Instruments & Gear: Fine Lutherie

Maegen Wells A-Style Mandolin and 15-Inch Archtop Guitar

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Luthier Maegen Wells discusses two of her instruments in the Peghead Nation video studio.

by Teja Gerken
October 25, 2018

Based in Northern California, Maegen Wells is a rising star on the contemporary lutherie scene. A graduate of the Galloup School of Guitar Building and Repair, she worked for Reverend Guitars before landing a five-year apprenticeship with famed archtop builder Tom Ribbecke. Now with her own shop, Maegen specializes in archtop guitars but also builds the occasional mandolin and flattop guitar. Having seen her work at several guitar shows, including the Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration and the NAMM Boutique Guitar Showcase, we invited her to stop by the Peghead Nation video studio to discuss two of her instruments, an A-Style mandolin and a 15-inch archtop guitar.

Maegen’s A-Style mandolin takes its inspiration from a vintage Gibson A-2. But rather than being a copy, her mandolin features the clean lines and simple appointments of many contemporary archtop guitars. For example, it has no rosette and no fretboard inlay. It has a Sitka spruce top and big leaf maple back and sides, and includes a solid ebony bridge, metal tailpiece, and Schaller tuning machines. Peghead Nation mandolin instructor Sharon Gilchrist was on hand to demonstrate the instrument for this video.

Maegen’s guitar is based on her standard 15-inch archtop body (the dimension refers to the width at the lower bout). Unusual for an archtop guitar, the instrument has koa back and sides, rather than the maple that is typically used for acoustic archtops. “Maple covers a lot of bases tonally, but it tends to be more bright, and the koa brought a lot of warmth and bass response to the instrument,” she says. The guitar has a Sitka spruce top, Maegen’s handmade ebony bridge, tailpiece, and pickguard, and a floating Bartolini humbucking pickup. Peghead Nation co-founder Scott Nygaard wraps up the video by playing the guitar.

Maegen will be exhibiting her guitars at several festivals this year, including the La Conner Guitar Festival (May 11–13), the Winters Guitar Festival (June 29–30), the Vancouver International Guitar Festival (August 11–12), and the Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase (October 26–28).


Category: Instruments & Gear

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