Custom Kinnard “Luthier’s Reserve” Tenor Ukulele


2017. Preowned. Beautiful John Kinnard “Luthier’s Reserve” Tenor Ukulele handcrafted in Fallbrook, California with the utmost attention to detail and tone. This instrument has a remarkable sound and is perfect for both the recording artist or the recreational musician.

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 third tenor built in the “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.

This Custom Kinnard “Luthier’s Reserve” Tenor Ukulele was inspired by a trip to the Czech Republic, Vienna and Munich.  On the trip, there were many opportunities to visit a number of amazing cathedrals and they were the inspiration for this tenor, named “Heaven’s Door”.  The back and sides were handcrafted from highly figured Padauk with a master grade Western Red Cedar soundboard for the top.  Beautiful figured “Tiger” Maple wood neck with Padauk wood stringer was used on the neck. The headstock design is what is referred to as the recessed Z-Stock with an Ebony wood faceplate machined down to the figured Maple used on the neck.  This shows off the Z-stock shape but also gives depth and a 3D look to the headstock design.  In keeping with the theme of the instrument, a gorgeous Padauk wood fretboard and bridge was also used on this piece. 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”. Jet-black ebony wood top and back binding and matching ebony wood bound fretboard with an elegant white-black-white purfling line on the top, back, and sides. Side sound port for a monitor like experience with the sound firing upwards towards the player’s ear as well as forward toward the audience. Gotoh UPT’s in brushed aluminum with MOP style buttons complimented the use of MOP in the body and the neck.

The design of the back uses inlaid purfling to give a cathedral effect with Ebony from the binding creating a walkway up to the arched doorway.  The MOP used in the arch gives off a cloud like effect leading to the name “Heavens Door” for this instrument.  The figure in the Padauk represents the art on the ceilings of these great cathedrals and the walkway leading up to the door creates depth and interest. This cathedral theme was also carried over onto the Padauk fretboard.  The apex of the arches act as fret markers on the 5th, 10th and 15th fret and another arch doorway appears just above the oval soundhole that designates this a “Luthier’s Reserve” model along with four inlays at each point of the compass….The back of the neck shows a “floating” neck inlay in Padauk against the white of the Maple.  It starts from a slightly flared bottom and ends at the Ebony back plate with a small MOP arch that carries on the theme for the instrument.  The bridge was made from the same highly figured Padauk and an Ebony inlay created a unique effect of the strings disappearing into the body.

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.  Padauk is a remarkable tonewood and darkens over time but generally does not have much figure or patterning in the wood. This set, however, is quite the opposite and exceptional in its wood grain and color but above all it is the sound of this instrument that really separates itself from many out there. This tenor will truly make a wonderful addition for the professional musician, recreational 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#210082

Price: SOLD

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