Instruments & Gear: Fine Lutherie

Tony Yamamoto OMY Paulownia Demo

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Luthier Tony Yamamoto builds a stunningly lightweight steel-string using paulownia wood.

by Teja Gerken
July 18, 2014

Tony Yamamoto is a San Francisco Bay Area luthier known for his willingness to experiment with unusual designs. Specializing in multiscale, baritone, and 12-string guitars, Yamamoto has become a go-to builder for players looking for custom guitars that leave tradition behind. For the OMY Paulownia, Yamamoto chose a relatively standard design that uses his approximately grand-concert-size OMY body dimensions, a short 24.9-inch scale, and simple appointments. What makes the guitar unusual is the paulownia wood used for the top, back, and sides. A fast-growing wood native to several regions in Asia, paulownia is extremely lightweight, and while it’s uncommon to see it used as a guitar wood, it has been used for instruments such as the Chinese pipa. Yamamoto considers this guitar to be a prototype, but it exhibits many traits that are desirable in a fingerstyle guitar: as well as being very responsive, it has a great dynamic range, a balanced sound, and a pleasant, well-rounded overall tone.

SPECS: Grand concert body with 13-fret neck. Solid paulownia top, back, and sides. Bolt-on neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 24.9-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Open-geared Gotoh tuning machines.


Tags: Guitar, Yamamoto
Category: Instruments & Gear

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