Since Leaving PRS and starting Knaggs Guitars in 2009, Joe Knaggs has taken the guitar building world by storm. He hit the ground running with an impressive line of Handbuilt instruments representing everything from single cuts to S-types, T-types, semi-hollow guitars with his own proprietary bridge and of course, stunning tops.
But Joe is just one piece of the puzzle, he has an impressive roster of luthiers who share his vision for high-quality craftsmanship; Marketing Guru Peter Wolf, who worked with him at PRS as a business partner, and an all-star team of pro players rocking out every single night in different parts of the world playing guitars with his name on it.
After hearing about the new Doug Rappoport Signature we managed to get a hold of Joe Knaggs and here is how it went.
Guitar Connoisseur: It’s been a while since we last spoke how are you doing and what’s been going on in the company?
Joe Knaggs: I am doing well thanks… we have been working on the orders we take in as well running some “one off” instruments that we sell when completed. Peter (Wolf) and I have constantly been talking about marketing and he is pounding every avenue possible. We have a new website about to go into action. We have been working with many more artists from local guys to bands touring the world… To name a few, “All Them Witches” (Ben Mcleod is the guitarist)… Jeff Washington and Mike Mchenry – both local guys that are bad ass players and have played with major acts through their lifetime. … There are more and more artist discovering our instruments and really loving them to the point of putting down other instruments they have been playing all their lives. They recognize the sustain and extra harmonics you get out of our instruments. That is a real good feeling because I always looked forward to that day and quite frankly was the reason I decided to part ways with PRS.
You can go to the “Musician” part of the website to see the different guys and gals we are working with.
We have launched 4 and 5 string basses that are going really well with the artists… Grant Fitzpatrick with “The Cult” received his bass and is playing it all the time.
We are running more and more acoustics as well… We just did a relic in an Old Violin color that was absolutely killer… Really amazing sounding and had a great vibe to it.
The bottom line is we are working our little tails off and building some killer shit.
GC: With the recent success of your various signature models with Steve Stevens, you are at it again with a Doug Rappoport signature model.
Before we get into specs what can you tell us about Doug Rappoport the player and why he’s a good fit for a signature Knaggs.
JK: Peter was the one that first made me aware of Doug and met him initially. He kept telling me that Doug was a ridiculous player. I finally listened to him playing and then went and watched him with Edgar when they were in Annapolis. Doug is an amazing and unique player in my opinion… If you watch the Friedman Drop D video you really get an idea of the versatility he has along with the power and fluidity … When he goes from the heavy stuff on the Severn to the incredible melodic part on the Choptank you just kind of shake your head.
When we watched him play with Edgar he bent some notes into a tone I have never heard! Really wild overtones… This is one of the reasons he is a great fit for Knaggs. When I listen to our guitars I hear some overtones and sustain I rarely hear in other electric guitars – They almost have an acoustic guitar quality to them, but with the same power as an electric… Doug is the type player that really gets that and with his skill, versatility, and phrasing he pulls out and magnifies these extra qualities that the guitars have.
He has such great ears and a bad ass touch in his fingers. We are so proud to be working with him, but more than anything he is one of us – he is like a brother. He has the same type of sense of humor and all that shit… That makes working with someone that much better.
GC: Doug told us his guitar is a pretty standard Kenai but I see a kill switch on it. Can you elaborate on the electronics makeup of his signature?
JK: Doug is not someone that needs a bunch of effects and gimmicks. His layout is really standard – He has the kill switch to get that effect when he is rolling. That is another thing I love about Doug – The Kenai is a killer guitar… He did not need a bunch of frills tied to it.
GC: I spent some time going through the site and didn’t see any mention of this being a limited series like the first Stevens model, so it looks like this will be a standard addition to the extensive catalog.
So my question is, how much customization is available for people who want to order one? What can and can’t be changed in order to stay true to Doug’s signature guitar.
JK: We want to stay as true to Doug’s model as possible – There are a few options available – You can upgrade your top to a T1 top and you can have crème binding on the fingerboard as well as Ebony, Macassar Ebony or East Indian fingerboard ( the US only on East Indian).
GC: When will the guitar officially launch and how many guitars are in the initial production run?
JK: I am not sure what the “official” launch date is – These days with the internet there isn’t really that type of thing going on…. We are making 15 right now, but orders are coming in… They are numbered along with the serial number of a Kenai. It would read #571 / DR # 21 … That’s the type of numbering system.
GC: Are there any other signature models being developed that you can elaborate on? You certainly have a nice pool of talent playing your guitars.
JK: We have some great players… We are making a “Larry Mitchell” model as well… We will see what comes our way – Eric Steckel is playing our Severn X now – he is a monster as well. It’s nice to see these guitarists coming back into the scene!
GC: What are Knaggs plans for the rest of 2017, any news you want to share with our readers?
JK: I may be working on a new design soon, but do not want to talk about it yet. I am in the very beginning stages.
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