After two decades of Hancock Guitars we wanted to celebrate by building a very special instrument. The “20th Anniversary” is possibly the finest guitar we have built and embodies all the best qualities of our instruments.
The “20th Anniversary” is a traditional archtop jazz guitar with a unique look and character. The design is centred around the timbers used which are all native Australian species.
While the guitar was completed in 2012 it began ten years earlier when we acquired a very rare piece of King William Pine from Tasmania that would eventually become the top of the guitar. King William Pine is a rare timber in its own right but this particular piece was unusual in its quality. The piece came from a very slow growing tree with extremely fine annual grain lines, so narrow they can barely be seen with the naked eye. We have approximated the age of the tree at 1000 years. The piece not only looked amazing it had a unique tap-tone and we sensed it wound add an extra dimension to sound when it was finally part of an instrument.
We began work on the guitar six years later when the top was carved along with the back. We had accumulated the other timbers in the meantime including three pieces of exquisite fiddleback Queensland Blackwood which would be transformed into the back. The other timber parts were chosen to complement the top and back with the sides, neck and bindings also crafted from fiddleback Blackwood.
It took four years to complete the instrument, which allowed us time to carefully think through even the smallest details. Even the bindings were a one-off design, featuring a subtle green trim which complements the golden hues of the timbers.
The fingerboard, bridge, head plate and finger rest are all crafted from Ringed Gidgee, an Australian Outback hardwood which is both beautiful and durable. Ringed Gidgee features a similar fiddleback figure to Blackwood and is also an Acacia species. It is a dark chocolate colour and is extremely hard, even when compared to ebony, the traditional choice for guitar fingerboards.
The headplate is inlaid with an emblem of Mother of Pearl identifying the instrument as our 20th Anniversary model. The fingerboard is inlaid with an Acacia seedpod motif on the 12th fret position to signify the Acacia timbers which are used throughout the instrument.
The bridge is a unique design and adjusts with a timber wedge rather than the metal wheels found on most bridges of the type. This makes the bridge more solid and allows for a better transition of vibrations from the strings into the body of the instrument. The guitar is finished in Nitrocellulose lacquer, hand-polished to a high gloss.
The sound is unlike any other archtop guitar we have heard. It has a beautiful warmth, great balance and clarity but also a unique tonal colour that we can only attribute to the unique timbers. The neck design and action makes the “20th Anniversary” easy and comfortable to play.
We are very proud of our anniversary model and find it a fitting commemoration of 20 years of Hancock Guitars.