New Old Stock – Fan Braced. Beautiful John Kinnard 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 jewelry 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 beautiful Series 3 – Custom Kinnard Tenor Ukulele is a work of functional art with a design that showcases John’s skills and vision of what playable art can truly be. 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 nearly 50 years of building experience.
The body of this gorgeous custom Kinnard ukulele was handcrafted of a master grade set of East-Indian Rosewood on the back and sides with a coveted Western Red cedar soundboard. Native to the South Indian Peninsular region, East-Indian Rosewood is a dense and course textured wood that is known for its unique striped figure and wonderful tonal qualities – possessing the frequency range of both ends of the tonal spectrum with deep lows and throaty growl yet with a bright sparkle in the treble notes. Western Red cedar, on the other hand, is highly regarded for its unparalleled projection, sustain, and harmonic complexity. It is relatively light in weight but remarkably stiff, making for an excellent soundboard. The instrument also boasts a Honduras Mahogany wood neck for added stability an an ebony wood fingerboard, bridge, and Z-headstock plate in keeping with the finest musician grade materials available. Side sound port with the sound firing both forward and upwards towards the player for a monitor-like effect. The fretboard has a constant radius for ease of play and is an exclusive attribute of John’s best work. The radius on the fretboard provides added comfort on the wrist angle, especially at higher positions up on the neck. The darkness of the East-Indian Rosewood contrasts the lighter shades of the Western Red cedar soundboard, adding an elegant feel that beautifully draws the eye to the different parts of the instrument. Matching East-Indian Rosewood top and back binding with Maple mitered purfling lines on the top, back, sides, attesting to the level of detail and skill of the luthier.
The rosette is a combination of abalone shell inlay on the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions with a East-Indian Rosewood interval inlay between the abalone shell – identifying this instrument as Series 3 model. Half Herringbone custom soundboard wood purfling with matching Herringbone outer rosette and alternating East-Indian Rosewood and abalone shell drop necklace inner rosette. Famous Z-Stock headstock that has become an iconic design for Kinnard ukuleles with professional Gotoh UPT tuners on a center diagonal along with a “see through” design provide a unique yet proportional design that works really well with the body style. 13 fret joint to the body allows the bridge to remain in the “sweet spot” of the lower bout – giving this instrument a full and remarkable sound. 19 overall frets to the sound hole. Gold strap button at the butt of the instrument and a high gloss lacquer finish.
The tone of this wonderful instruments is absolutely magnificent. It has a warm, deep, rich tone and is also very easy to cradle against your body. The ukulele also has great clarity and sustain with a projection that not only fires forward but also causes the back and sides to resonate considerably, adding even more to the resonance. A beautifully handcrafted custom ukulele with great ease of play, comfort, and tone. A wonderful instrument handcrafted by a skilled luthier who finds excellent balance between aesthetics, tone, and exceptional art. – John Kinnard. ID#210068