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Editor’s Highlights

Brian Setzer The Stray Cats’ recent return to recording yielded an absolute firecracker of an album. Setzer shares his rockabilly secrets on p62

cover: les paul logo © Gibson Brands, Inc

Falcon’s Flight The fabled White Falcon was Gretsch’s attempt to out-do Gibson’s opulent Super 400 and this rare bird still impresses today. We join the flock on p68

Audacious Auden We journey over to Northamptonshire to find out how Auden is turning out fantastic acoustic guitars with an independent spirit p122

August 2019 Guitarist


The Price Of Experience

This month, I embarked on building my first acoustic guitar – a factory kit issue by Martin (see feature, p76). And it was an education in more ways than one. Aside from learning many useful and practical skills (such as how to sharpen a plane properly), the process threw fresh light on issues that guitarists have to weigh up when they’re considering what guitar to buy.

First, many people wonder what the premium price tag of a handmade guitar actually buys. As consumers, it’s arguable

that guitarists have become a bit blasé about pearl inlays, fancy binding and the like, taking it for granted. But each of these processes takes time and care to get right and all of that has a cost attached to it – especially if you don’t have CNC machines and laser-cutters to make certain stages of production faster and more efficient. Even for big names such as Gibson, putting multi-ply binding on a guitar still has to be done by hand using a painstaking, artisanal process. So that’s partly where your money goes. But as I worked alongside skilled luthier Alex Bishop, I also came to realise that what your money really buys is experience and judgment. The time the luthier has invested in learning their craft is reflected in small but cumulative good decisions that add up to a fine instrument. From shaping braces until the top is both resonant and stable, to making sure every glue joint is snug and strong, it is the luthier’s personal attention to every aspect of the build that matters. And the reward is a guitar that can be a companion for life, that grows with you. Viewed in those terms, the cost is often more than justified. So if you get a chance to make your own guitar, I thoroughly recommend it – it will give you fresh respect for what guitar makers, big and small, achieve with every single guitar they make.

For now, please keep sending in pictures of your own homemade guitars and we’ll celebrate them by printing the best in the mag. Enjoy the issue.

Jamie Dickson Editor