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The SH-1 AE6 guitar pictured above, with the exception of the fretboard (which is rosewood) is made of 100% waste wood. The through neck is made of  eastern maple scraps from a kitchen I built in my cabinet shop. The body is native butternut from a tree that was cut in Wakefield RI because it was a safety hazard. Fortunately the guy who cut it down saved the wood from it instead of chipping it up or using it for firewood! (Notice the grain in the side view, this is the only butternut guitar I have ever seen) There are Black walnut accent strips on the back that came from a tree that was cut about 20 years ago 5 miles from here and the actual strips I used on the guitar are scrap from a cabinet project. The finish is water based lacquer.

This guitar is both acoustic and electric, has a semi hollow body, and the outputs are separated so that you can play both acoustic and electric at once through separate amps, or play either / or at the flip of a switch. (I've found this particularly interesting recording, as you can record the acoustic output on one track and the electric on another and then remix re-align for some awesome sounds. And better yet you can reproduce it live!) The acoustic section has an on board pre-amp and a separate volume control and uses the acoustic amp or PA EQ. The electric side has master volume, and passive tone with Tele style controls.

Award Winning Design

This Guitar won the award for best design at the first annual "Guitar Expo" at Main Street Music in East Greenwich RI Oct. 26 through the 28th, 2012. An honor, to say the least, since besides other custom guitars there were "Icon" Gibson and Fender guitars on display as well.

It is a resonator style, semi hollow acoustic electric guitar. (our model # SH2 RESO AE6) It uses a Beard, National style resonator cone, with a Fishman biscuit style Bluegrass Transducer under the biscuit bridge and a Carvin C-22J magnetic pickup in the neck position. A Fishman "Powerchip" on board preamp acts as a volume control for the acoustic section and buffer and combiner for the acoustic / magnetic setup. Signals are sent separately to a stereo output where they can be sent out mono, with the signals mixed to one amp or sent separately to an acoustic and an electric amp simultaneously. The body is only 1-3/8" thick. The neck is a bolt on with 3 way adjustable pitch angle, allowing the neck to be "pivoted" side to side or up and down giving a convenient method of adjusting action without taking tension off the biscuit, saddle, and cone.  Rear sound holes give substantial acoustic volume. The purpose of the design is to minimize the feed back inherent in conventional resonators at stage volume, particularly where stage monitors are used.

Although personally I use this most commonly in guitar tuning, it can be tuned to open G or E.  I use 80/20 bronze strings .012" to .054". Perhaps the most amazing thing is that the acoustic volume is comparable to most acoustic guitars. During a demonstration at the Guitar Expo I played with 2 acoustic guitars for some time without plugging in, and was still being heard. When plugged into 2 amps, you can for example, play both acoustic and electric outputs with the electric running through the overdrive channel in the amp while the acoustic is going out clean to a PA channel or acoustic amp. I do an arrangement similar to Skynyrd's version of "T for Texas" using both slide and conventional playing with this type of amp set up with amazing results.

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Custom built guitars, parts and repairs


12 string

This is a 12 string version of my SH-1 (semi hollow style 1) Controls are basically the same as the butternut 6 string shown above. The magnetic pickups are Carvin C-22J in the neck position and C22-B in the bridge position. An LR Baggs Element is used for the acoustic side. This one uses 500k pots on the electric side with .22mf cap for a somewhat brighter sound. It has 24 frets and a 25" scale. This one has a 14" radius fretboard, just because it's my personal preference for a 12 string. The neck is three a piece type made of scrap maple, again from our kitchen cabinet shop. The body and top are made of Choke cherry from a tree that was cut to make room for a house we built 21 years ago. After I made the furniture from it the owners ordered, this wood was left over. You'll notice this bridge is fixed acoustic type.

Tuning Machines are Sperzel locking models used on all my guitars unless another brand or type is specifically requested. Finish is Nitro-cellulose lacquer.

Some background

I started JW Custom Guitars to fill a void I always seemed to find when playing professionally, trying to find a guitar that was both comfortable and versatile musically. I have also become much more environmentally conscious in recent years and thought that harvesting exotic rainforest woods, for electric guitars in particular, was not only very expensive but bad for the planet as well.The custom guitars pictured here are all prototypes. They were built to "Work out the bugs" so to speak in the designs. The goal is to be able to keep the time involved to do build one down by using some standardized templates and methods and still be able to offer a truly custom  neck profile, body reliefs, fretboard radius and material, finish, bindings, electronics etc., at a much lower cost than might commonly be associated with this type of instrument. Each guitar is individually cut shaped and finished in my shop. The SH-1 model guitars have been played a lot! The first comment we always get is they sound great! I can make recommendations on custom units with confidence because I have played them and experimented with various pickup and electronics combinations, as well as different woods, and bridge styles. Please look through the site and check out what we've done. We are still building the site so there will be many additions in the coming weeks and months.

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A Little about Hybrid Guitars:

A "Hybrid" guitar has 2 separate electronics systems, one acoustic, one electric, each with it's own output and controls. You can play both together or separately depending on your choice at the flip of a switch. Hybrids are a passion of mine which began when I played my first Carvin AE 185 many years ago. It seemed to me to open a lot of options. I didn't care for the way the electronics were set up so I began to experiment to come up with controls that were easy and more useful in live performance situations. For live performance I recommend plugging the electric system into your normal guitar amp with one cord, and the acoustic into either an acoustic amp or PA channel. I typically use a PA channel with a conventional passive direct box.

These sound clips are of the SH 1 hybrid 12 string pictured toward the bottom of this page.

Here is the acoustic half of the SH-1 12 string on the Stones "As Tears Go By"

Here is the electric half of the SH-1 12 string. (same song)

Here are both parts in the mix with some friends of mine. There is also a hybrid 6 string in this mix as well, playing straight chord strumming rhythm.


AEC 33-14 6  Old school shape and size, based on a 1933 National El Trovedor shape. Sides back and neck are made from scrap Cherry from a custom counter top. Head stock overlay is cherry burl from a Cape Cod  tree removal. Interior bracing is from scrap CVG red pine flooring. Somewhat larger sound hole helps increase base response in the smaller body. Although the idea of recycling and re-purposing is more challenging for an acoustic guitar as you can see this one is made from more recycled / repurposed material than new, and the sound is awesome. (There are sound clips from this guitar on the acoustic guitars page)

"33" Style Acoustics:

Check out these "Old School" meets modern small body acoustics, with audio clips in the Guitars tab of the menu, or a brief overview at the bottom of

this page. Available with or without cutaway.


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A word about availability and pricing

I build guitars one or two at a time, myself, in my shop. Typically I don't have guitars "In stock" for sale. Many times I build a specific guitar for a specific person to their specifications or general preferences. Pricing is different on nearly every one. My goal is not to make the fanciest, intricately detailed guitars, but rather very good playable and unique instruments that local professional players can afford. There are many great production guitars available in today's market so I don't try to make more of those. I try to make specific guitars that cater to the needs of a specific player.


"Double O Blackbird"