Huss and Dalton Monticello

Posted by Adam Perlmutter

Huss and Dalton Monticello

When Thomas Jefferson planted a tulip poplar on his Virginia estate, Monticello, sometime in the early 1800s, he could have scarcely imagined that it would one day be transformed into a guitar. For many years, guests at Monticello admired the robust tree, which ascended to more than 100 feet. But in 2008, having been in failing health for a decade, the tree was felled, and the wood was reserved for artistic purposes, including decorative bowls and a series of guitars by the state’s own Huss and Dalton Musical Instruments.

The Monticello Edition guitar shown here is based on Huss and Dalton’s OO-SP model, which has a 14 1/8 -inch wide body, 24.9-inch scale, 12-fret neck, and slotted headstock. Where the standard OO-SP has rosewood back and sides, the Monticello Edition OO-SP has its back and sides and headstock overlay fashioned from Jefferson’s poplar. And instead of mahogany, the Monticello’s neck is made from native Virginia black walnut, as are the neck and body bindings. The instrument’s other tonewoods were harvested in that state as well; the red spruce top and bracing is from White Top Mountain and the fingerboard and bridge are from persimmon grown on country singer Ricky Van Shelton’s farm.

Just past the 14th fret, the fingerboard displays its only adornment, a wood-burned depiction of Monticello and the tulip poplar atop Jefferson’s signature, rendered in magnificently fine detail by the Tennessee-based artist Kenny Farmer—a subtle indication of the guitar’s special provenance. 

Excerpted from Acoustic Guitar 234, May 2012

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