Monday, January 17, 2011

Stage Guitar Prototype @ NAMM show

This one is one of two, the other Brazilian and both have been sold.

This is the latest latest, project, encouraged by a few of my professional clients, most forcefully, Almer Imamovic. This is a attempt to make a truly electric classical, for those gigs where you need to play really loud and strong, but not give up the feel, dynamics and tone values of a fine classical guitar. A few companies have tried (no names) and most have failed, miserably. I've built three variations on this over the last few weeks, and I'm hoping to have them wrapped up by Namm. I know it will take several more attempts to get it right, but I'm planning to get it right eventually. We'll see.....

Think Les Paul size

thin parlor size body
Florentine cutaway
narrow neck 1 7/8" w. radiused fingerboard
marker dots on the neck 5, 7, 9
double top: spruce, nomex, cedar
lattice bracing
sound port
D-Tar pickup
strap button
ebony Gotoh machines
640mm string length
solid select Indian rosewood
Spanish cedar neck
ebony fingerboard
Hand applied French polish finish
Made in California [Kenny Hill]

arched case

projected list price $5750/ case included

UPDATED review from Michael Millham after playing both of these at the NAMM show and posted on the Acoustic Guitar Magazine's forum. Images of Michael playing the guitar in our NAMM posting:

Super easy to play; totally comfortable. Same feel and workmanship as all the upper level models. Feels like a typical CG to the hands, and a "thinline" electro acoustic to the body. Loud enough to be heard-about as loud as all but the full bodied lattice braced double tops, but with (I think; it's NAMM, after all) less bass response unplugged (no surprise there). I'm sure that the lattice double top and ports has a lot to do with the fact that there is still some acoustic punch-more so than with other thinlines I've played. I *think* that one was a flat board, and that Almer's was subtly radiused; both had low actions and narrower nuts, and both were as fast as any of the Hills I've played before.

I was not as enthused about the pickup, but anyone who has been around this forum for a decade or so-particularly "gear"-knows that I am a pickup snob/junkie; plus, I've never been a piezo UST guy... others who don't mind piezo coloration in, say, steel strings might really like the amplified tone; it's certainly more subtle than most USTs, and more agreeable than the typical "Chet" stylists live thinline tone.

If I suddenly found myself playing at louder stage volumes, this guitar would be at the top of a short list. It's basically just a high rent, high tech, high quality version of a stage thinline acoustic-which I think is the whole point.

It would be great for folks with shoulder or other body issues too, since there is still some authority unplugged.

Oddly, I can see these little guitars riding on a lot of contemporary pop/country/praise music tour buses: just the thing for adding natural nylon flavor to a band backing up the hot singer du jour.

Speaking of little guitars, the maple Torres (and we are talking tiny, romantic-era sized body-even smaller than normal "Torres" reproductions) was a surprise, very sweet and full at the same time. Likely a killer couch guitar.

My favorite at the show, however, was a cedar "performance" model. Kel's favorite was probably the "lowerboutectomy" beveled signature that Perf mentions.

They're all good. That's why all these players keep stopping by that booth.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Visitors @ NAMM SHOW - Friday/Saturday/Sunday

Sunday afternoon - Eve Beneke, artist Signature player - Mike Kozubek, Azusa Pacific Director of Guitar Studies - Kendall Marsh, composer, producer - Dr. Tom Hirose.

Kenny, Shotaro Kido [Rokkomann Asturias Guitars] & Tim Miklaucic [GSI Tornavoz]

Kenny, Dave Hepple [Oasis strings & things] & Spruce Signature.

Fred Waleki, Westwood Music, visits w. Kenny.

Almer Imamovic plays for a crowd. His website.

Michael Millham and Almer.

Michael & Keleren Millham duet after hours for a lucky audience.

Their website

Almer Imamovic tries the Stage guitar designed for him.

Teja Gerken offers some advice while trying a Stage model.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

@ the NAMM SHOW 1/13

At the NAMM floor 1/13/2011. One of the guitars I was unable to show previously - prototype Signature standup with armrest.

View the latest Signature and Performance brochures here:

Monday, January 3, 2011

Portrait of Kenny by Roberta Hill

2010 Christmas is past, and it has yielded a lot of pure joy and a lot of work.

One thing I must pay tribute to is this picture. To my utter amazement my wife Roberta painted this in her secret times, and gave it to me on Christmas morning. I was overwhelmed. I still am.

She has only been painting for a little over a year! She has painted pictures of our grandchildren that would slay you, her mother in perfect joy, the heartbreaking fall leaves from the backyard maple trees, many other moments, but I never expected myself to be so discovered by her eye and her paint brush in this way.

This particular moment is from a time on a boat on the Soane river in France last summer, a perfect, perfect time. But this picture is about the guitar, and the hands. How did she do this? The guitar looks more beautiful than anything I have ever made, idealized, but familiar, like mine. And the hands, so familiar I think I know the moment those notes were played. I was writing new music. Those painted hands look exactly how these playing hands feel. How did she do this?

This girl's got talent. That's not all she's got, but talent she has. In the face of the picture I can't help to see my old uncles, my dad, my mom, and barely recall the not yet forgotten young guy I used to be, the one my beautiful kids reflect now, but yep, that's me.

So, in spite of the "too much information" tilt of this article, I seriously wish to honor my wife Roberta for her amazing accomplishments as a recently discovered painter, without even approaching her sublime qualities as a companion, counsellor, thinker and beauty. Perfect. Thank you.