2016. Preowned. Beautiful John Kinnard ‘Luthier’s Reserve’ Tenor Ukulele handcrafted in Fallbrook, California with the utmost attention to detail and tone.
John Kinnard Biography
Nestled in the foothills of northern San Diego County just inland from the coast, sits the small village of Fallbrook, California. Known for its mild climate and laid back lifestyles, artisans of different genres cultivate their craft inspired by the beauty of the valleys and mountains that surround the town.
One such artist is John S. Kinnard, an “old school” luthier who has established himself as a master of his trade in a day when CNC machines cough out “cookie cutter” parts to be assembled like a child’s puzzle.
Working out of his one man shop, John arguably builds some of the finest stringed instruments in the world by hand. He does them one by one – molding and shaping the parts and assembling them to create instruments that not only look stunning when completed, but also possess something that the mass produced instruments lack – the soul of the luthier.
John has been building guitars, mandolins and ukuleles in a career that has spanned more than forty five years and is best known as the luthier behind the Dell’ Arte brand of gypsy style guitars played around the world. Like many artists, his creativity spills over into other mediums including oil and watercolor painting and also jewelery making – talents that have served him well in making him the luthier he is today.
From painting he developed an eye for proportion and style. From designing and making jewelry it trained him to look for the smallest flaws and build with an attention to detail that has become the hallmark of his work as a luthier. When people talk about the construction of his instruments the one word you hear more than any other is the word “clean”. Building with superior materials together with top shelf construction and attention to detail, you end up with a beautiful instrument. Add in the soul of the luthier and you end up with an instrument that is something organic and very special. That is what John strives for in every instrument he builds…
This is the second tenor built in our “Luthier’s Reserve” series. The “Luthier’s Reserve” is the top of the line “one off” instrument designed to showcase John’s skills and vision of what playable art can truly be and only one “Luthier’s Reserve” is made per year, beginning in 2015. For this project John focused on the woods themselves to create an instrument with visual balance in color, shape and detail. It’s the sum of all these parts that produce an instrument that is visually stunning as a whole yet draws your eyes to the smallest detail- details that showcase John’s 47 years of building experience.
Highly figured Claro Walnut was used for the top, back and sides and was accented with Maple on the fingerboard, bridge and headstock. He employed an “Art Deco” theme by blending sharp angles with softer rounded shapes to create balance. The darkness of the Walnut was contrasted by the lightness of the Maple to draw the eye to the different parts of the instrument. The Maple binding and backplate segued into the Walnut body and neck to draw the eye towards the details John integrated into the build.
The sound hole is elliptical in shape and the rosette uses Mother of Pearl in the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock positions to denote it as a “Luthier’s Reserve” and separates it from the Series 3 builds, which incorporate markers at positions 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. 2016 was the first year Kinnard incorporated the famous Z-Stock headstock that has become an iconic design for Kinnard ukuleles over the years. UPT tuners on a center diagonal along with a “see through” design provide a unique yet proportional design that works really well with our body style. The Walnut neck has a floating center strip with bound Maple that visually picks up the same back strip down to the art deco purfling theme on the back.
The tone of this wonderful instruments is absolutely magnificent. It has a warm, deep, rich tone and the resonance and sustain that really accentuate that sound. Walnut is one of Kinnard’s favorite woods for both beauty and tonality. This tenor will truly make a wonderful addition for the discriminating player or collector. A beautifully handcrafted custom ukulele with great ease of play, comfort, and tone. Excellent projecting, sustain, and clarity with a very sweet tone. A wonderful instrument handcrafted by a skilled luthier who finds excellent balance between aesthetics, tone, and exceptional art. ID#200063