Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cliff Cultreri's Destroy All Guitars - Thorell Guitars

Thorell guitars are a commitment to the idealistic vision of what a guitar can be. Each guitar is crafted with an individual intent, that the whole process of building this particular guitar will be a unique experience. This plays across directly to the guitarist; their experience of this instrument is as personal as their own expression.

Ryan has strong vision of what plays into making the finest guitars, which has been honed strongly by eight years of apprenticeship. Ryan built his first...

Friday, February 28, 2014

Premier Guitar Article on Thorell Guitars - Modern Builder Vault

Modern Builder Vault: Thorell Guitars

February 27, 2014
red sky

Red Sky Deluxe
Thorell’s latest model is an archtop that’s finished with a natural vintage-burst spruce for the top; maple for the back, sides, and neck; Bocote binding; and ebony for the fretboard. The fretboard is graced with Thorell’s “Z” block inlay. The Thorell Thunder Bowl pickup that’s installed is a DeArmond-style single-coil with fully shielded, under-mount controls.  

Ryan Thorell got an early start building guitars at 14-years-old. He was already playing quite a bit at the time, and like many rockers his age, he was big into Metallica and Skid Row. It was fitting that his first guitar design included a “battle-axe headstock with an eyeball logo crying blood down the fretboard.”
One probably wouldn’t suspect the heavy metal background when checking out Thorell’s wares today. His master-crafted instruments—from archtops to flattops to nylon-stringed guitars and more—represent the pinnacle of high-end lutherie. In fact, his guitars are the go-to weapons for jazz extraordinaire Frank Vignola.
Thorell contends that the early stages of learning to play the guitar were most influential and defined his sense of the instrument. “I found that I had an affinity for an instrument to respond in certain ways and I really developed a good intuition for what a guitar needed to be able to do as a tool. Once I had really dedicated myself to building instruments, that became a good basis for my explorations in what can be done sonically and aesthetically,” says the luthier. “I also think of guitars like amps, in that I try to influence how they break up or don’t as you push them or play softly.”
Before setting out on his own, Thorell did about eight years of apprenticeships and says that he’s never stopped trying to learn and develop his skills. “I look at my guitars as communal pieces of art, in that they are my responses to what my clients are looking for. If I can build and design from a place of excitement and passion about what I do, all the motives and reasons are right.”
“I also think of guitars like amps, in that I try to influence how they break up or don’t as you push them or play softly.”
Thorell winds all his own pickups and mostly builds DeArmond-style pups with adjustable pole pieces housed in an ebony case. He uses a slightly wider aperture for the pickup and winds them hot so they’re a “bit fatter in tone but still really crisp.” He builds various other pickups and prefers to wind them himself because it gives him more quality control.
When it comes to tonewoods, Thorell admits he has a special affinity for walnut. “I have been around it my whole life. My grandfather cut it and loved it, and I’ve used it everywhere. There is nothing like Cache Valley black walnut,” he says. “I love other woods, and even other walnuts, but local handsawn walnut always gives me reverence. I’ve also been using a lot of Douglas fir.”
One obstacle Thorell faces as a boutique builder is that some guitarists don’t consider a finely built instrument as a worthy investment when there are many less-expensive options. “It’s unlike the violin or classical guitar world where there are a large amount of great inexpensive instruments, but serious players know and have a tradition of seeking out instruments that respond as fully as possible and allow them more freedom of expression. In those worlds, it’s the experience more than the name that people are purchasing and they are willing to make a proper investment because they appreciate the rewards.”
When asked what model best represents his work, the luthier says it’s always his latest build. “Every one is so unique and I approach each with such passion that it’s hard to see it any other way. It is more of a timeline than a product line.”
Pricing and Availability
Thorell’s shop is located in Logan, Utah, where he builds approximately 20 guitars annually with the help of his apprentice of two years, Nate Wood. Thorell guitars are sold both direct and through a handful of global dealers, with a wait time of about a year. Prices vary greatly from $5,500 to $20,000 depending on build options (most of these instruments are custom designs).

Monday, December 30, 2013

John Pizzarelli Quartet - A jazzSLC Concert, 2/22/2014

John Pizzarelli has performed as part of the jazzSLC Concert Series (JazzSLC) six times! There is a good reason John has been invited back so many times. His concerts are always one of the favorites each season. John Pizzarelli travels with his quartet throughout the U.S., Europe, South America and Japan setting the standard for stylish, modern jazz. JazzSLC welcomes back once again this dear friend to our concert series. If you love jazz guitar, don't miss this concert! 

Sample music from John Pizzarelli:  
“The Way You Look Tonight” -

“Double Exposure” – John’s most recent CD:
The making of “Double Exposure” --
Sample music from the “Double Exposure” CD on Amazon -

"Live Kisses" - Paul McCartney's great DVD (Buy the Blu-ray version!)  John Pizzarelli, Diana Krall and other greats back up Paul McCartney. Here is a youtube sample:

An evening jazz lovers will long remember!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pictures from the Healdsburg Guitar Festival - August 9-11, 2013

Typical View from inside the 2013 Healdsburg Guitar Festival AND there is another display room and performamce and lecture rooms!

Tom Rebbecke - Helped establish the Healdsburg Guitar Festival and an amazing luthier, a mentor of Ryan and one of the nicest guys around..

The next three pictures show Tom's guitar workshop where Ryan went to study under Tom.

These pictures where taken at the beginning of a great party we had there on Saturday night.

The next two photos show the luthier and idol of almost all custom guitar makers, Bob Benedetto. 

The first picture is in front of Ryan's guitars and the second is of one of Bob's newest creations

One of Ryan's heros, luthier Stan Klein and one of his guitars in the second picture.

The next five pictures are of another of Ryan's heros and one of the great guitarist on the planet, Paul Asbell who stopped by to try out some of Ryan's guitars. Ryan received a message from Paul which stated, "Your Corina and the FV model were both tone monsters, and very inspiring, Ryan!"

Paul Asbell is back again the next day.

Eric Schoenberg probably knows more about vintage guitars than anyone on the planet.
Ryan and Eric spent 2 or 3 hours up in Eric's hotel room Friday night playing a 1929 Martin and 1929 Gibson Guitar while I looked on.

An individual playing Eric Schoenberg's 1929 Gibson Archtop in front of Ryan's booth.

The next three pictures show the amazing luthier, Lawrence Smart, trying out Ryan's Guitars and the last picture shows his booth of amazing instruments. Lawrence used to live in Logan, Utah and now lives near Sun Valley, Idaho.

The next picture is of the famous luthier and inlay artist William Laskin

The next two pictures are of the great luthier Howard Klepper

This picture shows the amazing luthier Ervin Somogyi's assistant at their booth. He is a luthier himself and a very nice guy.

Ryan and luthier Andrew White from West Virginia with one of his beautiful guitars behind them. His booth was next to Ryan's and we became good friends.

Here is a picture of Andrew's guitar which he made from an old barn door. It had alot of people interested in it. Directly behind the guitar is Erica Ringle, Andrew's girlfriend. I didn't realize that this was the only picture I had of Erica. You can still see how cute she is even though in this picture she is missing her eyes and the middle of her head. Sorry Erica!

J. R. Rogers - Founder and Owner of the Acoustic Guitar Forum:

Maegan Wells - assistant to Tom Ribbecke and a very good luthier herself. In the second picture you can see the beautiful guitar Maegan built. Maegan told me that Tom felt Ryan was one of the best luthiers to come though his workshop. Ryan has now been asked by Tom to come back and teach a course at the luthier school in Healdsburg, California.


Below Ryan is showing his guitars to the nice people from Fine

The next two pictures are of a new Swedish luthier, Lars Rasmussen. Our heritage is from Sweden so it was fun to meet him and wish him well and maybe we'll go over and see him someday.

Seven more pictures I took of Ryan talking to people at the Healdsburg Guitar Festival