Guitar Connoisseur Stories: The Baby Grand Acoustic

By Murray Kuun

I conceived the idea of the “big 5” early in my acoustic guitar making days, mainly to “prove” that musical instruments can be successfully made using alternative tonewoods.  Also, to draw attention to the fact that I live in Africa and so-doing drawing attention to the plight of some of our wildlife.  The rhino guitar, for example, was used in some anti rhino poaching fundraising concerts.

So far, only the leopard, rhino, and lion guitars exist, the buffalo and elephant will follow, possibly as baritone guitars.  All the models will feature my long proportion body.  The leopard and rhino sported conventional X-bracing.  At the time of designing the lion, I became aware that there is more than one way to brace a soundboard, I designed suitable X-plus-lattice bracing for the lion and went ahead with my first experimental acoustic steel string guitar.

The long proportion body is made from kiaat and the soundboard is blonde mahogany.  The neck is African mahogany.  The scale, importantly, is 650mm.  The guitar, as do all my acoustics, sports a sound-port which players just love – it makes a huge difference to the player, who can hear almost exactly what the listeners hear.  That is, opposed to a conventional guitar where the player hears far less of the actual sound produced.

Where possible, I design my acoustics so that the bridge is placed in the sweet spot of the soundboard and to that end, this guitar is a 13 fret-to-body design.  It can be made as a 14 fret but that would lose a little of the magic.

At present, I am making a 2018 version which has slightly altered aesthetics but still sports the long proportion body and African woods.

The lion sells for around US$4000- depending on final client specifications.  I build each guitar individually for each client and that process takes anything up to 6 months.

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