Tupelo Model—Artist’s Proof Nº3

This is the third version Tupelo model, a working prototype, built for evaluation.

Lightweight and insanely responsive, this hollow body version of the Tupelo is the third in a series of refinements. It has been extensively tested in our shop and by our group of professional musicians and builders as a fine-tuning exercise, and it is now ready to leave the nest. There are several features on this guitar that make it different from the final model as well as the previous proofs, none of which diminishes this example as a spectacular instrument. The switch rout cover plate is  not destined for the final “production” model. The single F-hole may be available on future examples as an option, as will be the inclusion of a lower F-hole. The multi layer body binding could carry over to the final design as an option only. The cutaway shapes have been changed slightly on this version and are really cool, but may not make it to the “production” version. These features of course, makes this instrument all the more desirable as a one-off.

Most noticeable is the addition of the Goldo Vibrato and roller bridge. With a feel somewhere between a Bigsby and a Mastery Jazzmaster, the action is light and ridiculously smooth. We tried it with a stock tunamatic, as well as one with nylon saddles, but preferred the feel of the rollers. You can change it out if you’re not satisfied, as all three returned to pitch without fail. I love a well set up Bigsby, but this may change my mind forever. Big plus is that both the arm position and length can easily be changed in seconds with an Allen key. The center screw sets the tension of the internal spring, which is self contained.

Simple and straightforward, yet incredibly versatile. The semi-hollow, lightweight mahogany topped with a beautiful bookmatched flame maple top makes this model extremely responsive to your touch. We auditioned six different brands of pickups before declaring these Duncan Seth Lovers the best fit. Their clarity and balance work in perfect harmony with the timbre of the body resonance to provide a wide range of tones. The middle position in particular does a perfectly righteous Chicago blues tone. Because these pickups are relatively low output, they are well suited for pedals as well,without being too wimpy for those who like to just plug straight in to a vintage amp. The volume and tone controls are extremely reactive, and located close at hand because you will be using them often to tweak the myriad of available tones they provide. The volume has a treble bleed circuit to retain, and even enhance the highs when the control is rolled back.

This guitar has a beautifully streaked rosewood fretboard with 22 frets (6105 equiv.) on a 25.5″ scale. The 12th fret marker is a 3 piece “Thunderbird” inlay of abalone and mother of pearl. All other markers are elegantly sized pearl dots. The result is an eye-pleasing look without being overly busy. The 3-way switchcraft toggle sports a custom made vintage correct amber “Bat” tip and coarse knurl nut. Both the position on the upper horn, and the poker chip probably won’t make it to the final version, once again making this guitar unique. The double Florentine cutaways look great, and differ from previous versions 1 &2.


This guitar is constructed of ribbon grain mahogany and is finished in nitrocellulose lacquer. My signature “French Polish” finish is warm and friendly to the touch, and pleasing to the eye. I want my guitars to look and feel like vintage instruments, without resorting to fake wear and “relic” techniques or matte lacquer additives. It will remind you that this is a musical instrument made from organic materials and buffed by hand. The neck is mahogany with a huge baseball bat carve that is reminiscent of the 1950s Nocaster. If you love old Juniors and early Teles like I do, you know what I’m talking about. Not for newbies.

The headplate is striped ebony, with silver lettering and a faux tortoise truss rod cover made from layered cellulose. Ox bone nut- 1-5/8″.

Hand lettered Artist’s Proof dating. Sperzel Sound Lok open tuners with ivoroid buttons complete the sophisticated vintage look.