Last weekend, Bea and I, along with the Mortal Jivester, took in the Northwest Handmade Instrument Show. A friend of ours makes violin bows and told me about it. Really an interesting take. Cellos, mandos, wood flutes... and plenty of guitars. Electrics, acoustics-- steel stings and nylon--basses. Beautiful, one-of-a-kind workmanship and style.
Up to a point...
Joseph Wait makes gorgeous acoustics. He described this one for me in great detail, from the think bear claw spruce top to the mango wood sides and back. He referred to it as his "J-14" and called his other guitars on display, "D-14's." When I asked him what style he emulated (Gibson or Martin seem to be the molds to aspire to), he, of course mentioned Martin, and Collings. He let me -- no, encouraged me -- to play the guitar. The neck was perfect and fretting superb. The beauty is lush as hell, but you know what? Martin and Gibson have already made this guitar, better and cheaper. I have a S200 with a custom finish that cost less than a Joseph Wait and my Santa Cruz VJ is probably as close as I need to ever get to a custom guitar. Joseph's J-14 had a full sound, with too much bottom and not enough treble. In retrospect, I am glad he insisted I play the guitar. I mean, who wouldn't love a custom, a made-just-for-you guitar? In egocentric theory, anyway. Mr. Wait is not a midget and the guitar is not oversized. It was being displayed on a table.
Kerry Char's two sunburst acoustics here were really pretty-- as nice as any Gibson parlor guitar as I've ever seen. They were also damned expensive. And maybe I am label conscious, but I just think Gibson looks better on the headstock than Char.
I don't recall this particular luthier's name. Wacky stuff, his guitars are. He told us that creating the asymmetrical bodies were a challenge to make and posed all kinds of headaches for creating the bracing and neck connection and subsequent stability. I listened to someone as he played some fingerstyle licks on this one. It sounded really good-- bright and balanced... but, it isn't balanced, is it?