Sonic Sitka Q&A for Herron guitars

Luthier Facts :
Name: Lee Herron
Location: Santa Barbara, USA

Status?: Currently Active
Note: (RIYL) Recommended If You Like

1 What attracted you to the Sonic Sitka Project?

I became aware of the project thru Denis’s article in the summer 2009 issue of American Lutherie, and it’s concept of exploring the range of sounds, and how they develop over the years, all from the same tree top, got me hooked.

2 Has this project changed/challenged your approach to guitar building?

I wouldn’t say that it has changed or challenged my approach, although I did commit to incorporating four items….a new bolt-on neck design, a sound port, and a new cutaway design on a mini-jumbo, and working with Madagascar Rosewood. I guess in a way, it did challenge me to leap into four new things at once .

3 Should people care about this project?

Absolutely! Any data point has value. This project will produce many , many data points . Plus, It’s fun for all.

4 What are you learning from your participation in the Sonic Sitka Project?

I’m learning the names and addresses of some great people, and I’m talking to them!

5 What do you hope to learn from looking at the data collected over the next couple of years?

The data may show some general trends. You can argue till you are blue in the face with someone who disagrees with your thoughts….this data may or may not enhance your ideas.

6 Do you anticipate collaborating more with other project participants on new designs or refinements?

I anticipate a lot of participation, and hope to see many similar projects in the future. Denis has just opened up the idea of measuring thru large sampling , because quantitative measurements of acoustical qualities of individual instruments is so problematical . Wouldn’t it be great to start an identical project with Cedar Tops, or German Spruce tops.

7 How important do you think using “alternative” or “sustainable” woods is going to be within the next ten years?

I believe that use of alternative wood use will be marketplace driven, so what we all should be doing is to drive public opinion towards sustainable woods ,materials and processes. I think I’ll change my website next iteration to reflect this. My last 7 guitars (not counting this one) were built from dead trees I’ve helped cut down.

8 How do you see guitar building evolving in the 21st century?

In the next century, we may see revolutions in making the guitar easier to play…thru electronics to fret or strike each note perfectly, etc. Question….would this still be a guitar?? I do believe there will be a recognizable guitar 100 years from now, perhaps made from paper mache or other recycled material….how ironic….Torres would laugh…

9 Do you believe that we are holding back the evolution of music?

No one …no group.. can hold back evolution

10 Should we be deconstructing old instruments for their valuable hardwoods and build new instruments that are completely original?

Deconstructing an old instrument should only be done to improve its playability…never to make a new instrument.

11 Should player’s techniques and needs be the driving force behind design and innovation?

Players techniques and needs will always drive innovation and development, because a guitar is just sculpture without the player and the sounds he/she produce, But that should not be and will not be the only driver.

12 Do you think that luthiers need to keep making guitars based on well-established designs or should they expand the sonic possibilities of the instrument?

I think luthiers should do anything and everything they want to do. In the process, the vast numbers of luthiers will continue to improve the sounds of existing guitars, and will also demonstrate new shapes and sounds, which may have enough merit to cause wide-spread acceptance. Sound is so subjective….I also love the banjo.

13 Should players’ technique and needs be driving design and innovation or should luthiers simply strive for innovation?

I think the successful luthiers driving force will be to allow/enable someone to make music.

Pictures ©2009 Lee Herron

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