A) GE Updates, a long time coming. B) What makes a guitar a keeper? Sweating the details with Jack Briggs.

So, yes it’s been a while - how have you all been?  Many changes have occurred since we last spoke (via this blog, anyway), I want to get you caught up, share updates, and share a little about some of the music that has kept us going in this long dry spell between posts.  Happy to be back.


I took a brief Hiatus from G-E beginning June 2018, with Jaya holding down the fort in the interim period.  It was prompted by getting a new day job, and sorting through how this exciting change would impact my family life.  During this time, my wife and I took trip out to North Carolina, and met Jack Briggs face to face for the first time.  Jack is as fine of a Gentleman and an Artist one would want to meet.  I’ll speak more about him later, but this meeting played a big role in bringing the hiatus to a close, and re-joined the fold Jan. 1.


Ordered a bunch of gear from the esteemed artists we represent, as well as reselling some creations they had in stock, off to a great start, right?  In Feb., my wife was diagnosed with a health issue that would be significantly helped by a move to a warmer climate with a stable barometric pressure, which started us on an adventure to relocate from Seattle.  Although we’ve firmly landed in Thousand Oaks, CA some 6 months later, I feel like the adventure is just beginning. The trip down was an adventure in itself, where I got to connect with good friends on the way down (Thanks, Jim & Susie & Shane!) , and got into some serious guitar geekage, as well as bunch of time on the road with Luna our Pug as my sole companion. A little time for contemplation really helped ease the exit and support and validate the move away from my adopted home and where my wife has spent the majority of her life.


So…the rumor is true, Guitars Electric Seattle, our West Coast location, is changing to a flavor more SoCal oriented, and I’m excited to see how this develops.  It’s nice down here.  Music is everywhere.  Here’s to making a go in a new Latitude.


Here’s some more long time coming info.  We are a Briggs Guitars dealer!  I don’t think I ever made a formal announcement along those lines here, so here you go.  

Briggs Reserve Stock Program - RSP #22

Briggs Reserve Stock Program - RSP #22

I have always been a huge fan of Jack’s work.  I remember when I was giving my OCD permission to go nuts digging into the Small Builder world back in 2011-12, and I was perusing Cliff’s Destroy All Guitars site comparing, contrasting, trying on guitars in my mind.  Jack had built this Semi-hollow Apollo, which I thought was as perfect of a guitar as I had seen.  His work looked immaculate, with excellent design sense and what looked to be flawless finish work.  I had to get my hands on one of his guitars.

I was lucky enough to meet a Reserve Stock Program Classic with Korina body and neck, with Wolfetone legends in August of 2016.  It was something to behold.  The neck had Jack’s Colossal carve, over 1” at the first fret. The sound was explosive, just very dynamic and touch sensitive.  Reminded me of playing a Trainwreck style amp for the first time, very dynamic with a ton of clean sustain.  “Piano Like” is an adjective that always seems to be associated with Jack’s guitars, and they all have it to some degree or another.  This had it more than any Gibson Les Paul that I have played.  

Briggs Avatar Artisan #17

Briggs Avatar Artisan #17

Back in July 2017, Jack was looking for dealer support, and as fans we were super excited to hear he was considering working with us.  We agreed immediately that it would be a great fit, and have been super happy representing his amazing work since.

Briggs Pandora #1605 - Available!

Briggs Pandora #1605 - Available!

The stand out guitars?  Well, they are all stand out guitars. I have my personal favorites, but they all have their own strong personality, while all also sharing unique qualities which I’ve come to identify as Jack’s sonic signature. My guess about the personality of each instrument comes from the selection of woods and Jack’s choice of pickups to match to each build, whether hand wound personally by Jack, or through his partnerships with the good folk at Wolfetone, Throbak, Dom Ramos, & Lollar to name a few.   

Briggs Pandora #1602

Briggs Pandora #1602

And the sonic signature and the playing feel they share?  Jacks guitars that I have played have exceptionally comfortable necks, from the Colossal on down to the Medium Carve.  My favorite has been his 56 V Carve, which I’ve had on 4 of his instruments for resale.  All share a very smooth playing experience, effortless bends, while also retaining ideal string tension for bell or piano like tones.  They all seem to have a soft attack, which encourages one to get expressive on the leading part of each note, with very long sustain and bloom depending upon the gain structure of your amp setting.  In an attempt to clarify that experience, I would liken it to the sag you experience on a good Marshall head, it’s a really satisfying ‘thunk’ which you can alter with your playing and muting style which then blooms into this sustain that is just lovely.  It’s a playing experience worth searching out, whether via our offerings, via the used market, or from Jack directly.

Briggs Custom Apollo #1407

Briggs Custom Apollo #1407

Finally, Jack is one of the rare luthiers that can hit the ball out of the park with bolt-on Fender scale instruments as well as his more well known Gibson and PRS scale creations. The Venturas I’ve played are exceptional musical instruments, and are an incredible accomplishment. Out of the gate, his bolt-on’s hang with the best I’ve played. Ask anyone who has got their hands on these unique creatures.

To answer my original question posed in the title of this post, Jack’s choice of woods, his composition skills, the handwound or extensively auditioned matched pickup sets, hand carved necks and bodies, finish work that is off the charts, flawless build quality using tried and true construction, love and soul. I think this is what makes a guitar stick around for the long haul. What goes in to each of Jack’s builds is apparent when you first take the guitar out of the case. And they get better with age. Jack executes on his formula, and creates guitars to provide a lifetime of musical inspiration.

Please hit us up with more questions, or your orders for these handmade masterworks!

Briggs Ventura Prototype #6028

Briggs Ventura Prototype #6028

Ok, what other music has been floating our boat between these long stretches between posts?  Here’s a few.

Andy Shauf writes amazing songs in the Orchestral Pop / Indie vein, and man this record has been hard to pull off over the past year when I picked it up.  Here are a couple tunes from “The Party” on Anti.  Well worth checking out if you find the charm in his vocal delivery.

“Alexander All Alone”

“Early to the Party”

Additionally, the new 75 Dollar Bill slab “I Was Real” slays.

Finally, we have some Amazing Taos, Bensons and Probetts on their way in a variety of states close to finish.  So, please stay on the lookout.

Thank you for spending some time with us.  XO from Thousand Oaks, CA & Chatham, NJ, August, 2019 .  G-E Dudes

Have you ever played a guitar so good that you don't want to write or tell anyone about it?

You know, sometimes you just know.  When we first started this whole thing, and we were able to bring Damian Probett on as a builder for the West Coast, I had never played one of his guitars.  I'd only read amazing things about him, and had some really great Skype sessions around the globe at uncomfortable hours, generally with coffee and tea involved.  And after these experiences and discussions, I just knew that the work that was coming out of his shop was going to be significant.

After we shook hands on the partnership, we got guitars specified, and hunkered down awaiting delivery.  Damian puts out small batches of guitars at a time, about 4 to 6 guitars roughly 3 times a year, so we were thrilled to hear we we just made it in to the tail end of the larger second bunch that were delivered in 2016.

August comes and we are greeted with two guitars that have again changed my expectations about what an instrument alone can do.  And here's where it becomes hard to write about this build....Why, you ask?

1) When you get to this level, it takes a while to get your head around all the things that a guitar can offer....how does it sit in a mix? in rehearsal and live?  How does it make you feel when you play it?  Are you confident or distracted and error prone?  How does it sound?  Does it inspire you to improve and do more?   

2) How do you express these qualities of an instrument and still remain an authentic and trustworthy voice, and not just another person speaking loudly to get over the white noise?  

Will try to do that now.  :)  When the Rocket III arrived, the first thing I noticed was the Flawless and Immaculate build quality.  I mean no flaws or imperfections to be seen, anywhere.  And the beauty, you can see this in the pictures.  When I picked up the Rocket III, I also noticed that while remaining visually more in the Fender camp, it played and weighed more in the Gibson camp.  The Rockett III came in at about 8.3 lbs.  Damian has shared with me his ideas about guitars and their ideal weights.  I can say that he knows what he's talking about.  This guitar has some good features that none of the other guitars I've experienced possess, and I attribute some of this to this idea of an ideal weight.  The final thing I noticed was the playability.  Action was low, but perfect.  Neck was pure Gibson shape.  With the tummy cut, the pitch of the headstock and the Gibson scale neck, the guitar wrapped around your body like your long lost love.  The Stainless Steel frets made for a very fast playing experience.  With the lightest touch, you are able to get a full and solid fretting of any note you are looking for, the most minor effort, and your fingers can just fly.  Just a monster of a guitar.  I wasn't at first sure about the middle pickup, would it impede my playing?  The strings are placed pretty close to the body...

I had Damian include a rear bridge route to provide up-pull for the Mann Vibrato it comes equipped with.  Great call.  Damian executes this in a particularly excellent fashion.  It provides over a whole note of up-pull, with no noticeable impact on sustain.  If anything, it feels like the guitar with its long tenon and the trem system the way it is assembled increases the available sustain from the guitar, while always returning to pitch.  Hit it hard, and you get the slightest warble (desirable in my case), and play near the bridge and you get this extra chime that is just gorgeous.

The pickups are pretty marvelous.  The A2 specified vintage PAF style, Probett-wind from Bulldog Pickups are very full with the right hint of treble bite to be in seamless concert with the amazing rod magnet p-90 style middle and neck pickups (http://www.bulldogpickups.com).  The middle and neck pickups are both incredibly articulate while remaining fat.  Nearly as fat as the bridge pickup, which is an amazing feat in itself for two single coils.  

So, how does it play and sound, in and out of a live music context?  I can do virtually everything with this guitar.  There is a solidity to the fretting and plucking experience that I associate with the finest guitars.  The Myka has this as well.  Just a human to instrument coupling that is very satisfying.  The Rocket is an very "orchestral" sounding guitar.  One can play a single note and a specific volume level and play complementary figures on other strings at a different dynamic level, and have these passages be very apparent, clear and musical.  There is a nice "sag" to each attack, if attacking is your thing.  After the initial strum of the guitar, the middle pickup became a total non issue, I can accomplish all that I'm hoping for and don't feel this as a distraction.  Finger styling sounds nuanced and glorious, and again plucking at the bridge pickup adds an otherworldly chime at each setting.  There is a certain compression that occurs with this guitar that I haven't experienced elsewhere.  It is apparent immediately when you plug straight into an amp.  This extends to all the pickups and all the settings.  It must be something in the way Damian builds his guitars.

The guitar plays super fast and maintains a consistent experience, fretting ease and sustain up and down the fretboard.  Literally no dead spots, its like 100% sweet spot, and that is an incredible accomplishment.

When playing live it slices through the mix.  Even with this 'compressed' tone, I've never played a guitar that is more well suited for live music.  The feeling of competence and confidence that comes when playing this guitar is a highlight.  It makes music.  All the time.  This is what it all comes down to, and it is a success. 

I could go on and on, and I think I have,.  :) While being an understated guitar from the perspective of many bespoke builds, the Rocket overachieves in any measure I can find.  Highest recommendations.  Utter bargain.  Hit me up with questions.  And, please take a look at our '59 currently available on our site. http://www.guitars-electric.com/forsale/probett-rocket-59

Happy Man photo by Stephanie Wood

Happy Man photo by Stephanie Wood

And speaking  of the aspirational work of Damian Probett, I aspire to someday write and record a song as amazing as this.  It has me truly captured.  Apparently voted the best Australian song of all time by 70 Australian song writers (fine company there everything considered...).  Needed to share this thing, thanks for your willingness to be distracted.   :)

Finally, I wish you peace this Holiday season in this divided and divisive world.  Maybe that's why I haven't been writing much lately, it's been hard to find things to say.  Please love your brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, your freaks, your bearded hipsters, and the family you like to forget you have sometimes.  We are all we got.  

Peace, Love and Merry Christmas from Guitars-Electric.

Tao Guitars......we're so stoked.

What do you get when you apply great automotive design, architecture, love for Japanese culture and art into the creation of a masterful instrument?

Tao Guitars, of course!

Tao Phaeton

Tao Phaeton

Guitars-Electric is humbled and honored to announce partnership and exclusive distribution of Tao Guitars US.

Serge Michiels and John Joveniaux started their company in Brussels, Belgium about 12 years ago in the shop that in its former life was restaurant kitchen.  And the designs coming out of that shop show the inspiration of vintage classics, but merged with an un-matched aesthetic sense.  

Since then they became very recognizable and respected in the world of boutique guitars. Their instruments are played by greats like Billy Gibbons and Peter Holmstrom to mention a few.

Billy Gibbons's "El Mirage"

Billy Gibbons's "El Mirage"

Combining high-end technology, innovation, best possible materials and old school approach to guitar building they are creating very unique guitars that belong in a museum or gallery as well as strapped on the shoulder of a serious musician.

These guitars define the phrase “Functional Work of Art”.

Their “Standard” models are:

* T-Bucket - their tribute to classic designs, offspring of Fender and Gibson iconic guitars.

* Disco Volante - tribute to ES guitars (Electric Spanish, non-cutaway body shape). This model was inspired by 1952 Alfa Romeo model with the same name.

* Tao Guitar – the model that Serge and John had in mind since the dawning days of their company. This design is deeply influenced by Japanese traditional instruments and aesthetics.

* Phaeton – A Pinnacle of Tao Guitars Company.  The Phaeton is a hollow body Jazz Box loosely based on Orville Gibson’s 03 Style with major influences from the automotive designs of 30’s and 40’s

Serge and I met by pure coincidence in a guitar shop in NYC few years ago. After couple of sentences he kindly accepted invitation to my place where we discussed and played some great guitars including one of their T-Buckets. We spoke about guitars and tone for extended period of time and stayed in contact since.

The first thing I could notice when I started playing T-Bucket is how well designed this guitar was. The whole guitar is extremely ergonomic and well balanced .

And its tone was nothing short of an amazing while its attention to detail still haunts me to this day. That T-bucket was one of the most responsive guitars I have ever played. Every nuance was captured through players fingers, a very inspirational instrument.

We are very excited to announce first T-Bucket build that should be in the store by the end of January.

This is going to be quite traditional build with Tao twist.

One piece Swamp Ash body for our T-Bucket

One piece Swamp Ash body for our T-Bucket

Flame Maple neck

Flame Maple neck

Please keep in mind that they are able to customize each build to a great extent.

Stay tuned for more info and photos!

Sincerely yours, Jaya & Brian


Summertime and the living is...oh hey, have you checked out "Treme"?

Hey Folks - 

I hope you are all enjoying life as we ease into summer.  Things have been good here in the Guitars-Electric family, with a number of Benson items sold, as well as a Probett, and we have three sure to be amazing guitars, 2 Probetts and a new Myka, and 2 Benson Vinny’s to be arriving in the short term.  I will be talking about David’s creation in this post with some detail about the upcoming Probett, but will save a full post for the Rocket’s and the Vinny’s when they arrive.

First I want to apologize for being so out of touch from a blog perspective.  It seems that as soon as one publicly makes noise regarding the corporate life and how one is looking for solid paths out of it, life turns around and gives you much busy-ness and increased job satisfaction in said corporate life.  I’m very thankful for this, but I’ve missed being able to post these updates since January.

Myka Studio Special #186 - 2016

Myka Studio Special #186 - 2016

I’ve wanted to write about Myka #186 our recently christened “Studio Special” for about 4 months now.  This guitar is a freaking eye opener.  It is so good.  While my experience with David’s work is larger than most (playing maybe 8-10 of his limited creations), I’ve never had the chance to sit down with one and strum it on occasion over a period of time more than say 15 minutes at his shop.

This is the first guitar that I’ve had the opportunity to do so with, and it really helped me understand what he is creating.  Professional grade works of art. High performance MUSICAL instruments.  They are beautiful, they play effortlessly.  The lack of adornment encourages creativity (IMHO).  It is so resonant and sustain-ful.  The switching system makes it incredibly versatile. A highly satisfying playing experience where one can get lost for hours, and not feel like you are missing out in that “Correct Tone” that will add the right sound to your bands song or other collaboration.  

So, what to do about this?  Very few people have been able to get their hands on a Myka to confirm this exciting discovery.  So I figure, maybe a magazine review will help this effort.  Thank the heavens for the good people.  I reach out to one of our trusted acquaintances in the guitar world, and indeed he is interested in reviewing #186!  He gets the buy in of no other than Guitar & Bass magazine out of the UK, and within two months, we have a great two page spread in the July 2016 issue, sharing the word about David’s work.  The review is spot on.  Take a look.

I really am hoping it doesn’t sell as I like the guitar so much.  It’s aesthetic reminds me of the the Les Paul Specials created in the 70’s that Bob Marley and the Beastie Boys played.  Which is cool in my book.  And Dave Hunter was right on when he compared it to a Classical Guitar.  Put the two together with really beautiful woods and that’s what you’ve got.  

Regarding our upcoming builds, we are so excited about them.  The Probett’s are looking out of control, finished so beautifully.  We know these will be special guitars.  Check them out!!

Both our Rocket '59 and Rocket III in the foreground!

Both our Rocket '59 and Rocket III in the foreground!

We also have this amazing carve top custom classic from Mr. Myka on it’s way.  Desire lathered all over this guitar.  Super lust worthy.  The business.

Headstock action

Headstock action

We are very honored to be working with Damian Probett, Christopher Benson, and David Myka.  They are all in the top-tier of luthiers and amp-builders world wide, and we happily do what we can to assist them in their artistic path as they create these amazing tone monsters.

Enjoy your summer!

Brian & Jaya

Big news from David Myka at Myka guitars and other updates!

We are very excited and honored with official recognition coming from master luthier David Myka . You can read more about it here

In addition to Koa Studio Special that we have for sale here we are about month away from completion of this beautiful Custom Classic.

Beautiful Burst (still in a curing process)!

Beautiful Burst (still in a curing process)!

Amazing "Stinger" that matches front of headstock. David's attention to details is truly amazing!

Amazing "Stinger" that matches front of headstock. David's attention to details is truly amazing!

In another news Benson Monarch combo has sold.

We have two Benson Vinny amps coming our way (one is already spoken for). You can find out more about them here

Vinny's are incredible "studio tools" with "line out" feature as well as amazing "bedroom/practice" amps. Did we mention how cool they look?

Probett Rocket III and '59 are coming along (5-6 weeks estimated).



Benson Monarch is sold, more coming our way!

Here we have two quick phone videos that can hopefully tickle your imagination on how good can Benson Monarch combo sound. Both videos were recorded with Koll Duo Glide guitar through Strymon Flint to Monarch combo with attenuator at "bedroom" levels.

This one is sold, more coming our way!

Feel free to inquire!


Thank you,

Brian and Jaya

“What’s with the Piano?”…On Wood, Happy New Years, Etc…..

Hi All, Happy New Year!  The venture that is Guitars-Electric is chooglin along nicely, with a number of builds in the works from David and Damian, some great sound reproduction gear from Chris Benson in stock with another Tall Bird on its way.  We look forward to sharing these new pieces as they wrap up in the next few weeks.

Here in Seattle, on the last day of 2015 we took the plunge and upgraded the infrastructure of Steph’s teaching practice….meaning we made good on a promise of investing in a baby grand piano for the studio.  As it is a big commitment for us, Steph played and I listened to a bunch of instruments with differing construction methods and assorted approaches to achieving their signature sound.  After A/B’ing American, Japanese, and European pianos and identifying some of their signatures, we ended up going with a European build.  While there were other builds that had a more consistent and balanced sound through out the spectrum, we went the direction we did due to the pure romance and beauty of the sound of this piano.  I likened the differences to being similar to a high end solid state amplifier vs. a high end tube amp. We went for the sound with the euphonic glow. 

Steph's new piano

Steph's new piano

The proprietor emphasized that a big portion of what we were enjoying about this sound was due to the soundboard made from old growth bavarian spruce, picked for it’s musical properties.  My ears perked up when hearing this, as tone wood selection is one of things we’ve noticed make a difference in the best guitars we’ve played.

Myka #186

Myka #186

The old growth redwood that the Ronin gents use, Saul Koll’s use of an ancient Brazilian rosewood fretboard on my arch top superior, as well as the wood selection that the builders we represent put into their builds, they make a good guitar into to something very special. The Rocket III that we have on order from Damian Probett is coming from a prized stash of 150 year old Mahogany that positively impacts the Rocket’s sound.  And you can’t get away from the amazing tone wood selections that go into a Myka guitar.  Kingwood, Koa, Cedar, Cocobolo, Walnut, Ebony…David’s gifted.  His tone wood combinations are one of the highlights of his builds.

Myka #186

Myka #186

I'm positing that wood matters.  Tone wood selections and combinations have been highlights of the best guitars we’ve played/owned (see here), and this will be a big consideration in every guitar we offer to folks interested in purchasing one or two from us.

Myka #186

Myka #186

On another note, David Bowie’s passing on January 10 effected us in a way we did not expect.  

Facebook post from the morning of the 11th reads “It seems he somehow found it within himself to make his passing into one of his finest pieces and that inspires awe. His music had a serious impact to my life, Hunky Dory in particular providing solace when times were their most challenging. Many due respects to one of the finest artists my generation has known, and deepest condolences to those close to him. Rest gently in whichever state suits your current preference, Mr. Bowie”

Alright - Happy New Year.  Let’s make 2016 a great one.

Best from to you from Guitars-Electric.

Probett Guitars

We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Damian Probett and Probett Guitars.  Damian’s skill as a builder is well documented, but has been hard to experience here in the US.  Many knowledgeable guitarists and collectors of boutique gear feel his work currently rests alongside the builds of the highest level of currently produced instruments.  We have been long smitten with the design of the Rocket III and his ’59 and ’54’s reveal an ‘it’ quality that is not apparent in many designers work. 

Damian's guitars are a success in merging the best features of vintage instruments and tones combined with a tonal sophistication and playability of the finest builds currently available.

We will be representing Damian’s builds from a West Coast perspective, and we are incredibly chuffed by this partnership. 

The current guitars on order are a Rocket ’59 and a Rocket III.

Please check this space for updates, and feel free to inquire regarding builds from Damian.  

Best! - Brian & Jaya

Hey, Christmas 2015 is just a few days away

Writing a quick update on a couple exciting items, but also wanted to share how thankful I am that we’ve got Christmas approaching…the family stuff and the holiday good cheer is super welcome this time of year.  It also is generally accompanied by a ton of year end wrap up stuff for our day jobs, and I can say that all of us here at Guitars-Electric are maybe just a little bit burnt. Really looking forward to having some time off for the holiday to focus on the business, the site, its a structure and content and some of the more “businessy” aspects of what we have to do to make this continue with the good luck and fortune that has accompanied our efforts to date.  We sincerely hope you have something similar on your plate for the upcoming weeks.  We wish you all the downtime you've earned.

So…we have another luthier who we will be representing on the West Coast only.  He’s esteemed, he is a super nice guy, he’s a bad ass builder, he’s from the UK.  Representing guitars by both he and David Myka is such an honor for us.  His name is Damian Probett (!) and his work can be viewed here.

We have two currently on order, and here’s a tease…an unfinished carve top body.  :)  More formal unveilings and revealings are forthcoming.  In like a week.

Additionally, we’ve got the most amazing NEW Benson Tall Bird Tube Reverb up on the for sale page, here.  It’s better than you might imagine.  The best reverb, and an incredible preamp capability, simultaneously subtle and profound.  I bet it’s gone soon, and I’m going to need to find one to add to my rig. It’s one of those “always-on” signature tone providers that provides endless engagement and creativity.  Highest Recommendation from Brian, FWIW.

Expecting the first Myka guitar to be available in the first week of January.  With the amazing woods David has chosen for this inaugural build, the price looks to be at about $4600.00.

Finally, it looks like it’s going to be snowing here in Seattle on Christmas…how cool is that.  I hope you all have something nice to look forward to this week.

Warmth, Well-Wishes and Cheer from West Seattle - B

Myka Guitars

We are so very excited to share that we will be partnering with David Myka of Myka Guitars to represent selected works.  David’s work is musical art and his work is in the top tier internationally for electric and custom guitar builds.  His work speaks for itself, please take a look at the images of our in-progress build below, as well as his gallery here.  David is known for his deep understanding of tone woods, and builds to reproduce and surpass the sonic goals set before him.  The guitars that he produces spotlight these beautiful woods and are crafted to the highest levels of fit and finish.   

Our first build is a Koa top, Mahogany back, Koa neck Custom Classic bound just enough to highlight the beautiful tone woods.  It will be a flexible vehicle for the gigging musician and guitar aficionado alike.  We can’t wait to share the finished piece with you.

We have another more traditional LP style single cutaway classic on order, as well.  This build will extend David's legacy of building some of the best single cuts currently available.  Please check this space and our Facebook page for updates on this certain to be epic build.

We are also very happy to facilitate guitar specification, ordering and shipping for the Myka guitar you've been imagining, please be in touch with questions.

So, yea, we’re stoked to be working with David.  Watch the site for updates.  More to come and thank you for your continued interest!! 

Brian & Jaya

Benson Monarch

I began a search for a small portable amp that I'll be able to use at home, in studio and at small gigs about year and a half ago.

I looked everywhere, tried quite a few boutique amps, some mass produced as well and stumbled upon couple of clips made by great producer and musician Dan Phelps. I got very interested in amp he was using to create those majestic sounds. 

Research started and soon I found out more about Chris Benson based in Portland, Oregon. He was amp tech for more than 20 years and started his own company with a vision of very simple to use amp with impeccable build quality and even better tone.

After couple of conversations with Dan I decided to take a leap of faith and call Chris to order one. I opted out for 6V6 tubes with Hammond transformer and Jensen P12N speaker. My amp also has a solid state rectifier as per Chris's suggestions due to unwanted rattle 5AR4 rectifier tube often produces in combo version. Contrary to popular belief I am completely persuaded it has no negative effect to overall tone (Chris shares this belief with me).

Couple of months later, as promised, on time my Benson Monarch combo arrived.  Every time I plug in this amp after 5 months of owning it I smile.  Beautiful 3D tones, sustain and richness of overtones is amazing. This amp shines both, at low volumes and pushed to the edge (it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it). 

Simple and very useful controls.

Simple and very useful controls.

Controls are very simple and useful, Tone, Volume and American / British switch for two distinctive flavors, both used by me all the time. They are two different modes with different EQ settings, American with recognizable scooped mids, beautiful tight low end and sparkling highs and British with pushed mids and dialed back low end for that church tone that we all love so much. If there could be possible improvement to design I would choose to have foot switch to go between those two settings effortlessly. Amp is wired point to point and it has with dovetail pine cabinet construction.  This little 35lbs gem can cover most of your needs with two knobs and one switch, everything from bedroom practice (I suggest Benson attenuator in this case, it's loud 15 watts) to studio work and smaller gigs.  This is most responsive amp that I ever played and it will transmit every possible nuance of pick, finger or string attack. You can go from chimey cleans to roaring crushing tones with just a volume knob on your guitar. It works equally good with both humbuckers and single coils and it takes pedals extremely well although it might take some adjustments from your standard settings due to streamlined circuit that provides more higs and lows that you might be used to.

Verdict, in my humble opinion Chris Benson managed to "crack the code" without breaking your bank. 

Why West Seattle Rules

So, Steph and I moved here a little over a year ago, and we feel we’re totally lucky.  We love this place for all the obvious reasons, proximity to downtown, Alaska and Admiral Junctions and Georgetown, Easy Street Records and the music scene, the proliferation of excellent restaurants and shopping, being surrounded on 3 sides by the epic Puget Sound, and Alki beach…and I’m just getting started.  

But from a Guitars-Electric perspective, the thing that rules about West Seattle beyond all of the above, is that when you add in a lower cost of living than in downtown, West Seattle supports a thriving musician and artist community. The West Seattle locals feed some of our friendly guitar shops such as Thunder Road and Emerald City guitars with killer vintage gear, and it also feeds the muse for the great luthier that is David Myka.  

David’s work resides in the upper echelon of custom electric builders world wide.  His knowledge of tone woods is very deep, and he can mix and match these exotic species of woods with more familiar species to create outstanding instruments in the realms of playability, fit and finish, and most importantly tone.  He’s a highly creative builder, willing to take on nearly any challenge thrown his way, and his original designs have become classic in their own right.

I met David in early 2014 after connecting in an online guitar related forum, and he’s been kind enough to have me by a number of times, share with me a little about the life of a luthier, and allow me to play a number of his builds in a variety of states of completion.  He is very kind, highly talented, incredibly detail oriented and obviously artistic.  He is open and free with his vast knowledge of both guitar construction and woods, and I think the thing that stands out the most is his ongoing curiosity in his craft.  Real dedication coming from a pure place.

Here are some photos from some of my visits checking out works in progress.  Please check out Davids incredible finished work here!  We look forward to being able to offer up a tone report or two on his soon to be released creations. And be on the lookout for an upcoming Q&A session with this gifted builder.

Myka Production Guitar #1!!

Myka Production Guitar #1!!

Hoping that Jaya will one up me with something from one of his East Coast builder friends.  Thanks all for checking this out, and stay tuned for the next installment....

Best - Brian

7th Annual Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase

There is a great excuse to sit in the car and run away from NYC every year at the end of October.

If you like nature in the fall at it’s best and guitars are your passion and or profession there is no better place to be than Woodstock NY.

This year, for the 7th time, “Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase” took place from October 23rd until October 25th in Bearsville Theater.

Baker Rorick and his crew did great job again bringing 68 exhibitors from as far as Japan and Turkey organizing great performances, clinics and workshops.

Besides many great performances from Bucky Pizzarelli and Ed Laub, Paul Asbel, Happy Traum, Kinloch Nelson, Doug Wamble, Tim Farrell and many others my personal highlight of the show was meeting some of the greatest luthiers of our times and playing some of their creations.

Michihiro Matsuda with his Piet Mondrian inspired guitar.

Michihiro Matsuda with his Piet Mondrian inspired guitar.

I've had a pleasure meeting Michi San in Montreal 3 years ago. Playing his scorched top guitar made me think a lot and hard. This time wasn’t different, Piet Mondrian inspired masterpiece was extremely inspirational.

Breathtaking design followed with highest attention to details.   

Breathtaking design followed with highest attention to details.  

Ervin Somogyi is one of the pioneers of American luthiere and Michi San's teacher.
His creations again didn't fail to leave people in awe.

John Monteleone was here again this year. His archtop guitars are among most sought after "Jazz boxes" on the planet today.

Playing Ken Parker archtops really changed my way of thinking about acoustic guitars and guitar construction. "Crazy Scientist", Mr Ken Parker is epitome of "Thinking outside the box" guitar building approach. Talking to him this year and playing "Lucky" was my highlight of the show.



Tailpiece and other details

Tailpiece and other details

Stephen Marchione, Jason Kostal, Raymond Kraurt, Mike Baranik, Tom Ribbecke were also among my favorites this year. Many other luthiers on the show are also worth mentioning and we’ll talk about them maybe next year.


Until then, do your self a favor, play guitar, enjoy life and plan trip to Woodstock at the end of October next year!

Deimel is gone, Lentz and Ronin on their way in!

Quick note today as we're all getting ready for Halloween.  Here in Seattle its looking to be a stormy one.  The Deimel has gone to a happy party here in the NW, and we've got a killer Lentz SSL that will be hitting the site soon.  In addition, my personal Ronin Little Wing #1, a very special guitar, will be put up for on sale by the weeks end.  They are really special instruments that you can build a project, band or a signature sound around.

Thanks for checking in and Stay Tuned!

- B