Friends of SD: Knaggs Guitars
Knaggs Guitars makes some pretty remarkable instruments. While many of their creations use standard woods that you see with many other companies, they have an eye for the artistic as well. You will see highly flamed maple, spalted maple, and unique design touches that elevate the idea of mere building to a fascinating art form. While you can trace back some of the origins of the shapes and formulas to guitars of the past, Knaggs Guitars has enough of their own thing going on to give them a second and third look. They have unique design touches like custom pickguards, bridges, and of course, Seymour Duncan pickups on most of their models. This article will showcase a few of their creations, and includes an interview explaining the philosophy of these unique and beautiful instruments.
Influence Series Chena Model
The Influence Series seems to tip the hat to the past more than any of their models. You can see other classic guitars in silhouettes, but Knagg’s take goes much further than classic designs. The Chena series is a more traditional-shaped model with some classic appointments, and is available with Seth Lover pickups right from the start. The semi-hollow mahogany & maple body is matched to a mahogany 50s-style neck with a rosewood fretboard. The 24.75″ scale will feel comfortable to many, and the bone nut and Influence combination bridge/tailpiece are expertly set up for the most classic of sounds, and the open-geared tuners keep the weight distributed between the body and neck. The Chena is available with several optional colors, woods, purfling options, and even a Bigsby. To check out the range of options available, look at the specs page to get an idea of how you can really customize it and make it your own.
The Chesapeake Series Severn
The Chesapeake Series Severn is a new, modern design that can be customized with a whole host of options. Among these are the versatile Seymour Duncan pickup options, like a set of P90s, JB Trembucker, as well as APS-1 and SSL-5 single coils. The Severn is a longer scale instrument than the Chena, featuring a 25.5″ scale length on an ash or alder body mated to a 22 fret rock maple neck. It features a contoured body for fatigue-free playing, and custom-designed Chesapeake hard tail or tremolo bridge. The body can even be ordered with a spalted maple top with blue lapis stone inlays within the spalt.
What They Have to Say
I recently spoke with Peter Wolf, the VP of Global Sales and marketing about Knaggs Guitars, their philosophy of building pieces of art, and what makes Knaggs Guitars stand out from the rest.
Describe the philosophy behind Knaggs Guitars. What do you offer that is different?
Joe and I have been in this industry for a long time and we have kind of seen and heard pretty much everything that is out there. That goes for instruments as well as for players. We wanted to come up with models, shapes and instruments that would bring out ‘that sound’, ‘that feel’ and ‘that vibe’ we were looking for. We also wanted to be open to the different guitar loving camps out there. Joe is an accomplished builder and Artist. I’ve been working with most of them in the past 35 years and I can say he is one of the best. We initially designed six electric and two acoustic guitars at once. I don’t think anyone has ever done that. I’m talking about shapes that have the potential to become classics.
We have two-scale lengths (25.5” and 24.75”), carved top guitars with three-on-a-side- and flat top guitars with six-on-a-side head stocks, single and double cuts, hollowbody guitars, proprietary bridges, wooden pick guards and have a few other unique appointments in my opinion. We always approach building and designing from an acoustical (sound) point of view. If the instrument doesn’t ring acoustically, no pick-up combination will be able to make up for that, for instance.
Is there a ‘Knaggs Sound’? What is it?
We are going for clear bass, balanced midrange and sweet high end. Our proprietary bridge systems are creating extraordinary response and sustain only the player can really feel but it is a major factor in what makes people pick a specific guitar up again and over another.
Knaggs Guitars likes to combine interesting materials, like spalt maple and lapis stone. How do you come up with such things?
There is a visual side to instruments and there are sound aspects. Some of it may also be a fashion statement at times (laughs). Joe is an Artist first and foremost. And then he is an incredible builder. He can do it from A-Z. We have made around 2,000 guitars by now since we started and he has worked on every single one of them.
Tell us about the new hollowbodies coming out.
We are releasing Choptank and Severn Hollowbodies at the 2016 NAMM show. We tried a few things and found that the combination of our bridge systems in a hollow body creates a very special response and sound I haven’t really heard anywhere. I’m not quite sure how to explain it, actually. One needs to try.
You use Seymour Duncan pickups on many of your models. How do you feel they complement the sound of your unique instruments?
I would say 80% of our guitars have Seymour Duncans in them. They work really well in our guitars, sound great and there’s never been any problem. Another major aspect is that SD is super reliable and suits our needs on the purchasing and logistics end as a supplier. We have six different models in three Tiers. We use single coils, humbuckers, P90s and our guitars are available with Nickel or Gold hard ware. You can do the math. There is a lot of possible combinations and we need a reliable partner who can support our pick-up needs. Also, everyone we have been dealing with at SD has been great to us. We like to stick with people who are great to us and help and support them the best way we can.
What would your custom Knaggs Guitar look like?