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Hand Made Guitars by Luthier Dan Koentopp

A Full Bodied Oval Hole

Everything about this guitar was a joy, from working with the client to the buffing of the final finish. It was also the first non-cutaway Chicagoan Oval hole that I have built.  The top I selected is from a very distinct set of Romanian Spruce. This set I had kept aside because it contained a sap pocket which naturally fell in the middle of the soundhole, which made it destined for an oval hole! This wood wasn’t a boring piece of wood at all. It sparkled with modullar rays and the dark winter lines are more pronounced than usual. Even from the start, I could tell this wood was going to be clear and complex.

The maple, which I love, comes from Romania and is soft, warm, and beautiful. It is the perfect compliment when paired with this spruce. The body is a hair over 3″ with a lower bout of 17″. The oval hole is generally always x-braced which helps give it its distinct sound. The nut size is 1.75″ with an ebony board fretted with a 25″ scale. Knowing that this guitar was going to have a lot of power with John Pearce phospher bronze .056-.013 strings, I opted to fit a little wider bridge base on it. This tends to calm things down a bit. However, I made the bridge with two feet instead of one which eliminates material and increases flexibility. I think the two foot bridge works better with a more acoustic sound. It also promotes more movement in the bridge. Sometimes a jazz player will want a more stable sound, so for this I would cut a bridge with one foot and adjust the width accordingly. I think the non-cutaway helps the trebles settle down as well, resulting in a very creamy response.

The neck was carved with a C shape with a thickness of .83″ under the third fret. We opted to keep the fingerboard free of inlay which helps give this guitar an elegant and simple look. The flame maple binding helps a bit too!

My client and I talked a lot about the color of this guitar too. We talked about a honey color that would be tasty to drink. I really like that idea of the building process relating to the culinary world. I actually always try to think of this idea in the finishing stage. A finish should look tasty enough to drink! I also like to include a personal inlay on the rear headstock that is special to each client. The mother of pearl rosette inlay and the Bhuddist Dharma wheel on the rear of the headstock were both inspired by my client.

The sound of this guitar reflected the joy of the process creating it. The few weeks that I had it prior to delivery, the guitar gained more and more complexity. It was very loud and powerful but very focused at the same time. I look forward to having a drink with this guitar (and its owner) in the future.

Front and Back of 2015 Chicagoan Oval Hole

Front and Back of 2015 Chicagoan Oval Hole


Inlaid mother of pearl oval rosette

Close up of front and Inlaid rosette

Close up of front

Back with Flame maple edge treatment

Back with Flame maple edge treatment

Flame maple back and sides

Flame maple back and sides

Lower Bout

Lower Bout


Ebony Bridge and arch detail


A players perspective

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