Updates and Reviews from Owners
Patrick Meyer played a live concert on Olympia Winter Nights using Orchestral Model 1.3.15. He borrowed this instrument for this concert in a prelude to having an instrument commissioned. He made the following comment after playing the guitar for a few days.
" Playing your guitar reminds me why I contacted you in the first place. The intonation is almost completely perfect up to the 24th fret; no notes are louder or softer than any others on any string; the chords combine into a whole while remaining individual notes; and extreme playability. So this is an earlier model?! Awesome!"
By Joey M.: Spending a summer in the Portland Guitar Lutherie building a Baritone Ukulele
It was a good summer. I drove around the world a little, and when I came back to portland, I started working with Jay. The first day we counted our fingers to keep track of how many we had, and to make sure we didn't lose any. I started at the beginning. I learned how to use all of the tools in the shop by building the tools we needed to start making ukuleles. First It was the "universal bend o' later" bending machine, followed by more templates and jigs then I ever could have imagined would be required. And of course, along the way we would realize we needed still more special tools for special tasks, and would have to build those too. We worked efficiently, and with more attention to detail than I knew I was capable of. In Jay's garage workshop, there is no space or material put to waste. At times it felt arduous and tedious, while at others it felt fast paced and free form. Each step and each detail were of equal importance, I found out. And by the end of this process I've come to find why spending time and care on small details is necessary: they add up to equal the final product. It was exciting to problem solve our way through the prototyping process, and how with every problem, we figured out how to build a solution. Coming from an art making background without much engineering or design instruction, it was an invaluable experience to work with someone so knowledgeable of the material, and so thorough and clever with engineering solutions. I was truly inspired at Jay's solutions, which almost always proved the simplest and most effective. I feel truly blessed to have been given an opportunity to learn from a true artist, an incredible engineer, and someone who builds the best instruments I've ever played.
Re: Pico PIM 1.1.23
Just wanted to let you know that I bought the above guitar from the folks at Artichoke Music this summer, and it's been a great guitar for me. It makes me happy just to look at it, and its sound belies the size. Everyone is amazed at the richness, complexity, and the sheer volume of the sound such a small body can produce. Most importantly, for me, is the action and playability. I'm returning to guitar playing after a fifteen year hiatus, and the ease of using this fingerboard is making re-learning a much smoother process. Back in the 80's I had a LoPrinzi Maple Dreadnought that I thought would be the best guitar I'd ever have the opportunity to own. Now, though, I find that this little Pico is a more flexible and comfortable instrument than that was, while offering a sound every bit as pleasing. Thank you for offering something this nice at an affordable price. I consider it a great bargain.
Many thanks, Wil
Upon removing all of the extra protection that you packed into the case, I got my first "in-person" glance of what is quite possibly the most beautiful guitar that I have ever seen. Jay, it is absolutely stunning. I read the note that you included and want to tell you again that I never expected the guitar to be 100% perfect. You are not a machine and I did not want a machine made guitar; I have been playing those since I picked up my first guitar 10 years ago. You gave me EXACTLY what I was looking for! Tuning the guitar was a breeze, and I haven't touch the tilt-action neck as the action is UNREAL. I usually play with my guitar tuned DGDGAD, which is why I wanted the little extra length to the neck. The strings have the right amount of tension on them, just slightly looser than my older acoustic which makes playing a bit easier. The first thing that I noticed when I started playing is how pronounced the bass notes are. The are deep and full, but do not overpower the mids and treble at all. Second thing I noticed is how balanced the guitar is; each string has just the right voice so as not to get muddy or fade into a mush of sound. Third (and this is really impressive) are the harmonics. I incorporate them into my playing style quite a bit and have been frustrated lately with my Epiphone for not producing them very well. This will not be a problem anymore...they leap of the fretboard effortlessly and are loud. After going fingerstyle with it for quite a while, I tuned it up to standard and grabbed a yellow tortex (my fav). WOW!!! I was playing everything that I could think of and had to stop when I hit an E major. Probably the best guitar sound that I have ever heard. You can hear every single string in the chord, but at the same time, it blends so well together. I have never played a guitar that has such a complex sound to chords; they are VERY rich. Finally, and I don't know why it took me this long to realize this, but I can feel the guitar vibrate with each note against my body as I play. I can't wait to hear it open up over the next few years. I want to thank you for all that you have done for me, Jay. I couldn't be any happier with your devotion to me as a customer, your level of commitment to my wishes, and the product that you have delivered. The guitar is absolutely priceless, and honestly, I am tempted to take it out to see what people at the local music shops think. No Martin, Gibson, Taylor, Larrivee, or any other brand you can think of could even come close to touching the beauty. Again, I sincerely thank you.
Keeping the rhythm for ya, Joe
It's been a little more than 3 years since you delivered my dream guitar, and let me say, the instrument continues to amaze me with it's tone. I was playing a bit this afternoon and realized that the guitar has finally started to open up with its age. It is a joy to play every single time that I pick it up. The tilt-action neck has allowed me to experiment with different strings and get the action super-low each time. I have let a few adults (no kids!) play it and they are always taken aback by its weight when they first pick it up...but are then blown away by the sound that comes out of it; it sends forth a wall of sound with great volume. My brother recently bought a Martin that weighs about half of what your guitar does, but it sounds nowhere near as good. Since you delivered the guitar, I have not laid hands on another guitar that plays or sounds comparable...even at twice the price! You built me a truly incredible instrument and I cannot thank you enough.
Anytime I take the guitar out of my home I prepare myself to be bombarded by questions from interested friends/family/stranger, etc. Since there is no company name on the headstock, the first question most people ask, after telling me how beautiful the guitar is, is "who made that guitar?" I then proceed to show them the contra-rosette with your signature on it and direct them to your website. Before you built this guitar for me, I had a serious case of GAS...not anymore!!! I couldn't imagine ever wanting to play another acoustic guitar, it's almost like it is an extension of me when I pick at it.
Again, I can't say enough about you, your artistry, and your commitment to me as a customer.
These days, it isn't easy to break into luthier work unless you have connections or a lot of money. Luckily there are still people like Jay who are dedicated to the idea of apprenticeship and craftsmanship. In Jay's shop these time honored ideals meld with an engineering-trained artist capable of explaining the science behind the craft. Jay is all the things you want in a luthier – experienced, precise, soulful and knowledgeable. But equally important, he is all the things you want in a teacher – clear, patient, gracious and attentive. His shop is filled with beautiful hand-crafted jigs and specialty tools that are testament to his ingenuity, creativity and years of dedication to the art. Guitar building with Jay is a perfect combination of art and science. His guitars contain a carefully calculated amount of material, each component no thicker or thinner than necessary to create a unique, sweet sounding instrument. When your time working with Jay ends, you not only walk out of his shop with a top-quality instrument, you walk out with the pride and knowledge that thanks to Jay – you built it yourself.
Jacob Mestman Jay's student, June 2010 through June 2011 and proud owner of a Portland Guitar
I just wanted to email you and give you an update on the life of (your? my?) guitar. I am so very happy with this incredible instrument and I wanted to thank you again for your excellent work. It is currently living with me in Paris, where I am an intern at the Opéra-Comique, and in the evenings I make recordings in my little room. It is everything I hoped for and more. I feel extremely lucky to have been fortunate enough to have you recommended to me, and I am very grateful. I've attached some recordings, which you can listen to if you want. That's your instrument playing the guitar in there.
Thank you very much, and my very best wishes,