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Don's SJ model, though I didn't even think to ask
--Don WIlliams SJ Flamed Black Acacia back and sides..."           By Ken Totushek 


Joined: 24 Jan 2005
Posts: 30
Location: Providence, RI

PostPosted: 02/17/05, 9:17 pm    Post subject: Don Williams Tasmanian Blackwood / Sitka SJ preview... Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post
One  Saturday, luthier Don Williams of Pawtucket, RI. brought to my house a guitar he had just finished. Don had previously posted pics of this guitar on the 13th Fret but I'll try to add them here again...yes, very cool, hey?

The pics are spectacular enough, but the guitar in person was so much the better. Of course, I only agreed to try out the guitar for Don because I knew he already had it sold, so there could be no inner conflict or temptation to "fall in love" yet again. Here are the specs of this beauty:

--I believe it's Don's SJ model, though I didn't even think to ask
--Very nice Flamed Black Acacia back and sides--very cool, much like koa.
--A rich, aged looking Sitka Spruce top--just beautiful.
--Ebony bindings--nice, even richer look with the Sitka top.
--1.75" nut, 2.25" at the saddle--not quite my optimal set up but it is a fingerstyle standard and seemed to work quite well for me.
--Maccassar ebony bridge and fretboard-again, very rich and attractive looking.
--5-piece laminated neck - mahogany/maple/Indian Rosewood, double-action truss rod, carbon fiber reinforced--look out Jim Olson, this neck has got to be about as stiff as they get.
--Schaller tuners--nice and smooth.
--A K&K Pure Western pickup was installed the day after I saw the guitar so I can't comment, except to say that I have been an avid K&K endorser for several years now.
--All Adirondack Spruce bracing--inside was very clean and smooth as I scanned around with my handy dandy mirror and flashlight. I could see Don holding his breath while I searched around! No issues here.
--3-ring rosette, with Paua abalone center ring--this is very beautiful and tastefully done.
--KTM-9 waterborne finish--sure looked like a beautiful finish, and according to Don though it takes a long time to cure, it is a very durable finish. I think he said this finish was a few months old.
--Ameritage, hardshell, cloth case--wow, these are cool, well thought out, and IMO the soft, well placed padding make it very protective of the contents inside--even had a hygrometer.

Well, now level 2--playing the guitar. Awww, sweet, sooo sweet! Don kept trying to make excuses about the tone being this or that, too tight, or..., well, I just kept playing the guitar trying to hear what seemed to to curb his 100% enthusiasm about this guitar, and I just wasn't feeling any loss. Perhaps because koa is one of my favorite guitar woods, and if I were blindfolded and didn't know it was Black Acacia I would have said koa, I don't know. I really liked what I heard, as did my wife Jennifer, for she was in the room listening as well. (I do think she was well pleased I wasn't considering this for a purchase, but I know she like the tone anyway!!!). I'm sure in months ahead it will sound even richer, but all the basics were well established IMO.

We brought the guitar out to my studio, compared it to a few of my favorites, my
Carruth, my Osthoff, my Shepherd, a Froggy Bottom koa, oh, and even my new Brunner outdoor guitar. It stood up very well to all of these in its own right--as it should, had its own tonal slot in the bunch being built of Black Acacia and Sitka. Don had not yet compensated the saddle, yet I did not notice because the balance seemed right on to me regardless, where I played. The clarity and balance between mid, highs and lows was evident no matter where I went on the fretboard. The frets never caught my fingers as some do, indicating being well shaped and finished. I really enjoyed playing this guitar, and ahem... would have been tempted to go the next step, especially since Don was selling it just over his cost due to a small bottom patch he was required to make when building--a patch I noticed only when he pointed it out to me BTW.

OK, I am very impressed. Keep an eye on Don's work. He is very conscientious, and I get the impression will take whatever time necessary to get it right for himself, and for a purchaser. His guitars are very reasonably priced, as are those of most newer and lesser known builders. I suppose my biggest dissapointment to Don after making the trip out was giving him a blank stare when he asked me what things really stood out as needing improvement in his building skills--I the hour or so I had with the guitar, I just couldn't think of any--I'm sorry Don--maybe you just did a bit better job than you thought on this baby!

Congratulations Don, and thanks for the opportunity to take this beauty for a test ride!

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