Bench Press: La Conner Preview, Part 4

It’s time for the next installment of our Bench Press La Conner Guitar Festival previews! We reached out to some of the luthiers we’re looking forward to seeing at the festival (again), asking for a sneak peek at what they’re working on for the show. This week we’re featuring Josh Humphrey and Steve Andersen.

As usual, we asked them just the one question: Are you working on anything special for La Conner?

Steve Andersen, Andersen Stringed Instruments

I’ve got a guitar on the back burner while I finish up some other stuff, but I need to get back to it soon. It’s a model I call the Vanguard 16, a fully-carved archtop with the pickup and controls mounted in the face. The top is Engelmann spruce, back and sides are Western maple, and it’s bound in black celluloid. I’m planning on a Lollar Imperial pickup.

Similar to the guitar I built for La Conner last year, I’m thinking of a koa face for the tailpiece and pickguard, koa control knobs, and a koa inset on the pickup face.

I’ve been experimenting with an oil varnish finish, and I’ll be applying it to this guitar.


Josh Humphrey, JBH Guitars

I am planning on bringing a few interesting things, actually.

I’ll be bringing the prototype of a new fingerstyle model, the FS2. It will feature apple wood for the back and sides. Apple trees normally don’t get large enough in diameter to get bookmatched backs out of, but about 10 years back I took down a tree and milled up some really wide planks. It has a tone somewhere in between walnut and mahogany, really warm and resonant.

I will also be bringing the latest Raga guitar–version 6. I developed this instrument with a Hindustani musician and it has been really popular. It has an extra arm (almost like a double neck) carrying sympathetic strings-strings that you don’t pluck, but they resonate ‘in sympathy’ with the melody, which makes it sound kind of like a sitar.

And lastly, I will also be bringing an oud, a bowl-back instrument used in Turkey. I build mine with a PNW theme-local woods (cherry and spruce) and my own personal style of inlay and trim.