By: Brendan Smyth - Owner Heartbreaker Guitars The Heartbreaker Team recently visited Rick Turner in his shop in Santa Cruz California to discuss the upcoming Redwood Series Limited Edition Model 1 Guitar available in the Fall of 2016. In this brief interview Rick tells us about the collaborative effort with Heartbreaker Guitar to come up with an extremely rare "Redwood" Model 1 Guitar.
HBG: Rick, Great to see you again! Bring us up to speed on whats going on these days at Turner / Renaissance Guitars... RT: This has been a year of refining our build processes, working on some variations on our "traditional" designs, and right now, training a new Finish Specialist to help me with all of the spraying, sanding and rubout so I can concentrate on building and assembling the instruments. This will also help get me out of the finish department so i can work in the shop on new designs and long bogged down projects.
HBG: Rick, You and I dreamed up the Redwood Series almost a year ago, tell us about the design... RT: I've always loved the idea of using appropriate locally sourced woods, and here in the Santa Cruz Mountains we've got gorgeous redwood. I met a local guy whose family has been in the lumber business for many decades, and he's found a number felled old-growth trees that went down 50 or 60 years ago, but dropped into then- inconvenient places. He's got a portable saw mill and so he can take the saw to the tree rather than the other way around. Tight grained old growth redwood is known to be a great tone wood by a number of steel and nylon string acoustic builders, and I've now found it to be really great for solid body guitars as well. So here we go!
HGB: Tell us about the sonic differences between the Redwood Series and the Standard Model 1... RT: The redwood lends a bit more acoustic nature to the tone without sacrificing sustain. It's very resonant, and with our double arched body design, that resonance is spread out over a nice frequency range. I'd say these are very transparent sounding guitars ... airy... beautiful!
HBG: Is this why you insisted on adding a Piezo pick up to the Redwood Series? RT: With the piezo, you do get a little more of the body sound... more of that acoustic thing, and yet you can still go full on solid body with the magnetic pick up which we build right here in the shop.
HBG: Tell us about the torrefied neck and how it affects playability and tone... RT: The "Tempered Tonewood" from Hans Brede is heat treated resulting in an improvement to the stiffness to weight ratio. The process bakes out a lot of the hemicellulose, a kind of soft sugar in the cells in the wood. The hemicellulose is very hygroscopic; It absorbs moisture and then releases it with humidity changes, thus leading to a dimensional change in the wood. Baking it out makes the wood more stable and lighter in weight. The process also enhances the figure in the wood. We're using AAAA Flamed Maple for these necks, and they are drop dead gorgeous!
HBG: Rick, How involved are you in the actual production and building of the Redwood Series? RT: It's all me! I am deeply involved in all aspects of the build process. Although i fully utilize my very talented team of luthiers in different phases of construction, nothing goes forward without my review and approval.
HBG: Rick, you have collaborated with Heartbreaker Guitars on several projects, all of which have opened to rave reviews. Any peek under the covers as to what we may see in the future? RT: This coming year will really bring me back to my acoustic roots. I hope we can build at least 18 of our small and medium jumbos in 2017. Also we'll be doing some new body instruments and putting more attention on our Electroline Bass Guitars.
HBG: You've been a luthier over 50 years and the Model 1 is probably your defining creation. Why do you think the Model 1 has resonated with so many players, collectors, and professionals alike? RT: Well, it has certainly helped that Fleetwood Mac with Lindsey Buckingham has had such a long run! But also a lot of other players have discovered the unique qualities of this design. In the overall scheme of things, we hardly make any... we may get out 100 of them per year... which is maybe 2 days production of the Les Pauls, and barely a half of day's production of Strats... but we build them well, and they deliver the goods!
HBG: Rick, thanks for taking the time as always! Any parting words for you fans out there? RT: Just remember... it's all about the music! Price: $7495 Reserve yours HERE For more on the Rick Turner Model 1 Limited Redwood Series, check out these videos which detail the design: Redwood Series in Production Video and also Redwood Series Prototype Video. We'd like to thank Rick Turner personally for being such a great supporter of Heartbreaker Guitars Limited. We've known Rick for 20 years and he is a great luthier, but also a gentleman and a friend. So THANK RICK!
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