Joined: 24 Jan 2005
Location: Providence, RI
02/17/05, 9:17 pm Post subject: Don Williams
Tasmanian Blackwood / Sitka SJ preview...
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
--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
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
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!
"Pilgrim Song" CD South Asia Relief offer...