The Fretboard Journal Guitar Podcast

Each week, the Fretboard Journal interviews some of our favorite musicians, instrument builders and historians.
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Mar 2, 2017

Relic’d guitars are nothing new in the world of electric instruments, but they’re relatively unheard of when it comes to acoustics. Pre-War Guitars – the duo of Wes Lambe and Ben Maschal – hopes to change that. The pair of veteran luthiers are creating guitars that tap into the vintage sound and feel of Martins and Gibsons of the 1930s and ‘40s with hide glue, ultra-thin finishes and torrefied top woods. But they’re also adding scratches, dents and play wear to each of their new guitars (they offer a variety of distress levels based on a customer's preference). On this week’s podcast, you can hear about how this company came together, how they're constructing these instruments and why sometimes a little wear can result in a better sounding guitar. 

This week’s episode is sponsored by Dying Breed Music. Check out their Gbase page here:

Don't forget to subscribe to us via iTunes and please leave us a review if you can. Our 38th issue of the Fretboard Journal is now mailing... with features on Daniel Lanois, Leo Kottke, the first "Loar" mandolin and a lot more. 

Feb 16, 2017

If you love a good story, you’ll want to tune into this week’s podcast with luthier Wyatt Wilkie. Though he comes from a musical family, Wilkie is a completely self-taught instrument maker. He built his very first instrument, a mandocello, while working in New Mexico as a gravedigger. He then moved to a small town in Wales where he honed his craft and eventually found himself in Georgia apprenticing for archtop guitar icon Bob Benedetto. Wilkie is now nestled in the Comox Valley on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, where he divides his time today between mandolins and archtop guitars. Nearly all of his work is exquisite and custom… and no two guitars are alike.

This week’s episode is sponsored by Dying Breed Music:

Links mentioned:

Feb 11, 2017

On today’s Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to Jason and Pharis Romero of J. Romero Banjo Co. From the tiny town of Horsefly, British Columbia, the Romeros craft some of the most coveted new fretted instruments being made. They currently have a five year waitlist and, as they describe it, even getting on the waitlist is a bit of a challenge. The duo are also exceptional musicians and won the 2016 Juno Award for Best Traditional Album of the Year. 

In June 2016, a fire swept through the Romeros entire shop, destroying many of their new instruments as well as some of the prized vintage possessions. During our conversation, we talk to them about the fire, the help they received from the music community and how their rebuild process is going. We also chat about some of their latest banjo creations and innovations.
 (our film on the Romeros original shop) 
Subscribe to the Journal here: (use the coupon code PODCAST and save an additional $5 off your order) 

Feb 2, 2017

On this week’s podcast, we talk to luthier Maegen Wells. After years of working alongside famed archtop guitar and bass builder Tom Ribbecke, Maegen is now building her own guitar and mandolin creations out of her Forestville, California workshop.   

Wells has devoted nearly her entire adult life to learning the craft of lutherie and woodworking. Straight out of high school, she enrolled in Bryan Galloup’s Galloup School of Guitar Building and Professional Guitar Repair. She then went on to work at the Reverend Guitars warehouse and served as an apprentice to both Andrew White and Ribbecke.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Fretboard Journal Podcast via iTunes and, if you can, leave us a review on iTunes to help us with our search rankings:

The Fretboard Journal’s latest issue, #38, is now mailing worldwide. Subscribe via and we’ll start you off with this edition.

This episode is brought to you via sponsor TR Crandall. Check out their amazing inventory of vintage archtops, electrics and flattop acoustic guitars. And tell them the Fretboard Journal sent you:

Links: (StewMac video featuring Maegen Wells creating a tortoloid pickguard for a Gibson archtop) 

Jan 27, 2017

On today's podcast, we talk to William Seeders Mosheim, the owner of Seeders Instruments. Seeders is an open-back banjo builder who has found success combining old world designs with new world craftsmanship. The Vermont-based luthier honed his woodworking craft at his father's furniture business but now has a multi-year wait list for his banjos. His custom creations can incorporate any number of tone ring styles, wood options and levels of ornamentation. 

This episode is sponsored once again by TR Crandall. If you're visiting their store or website, don't forget to tell them that the Fretboard Journal sent you.

Don't forget to subscribe to all of the Fretboard Journal podcasts via iTunes. And leave us a review if you can! 


Jan 12, 2017

This week, we talk to recording engineer Larry Crane of Portland’s Jackpot! Recording Studio about the new and expanded 20th anniversary reissue of Elliott Smith’s Either/Or, his friendship with Smith and what those original recording sessions were like. Larry tells us about Smith’s in-studio work habits, the gear they used, the work that went into remastering these songs and a lot more. We also discuss the economics of running a recording studio and Tape Op, the magazine that Crane co-founded with John Baccigaluppi. 

This week's episode is sponsored by TR Crandall in New York. 

Links Discussed: 

Elliott Smith's Either / Or (Expanded Edition) on Amazon

Elliott Smith helping build Jackpot! (pics)

Tape Op magazine

The Fretboard Journal

Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal podcast via iTunes and leave us a review, please. 

Jan 6, 2017

This week: A double-episode of sorts! First off, we talk to Michael James Adams (aka by his social media handle, puisheen) about interviewing Nels Cline for us for issue 37. Michael walks through the interview process, Nels’ gear selections and more. Around the 20 minute mark, we share another session from the 2016 Fretboard Summit, this one on the next generation of guitar stores. On the panel: Adams (co-founder of Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar), Mark Stutman (Folkway Music), Reuben Cox (Old Style Guitar Shop), Will Lowe (Lowe Vintage) and Paul Heumiller (Dream Guitars). Topics covered: Using social media to sell guitars, finding your niche, and how these stores find their inventory.

This episode is brought to you by another relatively new store, TR Crandall.

Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal Podcast via iTunes here.  

Dec 29, 2016

On today's Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to singer-songwriter Paul Burch, who went from performing in rock and indie bands in the Midwest to working the honky tonks on Lower Broadway. Burch tells us about his years performing at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, focusing on “post-war, pre-Elvis” music; his classic country music influences; how his songwriting and singing evolved; and his latest project, Meridian Rising, an imagined, musical autobiography of Jimmie Rodgers.

Read about Burch on here:

This episode is sponsored by TR Crandall

Dec 23, 2016

Yet another fun session from the 2016 Fretboard Summit! This week we hear John Thomas (Kalamazoo Gals), TJ Thompson, Mark Stutman (Folkway Music), Jim Baggett (Mass Street Music), Robb Lawrence (The Les Paul Legacy) and David Sheppard (Lowe Vintage) field questions on vintage Gibson acoustic guitars.

Topics include: the many variables found in most vintage Gibsons; solid linings versus kerfed linings; converting ladder-braced models to X-braced; repair headaches; finish thickness and much more. 

Sponsored by TR Crandall.

Use the coupon code FJHoliday when you check out at and get an additional 15% off any order. 

Dec 16, 2016

The wait is over!

Back on our 100th episode, we introduced you to T. Drew Heinonen, a young luthier who attended the first Fretboard Summit. We ended up ordering a guitar through Drew, using woods and materials we sourced through some of our favorite suppliers. Ever since, we’ve been checking in with Drew on the podcast as he builds the instrument. Well, the wait is over and at the second Summit (held in October 2016 in San Diego), Drew presented us with the finished guitar, a fine sounding koa/Lutz OM with surprising tone (for a koa instrument) and plenty of personal touches.

On today’s episode, we talk to Drew about how the guitar came together, how it’s opening up and what his plans are for 2017 and beyond. We also discuss the sister OM guitar that Drew built using Black locust and Red spruce. That instrument is currently for sale via Drew. 

Dec 9, 2016

Law professor, author and Fretboard Journal Field Editor John Thomas joins us once again to discuss some recent updates to CITES and the impact they will have on musicians, instrument collectors and builders. Specifically, beginning January 2017, all remaining species of Rosewood (beyond Brazilian, which was already protected) will be added to CITES Appendix II. This may not affect you at all if you keep your guitars in United States but if you ever plan on taking an instrument with rosewood across the border (or selling one to someone outside the country), you may have some work to do.  

We discuss the various steps that collectors, luthiers and dealers should take if they want to transport guitars with rosewood internationally; how builders can protect their wood stockpile; the expenses and timing needed to file all this paperwork; and a lot more.

Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal podcast for free via iTunes: and please consider leaving us a review or sharing the podcast with friends. 

If you’re holiday shopping and want to give the Fretboard Journal as a gift this year, use the coupon code FJHOLIDAY when you check out. You’ll get 15% off any order:

Intro/Outro music by Jon Rauhouse. 

Links Mentioned:

Today’s podcast is sponsored by TR Crandall: 

US Fish & Wildlife Link for Musical Instrument Passports:

NAMM on CITES Updates:

The Fretboard Journal’s Guide to Musical Instrument Passports:

The FJ’s Guitar Lover’s Guide to CITES: 

League of American Orchestra’s CITES Protected Species Travel Tips:

Dec 1, 2016

On December 5, 1927, the day after Blind Willie Johnson recorded some of his most influential blues sides at an impromptu Columbia Records recording studio in Dallas, in walked an equally mysterious and haunting musician, Washington Phillips. Phillips carried a homebrew instrument - later described as a “dulceola” but, as we learn on today’s podcast, actually two zithers he fabricated together. The otherworldly music coming out of those zithers, combined with Phillips’ powerful singing and songwriting, created some of the most awe-inspiring and mysterious sounds ever recorded. It’s no wonder Phillips has been covered by Ry Cooder, Jorma Kaukonen, Will Oldham and others.

On today’s podcast, we talk to writer Michael Corcoran, whose research helped fill in the gaps of who, exactly, Phillips was, where he lived and when he died. We also talk about Phillips instrument of choice and how the dulceola theory was finally debunked.
All of Corcoran’s findings on Phillips can be found on the new Dust to Digital book/CD recording called Washington Phillips and his Manzarene Dreams. It’s great music and great writing (the liner notes are actually a 76-page book)… we can’t recommend it enough.

“Where did this come from? That still remains the mystery,” Corcoran concludes. “I still don’t know that… you really will never know the motivation of the artist…”

Discussed in this podcast: (page dedicated to Washington Phillips’ instrument) (Washington Phillips and his Manzarene Dreams)

Nov 22, 2016

You don’t need to be an offset guitar connoisseur to appreciate the beauty of Nels Cline’s beat 1960 Fender Jazzmaster, affectionately dubbed “Watt.” On today’s Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to the former owner of that guitar, Mike Watt himself. Watt reflects on his ongoing friendship with Cline, his ownership stint with the Jazzmaster (which was briefly owned by J Mascis before Watt bought it via Rick King at Guitar Maniacs), the Minutemen and more. We ask Watt about the recent release of Ring Spiel Tour ‘95, an amazing live document featuring Watt with Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, Pat Smear and William Goldsmith.

Also discussed: D. Boon, EMG pickups, Floored by Four, the Black Gang, a potential signature model Mike Watt bass and more.

Referenced in the discussion: 
Nels’ tour diaries: 
Nels’ tour diaries, pt 2: 
Nels Cline’s Goo Pedal:
Watts' Gear:
Ring Spiel Tour '95:
Nikon Coolpix LX830:

Nels Cline is on the cover of the new Fretboard Journal #37, available now. Podcast listeners: Use the coupon code "podcast" when you check out. 

Nov 18, 2016

On this week’s podcast, we talk to guitarist Jon Herington. For the last several years, Herrington has performed guitar duties for Steely Dan, but his credits go far beyond that. He’s also an accomplished singer-songwriter and session musician. We also discuss his 2016 solo album Adult Entertainment, his Wysocki Telecaster, the rigors of touring and a bunch more. 

Nov 11, 2016

On this week’s podcast, we’re sharing the vintage Martin guitar panel that took place at the 2016 Fretboard Summit. Included on this panel were guitar experts Mark Stutman (Folkway Music), TJ Thompson, Jim Baggett (Mass Street Music), David Sheppard (Lowe Vintage), Eric Schoenberg and Joe Glaser (Glaser Instruments). Also joining in is Dick Boak from Martin. This episode makes for a nice bookend with Fretboard Journal Podcast #122 with TJ Thompson. Topics include: TJ’s background, the Martin “longscale” myth, proper intonation, hide glue, popsicle braces, slotted bridge pins, why you can’t make a new guitar exactly like an old one and much more. All-told, a fun and informative chat with six of the world’s best-known vintage instrument experts. 

Note: The audience was un-mic’d for this informal session so questions are hard to hear on this podcast. You should be able to figure out all the questions asked via the panel’s responses.

This episode is sponsored by TR Crandall Guitars

Nov 4, 2016

On this week’s Fretboard Journal podcast, we’re sharing the talk that acclaimed luthier TJ Thompson gave at the 2016 Fretboard Summit in San Diego. This talk was billed as “Myth Busting with TJ Thompson” and had the following description in our program:

Adirondack you say? What makes you think so? Is it possible to build a new guitar just like the old guitars? How long is long scale? Is hide glue really better? Should you have that popsicle brace removed? Internet bloggers who believe they know the answers to these questions beware, this lecture may not be for you. 

This was easily one of the most candid talks at the Summit. By popular demand (and with his permission), we’re sharing it today. At the 2016 Summit, TJ was also on panels discussing vintage Martin guitars, vintage acoustic Gibson guitars and the merits of the PLEK machine. We’ll be sharing those in the near future, too.

Please review us on iTunes if you haven’t yet and don’t forget to subscribe to the Fretboard Journal print edition. Our new issue (#37) is now mailing with Nels Cline on the cover. 

This week’s podcast sponsor is TR Crandall, a must-see vintage guitar shop in New York City.

The Fretboard Journal Podcast on iTunes: click here 
TJ Thompson:
TR Crandall:

Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal magazine here

Oct 27, 2016

The last official talk at the 2016 Fretboard Summit featured three giants in the world of guitarmaking: Rick Turner, Dana Bourgeois and Andy Powers. This sprawling talk covers a lot of ground: What makes a great guitar? How long are guitars supposed to last? Will artificial intelligence take over guitar making? They also fielded plenty of enlightening questions from our audience. [Note: Audio is a little variable with audience questions – not everyone spoke into a microphone – but the answers should be plenty audible.] 

The second Fretboard Summit took place October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego. Over the next few months, we’ll be releasing more content – talks, panels and concert footage – on


Oct 21, 2016

Two old friends join us on this week’s Fretboard Journal Podcast as we talk with guitar improvising legend Henry Kaiser and Andy Marshall of THD Electronics.

During our sprawling chat, Kaiser tells us about his love for diving in the Antarctic and how being underwater in the cold has affected his sense of rhythm. He also tells us how he met Alexander “Howard” Dumble and how he obtained his #1 Steel String Singer in one of the great guitar deals of the century. Kaiser then walks us through his pedalboard’s entire signal chain, briefly demoing each pedal. The pair also discuss the magic of Bell & Howell Filmosound amplifiers and the future of Marshall's THD Electronics. 

Must-watch video of Henry Kaiser swimming with the Weddell seals:

And Kaiser playing slide on the South Pole:

Note: During this taping, we filmed a few videos with Kaiser and Marshall performing at the FJ. Look for those on and on our YouTube channel over the next couple of weeks.


Sep 30, 2016

On this week's podcast, we talk to Will Lowe and David Sheppard of Lowe Vintage. Lowe Vintage is a relatively new guitar shop based in Burlington, North Carolina. Despite their newcomer status in the world of vintage guitars, mandolins and banjos, they've already amassed an incredible selection of Gibsons, Martins and more.

During our talk, Will Lowe tells us about how this store came about and where they find all these classic '20s-'40s era instruments. We also talk to David Sheppard about the repair work he does to these instruments, collector trends and more. 

We're happy to announce that Lowe Vintage will be bringing many of their instruments to our Fretboard Summit, October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego, California. Attend and have an opportunity to play (or purchase) some of these remarkable gems.

Sep 22, 2016

Our Fretboard Summit OM guitar project is now nearing completion. On this episode, we conduct one last Skype conversation with luthier T. Drew Heinonen to talk about the instrument, where it stands currently and about some of the finishing touches Drew will be making to the guitar. He tells us a bit about pore fillers, the intricacies of UV finishes, how he prefers to glue the bridge to the body, the merits of Ironwood as a replacement for Ebony and much more.

We’ll be unveiling this guitar for the first time at the Fretboard Summit, October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego, California. Join us for three days of music, guitar talks, interviews and panels if you can. We’ll even let you play this very guitar. It’s going to be a blast.

Special thanks to Stewart MacDonald for sponsoring this and other Summit guitar episodes.


Sep 13, 2016

We don’t often cover religious music here at the Journal but on today’s podcast we talk to Paul Enns, a music pastor based in London. He walks us through his unique job, crafting music and playing acoustic guitar for church services; tells us about his wildly eclectic music tastes (here’s a player who can appreciate everything from Joe Henry to John Zorn and Albert Ayler); describes the life changing impact Springsteen’s The River had on him as a child and a lot more. 

Also, Summit updates, some Southern California FJ reader meetups and more.

Intro and outro music by Jon Rauhouse, who has a new album out with Eric Bachmann.


Jon Rauhouse with Eric Bachmann:

Aug 26, 2016

As Santa Cruz celebrates its fortieth anniversary, we’re sharing the talk that founder Richard Hoover gave at the first-ever Fretboad Summit. Richard tells us a bit about the SCGC operation, gives us his thoughts on how tonewoods affect what we hear, describes his specific builds for Tony Rice and much more. 

The next Fretboard Summit takes place October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego, California. Once again, Hoover and many luthiers from around the country will be on-hand, fielding questions and explaining their craft. We’ll also have some of our favorite musicians, interactive exhibits, dozens of vintage guitars in a pop-up “guitar library” and much more.

Aug 17, 2016

Jim Olson is a legend in the world of acoustic guitar making. The Minnesota-based luthier is a cult favorite among guitar collectors around the world thanks to the instruments he's built for James Taylor (Taylor's Olson was once immortalized in cartoon form on a Simpson’s episode), Phil Keaggy and Leo Kottke. Due to their high demand, Olson’s new creations start at $15,000, a price that even he is a little embarrassed by. “I’m the Forrest Gump of guitarmaking,” Olson tells us. “I fell into here. I don’t think these things are any more special than anything else.” 

During this candid talk, Olson tells us about the first guitar he built (with help from the classic Irving Sloane book), how Keagy ordered the first cedar guitar and how an early (and failed) distribution deal for his dreadnoughts in the late ‘70s resulted in his fanatical appreciation for tooling and build efficiency. “I’m sometimes more interested in making a new piece of tooling than a guitar,” he says. We also talk CNC machines, the creation of the Small Jumbo, tone woods, his fateful meeting with James Taylor and more.

Subscribe to all the Fretboard Journal podcasts via iTunes:

Aug 5, 2016

These days, Otto D’Ambrosio is best known for his exquisite archtop guitars. But his guitar journey began long ago, when he stumbled into Mandolin Brothers as a 13 year old. He ended up working at Mandolin Brothers for Stan Jay, then for luthier legends Flip Scipio and John Monteleone. He did some time at the repair department of Guild’s Westerly plant and, eventually set out on his own as a luthier and repairman.

On this week’s podcast, D’Ambrosio tell us about his background, describes the ongoing evolution of his archtop models and tells us about his ongoing collaboration with Eastman Guitars. After working for most of his life on the East Coast, Otto has now relocated to the West Coast to work out of Eastman’s California headquarters.

It’s an informative and fun chat with one of the fretted instrument world’s best craftsmen.

Jul 28, 2016

It's starting to look like a guitar!

Luthier T. Drew Heinonen is hard at work on the OM guitar project we'll be unveiling at the 2016 Fretboard Summit. On this week's podcast, Drew tells us about his assembly of the guitar's body, gives us his views on bracing and bridge plates and much more. 

The Fretboard Summit OM will be unveiled at the next Fretboard Summit, taking place October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego. Go to for details. 

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