Why is Adirondack the best top for your guitar?

Why is Adirondack the best top for your guitar?

The Adirondack Mountains are found in upstate New York. A unique red spruce grows on its steep mountain slopes, providing the best tonewoods in the world for making guitar tops.

The red spruce (Picea rubens) is a medium-sized evergreen conifer. This species is the most typical conifer species of the Adirondack region as a whole. The Adirondack spruce produces wood that is strong, light and sound-resonant. In other words, the most perfect wood for a soundboard. Our American supplier of Adirondack shows this in the following video:

The very best wood comes from the spruce trees that grow high on the mountain on the north side. The colder the better. These trees grow the slowest, resulting in tight grains. This makes the wood harder and this is good for the resonance.

New Netherlands

It is interesting to know that, in the 17th century, this region was once colonial territory of the Netherlands (named: New Netherland) and that gold was searched. Our distant ancestors behaved very violently there, with regard to the original inhabitants. For more information, read the article: “The gold of Adirondack”

What makes Adirondack so special?

The wood of Sitka and Engelmann spruce is by far the most commonly used for acoustic guitar tops. 

What makes Adirondack so special compared to these other spruce species?

  • Compared to Sitka and Engelmann, Adirondack spruce has a long historical reputation. For example, most high-quality pre-war guitars (e.g. by C.F. Martin) were built with Adirondack.
  • The wood is extremely rare because it comes from a National Park where all trees are protected. This protection applies even after they have been blown down by the wind. Only a limited number of wood suppliers are allowed to get the popular spruce wood from the Park.
  • Its rarity is partly due to the fact that this spruce can only be found in the northeast corner of North America. This tree does not occur outside this region.
  • The legendary tree produces wood with a much tighter grain than any other spruce. This makes the wood harder and therefore it resonates better.
  • Although it is a red spruce, the color of the sawn wood is lighter than other spruces, almost white.

Due to the scarce availability and sublime resonance, the price for AAA-quality Adirondack is on average three times higher than the price for Sitka or Engelmann. For that reason, most high-end brands only use Adirondack on their very best guitars which often cost more than $ 4,000.

Homestead uses Adirondack on all models

Because the sound is so much better than other spruce, Homestead uses Adirondack wood as standard on all its models. Our American supplier, John Griffin of Old Standard Wood, regularly travels to the Adirondack Mountains to pick out the very best wood.

In our selection of the available tops, we only settle for the highest (AAA) quality and we pay attention to various quality aspects. For more information on our selection criteria: Adirondack

In short: Adirondack standard on all our models, that’s one of the reasons why a Homestead sounds so good.

Robin van de Poll, 26 april 2022

Which lacquer is best for a guitar?

Which lacquer is best for a guitar?

Which lacquer is best for a guitar?

There are basically two types of lacquer when building guitars: Nitrocellulose (Nitro) and Polyurethane (Poly) or Polyester. Nitro was the standard lacquer for guitars until the 1970s. Polyurethane has become more and more common since the 1970s.

Opinions on the best paint vary widely among connoisseurs and luthiers. There are clearly proponents and opponents for the lacquers used. Below is an overview of the advantages and disadvantages.

Nitrocellulose

Nitro is diluted, usually with acetone. Nitro is applied several times on top of each other. There is no need to sand in between. Only at the end is the guitar sanded and polished until it starts to shine nicely. Applying Nitro lacquer is more labour intensive and requires more coats than Poly. That is why Nitro is more expensive.

Because Nitro is thinner and more porous than Poly, many guitarists believe that Nitro allows the guitar to breathe better, creating a more open sound with longer sustain. At the same time, Nitro is much weaker, which means that damage can quickly occur, such as dents, cracks and scratches (photo). Nitro guitars also yellow faster and areas that you touch a lot become dull faster.

An additional disadvantage of Nitrocellulose is that it is worse for the environment and unsafe to work with. In the late 1960s, this was an important reason for many luthiers to switch to polyurethane. The use of Nitro is highly regulated and monitored in Western countries.

Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a synthetic compound of two polymers. Poly has become the standard in guitar building since the 1970s, mainly because of the environment. The fact that Poly is easier to process and therefore cheaper has also played a role in the increasing popularity of this lacquer. Finally, Poly guitars look better and last much longer, often decades. However, the sound of Poly guitars is slightly more neutral than that of Nitro guitars.

While Nitrocellulose lacquer is more commonly used on premium guitars, that doesn’t mean Poly is of lower quality. Poly can be found on both cheap and high-end guitars.

Some guitar brands combine both types of lacquer, whereby the base layers are applied in Nitro and the top layers in Poly.

Conclusion

Choosing remains difficult and it is all very personal. In summary, it comes down to the following: if you go for a guitar that looks good for a long time and also has a good sound, then you go for Poly. If you go for the most pronounced sound and if you accept a faster aging of your guitar, then choose Nitro.

As mentioned before, Nitro’s price is more expensive than Poly, but that makes little difference to the overall guitar price.

Homestead builds its guitars in both Poly and Nitro, so we can meet the needs of every customer. Our advice: take a look at our webshop. There you can find our guitars in both lacquers. Or visit our studio “De Kluis” in Heemstede and try out both types of lacquer and judge for yourself.

Customize Your Guitar

Choose the shape of the body, tonewoods, hardware and decorations.

Customize Your Guitar

Order from our stock

We have most guitars in stock and you can try them out in our studio.

Order from our stock

Make an appointment

Visit our showroom to try out different models and to discuss your wishes.

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Homestead Introduces Its First Parlor Guitar

Homestead Introduces Its First Parlor Guitar

With their characteristic narrow body and short string length (length from nut to bridge, also called scale length), Parlor guitars are about 4 cm shorter than the modern standard of 65 cm. The Parlor guitar was introduced in the US around 1870. Parlor means lounge. They owe their narrow body to the fact that they were originally built for women. These women then played on a Parlor in the lounge or salon to entertain their guests. Naturally, these were the wealthier American families in their spacious villas.

Parlor guitars from the 19th century were strung with gut strings. At the beginning of the 20th century, these were replaced by steel strings and the steel-string Parlor as a standard guitar was born. Because steel strings have a heavier pulling force than gut strings, the X-bracing was invented. The braces cross under the top, just below the sound hole, forming an X. X-bracing brings more stability to the top and produces a more balanced sound.

The steel-string Parlor clearly had much more volume and expression than the classical guitars and became the preferred delta blues guitar of the pre-WWII years. Iconic blues musician Robert Lee Johnson (1911-1938), like most of his contemporaries, played a Parlor.

This lasted until 1931, when Martin introduced the much larger Dreadnought and, although musicians like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez still played a Parlor in the 1960s, the popularity of the “parlor” guitar gradually declined.

Nowadays there is a growing interest in the Parlor guitars. The Parlor is back. In the first place because it is more pleasant to hold. The Parlor gives more space and rest to your right arm and due to the lower scale length, the left arm does not have to reach as far (off course with right-handed guitarists). This applies to both women and men. At the same time, the Parlor has an incredibly rich sound despite its small body and all nuances come out very well. Where a Dreadnought puts a lot of emphasis on lows and mids, with the Parlor you will find a more balanced balance between lows, mids and highs.

Finally, due to its smaller size, the Parlor is extremely suitable as a travel guitar. It can easily be carried in an airplane cabin and also fits better in many car trunks. And yes, the Parlor has even been in space. In 2013, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield played David Bowie’s Space Oddity from International Space Station ISS on a Parlor.

Homestead, of course, could not lag behind this development and introduced its own Parlor. You can try this Parlor in our studio in Heemstede or purchase it in our webshop.

If the price of a Homestead Parlor exceeds your budget or if you are only looking for a handy travel guitar, we can recommend a Javatar Parlor.

Robin van de Poll, 8 Februari 2022

Danny Vera and Homestead

Danny Vera and Homestead

On June 12, 2020, Jan Pastoor and I drove to Danny Vera’s house in Middelburg in the south-west of Holland with a few Homestead guitars. We had made an appointment with Danny without any further obligation to show our guitars. Danny tried them all and at one point, he said in an interview with Guitarist magazine (No. 357, December 2020): “I got a dreadful ugly poison-green guitar in my hand, but the sound was amazing. I said: if you can build something like that for me with decent colors, then I’d be very happy”. We then agreed with Danny to build him his own signature guitar with all the specifications and decorations he wanted.

Our designers Jan Pastoor and Lex Kamminga then sat down at the drawing table and designed his signature guitar in close consultation with Danny. To start with, Danny chose the largest model, the Jumbo. In addition, Danny insisted that the guitar should be painted in nitrocellulose lacquer instead of polyurethane. Nitro-lacquer yellows, crackles and dulls quickly, but just sounds better.

Furthermore, the letter “V” appears as decorations over the entire guitar (fretboard, bridge and headstock). As a result, in particular the bridge has acquired a very special shape. It was quite a challenge from a construction point of view. Several prototypes of the bridge were made before we had a suitable one. But the result may be there. The guitars have their own special look. The magazine Guitarist describes them as follows: “They look flamboyant, but the combination of decorations gives them a stylistic look that resembles an art deco design.” The Danny Vera guitars were also tested in the same issue of the magazine ‘Guitarist’ and rated with the maximum five stars (No. 359, February 2021). The conclusion of this test: “In short: true masterpieces”. So everything was okay with the sound.

After the guitar was designed the building process started. Our luthiers in Bandung always pay a lot of attention to the construction of our guitars and this is reflected in the film we made about the construction of Danny’s guitar
From the beginning, the intention was to build several of these guitars so that other people could also purchase a Danny Vera signature model. These guitars are for sale in our webshop and at our dealers. The fact that Danny plays almost exclusively on our guitars can be clearly seen and heard on our videopage

Danny has now purchased a third and fourth Homestead. He wants four because he plays in two tunings and because a backup of each tuning must always be available during live performances. In this video you can see how Danny chooses his fourth custom guitar in our studio

Are you interested in Homestead and would you like to try them out? Then visit our studio “The Vault” in Heemstede (Zandvoortselaan 74). Of course you can also customize your own guitar in order to get your own signature.

Press the “Customize button” below to start the adventure.

For all your questions or to make an appointment, do not hesitate and call or email us: +31.23.5431750 or info@homestead-guitars.com

 

Robin van de Poll, 18 januari 2022

Why a custom guitar?

Why a custom guitar?

Many people wonder what makes personalized or custom guitars different from a factory-made guitar and whether they are better. In this blog I try to answer this. Below I summarize the main differences.

Number of options 

The first difference lies in the number of options the musician has. Factory guitars are made to fixed specifications and in large numbers. Every factory guitar will be exactly the same in every detail, and if you want something different, you can’t get it. A custom guitar builder will provide an instrument that is specially made for you. So there is only one of them. Depending on your music style and playing technique, you can choose between different shapes and sizes, scale lengths, actions, neck widths, fret sizes, tunings, electronics, woods, etc. In addition, you can choose visual or aesthetic characteristics such as color, burst, inlays, etc. The custom guitar becomes your own signature guitar, completely tailored to your musical and aesthetic wishes.

Quality

A second important difference between factory guitars and custom guitars is in the quality. Factory guitar manufacturers regard quality as how efficiently their instruments can be manufactured. Their priorities are: automation and standardization of procedures. The musician, on the other hand, is interested in the comfort of playing and how good the guitar sounds. This is normally also the attitude of the custom guitar builder. The priority for him is to create a personal, effective and beautiful instrument for the musician. The collaboration with the guitarist is therefore central to the custom builder.

Attention 

A third difference is the attention your custom guitar gets from its builders. A custom guitar will require many hours more in terms of labor than a factory built guitar. In general, luthiers use a factor of 10 for this. In other words, on average 10 times as much labor time is spent on a custom guitar as on a factory guitar. This has the logical consequence that custom guitars are often more expensive than series guitars. Most custom guitars are built from € 4.000,–.

Luthier 

Furthermore, factory guitars are built by machine operators who manage and control certain procedures in the production process. The builder of a custom guitar, on the other hand, is an accomplished luthier (guitar builder) who masters every piece of the building process. The custom builder has to be good at everything. He often spends years mastering all the techniques and skills needed to build a perfect guitar. This attention is reflected in quality.

In summary, a large number of options, top quality and a multitude of working hours are the main differences between series and custom construction. A well-made custom guitar sounds great, plays almost by itself and therefore offers a lot of playing pleasure. The custom guitar is 100% tailored to the guitarist’s musical wishes and that is reflected in our statement: “Homestead: Your Choice, Your Sound, Your Guitar”. 

Our Homestead guitars monthly blogpost

Our Homestead guitars monthly blogpost

As of today, Homestead starts a short monthly blog about our guitars with some news.

To start with, last week some customers came to pick up their new signature guitar. They were all excited with their new guitar (see our Instagram and Facebook account). One of them, Evelyn Brouwers, had a traveler built, a small guitar with a big sound. She plays and sings a Queen and Elvis classic on our FB and Instagram account, highly recommended!

Also special was Danny Vera’s performance at his signature Homestead at “Mathijs Gaat Door”(30 October on Channel NPO1). He played and sang there together with, among others, Barry Hay (Golden Earring) and JB Meijers. Together they form an occasional mariachi band that will perform in Ziggo dome next fall under the name ‘Fiesta de la vida’. At Mathijs: ‘Heartbeat City’ by The Cars and ‘Spirit in the Sky’ by Norman Greenbaum were accompanied by Danny on his Homestead. Danny recently purchased his fourth Homestead. Barry has one too. We are very proud that these amazing musicians have chosen Homestead.

Finally, we are designing a crossover guitar. A crossover is, as the word implies, a nylon-string guitar with a number of specifications of a steel-string Western guitar. As it looks now it will be a guitar with a solid cedar top (as with many classical guitars), solid rosewood for the sides and back, 14 frets to the body (steel), Torres bracing (classic), a Grand Auditorium model with cutaway (steel) and a nut width of 48.5 mm (between steel and classic). So it will be a real hybrid guitar: a classical guitar that feels like a steel string. In other words, the perfect guitar for guitarists who want to give their music that typical nylon (classical/Spanish) guitar sound. We expect to have the crossover by the end of January.

Evelyn Brouwers

Danny Vera at Homestead

Danny & Barry at Mathijs