Handmade Guitars by Bob Gramann

 It's about the sound.

Bob Gramann Guitarmaker

The Guitars

What others say about Gramann Guitars

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In November 2014, I completed number 100!  It's my favorite model, the Rappahannock, made of Osage Orange.  To make it a celebration guitar, I used EVO frets and gold Gotoh tuners. I stayed with my "simple is better" design ethic, adding multi-line purfling around the sides and an extra holly stripe in the top purfling.   Someone is going to get a really nice guitar.

It's about the sound.  My goal in building is a rich, full sound that it is loud enough for performances without amplification.  Each guitar is a responsive instrument that feels good to play.  At this level of instrument, there is no "best."  It comes down what you as an individual want in an individual guitar.  While it will be obvious that my instruments are members of the same family, there are differences among them in the sound and feel.  Each was individually hand-made.  Each neck was hand-carved without a template.  Play them all and pick the one that sings to you.

I've been playing guitar for over 50 years but I didn't build one until 1992.  What began as an experiment has become an obsession.  I love working with wood, selecting, cutting, bending, and shaping it into a guitar. While it is well known that exotic, tropical wood can make a fine instrument, there are many domestic woods that can equal or exceed the performance of those rare rain-forest woods.  
For some time, there has been a buzz among luthiers that Osage Orange (and its South American relative Fustic) is a sound-alike replacement for Brazilian Rosewood.   I have now built several guitars with this wood and make the claim that it sounds better.  These guitars have a  well-balanced and rich tone and a separation between the notes in a chord that makes them beautifully musical.  Sycamore is another of my favorite local woods.  I have also built successful instruments with Black Locust and Black Walnut.  While I still build an occasional instrument with back and sides of tropical wood, I prefer the great woods that grow on this continent.  (As long as I can legally obtain it, I will probably continue to use Macassar Ebony for fingerboards. I haven't found anything else that's as stable and long-wearing).

The guitar models are named after rivers in Virginia, roughly in order of size.  The Chesapeake Bass, larger than a normal guitar, is named after a body of water larger than a river. 

Currently, I have these guitars available for sale.  Prices are posted on The Guitars page.  Unless otherwise stated, the instruments come in a hardshell case. Cutaways, fancy trim, and exotic woods cost more.  

Guitarmaker Magazine (Spring 2013), a publication of the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans, included an article (Domestic Woods Make Fine Guitars)about one of my guitars.  Read it here.  (full discosure: my wife, Mary Lou, wrote this article.)
Tom Russ, who owns one of my guitars, wrote a book about playing and comparing guitars Four Guitars (More or Less).  It's a good read for someone who enjoys fine guitars.  


The Rapphannock has a body size very close to a Martin OM/000.  Scale length, nut width, and body depth can be customized.  It is available with or without a cutaway. This is currently my favorite size to play.  It gives a rich tone with good projection and is not so large that it is difficult to reach around.    These are great sounding guitars.  All listed below have a 24.9" scale
East Indian Rosewood (#22) (1 11/16” nut)cutaway
Fustic Cutaway (#54)  (1 3/4" nut)
Osage Orange Lefty Cutaway (#81) (1 3/4" nut) SOLD--there might be another by the end of 2015--you may reserve it if you wish
Sycamore (#87)
(1 3/4" nut)
  the Sycamore back looks like this:
87 back
Osage Orange Cutaway (#96) (1 3/4" nut) (On display at Picker's Supply in Fredericksburg, VA)
East Indian Rosewood (#97) with an Adirondack top  (1 3/4" nut)   (On display at The House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park, MD.)
Osage Orange (#100!)   (1 3/4" nut)

The York has a classical body size.  The sound of these is amazing given the size.
Osage Orange (#101)  (1 13/16" nut)
Osage Orange (#104)  (1 3/4" nut)  

The Rapidan is similar in size to a Martin size 0.  The amount of sound that comes out of this guitar is amazing.  
Walnut (#82)(1 13/16" nut)  All North American woods:  Walnut back and sides, Oregon Sitka Spruce top, Persimmon bridge, fingerboard and bindings, persimmon pins
Sycamore (#88)
(1 3/4" nut) Sycamore back and sides, Engelmann Spruce top.
Oage Orange (#106)  
(1 13/16" nut)

The Maury is size of a Martin dreadnought except that the waist is pulled in to make the notes sound more clearly.  Both of these have a 25.4" scale.
East Indian Rosewood dreadsized guitar (#35)
(1¾ nut)  as good as an EIR guitar can sound  (on display at The Folk Store in Kansas City, MO)
Mahogany Slope-Shouldered (#107) (1¾ nut) with a pulled in waist.  Pretty nice sound!  SOLD

Dreaded Maury
A true Dreadnaught
Picked notes pop right out 
Sapele (#66) (1 3/4" nut)


The James is the largest guitar I make.  It has a jumbo body 16.25" across at the lower bout.  These have a 25.4 scale length.  You expect a big sound out of these guitars and you get it.
Sycamore Cutaway (#64) (1 3/4" nut)   (on display at The Folk Store in Kansas City, MO)
Walnut (#77) (1 3/4" nut)  All North American woods:  Walnut back and sides, Adirondack top, Osage Orange bridge and fingerboard, maple bindings, persimmon pins (On display at Picker's Supply in Fredericksburg, VA)

Persimmon (#98) (1 3/4" nut)   (On display at The House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park, MD.)

James Baritone
Osage Orange Cutaway (#67) (1 3/4" nut) What a warm sound!    (On display at The House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park, MD.)

The Chesapeake Bass
It's hard to make an acoustic bass guitar that's loud enough to be used in a band setting.  The body just can't be big enough to effectively reproduce those low, bass notes.  So, I designed my bass to emphasize the second harmonic.  There's a psycho acoustic effect that causes your ear and brain to fill in the missing fundamental when it hears the overall shape of the bass note.  My design worked.  These basses are as loud as a regular upright bass.  Hearing is believing.

Sycamore (#79)  A fretless acoustic bass guitar.  This one is amazingly loud for an acoustic bass guitar--it rivals an upright for volume and might be too loud when played with a pick.  A K&K Pure Bass pickup is installed. The instrument has a 33"  scale and a 1 11/16" nut and plays very nicely.
Mahogany (#89)  This one has frets.  It's loud. The instrument has a 33" scale and a 1 11/16" nut.   (On display at The House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park, MD.)

Deep Run
The Deep Run is a very small guitar with a tremendous sound.  It has a full 24.9" scale.  These sell for $1250 and include a small gig bag
Osage Orange (#105) (1 3/4" nut)  
SOLD--there might be another by the end of 2015

East Indian Rosewood, Englemann spruce top  (#32)

Open Back Banjo
12" walnut pot with integral maple tone ring, wide neck (#72)  ($2000)  SOLD--there might be another by the end of 2015

In Progress:  (one of these could be yours)
2 banjos with 12" pots

Each has a pleasant feel for the player and a big, full-toned sound. Prices generally start at $2500.

Bob Gramann
122 Laurel Avenue
Fredericksburg, VA 22408

(540) 898-0611






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