The usual way we build a guitar is to begin with the materials or design, then at some point during its construction we will decide on a colour. The creation of the Bluebird happened somewhat the other way around, with colour as the initial inspiration and all the other elements designed to complement the unique blue lacquer.
Blue is the essence of this guitar. The reason we chose it as the main focal point of the instrument is the blue lacquer originated from an remarkable place, the workshop of the legendary guitar maker James D’Aquisto.
Many guitar makers and enthusiasts consider James D’Aquisto to be one of the most influential and creative luthiers of all time. He is responsible for taking the archtop guitar from it’s Art Deco inspired early form and developing it into an organic instrument with limitless aesthetic possibilities. His instruments are some of the most prized in the world now and are sought by musicians, collectors and even museums due to their unique character and beautiful workmanship.
During his career D’Aquisto built many amazing guitars but one instrument would become the most famous of them all – D’Aquisto’s blue “Centura Deluxe”. The blue Centura was commissioned by collector Scott Chinery. Upon receiving the the instrument, Chinery was so taken by the unique colour D’Aquisto used he commissioned a collection of “Blue Guitars” to be built by a selection of the world’s foremost luthiers. The Blue Guitar collection would be come known as one of the greatest collections of guitars ever assembled.
The tragic passing of James D’Aquisto left his workshop without a master and several of his instruments unfinished. In 2008 we were commissioned to complete one of the unfinished instruments. As part of the commission we were also forwarded many of D’Aquisto’s original templates and the blue lacquer that had been retrieved from his workshop. When the instrument was completed the owner was so pleased that he gifted the remaining lacquer to us for use on our own instruments.
The amount of D’Aquisto’s blue lacquer we received was only small, just enough for a few instruments. Naturally we wanted to use it on very special instruments. The bluebird is the first of these.
The timber in the carved top is the most important material in the guitar and it was chosen for it’s pale even texture and outstanding figure. It is European Maple, the same timber used on the backs of our jazz guitars. The body and neck are crafted from Queensland maple and the body is chambered to reduce it’s weight, making the instrument more comfortable to play while standing.
The inspiration for the style of the guitar came from D’Aquisto’s jazz guitars and while it is a fully electric guitar many of the design elements are inspired by these instruments. The headstock is ebony which is subtly appointed with a maple trim and the fingerboard is figured ebony with a maple trim and is absent of inlays. The pickguard is figured ebony to match the fingerboard and is polished to a matte lustre.
The sound is derived from two Seymour Duncan pickups. The tone in the bridge position has plenty of grunt with good definition, while the neck position is smooth and warm. There are separate volume controls for each pickup so the sounds can be blended between bridge and neck positions. The two volume controls and common tone control are discreetly mounted under the pickguard, another element borrowed from jazz guitars. This leaves the top of the guitar clear of controls and diverts focus onto the beautiful timber and finish.
The blue lacquer was carefully applied to the top in a sunburst finish. It was important to get the colour perfect so that it displayed the beautiful blue hue and also brought out the character of the timber. The body and neck are finished in a darker blue which complements the top colour. The finish is traditional nitrocellulose lacquer and has been hand-polished to a high gloss.
We are proud of the Bluebird electric and feel it is a fitting tribute to one of the true masters of guitar making.