After last years success launching my Pioneer – P1 model, which you can read about here. The first commission out the door in 2021 was a fully custom Pioneer that now resides with its very happy owner. It’s also been a pleasure to keep many musicians around Sussex playing with dozens of repair and service jobs also coming and going from the workshop already this year. Clearing the lines a little gave me an opportunity for a new challenge. I’ve created a versatile guitar, suitable for a wide market. Now it’s time to tackle a dream project of mine. That project is to create a solid body / semi hollow electric guitar, aimed solely at jazz and fusion players. I wanted the guitar to be light weight, resonant, aesthetically familiar and yet unique. Most importantly it has to show off my style and skill as a luthier.
The idea for this guitar all began back in 2019. I met a guy named Rory whilst at David Dyke’s Luthiers Supplies. Rory had flown over from the big apple to hand select some very fine tone wood for his acoustic builds. We spent a few hours talking, and instantly his passion for jazz and fusion music was apparent. He went on to explain how big the jazz scene was in New York and then mentioned several great players. He also mentioned some master luthiers, including Victor Baker and Stephen Marchione. These guys make a lot of the guitars of choice for said players. We exchanged emails and continued to talk about various players and my interest in not only the music, but the scene as whole continued to grow.
Lighting the fuse
Fast forward the best part of 18 months. Whilst talking to Dusty at Alnico Five Guitars we got on the subject of the whole jazz scene. I thought I’d share with him my plans for the jazz / fusion build. He thought it was a great idea, and named a few players who he thought would be keen to try it out. Over the next 30 minutes this shelved project had been kick started back to life. We were practically putting the whole build together piece by piece! I wanted to make this model available exclusively through Alnico Five Guitars though. With that in mind I wanted Dusty’s input the whole way through this process. After deciding on the tone woods for the build – The body would be 2 piece baked spruce. The neck would be 3 piece maple with black pinstripes complimented with a rosewood fretboard.
The next and arguably biggest thing to consider was the pick ups. Now, I’ve heard a lot of talk about a certain someone in London who I wont name just yet. But his pick ups are doing the rounds on some very exclusive guitars, with one premier arch top builder saying it was the best pick up he’d ever heard. I decided, that despite the exclusivity of the pick up, I wanted to get a variant of them in this new model.
Finding ‘that’ sound…
I decided to get in touch with the elusive pick up maker directly. Talking to him about what I was hoping to accomplish with the new model and the sound we wanted, he agreed to send me one to test. I got it wired into one of my Pioneer – P1 models and set to doing some sound tests. Starting in the neck position and holy smokes! This pick up instantly made me think of those legendary 50’s and 60’s guitars with such clarity and note definition, I actually found myself getting carried away and test quickly became something of a very long, loud session, playing through a lot of songs that I know have those classic Les Paul tones on in – one ‘Snowy White’ song in particular.
Then came the real test, how would it hold up in the bridge. Considering the pick up I was testing was built as a neck pick up, it really did shine in the bridge. You could tell that with a fraction more output that this would make one hell of bridge pick up and therefore set. I even tested it on some high gain settings and it still held its own. Pretty remarkable considering it wasn’t designed for anything near this!
With the pieces in place, it’s time’s for me to set about building it.