In an age where we have a surplus of mass guitar producers around the globe, only a small pool of guitar luthiers stick to the traditional art of handmaking guitars. Jack Spira is a handmaker, or in other words, a guitar luthier who works on a guitar singlehandedly; from selecting the choice of wood to the finishing department. He builds a handful of guitars in a year with a long queue of people eagerly waiting for their guitars to arrive from his workshop.
Based in Cockatoo Australia, Jack builds many different kinds of acoustic instruments ranging from guitars, mandolins, bouzouki, and other wood instruments. His methods are time consuming and labour intensive due to the nature of handmaking but being immersed in every step of the process allows him to tweak and shape the body to produce the sound that the customer wants.. With many years of guitar building experience, Jack’s work is nothing less than outstanding.
Jack Spira guitars are built with distinction in mind. Instead of building a conventional “balanced-sounding guitar”, Jack often goes for something that has a heavier mid punch or deeper depth on the bass . As different woods have different characteristics, no two guitar sounds the same. Even if you put two guitars of similar size, shape, wood, and bracing; it is up to the hands of the master luthier to unlock the best potential of that particular guitar though his unique blend of tone woods selected, sculpturing and finish.
At Sixstrings we are privileged to have one of Jack’s guitar at our gallery. Featuring a OOO size, Solid Sitka Spruce top, Solid Indian Rosewood sides and back, Rosewood Bridge, Ebony Fretboard, Bone Saddle and Nut, Signature Abalone headstalk logo, a 3-piece neck with a neck voult, Mahogany binding with detailed layer of maple and mahogany purfling, Gotoh tuning machine heads, wood bridge pins and a unique rosette which emphasizes the level ofdetail in his workmanship combined with top grade material. This minimalist approach towards the fretboard with no in-lays naturally brings attention to the Spanish-like design Rosette.
The time spent for Jack to build a guitar is equivalent to the time it takes for a guitar manufacturing company to produce 80-120 high end guitars. What separates Jack from other luthiers is his ability to bring out the best in the wood that he works with, handling all the processes alone; he is able to study and understand the guitar characteristics every step of the way. He spends time tap tuning, fine tuning the bracing, scalloping down to the slightest millimetres to ensure balance and optimizing resonance. Reinforcing the sides with solid linings and strong wood binding increases the overall structural integrity of the instrument making pieces of wood resonate as one holistic structure producing clear, fat, loud acoustics that one would desire and find in boutique guitars.
This combination of Sitka Spruce with Rosewood is generally regarded as the typical choice for consumers who enjoy bell like highs, accentuated overtones, fat mid-tones and deeper bass. Couple that with an OOO size which emphasizes the mid-range clarity, we have in store a robust, big, balance sounding instrument which leans more towards the clear lower mid tones. With perfect intonation even on the higher frets, every material used to construct this guitar is carefully selected to contribute to the overall tonal quality and sustain.
It was a privilege to meet Jack at the Malaysian International Guitar Festival (MIGFEST) earlier this year and to be entrusted to carry the only handmade guitar in Sixstrings done by the man himself. This guitar was made in Oct 2012 specifically for the MIGFEST audience and is now available at Sixstrings! The guitar is retailing at RM12,250 which includes a standard hard case.