It’s common for guitarists to name their instruments, but it’s rare for a player to commission an instrument inspired by a person. That’s what makes this pair of Selmer-style guitars, hand-built by North Vancouver-based luthier Shelley D. Park, so remarkable.
The guitars belong to Joseph Skibell, a novelist with a weakness for fine custom guitars. (See a profile of Skibell in AG’s October 2015 issue.) Skibell had the instruments built in memory of his mother’s twin siblings, Les Lezan and Idelle Lezan, and he’s dubbed the instruments the “Lezanski Twins.”
The actual Lezanski twins never married and lived together throughout their adult lives, so they always visited Skibell and his family in tandem. Skibell remembers the siblings as opposites—Les sweet and laid-back, and Idelle more high-strung. He sees these qualities reflected sonically in the cedar/quilted maple Modèle Elan 14 grand bouche (“big mouth”), right, he’s named Goldie (after Les) and the spruce/quilted mahogany Modèle Encore petite bouche (“small mouth”), left, he calls Emy (after Idelle).
Most important, Skibell considers the pair to be extraordinary instruments: exquisitely built, lightweight and responsive—and a joy to play.
[This version corrects the spelling of Shelley D. Park’s name that appeared in the print version.]
This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.