Featured Luthier: Gregory Byers, Willits, California
When he began making guitars, the former biology PhD attended a workshop by Jose Romanillos and then was mentored by John Gilbert. This set in motion Greg’s life long mission to blend tradition and modernity, the tension between the loved sound of the Spanish guitar and the contemporary need for loud guitars.
“To me the character and timbre of the sound must evoke the past, with sweetness and warmth, and with the alluring quality that naturally draws people to the guitar and makes our instrument unique. But the guitar also needs to have a big enough sound to satisfy the modern emphasis on loudness.
Although his guitars have many modern features, including raised fingerboards and lattice bracing, there is no synthetic material in his guitars—they are all wood. “I want my guitars to be rich yet clear, with deep basses and a strong, sustaining first string.”
2015, Willits, Ca.
Spruce top, Indian Rosewood back & sides
This guitar is typical of Greg’s instruments as they are currently constructed. The soundboard is spruce (Picea abies) from the Swiss alps and the back and sides are East Indian rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia). The neck is mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) and the fingerboard is ebony (Diospyros sp.). The scale length is 650 mm. The headstock is attached with a V-joint. The guitar is constructed with an elevated fingerboard for ease of playing up around the 12th fret and above. The soundboard is braced with a hybrid system that utilizes two sets of fan struts rotated with respect to each other and overlapping to form a lattice. Sonically, it is much like a traditional fan braced instrument. The finish is French polish.