Name:

Mike Sankey

Location:

Ottawa, Canada

 

 

I've been building and repairing guitars for 17 years. Each one is crafted individually, slowly, by hand. I give my instruments names, not serial numbers, because every one is unique. I like to maintain a modern and functionalist aesthetic, showcasing the natural beauty of local woods. Hopefully you'll enjoy them too!

 

 

Tuesday
Mar032015

Rejuvenation

Nobody's perfect. Guitars too. It occasionally happens that I'll have a guitar sit around for a long time without finding an owner. I have to be honest with myself- sometimes it's because the guitar could be better. After all, as I grow as a person I become a better luthier, and some of my older guitars don't meet my newer, higher, standards. So back into the workshop it'll go, getting upgraded to the current state of my art. Corduroy (above), got an infusion of carbon fibre in the neck for extra stiffness, as well as a new lighter and less bulky bridge. While I was at it, I decided to upgrade the tuners to super-lightweight Gotoh Stealths. This meant completely redrilling the headstock, and to cover the plugs and strengthen the area I decided to create front and back headplates from my last pieces of figured hop-hornbeam. It's now stronger, lighter, prettier, and plays better than ever.

Lapdog, on the other hand, was simple enough that nothing could really go wrong The simpler the better, was the motto when designing and building this instrument. After all, I'm not a lap steel player. But after showing it to a few friends who were, they agreed that it would be better if it had built-in volume and tone controls, so they wouldn't have to rely on a swell pedal. I listened, and now it has them, topped with knobs I turned out of cocobolo to match. It may be a little less elemental, but it's a lot more useful.

Wednesday
Feb252015

New Amp: "the Ghost of Charlie Christian"

Who wouldn't like to have a time machine? I know one thing I would do would be to travel back to the dawn of the electric guitar, and listen in on a night session at Minton's Playhouse. There would be Charlie Christian, inventing bop and with it the tones and techniques that all electric guitarists use to this day. I can't help but wonder how it would sound live, instead of recorded on the primitive amateur equipment of the time.

Lacking the means to build said time machine, I created this amplifier instead. It's a close copy of the Gibson EH-150, the first commercially available electric guitar amp. The few remaining original examples are in rough shape; listening to them, it's hard to imagine how the electric guitar was considered a viable instrument at the time. But a newly built one, with fresh, tested components is a completely different animal. Clic on the pic to find out (and hear) more...

Friday
Dec122014

New Guitar: "Dove"

 

Here's a bird of the same feather as Peregrine; introducing its gentler, jazzier counterpart "Dove". It's a true hollowbody with a carefully constructed spruce top. Click on the pic to learn more...

Wednesday
Dec032014

New Guitar: "Tortoise"

 

This unusual archtop guitar made its public debut at the Holy Grail Guitar Show. Now it is time to share it with the rest of the world! There are very few parts of the guitar that haven't been substantially rethought. Click on the pic to see and read more...

Thursday
Nov202014

Thanks Berlin!

The Holy Grail Guitar Show in Berlin was a great success. First of all, the city of Berlin is absolutely amazing, with a vibrant culture of new ideas and old traditions. It is certainly the most hip and happenning place I've been to recently. The organizers of the show did a wonderful job running this complicated event smoothly and efficiently, creating an environment where all of us luthiers really felt like we belonged. I got to meet and chat with some of the great guitarmakers who have shaped the way I build, jammed with some very cool musicians, and somehow even had the time to hang out and just enjoy everyone's company.

What struck me the most was the incredible variety and creativity of so much of the work on display. Almost every builder brought something that pushed the envelope of what's possible with the guitar, from Michihiro Matsuda's deconstructed archtop to Uli Teuffel's mind-bending Birdfish to Linda Manzer's 52-stringed wonder. Not just that, but the visitors to the show were a cosmopolitan and knowledgeable crowd who were as thrilled as I was to see and play these new guitar ideas. It's a long way from home, but I sure hope I can do this again every year!