Frequently Asked Questions
About Acoustic Guitar

 

Who Makes Top Quality Acoustic Guitars...Cont.?

Luthiers
There are a lot of custom guitar manufacturers.  Here is a list of the more popular and respected names in the art and business of producing hand-made acoustic guitars, plus a few of the smaller, "up and coming" Luthiers.  For a more complete list see, Jason Nieh's Guitar Notes.

  • Alberico Guitars
    Fabrizio Alberico makes guitars that possess the responsiveness, balance, dynamic range, and complexity of tone that fingerstyle players demand.  He works on no more than two guitars at a time, and yearly production is limited to 18 instruments.  He is minimally "jigged up," allowing him to easily accommodate individual players' needs and preferences for neck shapes, fingerboard widths, scale lengths, and string spacing.  His guitars possess a tastefully understated aesthetic.  Rather than relying on inlay for embellishment, he carefully selects and uses materials in a way that emphasizes their inherent natural beauty.
  • Allen Guitars
    Randy Allen began repairing stringed instruments in 1980 and in 1982 built his first guitar. Over the years his love for the craft has expanded to include Mandolins and Resophonic Guitars.  His hand-crafted instruments offer beauty, combined with exceptional tonal quality. Every Allen instrument is individually hand-crafted.   Nothing is mass-produced.  The hand carving of the braces, the painstaking and careful construction process create a signature sound that we are sure you will love.   Superior performance is evident in the full rich tone and the beautiful string to string balance will inspire you throughout a lifetime.   All models feature high quality tonewoods, air dried, aged and individually selected for each instrument.
  • Evergreen Mountain Instruments
    Evergreen Mountain Instruments, owned and operated by luthier and repairman, Jerry Nolte, has been producing hand crafted stringed instruments since 1971.  Jerry specializes in customizing his hand-built instruments to fit individual musical preferences and playing styles at affordable prices. Guitar selections include six string, twelve string, tenor and bass. Mandolins are all 'A' style. Traditional in many design considerations, EMI guitars and mandolins have the look and feel of individually crafted instruments.  Clients participate in standard option selections such as wood, body size, string spacing, action, and decorative appointments used. Wood choices include many that are native to the Pacific Northwest. They are resawn from selected stock, air dried and graded at EMI in Cove, Oregon. Jerry's preferred finish is a hand rubbed violin varnish.  Each instrument comes with a guarantee for customer satisfaction, sound and workmanship. Custom hardshell cases are available for all instruments.
  • Mauel Handcrafted Guitars
    2 GuitarsEvery instrument is made from the highest quality tone woods, premium soundboards, beautiful inlays of shell and wood, all finished in high gloss lacquer.  Top braces are scalloped and incorporate an advanced x-brace to enhance the clear, ringing sound of every note and chord while developing outstanding volume and projection.  Construction practices ensure that the full character of each instrument will be realized.
  • Olson
    James A. Olson ("Jim") has been handcrafting acoustic flattop guitars since about 1977.  His instruments began getting national attention in the mid 1980s, after Phil Keaggy commissioned the first cedar-topped Olson guitar and began playing Olson guitars almost exclusively on his acoustic albums.  In the early 1990s, James Taylor purchased three of Jim's guitars; through Taylor's visibility, Olson guitars became known and prized by a wide variety of players around the world.  Today an impressive number of well-known players in styles spanning fingerstyle to bluegrass to pop are proud Olson owners, including Leo Kottke, Russ Barenberg, Sting, and many others.    But most of the 60 or so guitars Jim is able to build each year go to players of less renown, although of perhaps equally discriminating taste!
  • Kevin Ryan Guitars
    Kevin Ryan began his life of woodworking early as a carpenter in Ohio, graduated to cabinet-making and eventually building fine custom furniture.  The qualifications and talents for a craftsman with old-world attention to detail drew Ryan ultimately into the aerospace industry.  The task of crafting exacting, intricate models in wood and steel to test in wind-tunnel laboratories became an important stepping stone for this blooming luthier.   Considering the aesthetics of guitar design and form, Ryan is a traditionalist.   Although new shapes will emerge in the years to come, the one and only model Kevin currently offers is adapted loosely from the beautiful Gibson J-185.   Examples of his attention to detail are evident inside and out.  Although the body silhouette is rather traditional, Ryan has stamped his individualistic imprint on many areas of this model he calls the Mission Grand Concert.  From the elegant Olsonesque headstock to a dramatic, highly arched back (with other Ryan touches too numerous to describe), this guitar is really of its own kind.
  • Gerald Sheppard Guitars
    Gerald graduated from East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology. He went on to work for 10 years as a designer and 10 years as a quality management consultant for a large chemical company. Gerald understands the subject of quality. He has applied it to his guitar making processes and it shows! But he also knows that you can't automate time honored craftsmanship!  That's why Sheppard guitars are as beautiful to behold as they are to hear and are made of best quality materials available.

    Gerald has been repairing and refinishing and building guitars for twenty years. He started building exclusively in 1993. Owning a fine instrument from the time he was a child has both spoiled and trained Gerald's ear for fine tone.

Resonators
And then there are the Resonator guitars, which vary in construction.  Some are metal bodied, while others are wood.   These instruments were first created in the era of the Hawaiian and Jazz Bands, prior to electrical amplification.  All sorts of musicians, Hawaiian, jazz and blues, wanted louder guitars: to be able to be heard alongside horns; to project out into music halls or smokey night clubs; or, to be the loudest guitar on the street corner.    In response to this need, the mechanically amplified resonator guitar was created.  Here are two of the top manufacturers for these unique instruments. 

  • Allen Guitars
    Randy Allen began repairing stringed instruments in 1980 and in 1982 built his first guitar. Over the years his love for the craft has expanded to include Mandolins and Resophonic Guitars.  His hand-crafted instruments offer beauty, combined with exceptional tonal quality. Every Allen instrument is individually hand-crafted.   Nothing is mass-produced.  
  • Beltona Resonators
    Beltona is a New Zealand based maker of high quality resonators.  Beltona is a partnership between Steve Evans and Bill Johnson that began in the UK in 1990.  Beltona is a small and highly specialized enterprise which relies on the individual and complementary skills of these two people who are committed to the uniqueness of each instrument and to the development of resonator instruments generally.
  • Dobro
    Gibson Musical Instruments acquired O.M.I. in 1993, and since then O.M.I. has brought together all the best qualities of the original wood body and metal body resonator instruments, plus new models designed for slide guitar playing, into a modern line that offers a DOBRO® guitar or bass for every musical style and taste.
  • DONMO Resonator Guitars
    Don Morrison is an Australian based builder of very affordable single and tricone resonators.   In Don's words "I've always wanted a shining, loud, magnificent metal bodied Dobro or National guitar. After more than twenty years of playing bottleneck style guitar I decided to make one myself. So began a process of experimentation and research that has led to the DONMO Resonator Guitar."
  • Johnson Resonators
    Both of these brands of resonators are owned by the German company AMI-GmbH.  These instruments are made in a number of different factories depending on the model, but most of these are
    now made in factories in China.
  • Liberty Guitars
    Liberty Guitars is a Florida based maker of affordable resonators.
  • Republic Resonators
    Republic reso-phonic line of instruments are made by hand, using the same materials as used on the original reso-phonic guitars of the late 1920's. The style and methods of construction are also the same.  The sound and playability are as close as you can get to that of the original designs.
  • National Resophonic
    National Resophonic is dedicated to re-creating the look, the sound and the feel of the old Nationals and, in addition, creating new looks and louder sounds than ever before.   These instruments are used by slide players and finger-pickers in many musical genres: Hawaiian, blues, country, bluegrass, folk and world music.

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