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July 09, 2019 6 min read
At the young age of 8 or 9 years old, Albert Lee got a traditional introduction to the music world seated at a piano. He spent two years pushing for a passion, but his adolescent mind was stuck on the sound he’d heard played just a few doors down from his home. It was his best friend’s brother who brought the arch top guitar home from the militant Navy. A few dates later, Albert knew he’d found his true love.
Lee spotted his first guitar in a shop window while walking through the West end of London. With the three pickups, the tremelo and the shape of the guitar, he was certain he’d spotted a Fender. Once he’d made his way to buying it, he was quick to find out it was in fact a Czech-made copy; A Futurama III/Grazioso, 1959 model. Finding out later that same model was played by big names like Jimmy Page and George Harrison, his heartache swiftly disappeared.
Albert began learning with the simpler riffs of Buddy Holly and moved on to more complicated, but lesser-known artists like Cliff Gallup with Gene Vincent. He’d sit and practice until he knew every solo from the two records they did together. An even bigger inspiration for Lee, however, was Jimmy Brant, a country swing player sporting a telecaster. Bryant, along with other country names such as Roy Clark and Chet Atkins, started on the fiddle and it can be heard in their picking styles, Adapted quickly as well by Albert Lee. It was well into the next decade that Albert was able to match the speed of his idols, but to this day says he still can’t keep up with them note for note.
Albert Lee is a 5 time winner of the Country Artist of the Year award after playing with an an endless list of celebrity musicians crossing several genres including Joe Cocker and even Emmy Lou Harris. Once he knew he’d be working with stateside artists for good, he made the US his home and moved to Malibu. His reputation only grew as he worked along side Eric Clapton for 5 years, Bill Wyman for 15, The Everly Brothers for over 26 years and still pushing though 20 plus years of his solo career.
A friend of Albert’s, a distributor in the UK, pushed him to try a few brands of acoustic guitar when Lee was looking to make a change. The timing never seemed to be quite right for Lee to find a match until he visited the Huss and Dalton booth at NAMM. When he heard and felt what the 00 could do, he knew he’d found what he was looking for.
Jeff Huss and Mark Dalton met in the quiet state of Virginia. While working for a banjo company, Jeff held jam sessions for all who wanted to participate and along came Mark. As a friendship began to form, Jeff left the company and having similar interests, Mark took his place. It wasn’t long after that in 1995 that Jeff decided to work for himself, to start his own company, and he knew he needed a business partner with similar passions, great worth ethic and someone he could trust. His first and final choice was Mark Dalton and the partnership was born.
For a year the company grew at Jeff’s home and they quickly moved into a rental unit when they ran out of space. Just one year later, they found themselves purchasing a neighboring building and found their brick and mortar shop for the Huss and Dalton Guitar Company. Like many entrepreneurs, the duo sold door to door before anyone knew who they were, but that phase didn’t last long. The attention to detail, the craftsmanship and the sound Huss and Dalton had created is beyond note-worthy and it took no time at all for the duo to make a name for themselves. While small strides were made, it wasn’t till they visited NAMM that they really put themselves on the map. Just as their door to door customers had responded, the reactions from the vendors at distributors was unbelievable. People quickly wanted to carry their instruments and it wasn’t long before they were noticed by Albert Lee.
In 2016 at NAMM, years after Albert had started traveling with his Huss and Dalton guitar, Lee was approached by Mark Dalton himself and was told they’d like to design a custom model that Albert could use on the road. Lee loved the idea, and as quickly as he became fond of the 00 model, it was his clear choice as the frame for his custom edition. Albert’s audience and fans of Huss and Dalton Guitars gave an unexpected response to the custom guitar and there was quickly a demand for a copy of Lee’s instrument. This gave birth to the Huss and Dalton Albert Lee Custom Signature.
The first thing you may notice is the beautiful top of this guitar. The tonewood of choice was bearclaw sitka spruce. This cut of wood is given it’s name due to the shallow cross-grain that looks almost as if it’s been clawed by a bear. This spruce is known for it’s superb tone and sustain, and combine that with the strength and focus this stiff wood has, it's becomes a perfect choice for flatpickers and classic country musicians, which Albert Lee has more than accomplished.
The back and sides of this custom are comprised of a beautiful flamed maple. With it’s bright sound profile, the maple adds clarity and crispness to the response of the guitar. Between these layers you’ll find koa binding, another nod to the high end of this guitars sound profile. Koa is not only a beautiful wood, but it’s workability, resonance and response make it the wood of choice for many Huss and Dalton guitars. The koa also is displayed in the rosette and pickguard and continues up the guitar along the fretboard and peghead’s bindings.
Inlaid inside the maple neck you’ll see the beautiful, pearl, stingrays with Albert’s signature in pearl as well. Finishing the guitar is a beautiful ebony peghead with the infamous Waverly tuning machines and a final sighting of pearl as the inlaid Huss and Dalton logo tops this incredible guitar. Take a look at the video below as Mike of Heartbreaker Guitars plays this amazing instrument.
Here’s a few words from Heartbreaker Guitars on their Huss and Dalton Albert Lee Custom Signature:“...Just arrived from Winter NAMM 2018!!. This is it. The Albert Lee Custom with all the upgrades. We also have video of Mr. Lee playing this actual guitar! We also have a signed photo of him with this guitar. After the NAMM Show it was sent back to Huss and Dalton to be re-strung, set up, and polished. It plays absolutely incredible! Albert Lee is a legendary guitar player and he can play any brand he wants. He teamed up with Huss and Dalton Guitar Company to create the ultimate guitar that is not only beautiful, but also road worthy and beautifully appointed. HBG is an authorized dealer for all Huss and Dalton Instruments. "Fall in Love" at Heartbreaker Guitars. Huss and Dalton have an incredible reputation for building amazing, quality instruments with a distinct style and feel. We are a proud dealer of Huss and Dalton Guitars. “
The partnership between Huss and Dalton and Albert Lee is one to be admired. The relationship Lee has with his guitar alone is quite intimate and his comfort holding and playing his custom guitar speaks volumes for the brand as well as his veteran status. Huss and Dalton themselves have a bit to say about their partner: “Albert Lee may be best known for his stunning country hybrid-fingerpicking electric playing, but throughout his career he’s delivered equally dazzling performances on acoustic whether backing up artists like the Everly Brothers, Emmylou Harris and Eric Clapton or performing and recording on his own.
In fact, Lee’s most recent solo recording, Highwayman, is a completely acoustic venture featuring just Lee accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and piano. While Lee has often appeared in public with some truly legendary acoustics, including a custom Gibson J-200 given to him by Don Everly that became the basis for the original Gibson Everly Brothers model, over the last decade his main acoustics have been Huss & Dalton guitars (an MJ and a T-OO14) that the Staunton, Virginia–based company custom built to his specifications. Lee is even pictured playing his custom Huss & Dalton MJ on the cover of Highwayman, which was his main guitar on the entire album. Earlier this year Huss & Dalton and Lee decided to collaborate on three different Albert Lee signature models: the MJ Albert Lee, MJ Albert Lee Deluxe and T-OO14 Albert Lee.”
The Huss and Dalton Guitar Company is by all means a custom guitar shop and with their hours put into each guitar and insistence to handcrafted detail, their smaller size makes their instruments that much harder to find. Heartbreaker Guitars is lucky enough to carry many models, including the Albert Lee Custom, with each one being able to take the spotlight on it’s own.They’re a proud Huss and Dalton dealer and would be thrilled to let you take any of the following models for a test drive.
Currently in stock at HeartBreaker Guitars is the Huss and Dalton DS Custom, the Huss and Dalton Dreadnought Road Series, the Huss and Dalton OM Road Edition, the Huss and Dalton 00SP Custom Sinker Redwood Eucalyptus, the Huss and Dalton TD-R Custom Dreadnought Sinker Redwood, the Huss and Dalton Albert Lee Custom Signature and several more!
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