Boutique Acoustics

Boutique Acoutics

180 Years of Handbuilt American Guitars

 by Michael John Simmons


Discerning guitarists know that solo luthiers and small workshops are currently building some of the finest acoustic guitars ever made. Boutique Acoustics tells the story of how America’s crop of talented luthiers came to create guitars that rival the legendary instruments of the 1930s an 1940s from builders like Martin, Gibson, and the Larson brothers, as well as a number of more obscure guitar makers who all have played a key part in the evolution of the instrument.

Boutique Acoustics starts in 1833 with C.F. Martin, Sr., the first known luthier in America, and the classical guitars he learned to build in Vienna under the tutelage of Johann Stauffer. From there, the book follows the story of how a gut-strung Austrian classical guitar developed into the modern steel-string flattop guitar with the help of Spanish luthiers, Hawaiian steel guitarists and Italian mandolin players.

Boutique Acoustics also explains how unusual 19th century inventions like the harp guitar and the 12-string influenced the development of the modern six-string guitar, and it covers the birth of the steel-string, the rise of small factories, the advent of “one-man shops,” the origins of various trends in guitar construction – the design of cutaways; the use of a variety of woods, polishes, and other aesthetic detailing; and the incorporation of high-tech materials, such as carbon fiber and Nomex.

Current luthiers such as Ervin Somogyi, Charles Fox, Jeff Traugott, Michihiro Matsuda, and Kathy Wingert are covered, and so are the pioneers of modern guitar-making, including Michael Gurian, J.W. Gallagher, Stuart Mossman, Nick Kukich, the Santa Cruz Guitar Company, and Roy Noble. The Book also explores important but now obscure builders like Gower, NBN, and Max Krimmel.

Included in this lavishly illustrated volume is a comprehensive guide to every significant US maker, descriptions of the most popular styles, and a detailed reference section about boutique guitar models.

8.5″ x 11″
144 pages
Backbeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group


Michael John Simmons started playing electric guitar in punk bands as a teenager before he was converted to acoustic music by a rabid Djano Reinhardt fan. He spent 15 years working at Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, California, where he learned more about the construction and history of ukuleles, guitars, mandolins, and banjos than was good for him. Simons is a former review editor at Fiddler Magazine and a former contribution editor at Acoustic Guitar. He is the author of Taylor Guitars: 30 Years of A New American Classic and the co-author of Acoustic Guitar: An Historical Look At The Composition, Construction, And Evolution Of One Of The Worlds’ Most Beloved Instruments. He is the co-founder, along with Jason Verlinde, of The Fretboard Journal and The Ukulele Occasional magazines.

Gretsch, Sg cover



Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on June 24, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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