The HGGS ASAS Leonardo Archtop.

A Leonardo ASAS Archtop made as a sample for The Holy Grail Guitar Show 2015.

I was lucky enough to be invited to exhibit at the 2015 Holy Grail Guitar Show. The table space every exhibitor is allocated is quite small so I only took 3 instruments with me and borrowed another from Geert to make up the range. This ASAS archtop jazzer was one of them. It (and the other two instruments) is a Leonardo guitar, that is, it has no tropical hardwoods in it's construction. So what is is made from? The hand carved arched top is made from fine Canadian spruce with the hand carved back and sides being beautiful Irish fiddleback sycamore. The neck is a laminate of Irish fiddleback sycamore and flamed maple. The finish is high gloss AC lacquer in a traditional cherry sunburst that brings out the best of the figure in the woods. Irish fiddleback sycamore is also used, in natural colour, for the scratchplate and tail piece. Neither the fingerboard nor the adjustable floating bridge are made of ebony but from RockLite which is an ebony substitute made from sustainable eucalyptus. Before I used the Rocklite I did extensive tests with some samples where I did all the things I would normally do with ebony when I work with it and, in every case, including fretting and re-fretting, it came out as better than the ebony. So I'm happy to use it in my instruments from now on. The frets are gold coloured Jescar EVO which not only look good but also are harder than the usual guitar frets I use so should last longer.

When I build an archtop guitar I make it to be an acoustic guitar first and then add the floating pickup. Doing it this way means that the top is freer to vibrate as there is no extra weight on it. In this case the pickup is a custom made Larkin Armstrong  humbucker and it really produces the classic smooth jazz tones helped by the tapewound Thomastik George Benson strings. Acoustically it also has that rich tone that is so desired by players of this type of guitar. So, great looks, amazing tone and no tropical hardwoods. Pretty good combination!