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Lefty's Custom Guitars

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Classical, Flamenco, parlor, archtop, solid body electric, steel string. I build them all to your exact specification.

Archtop Guitars

The archtop guitar is the ultimate in carved top and back stringed musical instruments. The sheer size and complexity of the soundboard offers an incredible array of acoustic options. Most that I build are the standard 6-string version but there is no limitation to building ones with 12 strings to provide amazing sounds. Though most archtops have an electronic pickup installed, the powerful projection of these instruments enables the player to accompany solid body instruments with little or no amplification. Most that I build are fitted with K&K piezoelectric sensors built specially for this instrument type. I have found that though these instruments require far more labor than the standard flattop guitar or mandolin they are actually easier to custom tune.

 

 

This is a Signature grade archtop guitar that is one of my standard designs. The top is 34 lpi Carpathian Spruce and the sides and back are curly Red Maple. The 3-piece neck is made from rock hard Sugar Maple laminated with two strips of Ebony. The tuning machines are Schaller in black. The peghead veneer, Sacconi tailpiece, bridge, pick guard and fretboard are of flawless Ebony. The 8 art-deco inlays are cut from gold and white pearl. This instrument is fitted with a K&K pickup made especially for arch top jazz guitars.

 

 

Custom Steel String Guitars

I have built every type and shape of steel string guitar, both standard and cutaway versions, with both 12th and 14th fret to the body using the Spanish system of construction where the root of the neck is the core around which the body is constructed. The 12th fret to the body 000 size has been the most popular, which I build with a rim height of 4.00 at the bottom and 3.40 at the neck and a 25.45 fret scale. The soundboard arch has a 15 ft radius and the backboard a 25 ft radius. This body configuration is excellent for bluegrass and country western playing styles with minor changes to bracing strength and string selection.

I also build parlor, 12- string, tenor(plectrum) guitars, ukuleles in several sizes and guitar-shaped mandocellos.

Over the years I have developed a soundboard bracing system for the steel string 000 guitar family similar to but slightly different from the Martin format. I have found that this bracing design provides very precise bass and treble tuning adjustment. Shown below is a standard right-handed soundboard. The treble side X-brace (upper in photo) is slightly stiffer than the bass to both increase its' resonant frequency and more aggressively resist the forces imposed when the bass strings are attacked vigorously. Note that the X-braces are supported by vertical bars that connect to the back as well as stiffen the rim. The cross bar nearest the tail block serves as a secondary tuning adjustment by trimming the appropriate end to lower either treble or bass resonant frequency. I use this bracing format on all steel string instruments unless specifically directed to use another. There is one other subtle structural item; note the small angle brace extending from the neck to the soundboard. This little brace helps transmit string vibrations from the neck to the soundboard.

 

This is my standard  000 guitar that sells for $2,000 to $2,500 depending on wood,trim and inlays. This particular guitar was tuned for country western music and has a Sitka Spruce soundboard (though I also use Englemann and Carpathian Spruce), Curly Red Maple back, neck and rim with either Ebony or Rosewood fretboard, bridge, peghead veneer and heel cap. The lower bout is 15.5 inches and the upper bout is 10.25, a bit narrower than many production instruments. It has a double action truss rod adjusted through the sound hole. I have found that a 4 inch diameter sound hole coupled with this upper bout size improves treble response without diminishing bass. The rosette is Ebony/Maple herringbone pattern and the binding is Ebony with Ebony/Maple/Ebony/Maple perfling. The finish on this particular instrument is lacquer buffed to a high gloss all over but on many, I use the French polish method on the soundboard. The nut and bridge saddle are bone as are the string pins. This guitar has nickel Grover tuners and phosphor bronze D'Addario  EJ16 strings.

Here is a brief sound track of a similar instrument.

A closeup of one of my many trim options.

Conversion of a Right-Hand Guitar for Left Hand Play

as done for Paul McCartney's Epiphone Texan

 

 

This is a Signature grade 000 guitar that is more elaborate visually though it is identical structurally to the one shown above. The back and neck are master grade Honduran Mahogany and the soundboard is flawless Carpathian Spruce. It is bound front and back with Ebony and 3 millimeter wide Paoa Abalone perfling. The rosette is inlayed with pearl and abalone figures surrounded with Ebony/Maple herringbone. The tuning machines are gold plated Waverly's and the frets are EVO gold. I turned the bridge pins from fossil ivory. This guitar sold for $5,500.

This is a left handed 000 cutaway guitar. This particular guitar and two identical twins has a flawless Sitka Spruce soundboard with my standard bracing and tuning plus a K&K internal pickup mounted to the underside of the Rosewood bridge. The backboard and rim are very rare master grade Brazilian Rosewood cut more than 75 years ago. By careful milling, I got three matching backs from this rare piece of wood. The neck is Spanish Cedar with a heavy carbon fiber spline. Note that the bridge is non-standard and though it has a greater surface area, it is actually lighter than the standard ones. The fingerboard is Indian Rosewood with stainless steel frets. The tuning machines are nickel Waverly with butterbean knobs and the pins and a neck heel end pin are tortoise shell with pearl dots. The binding is ivory Celluloid with 3 mm abalone perfling. The rosette is an original design using Paoa abalone with pearl music notes inlayed surrounded by green/black/white herringbone. The neck heel cover is fossil mamoth ivory above an abalone chevron.

 

Flamenco & Classical Guitars

I build Flamenco and Classical guitars for nylon or gut strings using the original Spanish construction techniques and bracing system with a uniform rim height of 3.6 inches, which is quite different from that used on my steel string guitars. I offer the Classical guitar with either Rosewood or Curly Maple back and rim and the Flamenco guitar with either Mediterranean Cypress or Rosewood back and rim but all guitars braced in this manner have Carpathian Spruce tops. Unless ordered by the customer, all Classical and Flamenco guitars are finished with violin oil varnish that is hand rubbed to a soft gloss finish.

This signature grade classical guitar is built with the traditional woods and and construction methods. It has Ebony fretboard, bridge, peghead veneer and binding. It is fitted with Schaller tuners and E&O Mari 820-B La Bella Flamenco strings. The oil varnish is buffed to a soft luster that will last for many years.

 

Note that the kerfed lining on this Flamenco guitar is quite wide in contact with the soundboard. This is necessary for edge support due to the very thin (0.75 to 0.80) soundboard thickness. The fan bracing is very supple and carefully tuned to provide a very percussive sound with low sustain. The two braces that span the soundhole are the only robust ones. Note also the two small braces on either side of the neck joint, these provide both added structure at this high stress area plus additional material for decorative perfling on either side of the fretboard. On the instrument shown above, the Rosewood veneer over the neck base will be part of a multi-layer decorative heel cap. These guitars differ outwardly from my steel strings only in the bridge design and constant rim height.

 

Orchestra 14 Fret to Neck Guitar

 

 

                                                255 Back255 Front

 

 Construction of the OM is identical to the 000. This particular guitar is constructed with a Torrified Mahogany top and a tapered dovetail neck joint. This unit also is fitted with the new K&K pickup that has an enhanced treble sensor. The rosette is constructed from four carefully fitted pieces of pearl and the position indicators are pearl diamond shape.

 

Solid Body Guitars

I build all of my solid body guitars to the exact specification of the customer. Generally no two are alike but all are built with master grade materials and the finest quality electronics available. At the customer's option, I build either bolt on necks or neck through. The neck through offers a way of reducing weight without sacrificing rigidity. This is particularly popular on bass guitars.

 

 The solid body guitar shown above is a typical example of true custom building. The eagle peghead, that I pioneered on the Boomer was stretched to accomodate 6 tuning machines. This guitar body was constructed from old growth white pine with curly maple and ebony veneers finished with high gloss lacquer. It is fitted with Railhammer humbuckers wired using the dual volume/tone adjust format with a 3-way switch. The tuning machines are Schaller and the fretboard has synthetic ruby markers. A gold Fishman output jack also serves as the strap button.

A Souped Up Telly

 

 

This is a very conventional Telecaster save for having Railhammer humbuckers. Great sound at a very reasonable price.