|Hoffee Cases||Manzer Wedge||Laskin Armrest||Rosettes||Rope Binding|
|Backstrap||Back and Sides Sets||Wood Details||Build Diary Book||Calendar|
I'm very pleased to announce that I'm offering the handmade, ultra lightweight and super protective Hoffee guitar case as an upgrade option with my instruments. These cases weigh approximately 10 pounds which is quite substantially lighter than traditional fiberglass flight cases. Both the exterior finish and interior plush comes in a variety of colours.The manufacture and all of the parts and hardware are made in the U.S.A. by Jeff Hoffee.
The price on these premium cases is not for the faint of heart (please email firstname.lastname@example.org) but having said that, the pricing is actually extremely competitive with regards to comparable carbon fiber cases currently on the market.
These cases started off as one of the best on the market, but now Jeff has improved them even more ... adding a slightly domed top and bottom and a larger accessory compartment (shown in the photo with a few sets of strings, polish cloth, string winder and tuning fork ... and still lots of room for more).
Check out Jeff Hoffee's punishing case impact tests on youtube here and here. Once you see the abuse that these cases can withstand, I think you'll agree with me when I say that they are without a doubt, the best possible flight-worthy cases on the market!
I've had some ideas rolling around in my head about neck joints for a while now, and decided to offer this option that employs what I'm calling the RFX (Raised Fingerboard eXtention) option. It's nothing radically new, but I'm loving the result.
It essentially is a raised/suspended fingerboard extension similar to what archtop guitars have been using for decades. I was also inspired by my friend Sergei deJonge's "Jazz Nylon" model's fingerboard extension. With a traditional fingerboard extension that is glued to the top, you have to allow for the fact that the top moves up and down (taking the fingerboard extension with it) with humidity changes ... AND allow for the fact that as the guitar settles in, the neck angle comes up a bit. To compensate for both of these phenominons, you have to plane the fingerboard extension lower ... creating higher action in the upper registers of the fingerboard. With this RFX, you can make the upper frets perfectly in line with the rest of the fingerboard.
This neck joint also is a "pinned dovetail" ... a traditional dovetail joint that employs a single bolt to hold the male and female dovetail components together rather than glue. What this means is that by removing one bolt, the neck comes off very very quickly and easily. Why is this a big deal? It means that as the guitar settles in over the next few decades, rather than shaving the saddle (or bridge) to achieve comfortable action, the neck of the guitar can be popped off and re-angled to maintain a healthy saddle height.
I’m getting more and more customers who are used to the sound of a large guitar, but are starting to have issues with their right shoulders, reaching over a large and deep lower bout for long periods of time. The solution to this problem was conceived by my buddies Linda Manzer and Tony Duggan-Smith in 1984, and initially implemented by Linda on the famous Pikasso guitar commissioned by Pat Metheny at that time.
So what is the Manzer Wedge? By making the sides of the guitar shallower on the lower bass bout but deeper on the lower treble bout, the instrument maintains the same internal air volume while offering enhanced comfort for the player. Ingenious!
With Linda’s permission, I’ve just started offering the Manzer Wedge as an option on my instruments. Typically, my version is fairly subtle, with just a 10mm differential between the depths of the bass and treble lower bouts … which translates into a very noticeable increase in playing comfort!
Back in the mid '80s my friend William "Grit" Laskin originated the acoustic guitar "armrest" or "bevel" and the concept has been adopted by almost every major luthier in the world. The concept is simple and brilliant ... make a softer edge on the guitar body where your right arm rests ... I love it!
I now offer two rosette styles ... on the left is a spalted maple rose, inspired by Sergei de Jonge ... and on the right is an abalone shell rosette. It's simply a matter of what you like the looks of the most!
There's a couple of ways I like to bind the Remuda and NL-1 models ... both involving what is generally called a wood "rope" border. I typically refer to the main outer protective body trim as "binding" and any inner decorative trim as "marquetry".
Using this nomenclature then, the photo below left shows the main outer binding with a rope patterned binding ... ie you can see the rope pattern from the front and side. The photo to the right shows the same rope pattern, but as an inner decoration which is often refered to as "checkered marquetry".
This is all just semantics of course. I mention this distinction just so that my customers and I are both on the same page when we are discussing details of their order.
I offer the option of a rear peghead veneer (often referred to as a "backstrap") that matches the back, sides and front peghead veneer. This is purely an aesthetic consideration. There is an upcharge for this feature, as it involves more labour.
Madagascar Rosewood (Dalbergia Barroni)
I purchased a half dozen sets of this gorgeous tonewood years ago. It is getting increasingly difficult to procure sets of this quality ... so once these sets are gone, they're gone.
Madagascar not only looks similar to Brazilian rosewood, but it has a similar density and that classic bell-like tap tone. I'm loving the response that I'm getting out of this tonewood!
Royal Macassar (Diospyros celebica)
This gorgeous tonewood is indigenous to Southeast Asia. With its dramatic grain patterns and extremely lively tap tone, Macassar has become more and more in demand by both custom luthiers and players looking for a complex layered tonality.
The Macassar trees grow up to 65 feet in height. The trunk can grow up to 1.5 feet in diameter, which is why often, sets display some of the contrasting sapwood. The basic specific gravity of .89 puts the density of this species right up there with Cocobolo ... another genus coveted by guitar builders.
When I asked my supplier what distinguishes "Royal" Macassar from other types of Diospyros celebica, he replied that "Royal is one of the many varieties of macassar found in SE Asia. One island over we have black and tan and green colors (Malaysian blackwood) the next island, more black and white (typical Macassar), the next is the purple, green, black (the Royal), etc. A little hybridization going on, micro climates, soil, along with made up names to distinguish the varieties, but all ebonacea."
Hawaiian Koa (Acacia Koa)
Although Monkey Pod and Mango are also exported from Hawaii, koa remains the most in-demand hardwood from this small island chain. Because a lot of the accessable trees have been cleared for grazing pastures, koa is getting more and more difficult to procure, and consequently, quite expensive.
Acacia trees can grow up to 100 feet in height and 5 feet in diameter and because the tagential shrinkage is nearly the same as its radial movement, this species is quite stable with regards to humidity changes.
The appearance of koa can range from grey-brown to vibrant golden and chocolate brown colours ... and can sometimes be found with quite nice flame figure, such as the set that I photographed above.
With a Basic Specific Gravity of .53, this beautiful species has a similar density to tropical mahogany. I absolutely love the sound that I get from koa ... with a very sweet midrange, somewhere between mahogany and rosewood, and an ultra-sensitive overall response!
Pomelle Quilt Sapele (Entandrophragma cylindricum)
This African species has been used as a substitute for South American mahogany and has even been called Sapele mahogany even though it is not in the Swietelia or Khaya genera. The Sapele tree can grow up to 150 feet high with a trunk diameter of three to five feet. With a Basic Specific Gravity of .55, this wood is very comparable in density to tropical mahogany.
Years ago I was able to purchase a half dozen sets of the most dramatically quilted Sapele that I have seen. Not only is the figure deep and well defined, but the overall colour of the wood is a very appealing medium brown ... and it has a tap tone that is very lively indeed!
Figured Oregon Myrtle (Umbellularia californica)
Also called California Bay Laurel, this species grows on the coastal regions of southwest Oregon and central California. The trees can grow from 80 to 100 ft (24-30 m) tall and from 2 to 4 ft (.6-1.2 m) in trunk diameter. These back and sides sets have a similar density to tropical mahogany (a basic specific gravity of .51) which gives me a tonal response that I really quite like personally!
he set that I photographed below has a nice showing of brown sapwood as well as some quite deep flame figure!
Ziricote (Cordia Dodecandra)
Indigenous to Central America and Mexico, Ziricote not only has similar spider-web grain appearance to Brazilian rosewood, but also shares almost identical density specifications (Basis Specific Gravity of .7). The Ziricote tree often grows in excess of fifty feet high and 3 feet in trunk diameter.
The photo below shows a magnificent set that I pulled from my stash with all of the attributes that I covet in this prized tonewood species ... nicely bookmatched grain with very distinctive and defined dark grain configuration, a gorgeous chocolate brown overall patina, a hint of sapwood for character... and a tap tone that just rings like Big Ben!
Cocobolo (Dalbergia Retusa)
With a Basic Specific Gravity of .89, this appealing looking species is one of the densest tonewoods utilized for back and sides material. The tap tone of Cocobolo is almost invariably very very lively with a surprising sustain characteristic. The set pictured below almost sounds as clear and distinct as hitting a marimba with a mallet ... I can't wait to make a guitar from this amazing wood!
Cocobolo trees can grow up to sixty feet in height and are found growing in Central America, with trunk diameters ranging up to two and a half feet in diameter.
Spalted Mango (Mangifera Indica)
Mango has been traditionally used in the fabrication of high end ukuleles, and is now finding its' way into the world of handmade guitars. The trees are found in Tropical Asia and Indonesia, and are often 80-100 feet tall with a trunk diameter of up to 4' in diameter!
With a Basic Specific Gravity of .55, this wood has the same density of tropical mahogany ... one of my favorite tonewoods. The set pictured below features some striking bookmatched spalting, that will look superb when set off with contrasting dark bindings and marquetry!
The folks who have have taken delivery of my instruments in the last couple of years realize that once my build process begins, they receive daily updates in the form of emailed image files. I am now offering these photos in the form of both softcover or hardcover books as a permanent record of your custom guitar commission. The pricing below represents my cost in U.S. dollars for the different formats. Click on the image above to see a sampling of a "Build Diary".
Prices do not include shipping from my shop to you (if applicable). Books include approx 22 photos (typically 1 per page). Add $1.00 for each extra page if desired.
Introducing the "Any-Twelve-Month Guitar Calendar". This is not a January to December thing ... for example, if you order your calendar in April 2012, it will be delivered to you with the months May 2014 through April 2015 so that you can order any time of the year and get a full 12 months of use. You can choose any 12 images from the selection below (they are numbered in the top left of the image). There will be photo options added every month. The price is $29.95 plus postage.
These calendars are printed on quality thick paper stock, measure 13" x 20 3/4" when hung on the wall, and come with attractive packaging and a sturdy shipping box (i.e. easy to wrap for a present).
So, how do you order one of these artifacts of shameless self-promotion?