A custom slope-shoulder dreadnought built with premium koa and Adirondack spruce.
by Teja Gerken
December 07, 2017
When luthier Michael Millard founded Froggy Bottom Guitars in 1974, he was one of the first builders to offer completely hand-made alternatives to factory-made steel-string flattop guitars. More than 40 years later, this pioneer of the modern custom guitar movement continues to build exceptional guitars, and we were thrilled to check out the Froggy Bottom SJ featured in this video.
Froggy Bottom’s SJ is a slope-shoulder dreadnought and the model was inspired by a pair of vintage Gibsons (a 1934 Roy Smeck Deluxe and a late 1940s SJ) owned by Michael. The SJ that we checked out is built with beautiful koa back and sides, a 25-inch scale, and an original set of appointments that include abalone purfling, an abalone back-strip, and a unique engraving of a whale on the heel cap.
Wood selection is an area of pride for Froggy Bottom, and the SJ in this video shows why. The koa used for the back and sides is of the absolute highest grade, with beautiful figure and color. The Adirondack spruce used for the soundboard is also top-shelf, as is the mahogany on the neck and the ebony used for the fingerboard and bridge. The guitar’s craftsmanship is stunning, with perfect fit and finish throughout.
Tonally, the Froggy Bottom SJ has a slightly dark but very rich bass response, great tonal balance, and a dynamic range that makes it suitable for both flatpicking and playing fingerstyle. The guitar seemed to sparkle more than many typical slope-shoulder dreads. The SJ’s complex tonal palette combined with its sports car-like response to different playing styles make this guitar a joy to play.
SPECS: Slope-shoulder dreadnought. Solid Adirondack spruce top with X-bracing. Solid figured koa back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Waverly tuning machines. Made in the USA. $10,335 (standard models with mahogany or Indian rosewood back and sides start at $6,795). froggybottomguitars.com
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