The Parlour Guitar
In 2014, I played at “Black Sheep Inn” in the mountains outside of Quebec City in French speaking Canada. It turned out to be a bit of a trek, because it was winter and we were detained at the US-Canadian border – crossing musicians sometimes have to sit straight and get their hands slapped by law and order. Our papers were in order, but this officer, which we named McNulty-in-the-snow, tried for hours to make calls, check the internet and to inspect suspicious activity in our tour book, to no avail. So when we finally walked through the front door of the venue, the audience was already seated in front of the stage and started to cheer, well into their second beer. It was a fun show, one to remember.
After the performance I was approached by a Danish man named Carsten Bondersholt. He was in training as a luthier (note: someone who builds or repairs string instruments generally consisting of a neck and a sound box) with Sergei de Jonge, a well known luthier in North America, his quarters based near the “Black Sheep Inn.” It seems only natural that the next time I run into Carsten Bondersholt is in an even more remote, cold and snowy place, in Nuuk, Greenland. Here, Carsten worked as a banker in the daytime, while building guitars in his basement after closing hours. Carsten and his wife Anne invited me to dinner and this way I could try some of his guitars. I enjoyed our meal and shared my opinions on stringed instruments and in that basement we nerded away for hours. Carsten suggested that I should have my own custom built guitar, but that has never been on my radar and more precisely, that has never been in my budget.
A couple of months ago, four years later, Carsten reached out to me and said he was going back to Sergie de Jonge’s workshop in Canada and he was going to build me a guitar. Sergei de Jonge and his family opened up their home and workshop for Carsten, where he stayed and worked for five weeks. I am thankful and truly happy with the result. This guitar and me are already friends. It sounds amazing and it plays very well and it’s unique – it feels like it belongs in my hands and that we are going to make music for a long time.
Carsten built the guitar on my wish of simplicity. The guitar is a parlour guitar, Sergei de Jonge has helped with the design. It has 12 frets where the neck meets the smaller body. The headstock is slotted, like a classical guitar. The inlay is made in Ebony from my hand drawing. The neck is Mahogany, the finger board is Ebony. The tuners are Gotoh (Japan). The body has a soundhole originally invented by Sergei de Jonge, now copied by others around the world. The bottom and the side is Sapele wood, also named African Mahogany. The top is Canadian Sitka spruce. The bridge is Ebony.
The guitarist is excited.