Answers to some of the most common questions I get about my guitars, ordering, etc.
What is the current turn around time for orders?
My build schedule is determined by my current repair load and teaching schedule, as well as orders already in process. I am also partially constrained by local weather for the lacquer finishing portion of the build. I can spray finish from May through October. Typically, a guitar will be ready for delivery in 6-12 months after the deposit is received, depending on the factors listed above. Guitars ordered in fall/winter will be completed the following spring/summer; guitars ordered in the spring or early summer will be ready by the end of the year provided I can have them ready for the finish room by October. Otherwise, they will have to wait for spring to go to finish.
Can I modify your designs with my own customization?
Yes and no. You have wide latitude when it comes to esthetic elements of the guitar: Back and side wood choices, custom rosettes, inlays, bindings, tuning machines, etc. I can also adjust elements such as nut width, fret size, etc. On the other hand, there are elements that I won’t change. These include peghead shape and logo, body shapes, and sound hole location. In a few cases I may elect not to use a design idea from you. To be honest, not everyone has good taste in design, and some ideas just don’t translate to refined, elegant work. I want to be excited about building your guitar, and you want me to be excited! Therefore, I can’t include elements that offend my sense of good design.
Can I provide my own wood?
No. The wood used in my guitars is carefully selected by me, and dried in my shop for months or years prior to building. I will work with you to select wood that meets your criteria and that you will love. I have broken this rule twice and both times it did not go well.
What are the sizes of guitars that you make?
I currently offer three models: The Monarch, which is just a bit larger than an OM with a slightly different shape; The Eminence, which is a grand auditorium style guitar; and The Kingston Jumbo, which is a true 17″ jumbo inspired by the Gibson SJ 200 and the Guild JF 100. (I’ve never understood the “mini-jumbo” thing.)
Will you make me a (fill in the blank) size guitar?
Maybe. It takes several hundred dollars worth of materials and the better part of a week to make the templates and molds for a new body size/shape. If your request is for a size that I would want to make more of in the future, I would consider taking on the expense of building the molds once you commit to sending a deposit. For example, an OM size and a parlor size are two styles I have considered adding. But as a whole, I’d rather make a few models and do them exceptionally well, rather than adding many different sizes and shapes.
Will you make me a mini jumbo?
No, but I will build you a giant parlor. 🙂
What does Rosewood sound like, compared to Maple?
This is a difficult question to address, not because the answer is hard, but because of the deeply ingrained mentality that players almost universally hold to regarding “tonewood.” The primary factors contributing to the voice of an acoustic guitar are the material properties of the top, and the tuning of the three fundamental resonances (top, air, and back.) The voice of the guitar is NOT primarily determined by the species of wood used. That said, there are subtle differences between various woods commonly used to build guitars, provided all other factors are the same. I can discuss these subtle differences with you when we design your guitar. You simply cannot compare two guitars made using two different species of wood unless the tops are matched for material properties and the fundamentals have been tuned to similar resonances.
What do your guitars sound like?
Every player has a sound in their head that reflects what they consider to be great tone. Usually this tonal preference is based on sound recordings of a favorite artist. I am no different. I grew up in the 1970’s when two artists were at the peak of their careers: John Denver, and the group America. I consider Denver’s records, especially his live double album, An Evening with John Denver, to be some of the best sounding acoustic guitars ever recorded. Ditto for America’s studio work. (Sadly, America switched to playing Ovation guitars for their live tours soon after they made it big, and the live recordings just plain suck.) But listen to the original studio cuts of Horse with no Name or Ventura Highway and you’ll hear the sparkling clarity I love in a guitar. Or, listen to the guitars on John Denver’s Greatest Hits. Such. Great. Tone.
Do your guitars have great bass?
Hmm… why doesn’t anyone ever ask if my guitars have great trebles? Most acoustic players have a bias toward bass, and I am not really sure why. Of course, great bass response is important, but IMHO it is no more important than great treble. What we really should be asking is, does a guitar have great balance. Finger style players have learned to appreciate this, and that is why great finger style guitars don’t sound like a typical Martin dreadnought with overpowering mids and weak trebles. Ditto for Taylors. It has been said that in order to build great bass into a guitar, work on the trebles. Adding bass response to a guitar is relatively easy and is directly related to the stiffness of the top. Getting great treble is directly related to mass, one of the important material properties that all my tops are measured for. Most tops have too much mass, and are not thinned enough, to produce great trebles. It’s all about balance and clarity, my friends!
You seem to be rather negative about name brand guitars.
Its really pretty simple. I’ve played guitar since high school (1975) and have owned dozens of guitars from all the major brands. As the owner of a busy repair shop, I’ve had my hands on thousands more. The truth is, the majority of modern factory guitars don’t sound all that great to me. It is very rare for me to play one that makes me want to own it. When you combine this reality with the sales hype that these brands put out, claiming that their guitars are the end-all tonal canons of the guitar world, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The goal of mass production is to quickly manufacture and assemble identical parts in an efficient and trouble free manner. This has nothing to do with the musicality of an instrument.
The above remarks relate only to tone. When it comes to repairs, restorations, and setups, I treat all guitars equally whether they are $300 imports or $7000 Martin vintage reproductions. I have restored many vintage Gibsons and Martins, and I recognize that many players own and value brand name guitars.
How much do your guitars cost?
The base price for all models is $5000. For this price you get an all-solid wood guitar with a select, hand-voiced and tuned top, wood bindings, shell rosette, Gotoh tuning machines, bound fretboard, bone nut and saddle, hand cut shell logo inlay, shell dot fretboard markers, a hand-carved, laminated Mahogany and Maple neck, and distinctive Dogwood peghead and bridge. Upgrades include custom rosettes, custom fretboard inlays, premium back and side woods, shell body purflings, Waverly tuners, cutaways, and other options. Contact me to get an estimate for what you have in mind.
Why are your guitars so expensive?
Compared to what? When compared to factory guitars, there is no comparison. I can’t compete with mass production, robots, CNC machines, and cheap labor. They can’t compete with me for top wood selection, hand voicing and tuning, customization, and musicality. Compared to other hand builders, my prices are very reasonable. My guitars compare very favorably in fit and finish, and tonal quality, with those costing twice what I charge. A fine musical instrument should be an investment, something worth sacrificing for. Many of the higher end factory guitars sell for in excess of $3000, some much more. If you are considering such a purchase, you owe it to yourself to check out a fine hand-made guitar built by a craftsman who’s primary goal is the musicality of the instrument.
Do your guitars come with a case?
Yes, I include a Roadrunner ABS molded hard case with all my guitars.
Can you install a pickup in my Dogwood guitar?
Yes. I recommend the K&K Pure Mini due to the purity of tone and the light weight. Remember that it is not a good thing to add weight to the bridge area of a guitar, both from a tuning perspective as well as responsiveness. The Pure Mini effects neither weight or responsiveness in an appreciable way. Not true for most other bridge plate mounted pickups. If you want these installed, let me know up front so I can allow for the weight difference when tuning the top of your guitar during the build process.
Do you ship?
This is a toughie. Short answer, yes because in many cases I have to. And now, the devil in the details…
If you ship a guitar via UPS, FedEx, or the Postal Service, please understand that there is NO insurance on the shipment regardless of what they tell you. Only state licensed brokers can legally offer insurance. So to get around this, the shipping companies offer “added coverage.” This sounds like insurance, but it IS NOT. What it really is, is an extra fee that in reality gets you almost nothing. To be sure, the carrier will replace the instrument if they destroy it through their own gross negligence. This is pretty much limited to them accidentally backing a truck over it. Short of that, they will not honor a damage claim in the vast majority of cases. This includes damage from being dropped or handled roughly, temperature extremes, or loss. Finish checking is not covered.
There is a solution for this. An expensive one. Ship through a third party that carries their own insurance. One such company is Pak Mail. These companies carry true insurance, and they will work with you to file a claim if necessary. The cost is based on the declared value and the speed of delivery. Guitars should be shipped overnight, or second day, fully insured for full replacement value. This will cost you hundreds of dollars, but it is the only way to safely ship an expensive guitar with minimal risk.
Due to the high cost, most customers simply choose to ship via ground with no insurance. Some will agree to pay for the low cost “added coverage.” And most of the time, things go OK. But please understand: 100% of the risk is on you, regardless of how you choose to ship. Once the guitar leaves my hands in its well-packed heavy duty shipping box and hard shell case, I have no control over it and I can’t assume any of the risk. Of course I will assist in filing a claim with the shipper, but I will not be responsible for any difference in cost between the value of the instrument and the amount the shipper agrees to pay you, or for any other damage claims including finish cracking.
As an alternative, I will work with you to avoid shipping if at all possible, including driving for a day to meet you halfway. I understand this is not always possible.
Do you offer artist discounts?
No. Everyone pays retail for a Dogwood guitar. I don’t build guitars for the exposure. I build them because I love doing so, because I love providing players with an instrument that helps them to sound their best, and to pay my bills.
What forms of payment do you take?
I accept cash, personal checks, transfers via the Cash app, and credit cards via Paypal. You must cover the fees if using Paypal.
Are there any wonderful people playing your guitars?
Yes, everyone who plays my guitars is wonderful. You should play one too. Once I had a very vivid dream of John Denver asking to check out my guitars. That must count for something! Another time, I was at an America concert in a small venue in Missouri. A woman accidentally bumped into the rack of guitars, knocking it off the bass cabinet it was sitting on. I dove for the teetering rack and landed on my back with all of America’s guitars on top of me. True story. The roadie told me I saved the show that night. I tried to get a moment with the band to slip them a business card, but no such luck. Most of the guitars were Taylors, maybe I should have just stepped back… OK, just kidding!
Do you have any sound clips of your guitars?
I do have videos recorded in studio. Some of these are on my web site on the guitar model pages, some are on my YouTube channel.
Can I be your apprentice?
No. I don’t take on apprentices or employees, even for free. The fact is, I lose time and money by having an apprentice. Most of the inquiries I get are from those who want me to pay them to learn from me. That is not how it works in this business. My advice for aspiring luthiers is to take some classes. I offer a two-week build class that will teach you the fundamentals (and then some) about steel string guitar building. If you want to spend more, go to a lutherie school.
Did you go to lutherie school?
Yes. I am a graduate of the Galloup School of Lutherie in Big Rapids, Michigan. (Go Bucks!) In addition to this, I also have taken elective classes in advanced voicing and tuning from Galloup, and a Master Class with Trevor Gore who is the world-recognized expert in modal tuning for acoustic guitars.
I sent you an email and you never answered me.
I answer all mail in a timely manner, almost always within 24. If you haven’t heard back from me within 72 hours, please check your spam filter. If my reply isn’t there, assume I did not get your message or my reply did not get to you. Technology is not perfect, but I still love technology. You can always send me a text message at 614 348 2147.