Instruments & Gear: Fine Lutherie

Huss and Dalton TD-R Custom

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A vintage-style dreadnought built with a thermo-cured red spruce top and Indian rosewood back and sides.

by Teja Gerken
October 07, 2019

Located in Staunton, Virginia, Huss and Dalton was founded by luthiers Jeff Huss and Mark Dalton in 1995. More than two decades later, the company has grown to be one of the most respected small-shop builders of high-end flattop guitars and banjos in the country. Although Huss and Dalton now build a full range of guitars, the company’s deep roots in the bluegrass community are evident in its various dreadnought models. We recently had a chance to check out a TD-R Custom model provided to us by Gryphon Stringed Instruments.

The TD-R is part of Huss and Dalton’s Traditional series. While Huss and Dalton guitars are usually built with a more pronounced radius in the top than most steel-string guitars (a design that leads to more rigidity and enhanced tonal clarity), the company’s Traditional instruments have a slightly flatter vintage-style top, which contributes to a greater bass response. Standard TD-R’s are built with Sitka spruce tops, but the guitar we checked out was custom ordered with a thermo-cured red spruce top. Having been heat-treated to accelerate the aging process, this wood further enhances the model’s vintage character with an attractive dark amber color. The guitar has beautifully striped, dark Indian rosewood back and sides, a mahogany neck, and dark ebony fingerboard and bridge. Looking at the guitar’s construction, it’s obvious that Huss and Dalton are sticklers for detail, as the craftsmanship is extremely clean and accurate throughout.

In playing the TD-R, Peghead Nation’s Scott Nygaard and I agreed that it succeeded in delivering a vintage dreadnought vibe. The guitar had a very open sound, with great bass and a dynamic feel that responded well to different playing styles, regardless of whether Scott played it with a flatpick or whether I played it fingerstyle. The guitar’s neck shape was a nice compromise between larger vintage shapes and more contemporary profiles, and the slightly wider nut provided plenty of room for the fretting hand. 

Overall, the Huss and Dalton TD-R is a great guitar that should be of interest to anyone looking for a vintage-style dreadnought. The company also offers a version with mahogany back and sides, and as the custom top on the guitar we tried out demonstrates, Huss and Dalton are more than willing to modify a standard model according to a customer’s wishes. 

SPECS: Dreadnought body. Thermo-cured red spruce top (Sitka top standard). Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony bridge and fingerboard. 25.4-inch scale. 1 ²³/₃₂-inch nut width. Open-gear Waverly tuners. Made in the USA. $5,373 as demoed ($4,373 base price).

Category: Instruments & Gear

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