Former PRS Designer Joe Knaggs to
Launch Joseph S. Knaggs Guitars
The biggest story to emerge from Summer
NAMM 2009 in Nashville is the announcement of a new guitar company that brings a
wealth of industry experience to its launch.
Wolf and Knaggs at Summer NAMM
Joseph S. Knaggs Guitars is a new company,
but you may recognize the brand’s namesake and his designs. For the past 25 years,
and most recently as their Director of R&D
and Private Stock, Joe has been successfully
designing, creating and building beautiful,
award-winning instruments for PRS Guitars.
His creativity in designing and building great
instruments has established Joe as one of
the most respected designers and builders of
high-end acoustic and electric guitars, basses
and mandolins. Knaggs is the man behind
the Mira—the pickguarded set-neck axe that
marked a creative expansion point for PRS
with its fusion of classic PRS and retro design
appointments. He also designed the Starla,
another envelope-pushing PRS guitar that
explored new ground while paying tribute to a
vibey, historic area of the guitar spectrum. Joe
Knaggs recently left PRS Guitars to venture
out on his own and start JSK Guitars.
“I’m grateful for the 25 years that I worked
at PRS and appreciate everything from Paul
and everybody else involved,” Knaggs told
As evidence of the long, ongoing friendship
between Knaggs and Smith, the guitar-playing public can expect to see some of Knaggs’
Chesapeake designs, which first appeared
within the PRS Private Stock Department,
carried over into Knaggs’ new company. In
addition to what he says will be called the
Chesapeake line, Knaggs is excited to spread
his wings and articulate his own design vision
of stringed instruments.
“When I designed for PRS, I designed for PRS. I
always thought about what Paul would want to
see in a guitar,” Knaggs said. “Now I’m going
to be thinking about what I want to see in a
guitar and what the public wants. I’m going to
make guitars of the highest possible quality. I’ll
be working on that for the next several months,
doing whatever it takes to make sure I’m completely happy with the instruments and getting
feedback from others. I want to make sure that
when someone sees a JSK guitar, a Joseph S.
Knaggs guitar, that they love what they see and
that I love what I see. That’s my goal right now.”
Knaggs isn’t the first star designer to branch
out on his own, but he may be the first to do
so the way he’s doing it—he is concentrating
solely on designing and making instruments,
while an industry heavyweight establishes the
business side of things for him. That luthier’s
dream is being made possible via Peter Wolf
and his new company, Brandwolf Consulting,
LLC. Wolf is a former Director of Sales and
Marketing at PRS and has been in the music
industry for 35 years. Peter owned and operated retail and distribution companies in
Europe before working for PRS and has been
instrumental in establishing many US brands
in Central Europe. Under his direction, effective distribution channels for PRS Guitars in 69
countries have been created and cultivated.
Wolf is regarded as an expert strategist within
the musical instruments manufacturing industry. He will be setting up the platform and
marketing engine for Joseph S. Knaggs guitars
while Knaggs is focusing on designing and
creating great instruments for today’s players.
“I have the utmost respect for Paul and for
what we have created together; it’s been
a great part of my life and it will always be
that,” Wolf told us. “Now I look forward to
working with other talented individuals and
companies and helping them to make their
dreams and goals come true”.
“Peter and I have a great relationship,”
Knaggs adds. “Peter is the type of guy who
thinks outside the box, and with my particular
business, I need somebody who can propel
this into different avenues that perhaps people aren’t thinking of yet.”
Knaggs and Wolf say they’re looking forward
to the challenge ahead of them. The first guitars with the Joseph S. Knaggs logo on the
headstock will be revealed soon.—Joe Coffey
George Fullerton Passes Away
George Fullerton, long time business partner and creative collaborator of Leo Fender,
passed away on July 4 of congestive heart
failure. He was 86 years old.
Fullerton and Fender began their partnership
in 1948, and worked together at the Fender
factory in Orange County, CA until Fender sold
the company to CBS in 1965. Fender was the
innovator and inventor and Fullerton provided
the technical know-how and problem-solving in
the shop. He devised the unique tools that were
used to create the revolutionary Broadcaster,
Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars. Fullerton
also sketched the designs of the guitars based
on Fender’s ideas. Fender and Fullerton teamed
up again at the Music Man amplifier factory, and
then started G&L Guitars in 1980.
Fullerton is survived by his daughter, Diane,
his son, Geoff, and two grandchildren.
In Memory: The 100th Anniversary
of Leo Fender
Seldom can a global cultural shift be attributed to a single individual; such is the case with
Leo Fender, whose 100th birthday would’ve
been August 10.
Leo Fender’s ideas have had an incalculable
effect on popular music of all styles. They
helped change the way musicians work with
their tools, facilitated new sounds and techniques, and helped revolutionize the way the
entire industry designs and builds instruments.
Music simply would not sound the way
it does today without Leo’s inventions.
Elegantly enduring and revered classics of
design, the Telecaster, Stratocaster, Precision
Bass and Jazz Bass guitars transformed the
way that music was performed, recorded and
perceived by the entire world.
Fender was already there when rock ‘n’ roll
came along, and what a ride the world was
in for. Leo Fender’s instruments have existed
largely unchanged for more than half a century now, yet time and time again exciting new
life is found in them and comes forth from
them thanks to the boundless creativity of all
those who pick them up and play them.
Turn to page 110 to read more about
how Leo’s electric bass changed the
course of popular music.