This guitar was designed and created in conjunction with Tom Ribbecke celebrating Tom's extensive career of making exquisite guitars. I’m proud of having had the opportunity to work with this genius as well as Master Inlay artist Larry Robinson in the Architecture and realization of a very special instrument.
This Guitar was born as I asked Tom to realize his interpretation of the Modern version of the “Teardrop” for a special Customer. The 3 prior Teardrops were by the Master Luthiers John D’Angelico, Jimmy D’Aquisto, and John Monteleone. Tom has played all three of the historic Teardrops. The D’Angelico was a 19” instrument, the D’Aquisto was a 17”, and the Monteleone was an 18”. While I originally wanted an 18”, Tom thought that 17” would be best for sound, balance and size. He commented that the earlier teardrops didn’t sound that good, they were kind of tinny, and were difficult to play. Of the three, he liked the sound of the Monteleone the best. These were really designed to be electric instruments, as acoustically they were acceptable but not great. If we wanted more bass, he would change the carve of the top on the bass and treble sides to tune for that.
We decided to do a conventional teardrop if there is such a thing, but I wanted a Venetian lower bout vs. a Florentine lower bout to keep a modern flowing design. This had never been done before.
A special piece of Curly Sitka Spruce was selected for the top because of it’s wide flame cross grained flowing nature but very tight grained wavy vertical structure. A special very even and clear tubular quilted maple was used for the sides and back.
The sound hole architecture and bridge design was selected for best sound with respect to how the top was carved, as well as providing architectural balance for the top and flowing lines. Tom wanted to have an area about equivalent to just under 4” in diameter for the sound holes on each side to produce the best sound. In addition to the body top holes, the instrument is ported with additional sound holes on the bass side upper bout.
I also wanted to bring a newer, more dramatic headstock to balance the bottom, and use thicker purfling to help define the edges and expose Tom’s amazing curly Koa.
With inlay design by Master inlay artist Larry Robinson, we wanted the inlay to compliment, but not overwhelm the architecture of the guitar. We finalized on musical notes in the fingerboard and a Clef in the headstock.
The trim woods are also exceptionally special, it is highly figured Macassar Ebony from the workbench woods of none other than Jimmy D’Aquisto, linking the past to the present. I wanted a “Chuck Wayne” sized finger rest, and a solid closed tailpiece similar to what was used on Tom’s guitar completed in conjunction with Linda Manzer known as the “Duet”. The burst color was also selected to come close to matching what was used on the “Duet” as well, a very nice burst which still accentuates the choice woods utilized in the realization.
I’m very happy with how this project turned out, and the customer was delighted!