Great Acoustics: Greg Brandt’s “Bubbles” Guitar

Maybe it’s the glint in his eye, but you get the impression that luthier Greg Brandt has a whimsical soul. And one look at his guitar “Bubbles” confirms it.
Rosette detail of classical guitar by luthier Greg Brandt.

Maybe it’s the glint in his eye, but you get the impression that luthier Greg Brandt has a whimsical soul. And one look at his guitar “Bubbles” confirms it. I first encountered Bubbles and Bubbles 2 last year at the Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration. The story behind these guitars is that Brandt, who specializes in handmade nylon-string guitars, and his then-apprentice, Chace Miller, had a little extra time on their hands while working in Brandt’s North Hollywood studio and preparing Miller for her introduction to steel-string building.

“We started looking at what steel-string makers were doing,” the affable Brandt recalls. “It was always clear that steel-string makers had a wider wood and decorative palette and that I always felt I needed to toe the line in dealing with classical players, who would often accept almost anything on the inside [of a custom guitar], as long as it looked like what Segovia played 70 years ago.”

bubbles

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Though Brandt is a traditional maker when it comes to building a box and bracing a top, he decided to try a couple of different looking guitars for the 2015 La Guitarra California Festival just to see how they were received. Those were made from a matched set of Indian rosewood.

But the walnut (and walnut and koa) inlay transformed those guitars. One featured the “bubbles” style (named by a client) and the other a “tiles” style. Bubbles 1 and 2 featured cedar tops, Indian rosewood back and sides, Honduran mahogany necks, and ebony fingerboards.

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“[The bubbles] started while making some different rosettes, deciding that I liked them, and wanting to use the design elements on other places on the guitar, including the bridge, the back, and butt.”

The project suited Brandt’s whimsical nature—he has a third Bubbles on the bench and more have been commissioned.

bubbles_back


This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Greg Cahill
Greg Cahill

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