Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #103859  by raisingfreen
 Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:11 pm
Note: Not a Jerry type guitar review per say, but made by a respected Jerry style guitar builder and worth mentioning for those who have not heard of AO Guitars.

After several years of doing business with Andrew at AO Guitars I have taken delivery of the finest guitar I have ever played. Andrew has posted this recent project on his website so all of the specifics are listed there. I would list them here however, I want to encourage anyone intrigued by this to visit his site.

A friend initially introduced me to Andrew in a round about way, and over the years I have been very impressed by the work he has done for me. My first visit to AO Guitars was for a modification and complete refinish to an old ibanez musician. While exploring his wonderful workspace, I noticed this unfinished guitar body sitting on a storage shelf. There were all sorts of unfinished guitar bodies in progress however this one just caught my attention. It was simple and beautiful. I picked it up and at some point I mentioned to Andrew that "this looks like a working mans guitar". The overall shape and spruce top in contrast to the detailed maple back was different yet distinct. Its not over detailed, just simple. After some conversation about the project at hand, back on the shelf it went. Over the years there was not one visit to Andrews shop where we did not have at least a small conversion about this guitar body....Long story short is eventually he agreed to sell and finish it for me even though it was his unfinished original prototype for his Hollow Rim design. The guitar needed a neck so Andrew made a custom Soft V neck for it, exactly the way I wanted it. We discussed electronics a bit however, for the most part, I just let him do what he does best.

Reviews of custom guitars and builders can sometimes be misleading, as so many times they are purchased, played briefly and then new buyers go on the forums to state thier findings. I felt it was more honest to really dig in and experience the guitar for several weeks and let it "settle in" before I would say anything. Andrew really took the time to understand what I was after when building the neck specifically and absolutely nailed what I had in my mind while still keeping his overall concept completely in tact. The end result was a extremely versatile, light weight, smooth playing guitar. Its balanced, not neck heavy. Its open and airy, while still controllable feedback wise. Its got balls when needed and it has just the right amount of tonal options without having to think too much. Its unique sound stands out. Its worth mentioning that due to whatever wizardry he does with setups it also stays in tune better than any guitar I have ever played. In other words I am pleased.

Andrew is a very talented guitar builder. You don't have to meet a many (or any) luthiers to form the opinion, as the way he maintains his shop and the level of experience he has is immediately noticeable. Its everywhere. Customer service is a important issue for me as well and Andrew knows exactly how to under promise and over deliver every time. Its not fast work but its done right the very first time. Top that off with him being a hell of a nice guy to put it simply. Every conversation I have ever had with him I learned something new. He is an artist and a absolute craftsmen.

Start a conversation with Andrew and you may end up with your dream guitar as well good friend when all is done.

 #103872  by vwjodyme
 Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:03 am
Nice looking guitar!
I just met Andrew last weekend. Super nice guy. I was surprised to learn that he also makes jerry replicas...don't think he has anything on his webite about it. He had a bunch of awesome bodies in the shop, and an almost complete wolf (which was super light...i never realized it was hollowed out). There were also other rukinder's guitars there.
Can't wait to see what he does with mine!
 #103893  by rugger
 Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:26 am

Nice story. I've also had the good fortune of spending some time at Andrew's shop. As you noted, it's very impressive by any standards, but the fact that it is a one man shop makes it even more so. I'm usually in New Hampshire once or twice a year. A few years ago when I was on a guitar building kick I googled luthiers in New England and up came AO Guitars. I contacted Andrew and made an appointment to stop by. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of Garcia replicas he was working on. We immediately hit it off talking music, guitars and the Dead for hours. I went back the next year as well with the intention of spec'ing out a poor man's Wolf. Cash was a bit tight (and I'm fickle by nature) so I ended up sending him my Carvin for "Jerryfication" instead--probably the guitar vwjodyme saw. It should be done in the next week or so...can't wait.

Anyways, I think the point I wanted to make when I started writing this was to give props to Andrew, as others have done, but to also state that folks looking for Garcia (or Trey) replica guitars, AO can deliver the goods. I think that he doesn't really advertise this as he doesn't want to be known as a replica builder, but he did make that trip with Waldo to the R&R HOF and had Jerry's guitars in his hands (and took lots of measurements). I believe he has also had Wolf in his hands on a separate occasion. He has the specs, knowledge and experience to deliver a very fine hand crafted replica.

John in San Diego
Last edited by rugger on Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
 #103894  by vwjodyme
 Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:19 am
Hey John, yeah he had your walnut carvin on his work bench. good to know he could use yours as a guinea pig before working on my carvin :lol: ...just kidding

and yes he was saying he has held all except tiger. he had a sweet picture up of him holding wolf :cool:
 #103936  by rugger
 Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:10 am
I'm happy to be the guinea pig! To be honest, I never fully bonded with the guitar so I wasn't too worried about modding it up--plus, Andrew is a pro. I'm pretty excited to have an authentic Jerry rig completed here soon.

John in San Diego