Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This past weekend I took the 45 minute drive from my place in Hollywood down to Anaheim, CA. I went not to attend the NAMM conference but rather, because John How would be attending the Luthier's Consortium - an after hours conglomeration of like-minded luthiers dedicated to the craft of hand made guitars (and other stringed instruments). I saw John's work on the Dream Guitars website (www.dreamguitars.com) and was immediately struck by his unique take on traditional guitar building. John had some of the most beautiful sunbursts I had ever seen and his bridge and pick guard designs were inspired. I thought, if these guitars play and sound half as sweet as they look, I'm going to buy one! So when I found out that John and his guitars would be within a stone's throw, I was off. John had one of his ladder-braced Guitars, a cross-braced guitar and two of his "Roots Guitars". The one I couldn't put down was the Ladder Braced Grand Concert (a little larger than a 00 smaller that a 000). It had a Lutz top, Maple sides (I usually don't care for maple guitars, but this one was sweet....) and a Rosewood fingerboard. The tone was well balanced and smooth. John can definitely nail the growly plunky tone that charaterizes L-oo's and similar traditional guitars (as evidenced by The Roots Guitar and the smaller hog top I played), but where he excels is in his ability to blend the old and the new. The ladder-braced GC had the feel and basic tone of a small bodied Pre-War Gibson or Martin but with slightly more complex overtones and a smoother midrange. While I'm sure that John's guitars will sound incredible 20 years down the road, they sound amazing right out of the box. I'll be sure to let you know how mine is working out as I'm in the process of putting together the Specs on my very own custom John How guitar! Also look for a feature on my guitar and some sound clips on John's website in the months to come. I'll keep you posted.