Instruments & Gear: Fine Lutherie

1986 Preston Thompson Dreadnought

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A beautiful style-42 guitar owned by the late Charles Sawtelle.

by Teja Gerken
October 22, 2018

When Preston Thompson began building guitars in the early 1980s, he already had many years of experience repairing fine vintage instruments at Nashville’s Old Time Pickin’ Parlor. But the feedback he got from players such as Peter Rowan and Charles Sawtelle, who showed him their favorite guitars and explained why they worked for them, really took his instruments to the next level. A founding member of the popular bluegrass band Hot Rize, flatpicking virtuoso Charles Sawtelle (1946–1999) allowed Preston to inspect and measure his collection of vintage Martins, which had a direct impact on the luthier’s approach to building and voicing his instruments. In 1986, Charles asked Preston to build him a style-42 dreadnought based on his 1937 Martin D-28. Built with Brazilian rosewood back and sides and a German spruce top, the guitar features typical style-42 appointments, including abalone purfling, “snowflake” position markers in the fretboard, and a “torch” inlay in the peghead. The guitar has Kluson “waffleback” tuning machines.

We recently had a chance to check out the guitar in the Peghead Nation studio, and in this video, Peghead Nation co-founder Scott Nygaard demonstrates the guitar, talks about his friendship with Charles, and uses it to play “I Am a Pilgrim” and the fiddle tune “Leather Britches.”


Category: Instruments & Gear

Preston Thompson D-EIA

A great style-28 dreadnought made with Indian rosewood and Adirondack spruce.

Preston Thompson D-GA

An understated dreadnought built with granadillo and Adirondack spruce.

Preston Thompson D-BA CRL

A signature model dreadnought for rising flatpicking star Chris Luquette.

Preston Thompson 0000-SBA

A custom guitar built with “shipwreck” Brazilian rosewood.

Preston Thompson Size 2 Koa Deluxe

A style-42 parlor built out of spectacular koa.

Preston Thompson 00-14MA Sunburst

A custom long-scale 00 built with mahogany and Adirondack spruce.

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Sep 22, 2020
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