A Decision, Leading to More Decisions

After meeting with Bob Kidd and checking out his Ken Miller guitar, there was no doubt left in my mind that having a guitar custom made was the path I was going to take. The following day I sent an email to Ken to ask how to get the ball rolling. I explained in very general terms that what I’m looking for tonally and in terms of playability is largely what Bob has in his guitar. Also, I made sure to say that I don’t know much at all about the process, the materials, or the techniques of guitar buiding, and therefore I would probably have many more questions for him than answers.

Later that same night, Ken responded and put my mind at ease. He gave me a general understanding of how this will work logistically, described a document which was to follow on which I would determine 16 main design points for the guitar, and even included a rudimentary explanation of different tonewoods and thier properties.

The Design Elements document was waiting for me in my email the following morning. I answered everything as well as I could, and asked questions about a number of concerns. There was a fair amount of back-and-forth over the next few days. Not knowing any more than I do about guitar making, I needed help and clarification about several aspects, and Ken’s explanations were always extremely clear. After several days of planning in this manner, we finalized a plan. I mailed a deposit on the 26th, securing my place on Ken’s list.

Sometime in or near April of next year, my new guitar is going to arrive. It will be a standard 14-fret dreadnaught with an Adirondack spruce top. Back and sides will be made of quilted mahogany cut from “The Tree,” a famous Honduran mahogany with a storied past which I have described in “A Few Words About ‘The Tree’,” linked in the column to the right. Bindings will be of Brazilian rosewood, trimmed with purflings of natural curly maple and a blue-green accent around the top. The rosette will be abalone shell. The neck will be 1 11/16ths inches wide at the nut, with a 25.4 inch scale length and stainless steel frets. Tuning machines will be chrome Gotoh 510 Deltas, with a 21:1 gear ratio, highly recommended by those who’ve used them. One last interesting feature: an “armrest” beveled into upper edge of the guitar’s lower bout. 

At this point, I’m undecided what, if anything, I might want any inlaid on the headstock or on the fingerboard. Ken’s wife, Virginia, does gorgeous inlay work, but so far I haven’t been able to come up with anything specific that I want. I’m still thinking on it.