The idea for the 000 series popped into my head about 2 in the morning. I woke up with a thought sitting in my mind. I was awake enough to make a note of it and then went back to sleep. In the morning I saw the note and then worked out the details while I was in the shower. By the time I arrived at work I had enough of a plan in place to contact the Research & Development team at the factory..
The story goes farther back than an early morning inspiration. It has played out so many times I cannot count, but each episode is always the same. I meet someone checking out Teton guitars, either at a store or at an event. They see one of the guitars that a have really unique back and sides and turn to me and say, “I love that, but I wish it was on the front so I could show it off. I am paying good money for it and it just sits against my body.” That’s basically a direct quote from many people over the years.
My response is always the same, “certain woods work well as guitar tops. We always use those so you get the best sounding guitar.” Say, for example, that I placed layered spalted maple, or even solid spalted maple, as a top on a guitar. It would sound terrible. If I am at a store, I reinforce this by going over to a-brand-that-shall-not-be-named and grabbing one of their exotic laminate top guitars that sell for $299. I strum a few chords and instantly prove my point. But those people always say, “Yep, I see why but I really wish I could have an amazing top that looks interesting and sounds great.”
Back to my 2am inspiration. I woke up and thought “maybe we can have both, maybe we can have our cake and eat it too.” (I really don’t know what that colloquialism even means). Here was my initial thought: A thin veneer over the top of a solid piece of wood, specifically a solid piece of wood that is an excellent guitar top. As I showered, I ran through this idea. It seemed too easy. Surely someone had tried this before and maybe they have. I am just not aware of any guitars like that. But I felt like I was onto something new that could change the way we see acoustic guitars.
The Research & Design team responded to my idea with enthusiasm and from there we started the year long process to create a new type of beautiful acoustic guitar. We went through a few different prototypes and determined cedar would not work as the solid piece. It was too soft to hold the veneer when vibrating. The veneer kept cracking. I was really sad about this because I love cedar tone. Spruce was the most viable and best option being a harder wood.
What we ended up with is a solid sitka spruce top that is shaved down just enough to place a super thin veneer. The veneer is paper thin. The two pieces are glued to each other using a synthetic protein glue to help the two pieces act like a single piece of wood. This has led to tone and volume that you never seen in guitars with veneer tops. The 000 Series sounds almost like a normal solid top Teton and looks amazing at the same time. I say almost because it does have a different sound. It is still rich and full, but having the veneer does change the tone and colors it slightly. I know I am biased, but I think we have come up with the best sounding exotic top acoustic that uses a veneer.
Till next time, Ben
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