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  #1  
Old 08-05-2018, 10:54 AM
Muse-ic Muse-ic is offline
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Default Anyone own an Olson And a Heinonen?

Just curious if anyone owns both with similar woods and can really compare the tones and feel?
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:15 PM
ExpoTom ExpoTom is offline
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Not to be a doubter, but this one is a tough request, esp. since Drew is in his #30s and some of his overflow work happens to be people who can't afford Jim's guitars. I've played both and the tones seem similar to me, but there are some small differences in fit/finish and construction, but since I've not owned an Olson, I can't comment at length!
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Old 08-06-2018, 11:48 PM
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Thanks for replying, I appreciate it. Any info is welcome....
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Old 08-07-2018, 03:42 AM
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I havent played a heinonen nor an Applegate nor a charis but for whatever that it is worth, i have been told by those who have played applegate and charis that they do not sound close enough to an Olson to pass muster. I can believe that as the tone of every luthier is essential to them.
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:24 PM
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I have never gotten the opportunity to play an Applegate either, would love to as I've heard nothing but good things and I'd consider buying one - I did play a Charis once, but it was at a Guitar Center and the strings were really dead etc.... nice though, I'd consider one as well if the right one came along.... very, very curious, as others probably are as well, about a Heinonen....
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:30 AM
prickards prickards is offline
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Default here we go

I have been corresponding with Drew and have taken the plunge for an SJ braz/cedar to be built next year. I'll report back for sure when the time comes. I have some preliminary impressions and very positive so far. Some background first. I have had the pleasure of owning an Olson SJ cedar/EIR and have played several others. Consistently wonderful feel and playability, some more alive than others if that makes sense. I loved mine and sold it only to fund an investment and miss the niche that it fills but dont want to pony up that kind of cash again. So I'm taking the leap of faith. I did it before with a Charis and it didnt hit the mark for me personally but no doubt it was a wonderfully built guitar. It is a very subjective thing as we all know. There are wondeful builders out there who trust the building process that they have gotten down to a science: Olson, Ryan and Bill Wise (Charis) that come to mind. My understanding is that they trust the process entirely to get very reproducible results but not much "voicing" going on if at all that I am aware. Some believe in voicing and some dont. I personally do. I do think the "process" is most important but it just makes sense to me that some fine tuning (ie, voicing) is necessary to bring the most out of wood because each piece has subtle differences even within species. That is the magic in my estimation, the feel, the mojo, to be able to tease that out. That is just a personal opinion of course but in my estimation what separates production guitars from custom built. But clearly not all production guitars are the same, and some have definitely gotten to a level of removing enough wood consistently to be very responsive guitars.

Anyway, my take on Drew Heinonen so far has been very positive. He is very friendly, very responsive to questions, and takes the time to go over any detail you ask for. He explained his process to me in detail and I think it is very promising. He has learned "the process" preparation and production from two of the best, Dana Bourgeois and Jim Olson. He has permission to base his SJ builds on the Olson SJ box shape, bracing and light build features. But at the same time, his build process offers some important differences that catch my interest. He does voice his guitars individually like Dana Bourgeois using flexing/tap tone techniques to shave wood here and there in an effort to maximize each and every box. To me, that is quite a combination, having learned the objective process of building from the master of processes, Jim Olson, and also adding some of the subjective process of voicing from one of the voicing masters, Dana Bourgeois.

I did challenge him however to use a rosette of his own design in addition to his own voicing to make the guitar uniquely Heinonen but Olsonesque if you will. I am not in search of an exact Olson copy, only Jim can do that reproducibly well. But I do love the basic sound and feel of an Olson. I like the SJ shape and feel of Jim's necks and setup. The rest I want to be Heinonen. Kind of like how the Somogyi apprentices learn and use the basic shapes and bracing concepts from Ervin but try to add their own flavor with regards to voicing and aesthetics. Yet you can still tell they belong to a very special family of guitars but they have their own mojo. Some think the students can never match the master but I think there alot of things in play there, including trying to protect your monetary investment in the "master" guitar if you've ponied up the dollars already. I do think that students can equal and even surpass the master by learning the good stuff and trying to make improvements where they can or are able. Some hit the mark, some dont but I love giving it a shot.

We shall see with Drew's guitar, the proof is in the pudding as they say. But by all indicators that I deem important, I am excited at the prospect for sure. Its going to be fun for sure. He is a great guy. Give his newest guitars a listen. I think he's onto something for sure.
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Old 08-08-2018, 11:04 AM
strumming strumming is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prickards View Post
We shall see with Drew's guitar, the proof is in the pudding as they say. But by all indicators that I deem important, I am excited at the prospect for sure. Its going to be fun for sure. He is a great guy. Give his newest guitars a listen. I think he's onto something for sure.
I just received an SJ Drew built for me and I can attest that your estimation is right on. He was a pure pleasure to work with and very accommodating during the entire process. I've been playing for over 50 years and have owned many production and boutique guitars and this one has the "magic" more than anything I've owned. I've been wanting an Olson for quite some time but like you not willing to part with the amount of money it would take to get one. Going with Drew was stepping out on faith since he is a relatively "new" builder (although as you mention, he's been building for other shops including Olson for years). Also I had never played or seen one of his guitars but for me the risk paid off multi-fold and I'm so glad I took the plunge! :-) Keep us posted on how the build goes. I'm excited for you and I'm sure you'll be very pleased with the results.
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:06 PM
Muse-ic Muse-ic is offline
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Thanks for your info and impressions. It's helpful. I do agree that someone with Drew's background and his willingness to refine and individualize the guitars he builds is a pretty good bet, so to speak. I'm seriously considering it. Looking forward to seeing what he does for you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by prickards View Post
I have been corresponding with Drew and have taken the plunge for an SJ braz/cedar to be built next year. I'll report back for sure when the time comes. I have some preliminary impressions and very positive so far. Some background first. I have had the pleasure of owning an Olson SJ cedar/EIR and have played several others. Consistently wonderful feel and playability, some more alive than others if that makes sense. I loved mine and sold it only to fund an investment and miss the niche that it fills but dont want to pony up that kind of cash again. So I'm taking the leap of faith. I did it before with a Charis and it didnt hit the mark for me personally but no doubt it was a wonderfully built guitar. It is a very subjective thing as we all know. There are wondeful builders out there who trust the building process that they have gotten down to a science: Olson, Ryan and Bill Wise (Charis) that come to mind. My understanding is that they trust the process entirely to get very reproducible results but not much "voicing" going on if at all that I am aware. Some believe in voicing and some dont. I personally do. I do think the "process" is most important but it just makes sense to me that some fine tuning (ie, voicing) is necessary to bring the most out of wood because each piece has subtle differences even within species. That is the magic in my estimation, the feel, the mojo, to be able to tease that out. That is just a personal opinion of course but in my estimation what separates production guitars from custom built. But clearly not all production guitars are the same, and some have definitely gotten to a level of removing enough wood consistently to be very responsive guitars.

Anyway, my take on Drew Heinonen so far has been very positive. He is very friendly, very responsive to questions, and takes the time to go over any detail you ask for. He explained his process to me in detail and I think it is very promising. He has learned "the process" preparation and production from two of the best, Dana Bourgeois and Jim Olson. He has permission to base his SJ builds on the Olson SJ box shape, bracing and light build features. But at the same time, his build process offers some important differences that catch my interest. He does voice his guitars individually like Dana Bourgeois using flexing/tap tone techniques to shave wood here and there in an effort to maximize each and every box. To me, that is quite a combination, having learned the objective process of building from the master of processes, Jim Olson, and also adding some of the subjective process of voicing from one of the voicing masters, Dana Bourgeois.

I did challenge him however to use a rosette of his own design in addition to his own voicing to make the guitar uniquely Heinonen but Olsonesque if you will. I am not in search of an exact Olson copy, only Jim can do that reproducibly well. But I do love the basic sound and feel of an Olson. I like the SJ shape and feel of Jim's necks and setup. The rest I want to be Heinonen. Kind of like how the Somogyi apprentices learn and use the basic shapes and bracing concepts from Ervin but try to add their own flavor with regards to voicing and aesthetics. Yet you can still tell they belong to a very special family of guitars but they have their own mojo. Some think the students can never match the master but I think there alot of things in play there, including trying to protect your monetary investment in the "master" guitar if you've ponied up the dollars already. I do think that students can equal and even surpass the master by learning the good stuff and trying to make improvements where they can or are able. Some hit the mark, some dont but I love giving it a shot.

We shall see with Drew's guitar, the proof is in the pudding as they say. But by all indicators that I deem important, I am excited at the prospect for sure. Its going to be fun for sure. He is a great guy. Give his newest guitars a listen. I think he's onto something for sure.
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  #9  
Old 08-08-2018, 12:08 PM
Muse-ic Muse-ic is offline
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Yours is beautiful, to be sure! Can't wait to hear it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strumming View Post
I just received an SJ Drew built for me and I can attest that your estimation is right on. He was a pure pleasure to work with and very accommodating during the entire process. I've been playing for over 50 years and have owned many production and boutique guitars and this one has the "magic" more than anything I've owned. I've been wanting an Olson for quite some time but like you not willing to part with the amount of money it would take to get one. Going with Drew was stepping out on faith since he is a relatively "new" builder (although as you mention, he's been building for other shops including Olson for years). Also I had never played or seen one of his guitars but for me the risk paid off multi-fold and I'm so glad I took the plunge! :-) Keep us posted on how the build goes. I'm excited for you and I'm sure you'll be very pleased with the results.
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Old 08-08-2018, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prickards View Post
....[snip]..... I am not in search of an exact Olson copy, only Jim can do that reproducibly well. But I do love the basic sound and feel of an Olson. I like the SJ shape and feel of Jim's necks and setup. The rest I want to be Heinonen. .....[snip].......
I think this is a safe expectation to have. Those who expect a nearly exact duplicate of an Olson at a fraction of the price may be expecting too much.

Drew brought 3 guitars to a Twin Cities AGF Get-Together a number of years ago. All were really nice. I have no idea how close his SJ was to an Olson, and for what I play I liked the tone of his OM much better than his "true flattop" SJ.
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:49 PM
jperryrocks jperryrocks is offline
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Jim Olson is a very gracious and kind individual. Many would not let another luthier use exact templates and help so much. But Jim sells every guitar he makes in a record amount of time. I donít know of any luthier who makes the sheer volume of guitars he does at $12-15,000 starting prices over the last several years. And rarely is anything available for sale that is not already spoken for. That SJ is such a beautiful design. And Charles Hoffman is often overlooked and does not get the credit he deserves. He was boutique, before there was boutique and you see his style influences as well.
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Old 08-08-2018, 06:57 PM
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Some Olson SJ owners have visited our showroom to do A/B comparison with their SJs.
They actually play their Olson SJs everyday and they all said tone wise it is so hard to differentiate between Olson SJ and Heinonen SJ. We canít say Drewís is 100% clone but Drew really well grasped his master's tone and mixed with his own stuff in a subtle way. You wonít regret to own a Heinonen SJ.
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Old 08-08-2018, 11:28 PM
Muse-ic Muse-ic is offline
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One question I have forgotten to ask - does anyone find the slight difference in string spacing at the bridge - 2+5/16 rather than the more common 2+1/4 - an issue? Can you feel any difference?
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Old 08-09-2018, 05:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muse-ic View Post
One question I have forgotten to ask - does anyone find the slight difference in string spacing at the bridge - 2+5/16 rather than the more common 2+1/4 - an issue? Can you feel any difference?
For what it's worth, I've played both 2 1/4 and 2 5/16 and prefer the wider 2 5/16 on my Heinonen SJ. That said, I play mostly fingerstyle. Btw, I really enjoyed listening to your recording of your Ryan. Nice playing!
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1959 Gibson Country Western
1956 Gibson Southern Jumbo
2018 Heinonen "Olson" SJ Western Red Cedar / Cocobolo
2003 McAlister Model C Adirondack / Brazilian
2017 Connor Custom European Spruce / Bubinga
1997 Taylor 810
1990's Fender Strat
2010 Fender Tele "Nocaster" Custom Shop

Last edited by strumming; 08-09-2018 at 05:26 AM.
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Old 08-09-2018, 09:18 AM
Muse-ic Muse-ic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strumming View Post
For what it's worth, I've played both 2 1/4 and 2 5/16 and prefer the wider 2 5/16 on my Heinonen SJ. That said, I play mostly fingerstyle. Btw, I really enjoyed listening to your recording of your Ryan. Nice playing!
I play fingerstyle on the acoustic pretty much exclusively, so that's good to know - I've played a lot of guitars over the years but never one with 2 5/16 spacing for some reason.... thanks for listening by the way, and for your help here.
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