Interview with Ron Kirn

I don't know Ron as well as I wish I did. While I don't always agree with him, his style always cracks me up. And the guy knows his stuff. Ron has a beautiful website at that you should definitely go visit. It is pure eye candy for the guitar lover.

But Ron is not *only* about eye candy, as you will see in this interview! The man speaks his mind, displays a great sense of humor, and on top of that, is a published expert when it comes to guitar building.

My thanks to Ron for readily accepting to contribute to our site with this interview.

Ron Kirn Interview

1. Please state any relevant biographical information you wish to share.

Well, I’m 60, old, fat and bald; I don’t smoke, drink or cuss, whu da.. what gives, Oh Shi* I left me G** D*** cigarettes at the bar…. Daymmm. . . I have a chronically wry sense of humor too, and I am absolutely not Politically Correct, I find a PC dialogue as offensive as a good Cuban Cigar would be at a Stop Global Warming convention.

When asked by the bag boy at the Grocery store, Plastic or Paper? I say plastic, the bags are great, you can flush ‘em down the commode, they go out into the river, the Manatees swallow ‘em, get choked, become part of the food chain, problem solved, and boaters can water ski again. Of course I’m not welcomes in Jimmy Buffett’s Restraint in Key West anymore.

2. Ron, please talk to us some more about that gig working on Roy Orbison's guitar as a young lad!

That happened pretty much by chance. A local guitarist, Ray Holmes worked for the local Fender dealer, Marvin Kay’s Music Center. I hung around like a fly in a cow pasture. Ray would show me “stuff” about the guitar, and despite there being at least a 30 year difference in age, we became pretty good friends. Back then, the local Pop Rock station, WAPE, would have what was called Big Ape Conventions. They were rock concerts much like you see in the movie about Ritchie Valens, where a traveling troupe of acts would hit a town, do a one night stand, and split for the next show in the morning. I still have my Big Ape Club card, necessary for admission.

This time it was Roy Orbison, Johnny and the Hurricanes, and a couple of other acts I have long since forgotten. Roy, or his “people”, had dropped off his #1 for a tune up. Ray asked if I wanted to make a few bux, I said, “Sure” and he handed it over…All I really recall was the action was awful, I mean like ¼ inch or thereabouts. I made it playable, and he was happy. Ray said he didn’t really play much back then, he just used it as a prop, but it WAS Roy’s axe, and I was in business. But in all reality, I was more excited about working on A guitar then working on Roy’s guitar. I was a Kid.

3. Ron, what pushed you to open shop? What is the Ron Kirn Guitar philosophy?

It was a long evolutionary process. Like most, I had other “primary” jobs. Our family had to eat too. This brought me into contact with many guitarists, who like most guitarist also had to have a “real” job. During my tenure at a local TV station many acts would come in for taping for the various locally produced shows. I would invariably gravitate toward conversation with whoever showed with a guitar. They would start talking about the ills of their particular guitar. I would wind up working on it and surprising them.

When I was a kid, this was any time when I was younger than 50, whenever I would hook up with a band, I would wind up working on every one’s guitar, doing everything from repairs to complete refinishing.

Now, don’t flame me, this was long before the vintage craze, and it was quite common to find refinished Teles and Strats all over the place. Today I almost beg customers not to modify their old guitars, telling them to consider who will own this baby in 30 years.

By the early 70’s, I had become very good friends with C. A. Turner, owner of The American Music Store, an Icon here in Jacksonville. He had been teaching me about maintaining and repairing Martins, Gibsons, Banjos, and about anything else that had several strings stretched across it. Thus it became easy to suggest to the guitarists that they check with Mr. Turner (every one knew him) about my abilities. As a result, I developed a little cottage industry converting beaters into pretty darn nice playing guitars. Word spread, and things just fell into place.

Also by this time I had made some guitars, but back then it was quite a task, there were no Warmoths, no, USACGs, etc, and getting parts could be a Herculean task. Stew Mac was about the only place to get parts, and they were junk back then, But by the 80’s I had found Ken Warmoth, and we got to be pretty good phone buds, so now, because of the availability of components, making custom guitars became a real possibility. I jumped on the opportunity.

Initially I really didn’t think much about why I wanted to make guitars. I only know how to make ‘em one way. I just figured everyone was using the same methods. But as they fell into the hands of well known guitarists around Jacksonville, guys started calling me, not being crazy, I said OK.

Which brings us to the Ron Kirn Philosophy, and I have mentioned this in the various forums etc. As said above, I only know one way to make a guitar, I begin, and I do not stop, until it is complete. Compare that with about any of the “Big Guys”. I ask, is a guitar complete if it is delivered to you with 1/8 inch action at the first fret? Or is it complete if you can slide your car key under the first string at the 20th fret. Heck No. That means some manufacturer assembled the parts, that’s it. They did not take the additional steps required to transform an assemblage of guitar parts into a musical instrument. That is a statement no one can make about my guitars. None, Nada, Zip, ZERO. If I get a complaint, it’s because the damn action is TOO fast.

It doesn’t matter what the finish is like, what the color is, even what the various parts are, if it’s not completely setup, this includes the labor intensive fret leveling, crowning and polishing, it is NOT a guitar, it is a guitar kit, and you, the buyer, have assumed the responsibility to complete what the manufacturer started. That is a pretty lame way to sell a guitar. It destroys a large part of the market because a kid buys his 300 buck Squire, it’s not intonated, and has really lousy action, in 6 weeks of trying to learn C, F, and G7 he gets disappointed, chunks the Squire in the closet, and never really considers trying again. So, there’s a dozen guitars he would buy in his lifetime gone by the board. If the manufacturer had made a half hearted attempt at COMPLETING the guitar that story would have a different ending.

4. How is your company and its offerings different from the competition?

See the above or visit my site My guitars come to you as though I built them for my own personal use, and I’m anal about my personal guitars. I never want to be in a room of guitarists and have one walk up and ask if I was the jerk that made this POS (Piece of Caca), so I don’t make a POS. . Period. Now, I’m not the only independent builder with that philosophy, but there are NO large manufacturers with it.

I have seen photos of guitars made by other builders that I simply would not put my name on. Crooked pickguards and bridges? C’mon. Finishes that look like Orange peel. . . what’s that about? And the guitars made by the Big F, so let’s be specific because the Tele and Strat are what I do most, are a total joke. It is so obvious to anyone with a high level of understanding about the mechanical aspects of a guitar that they are far more interested in your money than they are their reputation. I could write a book on this one.

I’m not so cocky to claim my guitars are the best in the world, the World is a pretty big place, but, I will state, mine are on a very short list with those that are. I get a lot of positive feedback from guys that have enjoyed the privilege of playing some very nice instruments who have played one of mine, not to recognize I’m on the right track.

5. Please explain your creative process. How do you decide on the next guitar that you will build?

Well I will be out and around, see something beautiful, like a 24 year old redhead walking, wearing out a pair of designer jeans from the inside out, and I’ll think.. Oh. . I shouldn’t say that….. I’ll think, Versace blouse, Donna Karan Jeans, Ferragamo heels, umm, umm, umm… I think I’ll go make a Strat… For those I just offended.. get off it.. get real.. There isn’t a guy anywhere that picked up a guitar and formed a band initially, for any other reason than the chicks love it and I do love looking at a beautiful Woman. Thank you God.

Now, really, a lot of my inspiration comes from the same place Leo got his, from automobiles. The original Fender colors were all from the auto finishing industry. So I will see some automobile with a spectacular finish, and go for it.

On the site, you will see a yellow Strat. That Strat was inspired by a Yellow Ferrari I would see around town. It was as beautiful as the 24 year old redhead mentioned above that was driving it. That was an easy inspiration.

Then I will see, well it could be anything, and wonder if that could be adapted to a guitar. I’ll go get lost in the shop, in a pile of sawdust, and after a few hours, if it works, GREAT, if not, well, that sucked.

See, guitars are not rocket science. If you read the advertising for Fender, Gibson or whoever, they sure want you to think so. They want you to believe there is created with some mystical creative mojo or some Muse has to sit on your shoulder guiding you through the process and if the luthier isn’t offering up burnt nitro coated Stika Spruce, Rosewood and Vintage Pickups, he can’t build a thing. My books say different, and the readers have proved it. Ya know, there are several pretty high profile independent builders that began with my books. And, don’t ask please, I’m not going to say who; there is enough of that kinda stuff going on with 2 weeks till the election.

So, in a nut shell, inspiration can come from anything.

6. What is your philosophy when it comes to guitar finishes?

Since I do custom builds, my philosophy is, if you want it, you got it. I’ll share the various aspects of the different finishes, but you can have what you want.

Now there is a world of mumbo jumbo going around about nitrocellulose lacquer vs. polyurethanes, there is no definitive evidence supporting either. The bottom line, Nitro is traditional, Poly is contemporary. It is super tough. Me? I like Nitro, I’m a traditionalist.

What really gets me peeved, is the way the manufacturers are using the topic to sell guitars, they lie. Some would call it spin, or advertising hype, but in my world, when you say or print something with the intent of steering the consumer to an incorrect opinion, that’s a lie. Many have read my commentary about finishes, here’s a reprint:

Now a word about Nitrocellulose lacquer among other things.

While there are superb guitars available today, they will never be the equivalent of the 1950 originals. The reason. . . The finish. . . while it may be Nitrocellulose Lacquer, it is NOT the Nitrocellulose of the 50s and 60s.

Those finishes were true nitrocellulose lacquers. The body had to be sprayed, hung up to dry and re-sprayed. This was repeated several times. It was then set aside for several weeks to air dry and harden before final polishing.

Today finishes are Nitrocellulose BASED. This is a completely different formulation. It uses a completely different binder that can be chemically altered by light, radiation or what ever other accelerant the manufacturer chooses for his production line. The DRYING happens via a chemical catalyst contained in the Lacquer so that it occurs in a few minutes. Thus, the Nitro used today really is not much different from the urethanes used on the Wal-Mart specials which also use chemically modified finishes.

Catalyzed finishes feel like plastic because that is what they are, pick up a true Nitro finished guitar and the finish feels alive, kinda like the skin of a 23 year old foxette. It is immediately recognizable.

In the world of advertising and marketing the word Lacquer has become a more generic term representing a sprayed finish, not a specific formulation. The Federal Trade Commission determines what a word means when used in the context of advertising. (For instance, the word Real, as in Real Chocolate, has been determined to have NO MEANING, where as Genuine does even though that use is abused.) Therefore because there may be some nitrocellulose components (made from wood cells) in the solution, it may be called Nitrocellulose. And since the word lacquer is used generically today, you will see the term Nitrocellulose Lacquer. Thus it is called nitrocellulose lacquer even though is bears nothing in common with the DuPont Duco or other similar genuine nitrocellulose lacquer finishes used in the 50s and early 60s, even though suggesting a misleading similarity is exactly why the word nitrocellulose is used by the manufacturer.

Take the procedure used today, a guitar can be finished in chemically modified coatings in a fraction of the time it takes to finish in lacquer, so they will take one finished in polyurethane, and give it a coat of Nitro Lacquer, and tell you it is Nitro Finished, well sure it is, but the urethane complete destroys the benefits someone would choose Nitrocellulose for.

Why would they do that you ask? Because time and labor are the most expensive components in manufacturing a guitar. It costs a guitar manufacturer far more to have a guitar assembled and painted than it does to put Joe Barden pickups in it. Anything that can be done to expedite the manufacturing process reduces the overall cost of production; and, more important, since you WANT a nitrocellulose lacquer finish, if they can make you think it is the same finish as that used 50 years ago. . Way cool, from the manufacturers marketing departments view point.

When you are producing almost a million guitars a year, saving even a few cents a unit represents big bux that drop to the bottom line. That is why during the 90s Fender was putting a thin veneer of Swamp ash or Alder over a Poplar core on the American made guitars and calling them solid. Well, they were solid, you looked at the guitar and you saw a solid piece of Ash on the top. Welcome to mentality of marketing 101. It only saved them about 75 cents a guitar, but just look at the bad rap they have received over the past 15 years because of that little move. They have spent far more than they saved on public relations recovering from the mistake.

In the world of manufacturing and marketing, “New and Improved” almost always means the manufacturer has incorporated manufacturing procedures that reduce the cost of making a product not in making it better for the consumer. Therefore it is “New” in the sense that the manufacturing procedure was not done before, and it is “Improved” since it now costs less to manufacturer.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that Fender had added to their site the comment regarding their nitro finishes, “Not applied over Polyurethane.” Ya know, I have no doubt that is correct, but considering their propensity for verbal distortion, it begs the question, what ARE they putting it over. Because it is not an air dried product. That simply takes way too long for a production oriented manufacturing plant, and there exists a myriad of catalytically hardened products that can be used.

My nitro finishes are nitro. They start with nitro. They finish with nitro. The only exceptions are, if the client asked for something different, or the finish simply cannot be done in nitro, and then I let the client know what’s going on his guitar, no sneaky little surprises. Oh, and the nitro I use was recommended to me by Mike Longwood of CF Martin. Years ago he wasn’t in the corporate headquarters, he was in some consumer oriented department, but I called and talked with him, thereafter we corresponded by mail quite a lot, it was during this time he put me on to the Sherwin Williams product. I have been using it ever since. I recommend it in my books.

Ahh. . . that’s enough about paint….

7. Do you have a funny, interesting anecdote about guitars that you would like to share?

Yeah, years ago, say about 1990, I had my personal Strat leaning against the wall when my nephew came buy. Now, he is an astounding guitarist, currently an adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Texas, a Classical Guitarists, and enrolled in the Doctorate program seeking a PhD in Music, so he ain’t no weekend hack, but like Yngwie, can rip an electric axe too. He is also a remarkable teacher of the guitar. So anyway, he was a LP, PRS kinda guy, and he dropped by. He was moving to Texas, and just wanted to say g’by. He saw my Strat, and said, “Oh is that one of your homemade guitars? Heheh Cute.” He picked it up and let ‘er rip. His comment, Whoa!!!!.. He still has that guitar and it’s his #1. And ya know, that happens time after time with name brand snobs that come buy to put down my “homemade” guitars, and go home with one. I love it.

8. How do you feel about the relic craze?

The same way Leo did. After FMIC bought the CBS Fender, they hired Leo as a consultant. His first bit of advice, “Build ‘em like I did”. This bit of advice was the origin of the Vintage Reissues. Well, due to a Japanese banker spending 25000 grand in the mid 80’s for a 20 year old (at that time) beat up Strat, and hanging it on the wall as art, the relic craze began, so FMIC took one and beat it up, showed it to Leo, and while I won’t repeat what I was told he said, it was something like “Why in the sh** would someone do that to a beautiful guitar?” (With many other colorful metaphors deleted). He didn’t care for ‘em, nether do I.

Now, if I see a 40 or 50 year old Strat or Tele, with chronic battle scars, I have deep respect for the heritage reflected in all those dings. I can’t help but wonder about all the gigs it played, the times a Father handed it over to his Son, or Grandfather to his Grandson. That kind of stuff is real. It’s like if you touch it you share in some small way with that history. That history really happened.

Relic is like Red, Blue or Sunburst, it’s only a finish option. It means nothing to me other than making the client happy. But to me it’s kinda like a lie. Red is real, Sunburst is real. Relic is F A K E! It’s supposed to say, “I have a history,” but it doesn’t have crap.

9. If you were to give hints and tips to a first-time guitar builder, what would it be?

Be honest with yourself. I have had guys email me asking questions that were indicative of a level of knowledge that would not get them through assembling anything. Really, they would not know which end of a hammer to smash their thumb with. I am honest with them and that alienates some. They think I’m a condescending prick. I just do not want anyone attempting to make a body using power tools that may be in a real danger of hurting themselves and I’m willing to sacrifice their opinion of me to save their hands. A router blade spins at about 25,000 rpm. The best of us have reflexes that happen in about ½ second. In that ½ second, a router blade can slice you about 200 times before you ever realize you are getting sliced, and receive the inspiration to remove what’s left of your fingers from whatever is slicing them. Didja ever try to play a guitar with nubs?

If you get past that test, buy quality parts, and take your time. Oh, be aware of the location of all your fingers relative to any running power tools at all time (see above). And If you are using one of my instruction books, don’t guess, email me, I will answer.

10. Please talk to us about your Telecaster templates.

Years ago, while refinishing a ’54 Tele, if I recall, I had the brain storm to make the masters for my own use. Later I did it with a ’62 Strat, then a Precision Bass, I used them to make bodies for my guitars. Then in the late 90’s eBay was becoming a household word, and one of my fiends I was building a Strat for had been pursuing his hobby, collecting autographs using eBay, and suggested I sell stuff.

At first I was selling Fender decals. I still had a box full that I had purchased 20 years before from a retired, now deceased Fender dealer/authorized repair facility. They were the real deal. Mark VanVleet, Fender’s lawyer, wasn’t too crazy about my enterprise so he kindly suggested I Cease & Desist. Since eBay was generating enough loose change to support my Golf habit, I looked for another item to offer. I wrote “Building the Ultimate Strat”, then “The Homespun Telecaster” and began offering them. They were an immediate success.

It wasn’t long before guys that had purchased the books were contacting me about all aspects of building Strats and Teles. Then one day while shaping a body, the light bulb went on, and I thought. . . I wonder. So I made a few sets, wrote a how to use ‘em book. And that took off.

As the gripes and complaints or requests for variations came in, I made a few changes to offer the best overall compromise, and those you see today are based on that ’54, with some changes that allow the builder to do what he would like. I intentionally keep some aspects cloistered, to weed out those that are simply not qualified to flip an “ON” switch on a power tool. If someone emails asking how to plug the router in because the wall socket has 2 slots on top and one on the bottom, but the plug has 2 on bottom and one on top, I know I better steer this guy away from the shop.

So that’s how the Template thing happened. When I first offered them I was the only place on the planet offering ‘em, I did an extensive search, now.. Well if being copied is the most sincere form of flattery, I’m flattered. That may sound arrogant, it’s not. Over the years I have made subtle changes, and what do ya know, shortly thereafter the same improvements would be seen in others offering their templates, go figure.

11. I know you from a site mostly dedicated to Telecasters. Is the Tele your favorite guitar? If yes, why? If not, which is, and why?

Actually my fav was the Strat, but that’s because my first serious guitar was a Strat, that has a special story but it’s told in my books so I won’t go into that. During the late 60’s and 70, I drifted into the “Folk” era, and I sold all my electrics and had a few acoustic Martins and Gibsons, and a Mastertone Banjo. But during that time I would visit Paulis Music and the American Music Store, since I was there anyway, and day dream about the Strats.. so I broke down and made my own, which led to making others.

I would work on Teles, but never really thought much about ‘em. Back then they were THE Country-Western guitar, and I was just way too cool to be a CW fan. I made a few but always went back to my Strat.

During the 90’s they were becoming much more popular. The Shredder’s delight with the Floyd Rose tremolos and locking nuts were loosing popularity and the more traditional vis-à-vis Teles and Strat were becoming THE guitars to have. Then I was contacted by a pretty high end guitarist in New York, he wanted a special Tele. I was happy to oblige. This guy was room mates in college with Grant Geissman, and currently plays occasionally with George Benson, Lee Ritenour and a few other guitarists that have been my Idols for years.

I had discovered a source for absurdly light and resonant lumber for the body, and that combined with a very full neck, and the Barden pickups, produced a guitar that absolutely stunned me with its voice. It compelled me to reassess the Tele, and pickups.

See, over the years, I had encountered a boatload of different pickups, and while any good quality pickup is far superior to the cheep little toys they put in the junk guitars, they all sounded pretty much alike, they all have a full robust sound, but other than that the differences were pretty subtle. I mean a well made traditional Strat always sounds like a Strat and the same is true of a Tele. The differences are subtle at best. That statement will foster another controversy I bet. Those Bardens just blew me away. Since then I have continually searched for a similar sound in a traditional looking pup. for those so interested. Now the Bardens are in production again and with the availability of Curtis’ pickups, all’s clear ahead. Those that want the Rail look can have it and those wanting a more traditional look are covered too.

So anyway, now I have as many personal Teles and I do Strats, I love ‘em all. I don’t really have a favorite anymore.

12. Ron, you build beautiful custom guitars. Can you describe the process? Do you build only on demand, or do you build "ahead"?

Man!! You sure you wanna go there, this is already 9 pages long. That would add another dozen alone. I would encourage you to go to my site it’s all spelled out in the “Details” section. I do build customs, or complete rebuilds, but when I’m in a lull I’ll create whatever I have been toying with in my head.

See, and this may hurt some people’s perception of me, but it’s the truth, this is all more a hobby to me, than a job, and that’s important in my overall philosophy because someone doing something as a hobby does it because he loves what he is doing, someone building something as a job would rather be somewhere else, doing something else. When I don’t have a guitar to work on, I get crazy antsy… and a new one is born.

Really, which would rather have, a Fender built by someone that showed up for work, punched the clock and waited for the morning break, or someone that couldn’t wait till the sun came up, so he could waddle out to the shop and make an object of love? If you gotta think about that one, you have real problems.

13. Visiting your gorgeous site at, I was drawn to the eye candy - i.e. the Gallery. Please talk about the "rocky" Strat!

Whoa! I loved doing that guitar, I was afraid Dr. Tim wasn’t going to move forward. So I just started making it ‘cause I wanted to, but Tim came through.

It began with Dr. Tim Lopez of Las Vegas buying one of my Teles. He loved it. Of course, me, being the cocky jerk I am, I wasn’t surprised. That’s a self deprecating joke guys.

So, shortly thereafter he contacted me about restoring a trashed Vox 12 string, a Tempest XII if I recall. I returned it to him for all practical purposes “New” and playing as nicely as the Tele he had purchased earlier. Tim was impressed and I was humbled that he thought so. You can read his review at

He asked about dong a “Rocky” because he was so tired of finding really poorly done copies done on Squire Guitars. He plays in a Beatles tribute band and is a pretty serious collector of quality guitars, thus he knows good from not so good. He needed something of professional quality he could use in their act.

Rocky took about a year to complete. Initially I recreated the Sonic blue Strats, he bought 2, George Harrison had purchased in ’62. This was the foundation for Tim’s Rocky.

I had to do extensive research to get the colors correct, and get detailed photos of the original. I was able to duplicate everything George Harrison was able to do including the latex Day-Glo paint and glitter paint. Because of incompatibility problems considerable time had to pass between the different types of paint.

The original Rocky is painted with latex, which has very poor adhesion properties when applied over nitro lacquer, so if you do you homework, you will see in earlier photos, Rocky has more “art” than later photos. This is because as George played it over the years, the latex would chip and flake off. This would not be acceptable to Tim or me, so once all the art was done, that’s hand art, I clear coated the body and also the pickguard, and so it will withstand the rigors of professional use. That is one hell-of-a nice playing guitar too.

14. If there is such a thing as a golden rule, or a set of golden rules, of building guitars, what do you think it is/they are?

There is only one, Build it like it’s the last one God will allow you to build, and it is the one for which you will be remembered.

15. What do you perceive are the challenges of running an independent third-party aftermarket shop?

Overcoming the pure BS the large manufacturers are propagating. You would actually think they give a hoot. See, FMIC is in business for exactly the same reason as Firestone Tires, Taylor Made Golf, Oscar Meyer Wieners, and Halston Perfume, that is, to convert your money into theirs. They just all use different media with which to accomplish their goal, and the less money they can spend making their respective products the more of your money becomes theirs. After they sell it, they don’t much give a Rat’s behind, and they sure don’t what to see you again. Especially if you aren’t happy, just check Fender’s warranty.

If Fender, et al, told the truth, all us independents would be overrun by orders, no one would want their stuff.

16. Is there a particular brand of pickups that you prefer when you build custom guitars?

Really. . . any good pickup is fine. When was the last time you saw a really great guitarist playing and walked out in the middle of the act because he was using the wrong pickups, amp, guitar cable, pedal, or wrong paint on the body or the body was made from the wrong wood? I don’t think so.

It all comes down to talent. If you got da chops, nobody’s gonna gripe about anything except the cover charge.

That’s why I can go off on a tangent in the forums when someone enters the “tone” fracas. I have seen guys replace every darn part of their guitars looking for a magic pill to make ‘em great. When for about 50 bux a month, they could get great lessons and make everyone in the club, stop, turn, watch ‘im play, and remember his name when the show’s over, and that’s what it’s all about, entertainment. The brand of pickups is a very small factor in that overall equation.

17. Anything currently in development that we should know about? Any new cool goodies for us to lust after?

I do have two projects or model lines I’m playing with. I’m trying to come up with sources for quality parts that can be incorporated in a guitar I can sell for under a thou that is worth the money. That’s a tough one. The logo will be a little cartoon character I have been drawing since I was a teenager. People should love it.

And another will be a very high-ender with a recurring paint scheme that will blow away the imagination, I’m not gonna give it away, because everyone is looking for a hook, and I wanna be first.

18. Ron, you wrote several books related to guitar building. (See Please talk about that process. What pushed you to do so? What should we know about your books?

I had been building guitars for quite a while. Many are amazed that any member of our species can do that, but I noticed that it doesn’t matter what you are doing, if you know how to do it, it’s pretty easy. I mean, Rubenstein never gripes, “May, I don’t wanna play Hyden, that stuff’s hard.” The same is true of a Neurosurgeon doing something within a patient’s cranium. You just do it if ya know how.

So I started taking precise notes of what I was doing as I was doing it, and put it into words. That’s about it. You may have noticed. . . I tend to be a tad wordy, a real asset when writing, so all the components fell together and out popped a book, then another, and another.

What pushed me to do so, was buying other books. I’m like most, and want to know what others are doing. But I rapidly noticed, there was much useless commentary, pretty, but totally useless photos, and virtually no real “how to” info.

Further exacerbating the problem was most either assumed you had $50,000.00 worth of luthier equipment, or were pushing products they sold.

Since I had been surviving since the 60’s with whatever tools my dad had around, he built boats as a hobby, I figured the average guy could throw together a “project” from Warmoth components and other hardware, without spending 500 bux on a neck alignment jug, and bunches on other “tools” they didn’t need.

My books are written for the amateur. That is A M A T E U R. I get a lot of crap from “know-it-alls” that didn’t read the ad and want to know why I don’t have a schematic for wiring a cross phase nucleonic stasis reflex platinum dork-a-flopper in a non shielded 1962 D'Angelico. C’mon guys can’t ya read. Amateurs don’t know anything about cross phase nucleonic stasis reflex platinum dork-a-floppers, perhaps they may know about the dual phase version but not the cross phase one… joke again. . . don’t Google it. But lots of guys buy a lot of parts and stuff, getting screwed along the way, then they realize they have no idea where to start, that’s where my books come in.

19. If you had to make a list of the top-10 best guitar tones out there, what artists/bands would make the list?

Eric Clapton, SRV, Danny Gatton, George Benson, George Benson, and George Benson, Earl Kluge, Lee Ritenour, Mark Knopfler, Man, this is like asking a 60 year old letch at a cheerleading contest, which has the tightest ass and the firmest boobs…... Man.. Oh… The Ventures . . daymmm…. They got me started… Frampton, Jimi, George Harrison, I’ll miss him as well as Chet…. And the Father of Pop guitar. . . Drum roll please. . . Mr. Les Paul…. And to cap it all off….. Taps for the Godfather who elevated the guitar from a rhythm thing thumping in the background, to a concert level instrument, Andrea’ Segovia.

As you can see I love it all…..there’s Roy Clarke, Julian Bream, and far too many others to name…. Best group ever… no contest… The Funk Brothers.. with James Jamerson at the bass…. Nobody will ever beat their record for being on the most of Billboard’s #1 hits, nobody, and ever is a long time.

20. Anything else you would like to add?

Oh hell yeah, but I’ve ticked off enough people by now, so I’ll let it rest.

I will close with this; I do not now, or ever have disliked Fender, Gibson or anyone making guitars. I just have a very low tolerance for absolute BS, and BS has become the currency of advertising during all our lifetimes.

Just look to the past to see what they were doing, Oh FMIC is still the Old CBS Fender, just do your research. If their foibles of the past are still business as usual, and they are, perhaps you may want to look elsewhere for your next guitar.
copyright 2006-2007