Bruce Sexauer Guitars

April 2013 Cover

Posted by Teja Gerken

Having built nearly 500 guitars since starting out in the late 1960s, Northern California luthier Bruce Sexauer has created an impressive resumé, both in terms of the experience of having worked on that many instruments, and the variety of guitars that have come out of his shop. While Sexauer began by building acoustic and electric guitars early on, for the last 15 years he has focused on high-end acoustics, building instruments both under his own name and for Schoenberg Guitars, while also running a business that sells upright basses (

Combining a respect for tradition with forward-thinking touches, Sexauer’s guitars are built without the use of molds, which allows him great freedom to use any body shape he chooses. As a fanof the multiscale (fanned-fret) concept, Sexauer frequently builds guitars that are completely asymmetrical, though he might also combine multiscale elements with otherwise very traditional guitar shapes. He also uses a hand-applied oil varnish finish and individual “peone” blocks—a technique used by many traditional Spanish luthiers—instead of continuous kerfing to join the back and top to his guitars’ sides. 

Sexauer’s latest project is a line of Artifact guitars, in which he artificially “ages” the finish and even simulates playing wear to the guitars to make them look old, similar to the way some new violins are made to look as if they have been around for 200 years. 

"This is my smallest normal guitar, an 0-size FT-0-JB/2, made with Brazilian rosewood back and sides and an Adirondack spruce top. This guitar’s multiscale has just a hair over 1/4-inch of difference between the two E strings, and the fanning is all done on the lower frets, which allows the bridge to stay in the normal position. Binding is Amazon rosewood over koa purflings all around, and 1.5-mm-wide Mexican abalone on the top. Matched front and back headplates are also Amazon rosewood. The bridge and fingerboard are ebony, and the tuners are open-gear Schertlers. As on all of my work in the past 15 years, the finish is hand-applied oil varnish."—Bruce Sexauer

Contact Info

Sexauer Guitars

724 H St., Petaluma, CA  94952 

(707) 782-1044

Excerpted from Acoustic Guitar April 2013

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