Friday, April 22, 2011

Loucin Gutiars New Website!

Loucin Guitars is a guitar company founded by Garren Dakessian, a Canadian builder and student of Kevin Ryan (who has some very nice things to say about his work).  We'll be taking a closer look at Garren and his company's guitars in the coming weeks, but I thought it would be worth sharing his updated website - just launched today!  It has a lot of great information and content on the guitars, accessory products and building courses.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Acoustic Remedy - the Case for Convenient Play & Display

Proper humidity control can be your best friend if you are a collector or player of high-end acoustic instruments.  Failure to keep your instrument properly humidified over the long-term (especially here in Minnesota) can cause serious damage and ruin your investment.  Unfortunately, almost every time you play your guitar it is exposed to less than ideal temperature and humidity conditions (unless you always play in a climate controlled room or happen to live in a moderate zone where the humidity is always between 45% and 55%).  The best thing for a guitar is to keep it in a humidity-controlled case as much of the time as possible, but that is not typically conducive to displaying a prized instrument or convenient for playing it.  Enter Acoustic Remedy Cases.  Their Clima-Stand series of products provide a mix of humidity control, elegant display and convenient access for the player/collector wanting to showoff and use their favorite instrument.  I've had a couple of months to try out the SW model, and I must say that it definitely belongs on the list of products I don't want to send back.

Over-all Build & Aesthetics

There is no mistaking that this case is a piece of furniture, but it's a nice one.  They offer it in a number of different hardwoods, as well as in a cheaper veneer.  The review model actually had pieces of both, and there was no appreciable difference aesthetically.  The construction is rock-solid and the hardware is not cumbersome.  I did wish for a little more clearance for the headstocks on a couple of the guitars I tried in it - but they build to suit, so just take careful measurements of your guitar when ordering.  It comes with a standard hanger and pads behind the guitar to avoid any dings or scratches.  

Humidity Control

There are a lot of systems out there for humidity control, from in-case sponge units of all shapes and sizes to automated, active electronic systems in multi-instrument cabinets.  There is one thing we all hate about all of them: adding water.  It's always a mess (if you're clumsy like me anyway), and it's easy to forget - meaning that your instrument may not be optimally maintained.  Through their partnership with Humidipak, Acoustic Remedy Cases come basically maintenance free.  According to the guys at Acoustic Remedy, the case needs two Planet Waves humidity control packets every four months or so.  That is consistent with my experience - the case maintained humidity around 50% for the four months I got to test it out.  I checked the humidity every day with two separate hygrometers in two different locations in the case.  Once again, I'm in Minnesota, and had the case over the winter.  If it can do it here, it can do it anywhere. The packets actually provide two-way control, reducing the humidity in the case when necessary also.  I was not able to test that here, given that we have 0% humidity half the year, but excess humidity is much less a concern as it affects the structure of an instrument much less. 


The real question is: how accessible is my guitar going to be in this thing?  It's just another display case if it doesn't do that well.  The answer?  Much more convenient than a regular case or display unit, but not as convenient as an open-air stand (but we've also established that leaving your guitar out in an uncontrolled environment will eventually destroy it).  All in all I've loved using it. It's handy, the technology is convenient and reliable and it looks great.

Bottom Line

This case is great for the living room or music room if you want to make your prized guitar a centerpiece.  The Humidipak technology is great, though it will cost between $10-$20 per year for humidity control packets (but if you're like me, you spend the same because every summer you lose the humidifier you bought last year).  For perfect, reliable humidity control it's well worth it - especially for high-end instruments (if you spend more than $2,500 on a guitar you shouldn't be pinching pennies when it comes to taking care of it).

The cases run from $750 to $1,600 (or more if you want something crazy), so you won't go buy this for your mom's old Yamaha.  But, it is a good investment for a high-end factory or hand-made instrument.  Acoustic Remedy offers their cases in a variety of different woods to match just about any instrument or room, and the build them to your specifications.  My recommendation for anyone interested in one of these cases is to think about exactly what you want for a few weeks before ordering and ask them for it when you do.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Todd Lunneborg Model O

Well, I'm back on the horse here at Luthier's Review, and we're building a backlog of content so we can deliver more posts on more builders from more locations with more guitars in a more timely fashion.  I'm going to start with one of our new contributors: Todd Lunneborg and his Model O guitar.  Briefly, Todd is an up-and-coming Minnesota builder and instructor with a love and knack for writing for the boutique guitar world.  More can be found in his bio at end of this post.  Happy reading and Happy new year!

This guitar is actually an earlier work by Todd Lunneborg that originally didn't quite live up to his own expectations - until he re-voiced it.  I will do a follow-up on the re-voicing process with a few notes on different tap-tuning techniques modern builders are using today, but I'd like to first take a look at this guitar as it is to establish the value of re-voicing such an instrument.

First off, I know I played this guitar before it was re-voiced, but I don't remember it.  I don't forget a lot of guitars, so that tells me everything I need to know about it from before: it wasn't terrible (because I remember terrible guitars as well as great ones), but not worth as second look.  It was worth a second try for Todd though - and it was definitely time well spent. In a word this guitar is: Responsive.  It has good, well balanced volume.  Getting great tone is effortless and the low end is surprisingly rich and full.

One of the first things you will notice in Todd's guitars is his obsession with lamination.  It's never over-done to my eye, but you will find laminated braces, a 15-piece laminated neck and laminated end blocks (some high-end builders are intentionally using ply-wood laminated blocks at the end pin for strength, but Todd laminates them himself as a design element).

One of the other things you will initially notice (especially in this guitar - for obvious reasons) is the Olson influence.  Jim Olson has been an inspiration to Todd, as he has been to many, but beyond the obvious dimensions and shape of this guitar that influence is noticeable in how it plays, feels and sounds - a testament to Todd's true original talent and ability.  The obvious elements of this influence are likely to fade as Todd's career progresses (we've got some posts coming about some very forward-thinking designs from him this year), but I hope the attention to detail, playability and true sound only grow as he breaks off on his own path.

Model: O
Price: $5500.00

Audio Sample
Model O


Body Size: SJ
Scale: 25.4"
Nut Width: 1 3/4"
String Spacing: 2 1/4"
Body Length: 19"
Upper Bout: 11"
Lower Bout: 15 1/4"
Serial #: 52
Body Depth @Neck Heel: 3 3/4"
Body Depth @Tail Block: 4 1/2"
Frets to body: 14 
Total Frets: 20

Back/Sides: Brazilian Rosewood
Top Wood: Western Red Cedar
Fingerboard: African Blackwood
Neck Wood: 15 Piece Laminated Spanish CedarIndian Rosewood & Flame Maple
Bridge: African Blackwood

Rosette: Brazilian Rosewood & Koa
Binding: Brazilian Rosewood
Fingerboard Bindings: None
Headplate: African Blackwood

Headstock Bindings: African Blackwood

Headstock Inlay: Koa TL Logo
Top Trim: Mahogany Wood Lines
Back Strip: None
Fret Markers: MOP Dots
Tuners: Delta Gotoh 510 Series
Tuner Finish: Gold w/Ebony Buttons

Cutaway: None
Pickguard: None
Case: Calton Deluxe Flight Case
Pickup: None


Name: Todd Lunneborg

Location: Andover, MN

Years in Business: 7 years as TLGuitars, 20 years as a repair and tour tech.

Specialty: Acoustics and Electrics.

Artists that play your instruments: Bon Iver, Michael Gulezian, Smilin' Liar, Throw the Fight, Love-Cars, Halloween, Alaska, Bill Mike Band, Haley Bonar, and Nomia.

Luthier Influences: James Olson Guitars, Jerzy Drozd Basses, William "Grit" Laskin Guitars, Carl Thompson Basses, Bryan Galloup Guitars, Fender, Martin, PRS, Gibson, Charlie Hoffman Guitars, Matt Artinger Guitars, Michael Tobias Basses, Jeff Traugott Guitars and Linda Mazer Guitars. 

Philosophy of Building: 

Tradition is a huge part of my guitar building process.  Honoring and following the Minnesota tradition of building great acoustic guitars has been the end goal for me ever since I decided to start making guitars. Those makers are my inspiration, my starting point, and the epitome of what I think a great acoustic can be.

My electrics focus on the shapes and custom instruments I love; guitars with progressively designed shapes and build techniques with hand carved tops, neck through lines, and perfect ergonomically balanced bodies.


Blending what he considers to be the best aspects of traditional custom guitar building with a progressive and multi-influenced design approach Todd Lunneborg is finally building instruments that match it the pictures he sees in his head.  Being a guitar maker in Minnesota sets the bar high and it is the best source of inspiration, education, and hand-me-down tools for this fingerstyle guitarist/ guitar tech/ guitar teacher turned guitar maker.
His education as a luthier started at the age of 13 as a repair apprentice at a mom and pop music shop in the Alexandria,Minnesota. He has benefited from time spent loitering in all of Minnesota’s custom guitar makers shops.  Todd’s acoustics draw their origins, shapes, and traditions from all of the custom guitar makers in Minnesota and his electrics are a finely cooked, ergonomic blend of his favorite commercially made electric guitars and modern custom bass builders.  
 Todd has also served as a guitar tech for Bon Iver, Peter Himmelman, Billy McLaughlin, Love-Cars, Happy Apple, Lateduster, Smilin’ Liar, Chris Koza/ Rogue Valley, The Evening Rig, Cowboy Curtis, The Sensational Joint Chiefs, Haley Bonar, Bill Mike Band, Nomia, and Halloween, Alaska.  He studied fingerstyle guitar technique with John Stropes, and has run sound for Taj Mahal, Nada Surf, Loudon Wainwright III, Soul Coughing, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Guided by Voices, Left Over Slamon, the Honey Dogs, Mason Jennings, Greg Brown, Atmosphere, John Hiatt, Remy Zero, Shannon McNally, Eyedea and Abilities, Chuck Prophet and Billy Bragg.
He currently builds guitars and teaches guitar building courses out of his AndoverMN shop.  Todd is a regular contributor to the Fretboard Journal.

Website & Contact Info:
Todd Lunneborg Guitars
4420 158th Avenue NW
Andover, MN 55304

Endorsements, quotes & links to interviews and other media: