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  #16  
Old 08-31-2017, 08:04 PM
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dneal dneal is offline
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My first experience was with a Somogyi in Maryland many years ago. I knew nothing about luthier built guitars then, and thought it was some fancy Japanese guitar. The sound was so different from what I considered 'a guitar', I thought it was weird and handed it back. The only reason it even caught my attention was the pointy thing on the headstock.

Fast forward 15 years or so, and I sought out a shop that carried Froggy Bottom to see what all the hubbub was about. They had a lot of luthier built and boutique brands. Although some were just 'meh', the Frogs were unlike anything I had experienced. There were a couple of other makes that blew me away as well.

It was eye opening.
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  #17  
Old 08-31-2017, 08:26 PM
Misifus Misifus is offline
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Back in 2000, there were a bunch of players all over the world participating in a Usenet newsgroup called rec.music.makers.guitar.acoustic. About that time folks on the group began having get-togethers in various areas around the world - England, Virginia, and Texas. The Texas gathering was held in a lovely little Hill Country town called Wimberley. At that first gathering I met a bunch of players from all over, including several guitar builders. One, who also helped host the gathering, was a splendid luthier called Jamie Kinscherff. I had the chance to hear and to play a number of his guitars in various sizes and woods.

The next year, Jamie again helped host, and this year we got ten owners of Kinscherff guitars to pose holding them while standing on a dam on the beautiful Blanco River. Again, more exposure to Jamie's wonderful instruments.

By now, my wife and I were deciding that we could afford to commission one from him. We drove down to discuss things with Jamie, and we selected our flitches of wood, settled the details, and settled down to wait. Of course, while waiting, there were several trips to check on progress. Finally, 14 months later, we got a call that it was ready. A friend in Austin was hosting a song circle that weekend and we drove down to meet Jamie there and pick it up (and pay off the balance, of course). That was 2003, and I've been enjoying it since.

It took a little time to get used to it. I'd been playing strictly classical for 25 years, but I'd made good choices and Jamie did great work on it, and I quickly found it amazing, both in sound and feel. Since then, a good dozen friends of mine have acquired other examples of his work. Btw, another happy owner of Jamie's guitars is Timothy B Schmitt, whom some of you may have heard.
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  #18  
Old 08-31-2017, 08:52 PM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
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Originally Posted by Misifus View Post
Btw, another happy owner of Jamie's guitars is Timothy B Schmitt, whom some of you may have heard.
Jimmy Buffet's bass player?
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  #19  
Old 08-31-2017, 08:58 PM
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ohYew812 ohYew812 is offline
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I've been on the factory tour and I consider Martin guitars to be hand made.

And I love em'!
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  #20  
Old 08-31-2017, 09:01 PM
zavaletas zavaletas is offline
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Default First handmade professional guitar

I had been playing for many years, and while I wanted a better guitar, all I could afford was a little Mexican guitar. Try as I might, when I tried to achieve the notes that float off into space, mine kamikazi-like seemed to dive toward the ground. Finally, when I finally bought a professional guitar, a 1a Ramirez, I found that such notes are made easily, effortlessly. While ultimately I sold the Ramirez, and have owned may other fine guitars, they all share a responsiveness that allows the guitarist to achieve whatever he imagines, rather than holding him back.

James, owner

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  #21  
Old 08-31-2017, 09:06 PM
j3ffr0 j3ffr0 is offline
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My first experience was playing a few H&Ds at a local shop. I loved every single one of them but couldn't afford them. After a few months I found a good angle on a used 00-SP - loved it. Then a few years later bought my DS Crossroads which I love even more. I've been less impressed with a few other boutique brands, but I definitely haven't nearly played them all (or even most).

What I love about most H&Ds is the balance, resonance, and intimate feel. I just get lost in the tone and feel of it all. The simplest things sound fantastic.
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  #22  
Old 08-31-2017, 09:07 PM
Steadfastly Steadfastly is offline
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I've never owned a handmade guitar and can't see me ever doing so unless I build it myself. There are just so many very high quality guitars manufactured that I couldn't see myself ordering an acoustic guitar I have never played before.

Now, if it was an electric guitar, that might be different because of the electric and mechanical parts that can be chosen can make it one that is truly yours.
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  #23  
Old 08-31-2017, 09:14 PM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
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The first one? Couldn't say. But somewhere there in the mid 90s I came across a couple of guitars that made me realize that there was a whole another level beyond my Guilds that I had had for 15 or more years. Listening to many of the RMMGA regulars further sparked the thought. A visit to Seattle from Anchorage confirmed it. I settled on a 000-12 fret as something I wanted, which at the time was not widely made and certainly not available in Alaska. So on a trip to San Diego I carried away a Santa Cruz from Buffalo Brothers. I was as happy as a swine in poo.

But...

I met up with Wade Hampton Miller, who I vaguely knew in Anchorage, at a thing he was doing on buying guitars at the Anchorage Folk Festival so he could use the Santa Cruz as an example of a particular body style. While there, Wade gave me the chance to play his newly acquired McAlister Baritone. Whoa. To my dismay, there was another level beyond the Santa Cruz.

After ordering a McAlister, I settled in for a 3 year wait. Then I sold an old car that I had been trying to sell for a couple of years (To friends who wanted a beater for their soon to be 16 year old son, and thought that a heavy, underpowered tank fit the bill.) I now had some unexpected money to spend.

Following a somewhat drunken evening viewing the stock of several purveyors f fine internet guitar pornography, I came across a Froggy Bottom on the Buffalo Bros site with nearly the same specs as the Mac, except for being a 00-deep body. I had previously played Froggys at Seattle's Dusty Strings, and was duely impressed. Ah ha, thought I, an Interim Guitar while I wait for the Mac.

I still have the Interim Guitar. Still have the Mac too. Nothing that I had before them can run with them.

TW

Last edited by Mycroft; 09-01-2017 at 04:49 PM. Reason: Appearently wrote this without enough coffee.
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  #24  
Old 08-31-2017, 09:18 PM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steadfastly View Post
I've never owned a handmade guitar and can't see me ever doing so unless I build it myself. There are just so many very high quality guitars manufactured that I couldn't see myself ordering an acoustic guitar I have never played before.
You are conflating a custom-order with a guitar that is hand made. They are not one and the same thing.
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  #25  
Old 09-01-2017, 05:26 AM
Steadfastly Steadfastly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
You are conflating a custom-order with a guitar that is hand made. They are not one and the same thing.
True, but some are.
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  #26  
Old 09-01-2017, 06:09 AM
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If you're willing to wait 9 months+ for a guitar who's sound you have no idea of until it is built, go for it. I tried this with a well-respected British luthier whose demonstration model sounded lovely. Unfortunately my finished guitar sounded nothing like it, despite being a fine instrument, and was quickly moved on. A very expensive lesson learned, never to be repeated. If I can't buy the guitar in my hands it stays on the wall.

Also, what is a 'hand made' guitar these days? Even the cheapest guitars involve a degree of hands-on work.
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Last edited by AndrewG; 09-01-2017 at 06:19 AM.
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  #27  
Old 09-01-2017, 06:15 AM
AndrewG AndrewG is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
Jimmy Buffet's bass player?
Eagles and Poco I think.
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  #28  
Old 09-01-2017, 06:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewG View Post
If you're willing to wait 9 months+ for a guitar who's sound you have no idea of until it is built, go for it. I tried this with a well-respected British luthier whose demonstration model sounded lovely. Unfortunately my finished guitar sounded nothing like it, despite being a fine instrument, and was quickly moved on. A very expensive lesson learned, never to be repeated....
These are some of the concerns that I'd have were I inclined to dip my toe into the made-to-order market. It's kind of like if I was to order a beer from one of these establishments that is overloaded with selections from craft and microbreweries. One is supposed to know what he likes and all the current beer adjectives, but my tendency would be to simply order something that tasted like Coors or Miller Light....
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  #29  
Old 09-01-2017, 06:49 AM
ChrisE ChrisE is offline
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I've toured the Martin factory and saw a lot of human hands making guitars. Of course they had help from a lot of lasers and robot hands.

Back to the topic, I've never played a custom hand-built small shop guitar and I honestly don't think my ears and skills are such that I could even tell a difference between it and a mass-produced guitar like Taylor or Martin.

Which brings me to another question--I see all the time on the guitar forums "Never buy a guitar without playing it first." How does that apply to custom guitars?
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Last edited by ChrisE; 09-01-2017 at 07:17 AM.
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  #30  
Old 09-01-2017, 06:52 AM
woody70 woody70 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jab.phila View Post
What was it like the first time you played or owned a handmade guitar? What was the guitar? How did it change your playing or how you thought about guitars?
The first I played was my dads old Ramirez 1a. It didn't influence me much, but I could appreciate is big and beautiful sound. I was also very young at the time, so wasn't skillful enough to really make good use of it (it's a guitar with extra long scale length and pretty high action - built for huge volume and concert performance - not a good guitar for beginners).
The first I owned myself - and still my favourite - is a McIlroy A16. It is very responsive, and it has made me able to play things I never could before. I suddenly had a guitar where I barely had to touch the strings to make a lot of sound, and this effortless play was a big change for me. It has a rather crisp and bright sound, so I had to start taking extra care of my nails to balance it. It is also the guitar which made me start tuning down a semitone and use capo a lot, because I found it sounds more mellow and beautiful that way, and it really shines in a different way with a capo a few frets up (which also means I am able to play some positions I couldn't play without a capo). This habit I have now also transferred to my other guitars.
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