John Walker Guitars

AG 242 February 2013 Cover

by Teja Gerken

A self-described “two person, one dog” operation, Montana-based John Walker Guitars specializes in guitars influenced by vintage Gibson flattops. But the fact that many of Walker’s models are based on classics such as the J-45, Advanced Jumbo, J-185, or L-00 doesn’t mean they’re slavish copies, as a close look at some of his appointments and details proves.

Walker has a long history in the Montana acoustic instrument community. He started out building banjos at Bozeman’s Flatiron company in the 1980s and eventually helped create the custom shop at Gibson’s Montana division along with Ren Ferguson. In the mid-’90s, he left Gibson to work for the then-newly formed Tacoma Guitars in Tacoma, Washington, and followed that with two years working for Seattle, Washington, archtop specialist Steve Andersen, starting in 2001.

Now working on his own (assisted on the business side by Deb Sonnenberg), Walker builds his guitars (which have a base price of $4,000) one at time. He derives the names for his models from the names of rivers he has fished or swum in, and he uses a picture painted by his grandfather for the background of his guitars’ labels.

"This is a slightly fancier version of my Clark Fork model, a slope-shoulder dreadnought. It has abalone trim around the top and soundhole, with abalone inlays on the ebony fingerboard and headstock. The Brazilian rosewood back and sides, red spruce top, and Honduras mahogany neck are bound with curly sugar maple. It has a 25.5-inch scale length and a soft V-shaped neck. The sunburst finish is nitrocellulose."—John Walker

Contact Info

John Walker Guitars

(406) 864-4369

johnwalkerguitars.com

Excerpted from Acoustic Guitar February 2013

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