Friday, August 19, 2016

Signature Ergonomic Model in Showroom!

2016 Hill ERGONOMIC Model
640mm Indian Rosewood

$8,000 with Metro case

This is the first production ERGONOMIC model Signature Standup Model we've made. A number of ERGONOMIC features have been included in custom guitars, but now they are being offered for discerning players desiring a more comfortable instrument.

The Ergonomic model is based on the Standup Wedge body design; the body depth being thicker on the treble side and thinner on the bass side makes the guitar easier to reach the strings with the right arm. The addition of the armrest makes the reach even easier and more comfortable. The subtraction of a small slice from the bass side of the upper bout in back makes the guitar sit against the chest more comfortably.

This guitar's string length is 640mm with a Western red cedar doubletop with select Indian rosewood back and sides. Looks and sounds fantastic. ...and, no, the armrest and chest cut, the wedge do not reduce or alter the sound negatively.

  • Standup Wedge body
  • Soundboard: Doubletop European Spruce/Nomex/Western Red Cedar lattice braced
  • Back/Sides: Indian rosewood
  • Neck: Spanish cedar
  • Fingerboard: ebony, elevated
  • String Length: 640mm
  • Finish: French polish
  • Tuners: Sloane ebony
  • Lightweight truss rod
  • sound ports
  • compensated bone nut & saddle
  • 12 hole bridge
  • Armrest
  • Chest cut
  • Overall length: 39"
  • Body length: 19"
  • Upper bout: 11"
  • Lower bout: 14.375"
  • Body depth: 3.5 - 4"
  • Fingerboard @ nut: 51mm
Take a closer look!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Carmel Guitar Society Presents: Andrew York in Concert & Masterclass!

Come see Andrew York Live in Concert in Carmel, CA!

As you may know we are presenting Andrew York in concert this coming Saturday night at Hidden Valley Music in Carmel Valley, and additionally we are offering a master class on Saturday morning 10:00 AM, at the Hill Guitar showroom in Ben Lomond. There is room for an additional player in the class, or if you just want to attend please give us a call at 831-336-9317. Andy is a great composer, a fine guitarist, an excellent teacher and an interesting guy. This is an opportunity not to be missed! I hope you can come to both events.

Kenny Hill

In any generation there are many musicians, but very few artists that communicate on a profound cultural level.  Andrew York is one of these rare artistic voices.  Think Picasso painting with sound as a canvas, or a Miles Davis behind the guitar.  Andrew achieves a synthesis of ancient and modern forms that offers a deep cultural expression that will only be truly understood by future generations.  To call Andrew's music classical is to put it into far too small a box; this is the living future of classical music.

When: Saturday, August 20th
Time: 7:30pm
Tickets: $30
Call (831) 375-2486 or (831) 659-3115 for tickets
Where: Hidden Valley Music, Carmel
e-mail: for questions

Monday, July 18, 2016

Congratulations to the Cincinnati Winner!

We recently donated an Estudio Model Guitar for raffle to the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati for their summer classical guitar workshop.  Thanks to Jonathan Marshall, one of our fantastic dealers at Jonathan Marshall Guitars, there is a winner! Congratulations!

Friday, July 15, 2016

25th Guitar Festival in Iserlohn, Germany!

Signature Standup Model with Armrest
The 25th International Guitar Festival in Iserlohn, Germany is taking off on July 17th- 24th!  Kenny is able to attend most every year, and each year is different and more exciting than the last. Thomas Kirchhoff and Dale Kavanagh do such an amazing job putting this event together, and this year they have some truly wonderful artists coming to perform and teach.  If you are going as well, please stop by and try some Hill Guitars, like the one featured here!

See you in Germany!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Hill Guitar Gets a Visit From GeekSpeak!

Lyle Troxell is the host of the radio program and podcast Geekspeak, he’s been doing it for decades. It’s a show that is mostly about technology and social media subjects, but out of the blue last month he called me and asked to do a shop tour and interview. I guess this is official acknowledgment that I am a guitar geek. We just did it the next day. It was very nice getting together with Lyle, who I have known for many years, since he was a kid, the son of my old friends the late Peter Troxell and wife and mother Dianna .  Peter and I worked together in the mid 90’s when he was station manager and I was program director at KUSP FM in Santa Cruz. Peter was a very valuable influence on me until he passed away in 2004, and he still is.

Lyle has a very sharp and curious mind, and it was a pleasure to speak with him. Here’s a link to that interview:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Look Back at GFA 2016!

A look at Denver, CO.

In June we attended and exhibited at the annual Guitar Foundation of America convention in Denver. It was a great show! The location was one of the best I’ve experienced, the energy was very high, and the music was impressive and inspiring.  I could go on and on, and maybe I will later, but for now I want to mention our newest Hill Guitar playing artist, Mary Jedynak.

At this show I brought my own personal guitar, the one that I’ve been using for gigs and practicing etc. for the last year. It’s a bit scratched up and all, but it sounds and plays very well, and it has all of the tailor made features that I’ve been working on to make guitar playing more comfortable and exhilarating —  a 640 scale Signature Model guitar with wedge tapered body, wide arm rest,  as well as all of the other design features of the Signature Model, and oh yes, the Barbera pickup. 

Mary was spending a lot of time and attention trying guitars from the many many luthiers exhibiting, and she came around a few times to try out this guitar. It fit her very well, she’s a delightful player, and in the end we made a deal and she took it home. She seemed very happy, and me too.

It is most satisfying for me to place a guitar in the hands of a young and developing player. It’s a good feeling to realize that the instrument can be a part of a young musicians growth and inspiration. I try to make instruments that help the guitarist play better and to really enjoy the time spent with the guitar, performing, practicing or just fooling around. Mary is pursuing her studies with Sungmin Shin in Rochester NY, and she’s going to be working hard. Additionally she is playing in senior living homes a few times a month, playing in their guitar ensemble and writing for guitar and other instruments. 

We were also fortunate to place several other instruments with players from all over. It all happened so fast I didn’t get photos and details, but I’m excited to have fine and dedicated players working our guitars across the country and around the world.

In the end it feels like this guitar was made for Mary. I hope she continues to enjoy it as much as I did, to grow with her music, and and continue to share it with the world.
Kenny with Mary Jedynak
Kenny with Robert Ruck at GFA 2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Meet Our New Custom Crossover Performance Model!

Last week we finished this pictured custom Crossover Performance Model instrument for Rick Ellis from San Francisco. As I was playing it and handing it off to it’s new owner, my comment was that this is the new paradigm for a crossover instrument. For Hill Guitar Crossover this is the new standard.

In the decade 2000s we made quite a few Crossover guitars. I think of it as a nylon string guitar aimed at players accustomed to steel string acoustic or electric guitars. Most of those players (then and now) had never played a fine classical guitar, only commercial grade instruments carried as token nylon in general guitar and music stores. There was a trend of electric going acoustic as the “unplugged” movement, and I saw a further opportunity of acoustic going nylon as a further move toward sensitivity. Our Crossover guitar fit the bill. It was basically a normal size classical body with a cutaway, a narrower 48 mm neck. and an arched fingerboard. The decorations were a little more Americana than European, but otherwise the construction was quite traditionally classical.These guitars went over very well, and occasionally one will still pop up here or there, and are still very well loved.

But back then, as the popularity was growing, some big name steel string companies tried developing their own crossover style instruments, and they nearly killed the market. I won’t name names, but I have long contended that nobody can make excellent steel string guitars and excellent nylon string guitars. They’re just different beasts. And in this case I was 100% correct. Those guitars were lumps of wood, no sparkle, no vitality, the only output a nasal buzzing coming from the pickup. Sorry, but it’s true.  As they rolled out their nylon string guitars, loyal fans of their brands tried them out, got no love whatsoever from the guitars and said — never mind, I guess nylon sucks. The nylon generation never had a chance, because that market was tainted with mediocre or bad instrument that never really inspired the musicians. I haven’t paid attention to what has happened to those instruments since then, but interest in Crossover guitars within our company really waned. It didn’t really matter to me because we’ve been quite busy enough making concert classical guitars, but as a participant and observer of the market I found that interesting and ironic.

Now, starting at the beginning of this year, a whole new set of custom orders have come through, and many of them variations of the Crossover. Orders and interests do seem to come in waves, but this is a crazy strong trend, from nothing to many in just a few short weeks. My theory is that the quelling effect of all of those disappointing instruments from the 2000's has finally passed through, and that serious musicians and guitar aficionados are again wanting to having a beautiful nylon sound available to them, whether on stage, in the studio or at home.

Nylon strings will never play exactly the same as steel strings. There is only half the tension on the strings, much greater flexibility, and the design of the neck and the top have to take that into account. And for me that is the beauty of it. It’s very sensitive, has so much color and dynamic possibility, and is so user friendly to play.

This particular guitar has rosewood body with spruce/cedar double top, 640mm string length, 12 fret neck with a 48mm (1 7/8") nut width and a 16” radius fingerboard. The body has a sweet little cutaway, one sound port, a wedge tapered body and a wide beveled armrest. Add to this a beautifully natural sounding Barbera pickup and you have a new standard for a Hill Crossover Guitar.

Well, almost. At this point we are only making these guitars as custom orders. Our production is limited and we have a lot of other things to do. But it’s interesting to me, the new appreciation for nylon strings beyond the realm of just classical guitar, and I really like the unique characteristics that are coming out of these instruments. I look forward to hearing all kinds of players making good, new music on them.

Kenny Hill
July 2016