I love to play your guitars.
I’ll put The Santa Barbara Instrument Celebration on my calendar. Our “Amazing Grace” is up to 137,000 views now. 🙂 I dearly loved that guitar that we did “Amazing” on. I seem to recall that it (The McKnight Diamon Guitar) already had a name, but if not, it should be dubbed “Grace”.
My initial impressions: McKnight Highlander OM-D.
McKnight Highlander OM-D
Top: Adirondack Spruce
Hollow-back/sides: Ziricote (outer), brown wood of unknown origin (inner)
Venetian Cutaway and Manzer Wedge Body
Macassar Ebony binding/purfling
First Impression out of the box: Light. Responsive. Incredible sustain. String to string articulation and note separation/clarity. Tons of headroom. With the first big strum, it felt like every inch of the guitar was vibrating… felt it through my arms and into my chest. This immediately brought a huge smile to my face. I told myself… “now that is what a well-made guitar is supposed to feel like.”
Build Quality / Aesthetics: Opening the box from shipping, I wanted to make sure that I inspected every inch of the guitar to make sure there were no issues. NO issues. The build quality is flawless. I found myself exploring the inside of the guitar, mesmerized by the guts of the guitar (especially the carbon support rods that you can see through the sound port). I appreciate the fact that Tim finishes the inside back wood as well – really high quality and thoughtful work. Also I really appreciate his use of innovative build features. The wood on this guitar is really something special. Adi top with gentle bear clawing and tight straight grain. Wild ziricote back and sides. I really wanted the wood to shine and really be the statement for this guitar (more so than any inlay design). Tim was able to bring out the true beauty in each piece of wood masterfully! I am blown away by the way this guitar came together and the beauty on display through Tim’s master hands.
Feel: Like I shared earlier, the feel of the guitar is something special. Light, responsive, with tons of sustain. The manzer wedge is very comfortable – can play this guitar for hours… No set up adjustments were needed out of the box post shipping (However, Tim did provide a few bridge shims just in case). Given it is a smaller body guitar, it is comfortable to hold and easy to get a little aggressive with…. Leading me into my thoughts on response.
Response: Sensitive to light touch, but also huge headroom that allows me to really dig in. The string to string articulation and note separation is amazing. This was one of the things that I specifically asked Tim for and he delivered! I can back off the guitar and the guitar responds to a gentle touch, but the guitar seems to be able to handle anything I throw at it.
Sound: The first thing I did after tuning the guitar up was play the low E over and over again. The bass is tight and present, not boomy. You can hear overtone after overtone as you let the string ring out. I attribute this to the inner back… rings like a bell. When strummed, this guitar has a natural sparkle/shimmer to the high end. Obviously, I need to spend more time with the guitar for a full review of the sound, but I can assure you that the sound will only get better with time. This guitar will be used primarily in a bigger band setting and given the way that this guitar was built/braced, it will be perfect to cut through the mix. I will give it some more time and write a sound/tone update when I’ve had more experience with the guitar. This guitar is loud.
Working with Tim & Mary: an experience I will never forget. When looking for a luthier, I knew I wanted to choose someone who would build a guitar for ME. Tim and Mary unending pursuit to make sure that I am getting exactly the guitar that I wanted was relentless. They did anything and everything to make sure that this guitar was everything I desired. There were times where I could not decide and I wanted Tim and Mary to just tell me what I should do, but they were patient enough to allow me to really understand each choice/option and make the decision based on the preference of my eyes and ears. (they helped on the education and option value, but ultimately the decision was mine).
Tim/Mary, thanks for making this such a special experience. Glad I am now part of the McKnight family!
Tim: I have tuned the 12 string down a step and a half, and am using medium strings (harder on the fingers but I am getting there–relearning some elements of playing again). Talk about resonance! In spades! I play in church plugged in to my little practice amp and it is enough to carry the whole room with singing.
When I play with my musician (piano and guitar) I capo at the third fret to get into key with her but even with the capo I don’t lose very much of the guitar’s fullness.
When I play in that what turned out to C# opening tuning or use my Drop-D capo, the sound is amazing, big, rich, that chorus I heard in my head when we first started the design journey to my Hummingbird.
I am working on a new composition using this lower Drop-D tuning, not sure what key it turns out to be, have to work on that, but it sure is fun playing there. Gives me all sorts of musical ideas and textures to play around with, noodling becomes practice, becomes creating, becomes worship. All this from wood and metal and lots of love and attention to detail.
Thanks for the faith that is in this instruments because it certainly does my faith good when I sing and play.
Peace and Blessings.
In my case, I’m not sure my guitar has gotten louder. It was plenty loud to begin with. I remember wondering if I was disturbing the people in the room next door when I was playing it for the first time in the Holiday Inn in Nashville at the IBMA! What has happened is that it has gotten sweeter without loosing one inch of that volume, crispness or sustain. I could be completely wrong (Tim would know for sure) but I attribute this to the double top.
Building a guitar with Tim was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done. The constant interaction and exchange of ideas was incredibly rewarding. The end result was an awesome guitar that’s uniquely mine.
I have to tell you a similar story. Robert Bowlin (played with Bill Monroe, the Osborne Brothers, Kathy Mattea, etc.) was in my home shortly after I got my McKnight and played it. He liked it quite a bit at the time. He played it again a couple of years later and didn’t think it was the same guitar. The instrument had matured and the sound had opened up so much in that short time. It continues to do so to this day! Thanks
again for such an incredible instrument.
It’s my pleasure and honor to recommend to you McKnight Guitars. First allow me to introduce myself and tell you a little about why I chose McKnight. My name is Matt Brent and I am the full time worship pastor for the Celebration Christian Church in Marion, OH. I knew I needed a guitar built to shine on the stage and built well enough to endure the rigors of a working musician’s schedule. I played many guitars from many of the top makers: Taylor, Larrivee, Martin, Breedlove, Gibson, Takamine, and several others. At the end of the day, not one of these makers invited me to their home and took the time to educate me about acoustic guitars. Not one of these companies allowed me to design my guitar from beginning to end to my own specifications. Not one of these makers offered to build a personal relationship with me and treat me like family. Tim and Mary did all of these things, so I chose McKnight, and I have never been disappointed with that decision.You just need to know that Tim and Mary are salt of the earth type people. You will find them down to earth and approachable in every circumstance, and they genuinely care for people. Tim understands the intricacies of tone woods and wants to match your needs with the guitar he builds you. He’s willing to listen and take the time to deliver what you need. I’ve seen him spend hours trying to help someone find the right woods to suit their personal tastes and needs as a musician. If you are reading this then you already know the outstanding quality of the guitars you are researching. But just to be thorough, let me say that my McKnight Jumbo Mac (I call her Big Momma) is the finest guitar I’ve ever played. Tim and I designed her to stand out on the stage and perform with excellence and this guitar just keeps getting better. The quality of the craftsmanship and attention to detail are second to none. McKnight Guitars are as fine an instrument as you can find. Allow me to add one last thing for you to ponder when considering McKnight Guitars: when Tim and Mary say they stand behind their instruments 100%, you can believe it. In my experience, they have gone above and beyond many times in an effort to stand behind their guitars. The McKnights deliver a level of customer service and personal attention that would be impossible for the bigger companies to achieve. I am thrilled to be a part of the McKnight family of guitar owners. It’s a rare opportunity to be associated with people of outstanding character and integrity who care for their customers like family and build instruments of supreme quality. When you choose McKnight Guitars for your own needs as a musician and artist, I am convinced that Tim and Mary will exceed all your greatest expectations as well.
Sincerely, Matt Brent
To whom it may concern, I have the pleasure of owning a fine instrument built by Tim McKnight. Tim is building one of the finest guitars on the market today. His construction and tonal qualities certainly speak for themselves. This is not surprising, as Tim is a man dedicated to excellence regardless of the endeavor. I have had the pleasure of Tim’s company and immediately was taken by his dedication, thoughtfullness, and character. My business dealings with Tim have been a direct reflection of these qualities. His customer service is top-notch. As a business man myself, great communication, a willingness to stand behind quality, and pride in a product, are all essentials for success in the current marketplace. Tim exemplifies these qualities. Mary, Tim’s wife, coordinates many aspects of the business which allows Tim time to focus on the product. Mary is also a wonderful marketer and all-around “cheerleader” for her husband’s guitars. Her presence on the Internet has been instrumental (pun intended) in the success of McKnight Guitars.McKnight Guitars is a top-notch organization, run by people with high integrity and a genuine love for the craft. I own one McKnight guitar at the present time. It won’t be my last. Please feel free to call me at any time if further information is needed.Sincerely,
To whom it may concern, I can not say enough about the quality, sound and service, that I have received from Tim and Mary McKnight. I am currently waiting to pick up my second McKnight guitar this coming August. Throughout the building process of this latest guitar both Tim and Mary have kept in touch with me by sending me questions, comments and pictures of my new guitar as it takes shape. I know that this new guitar will be as beautiful and sound as wonderful or better than my first one. Would I recommend them to others? ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!!! If you are looking for a very high quality, good looking and great sounding guitar, from a builder that provides impeccable service. You won’t have to look any further than to MCKNIGHT GUITARS…Sincerely,
If anyone would have told me a year ago that I’d no longer be using my Martin HD-28 as my main guitar I’d have laughed at them and called them a liar. That was before I found the McKnight Guitar booth at the 2005 IBMA trade show. Tim’s guitars were a little “odd” looking with the soundports & the non-traditional headstocks. I think that’s what drew me to them initially. I picked up a few different models and I was immediately sold on the soundport idea…..I could hear myself…..a problem many bluegrass guitar player suffer from especially in Jams. WOW. Then I started to notice the craftsmanship. It was flawless. You can really tell the difference when a guitar is hand made with care & attention to detail. In fact, a good friend of mine (Tim Scheerhorn of Scheerhorn Resonator Guitar building fame) said to me “that guys a heck of a builder, go check out those guitars.” What hit me next was the playability. Excellent up & down the neck and balanced to boot. Then the real test…the CAPO test. I slapped a capo on the 4th fret & hit a few chords and they were still in tune! A guitar that capo’s in tune is a rare find – there is usually some fine tuning & tweaking involved – but not with this guitar. WOW again. Needless to say, I found the one I wanted (a Hickory/1959 Sitka Spruce Model) made the purchase and it’s now my “go to” guitar for everything I do. I’m really looking forward to getting it in the studio and seeing how the guitar records. I’m sure it will be stunning. I’m soon leaving for the 2006 IBMA events in Nashville, TN and can honestly say, one of the stops I’m most looking forward to is the McKnight Guitar Booth. My only fear is that I’ll find another one that I want…..credit card beware….
Tim: I was most impressed by how quickly you went from a well built guitar (the ones I played at the first GrevenFest) to these new guitars. Worlds apart tonally. The new guitars are as close to a true vintage sound as I heard anywhere at the Healsdburg show. Big, powerful, balanced tone along with easy play and excellent setups. The lightness of the instruments spoke to their correct thicknessing of back, sides, top, etc. and the sound showed light bracings without being too light. It was the meaty quality of the sound that most impressed me. It is a most difficult part of the sound envelope to achieve. You have found that critical balance between light enough and too light to get a genuine 30’s vintage Martin sound while adding finesse to the tonal envelop as well. Absolutely great guitars. I would own one if I didn’t build.
Tim McKnight’s guitars exhibit meticulous fit and finish coupled with stunning tonewoods. But beyond the great look and feel of McKnight guitars, their sound is what catches players’ attention most. McKnight guitars have great tonal clarity, presence and projection. Tim’s clever use of sound ports in the upper-bout sides also provide immediate, intimate feedback of the guitar’s voice to the player, even when strings are plucked at low volume levels. Last, but not least, McKnight guitars feature setups that afford silky smooth playability. All in all, McKnight guitars sound and play just great.
Tim McKnight made a strong statement this year at the Healdsburg Guitar Festival with six fine hand built guitars using native tonewoods such as hickory and features that include his unique headstock shape and multiple sound ports. The tone and volume was impressive as well as the attention to detail and craftsmanship.
McKnight Guitars are one of the best values in today’s high end guitar market. Everything that should be in a high end guitar is there in spades. Getting a McKnight Guitar would be to get a lot more than you would be paying for. Clarity, balance, beauty and great tone … these guitars have it all.
Posted by Surreal McCoy This guitar was no less than absolutely "stunning"........I was really unsure as to what to expect from this somewhat unique wood combo of Douglas Fir/Wild Cherry....... I now know......... 2004 Douglas Fir top/Wild Black Cherry back & sides (Curly maple wedge on center back).Gold Grover 18:1 Vintage V97 tuners. Rosewood fretboard (dot). MOP rosette & McKnight logo (headstock). E. I. Rosewood binding. Herringbone purfling.Cow bone nut & saddle (scalloped). Sound: I was very curious as to what this somewhat unique wood combination would yield. The Douglas Fir top is fairly close to it's cousin Spruce as far as tone & response. The Cherry sides/back are a cross between Mahogany & Maple. I felt the clarity and cleanliness of Maple, along with a slight woody tone of Mahogany. This proved to be an excellent pairing. The wood combo along with the design & bracing Tim employs, ultimately produces an acoustic that is capable of extreme dynamic abilities; fingerpicked or strummed! I was amazed at how "crisp" and "tight" this guitar could be when picking robustly; and just as amazed at the "silky smooth" notes this guitar produces higher up the fretboard. Tim manages an excellent string voicing & spacing. The low E had more bass than most similar size instruments. I love it! Action & Finish: The action came set up very low & balanced. The guitar is like butter to play. Apparently; in transit, there became some temperature/humidity problems that resulted in some noticeable string buzz with the A string. While Tim offered some constructive suggestions, along with profusely apologizing; I chose to leave well enough alone. The guitar had so many "strengths".......I didn't mind the few small obstacles. Speaking of which; my only other criticism would be the small amount of extra glue I found where the neck joins the body. Tim uses hot hide glue on all top braces to allow the string energy to transmit more efficiently. In addition; there was one small blemish on the binding, under the gloss finish. Support: After receiving numerous emails, along with speaking with Tim on the phone; I would feel very good about doing business with Tim McKnight. He is not only a very talented luthier, but an equally concerned and caring person. Overall rating: When my wife first saw the McKnight OM, she stated that it was the most beautiful guitar she'd seen me bring home! Please keep in mind that in the last couple of months, I've brought some real beauties home to visit (Breedlove, Goodall, McIlroy, Everett, etc.). The McKnight Douglas Fir/Cherry is a "stunning" combination, and holds it's own against any one of these fine other builds. Tim designed the body depth to be a 1/4" deeper than a shallow body OM. This slight difference adds more to the tone & projection, yet feels "just right" to hold. This may very well become one of my favorite OM's I've ever encountered. A definite "keeper" instrument. Congrats Tim McKnight for a very finely crafted musical instrument!
For any of you considering having a top quality handmade instrument built.........I would highly suggest you contact Tim McKnight.........
Posted by JimB Since I am the only one to have had the opportunity to play the McKnight Jumbo Mac Road Trip Special…thanks to the not so gentle handing of UPS, I thought I’d better give everyone my impressions. This is the second McKnight I’ve played, the first being a rosewood OM. First of all, this is not a small jumbo. Specs are as follows: Honduran Mahogany/Adirondack Spruce
Lower Bout-16 5/8, Upper Bout-12 ¼, Depth @ end pin-4 7/8, Depth @ heel-3 ½ The neck profile is nicely rounded, no V, and is very comfortable even though I prefer a slight V in the neck. Neck width is 1 23/32 measured across the nut and is about the same as a Dana Bougeois uses on his JOMC and Slope D’s. The neck angle is very good. The line of the fretboard is even with top of bridge…like I believe it should be. String spacing is 2 1/8 at the saddle. The action a bit high for ragtime, but just right for flat picking. With the low neck angle, there is plenty of saddle so it could it could be taken down a bit with no probem. Neck finish is not satin, but finished the same as body, shiny but not the least bit sticky as some can be. The rosewood fret board is not bound and the frets are very nicely done. No snags, well rounded at the ends. Overall fit and finish is very good. On par with my Bourgeois OM. French heal with a maple cap (nice touch). Binding on the body is rosewood (I believe) and the purfling is what I would call “rope” or “half-herringbone”. Tuners are Gold Grover 18/1. I really like these tuners and have them on my Greven NL and my Greven PS. One of the unusual features on Tim’s guitars is that he scallops the nut and saddle like Dan Lashbrook does on the Martin’s he modifies. This is the only guitar I’ve ever seen with this modification. I don’t know if it adds to the tone or volume….but it’s cool. The bridge is rosewood and is slotted with the pins are very nicely recessed to where the shoulder of the pin is even with the surface of the bridge. Sound Hole is 4 ¼" with a “doubler” on the inside. Edge is nicely radiused. It’s the first time I’ve seen this on a guitar and it really looks neat. The rosette inlay is first rate MOP or Paua …can’t tell for sure which. Interior construction details Kerfing is reversed and the side bracing goes between the kerfing on the bottom and the top rather than behind the kerfing in a slot. The guitar is X braced, but it is not forward shifted. There is an additional block like bracing under the top to help support the neck joint where Martin uses the popsickle brace. Tim shows this bracing pattern on his website and it’s better to look at the picture…it’s hard to describe. No evidence of over gluing. This is a cleanly built guitar. Sound Bass response is strong, but not overpowering. Trebles are bright and strong, a good balance for blues and ragtime. Mid-range is good, the more I played it the stronger the midrange came out. Overall, this is a very responsive guitar. Only a light touch is required to get to get good tone, but fingerpicks are needed to really get the top moving. It’s obvious that this guitar was built with flat pickers in mind. Lots of headroom…play it harder and it just gets louder and this is one LOUD guitar. Tonal quality is a bit bright…just as it should be with this wood combination and new strings. Strings could be some of it. The brightness seemed to fade a bit as the strings broke in. How does it compare to other good guitars? Well in an effort to make an honest comparison, I took it to a friend’s house. The following guitars are were in the stable that evening:
Merrill C-18 Steve Swan custom bubble (The Tree) mahogany /Adirondack
Martin D-18 Clarence White figured mahogany/Adirondack
Greven NL Madagascar Rosewood/European Spruce
Santa Cruz Tony Rice Pro Brazillian/German Spruce
His 1940 D-18 was in the shop having side cracks cleated and not available to A/B. Overall tonal characteristics were very similar to the Martin D-18 CW. Bass response however was a bit better or at least deeper and more open. To me, the lower register was more in line with the Merrill. Mids and trebles were more in line with the Martin CW. But remember, the Merrill is about 4 or 5 years old and the Martin CW is over 2 years old. If we had had recording equipment, it is unlikely that anyone could have told the difference between the CW and Jumbo Mac. As we moved up the neck, the Merrill pulled ahead. The Merrill is built to the exact specs (except the figured mahogany) of the 1936 Martin…even the cloth side braces, no popsickle brace, and was the lightest guitar in the group. I had already A/B’d the Merrill and ’40 D-18 and the Merrill is by far the closest in sound to the pre-war monster.In comparison to other guitars I’ve played of this type, the J. Mac is by far a better sounding guitar than the mahogany/Adirondack topped Collings SJ I considered buying a couple of years ago. That guitar couldn’t stay in the same room with the Jumbo Mac
Overall, this is a very good sounding guitar. It is a big guitar and designed to flat pick. With a slightly wider neck and wider string spacing at the saddle, this would be a dynamite finger picking guitar. I liked it a lot. And there you have it. Tim...any discrepancies in the dimensions can be blamed on my Craftsman tape measure and my bi-focals.