Statement of Beliefs by Jason Pickard

Our guitars

My current building philosophy focuses on achieving consistent results from different pieces of wood by making fundamental changes in my design.
I have learned many different concepts from studying other builders, and I am greatly influenced by many noteworthy luthiers. However, I don't build to any particular model patterned after another builder. While I appreciate the traditional guitar designs from the master builders of the past, I challenge myself to move forward and build the instruments of tomorrow. Therefore, rather than imitating the traditional designs, I try to understand how they function and continually improve upon them.

Inspiration

While it was definitely my mother who inspired me to play guitar (and still provides encouragement for all of the endeavors in my life), I think that my father was the person who inspired me to build guitars. My father (a machinist by trade) is an individual who can seemingly fix and build anything, and my brother is the apple that didnt fall far from the tree. I started playing guitar at the age of 11, and was much better with a guitar in my hands than I was with a wrench - a bit of a black sheep among a family of mechanically inclined men. Music was definitely the talent that came natural to me. As I grew older, I wanted to be able to create or build things like the other men in my family could, and eventually fulfilled some of those ambitions by working on old cars. But once I started playing classical guitar in 1994, busting knuckles and breaking nails on cars was no longer practical, and I shifted my energies toward working on guitars. For me, it was the best of both worlds, combining music and mechanics.

This was about the same time that luthiers were starting to advertise on the Internet, and they had pictures and explanations of their design principles. After purchasing several guitar-making books combined with hours of phone conversations with John Gilbert, Douglas Ching, and Steve Walter, I became completely obsessed with building a guitar. In the beginning I destroyed a lot of nice tone woods and spent a substantial amount of money on phone bills, but I kept building and repairing instruments, and I feel like its a real niche for me.

Desired Sound

Below are a few of my own definitions that describe the sound that I am trying to achieve through my instruments.

  • Volume/Projection: An open sound that is responsive yet penetrating and solid. I believe that my guitars exert enough volume to be considered concert worthy instruments. In other words, they project nicely, and the sound radiates well in large rooms
  • Separation/Sustain: A sound that rings on individual notes, but doesn't get lost in chords.
  • Color: A distinct contrast in sound when hand placement is varied in proportion to the sound hole as well as a noticeable contrast in playing rest-stroke (apoyando) versus free-stroke (tirando).
  • Balance/Clarity: I use these terms interchangeably with sweetness if the guitar is balanced and the strings are very clear and separated, then I believe that the performer can truly manipulate the tone in order to create either a sweet sound or one that is cutting.

One final note; I have always been the type of guitarist who preferred clear sustaining trebles in an instrument, rather than an overpowering bass, and I think that this is also reflected through my guitars as a builder.