably wrong!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Welshboy View Post
After the Baranik the next one will be......
Richard, hopefully it'll be a Kostal!
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