it would be leading people—because I had a
great team of people under me—and the ability to draw, design, and know all the different
things you’ve got to do from that stage all the
way into production. I was able to draw something on paper and then oversee it through all
the other great people I had working with me
to put that guitar that I drew into production.
Not very many people can do that. People
like Larry Breedlove know how to do it, but
not many can draw something and know how
to make it, too.
OK, Tell me about the Knaggs guitars.
Let’s start with the necks—the profile,
the radius, etc.
Radius is a good one to start with. I’m doing
an 8. 5" on the Chesapeake electrics. I’ve
always thought a 7. 25" radius was the thing
that made a Fender feel the way it does. I’m
talking about the old ones, because they
changed some of that later on. But, the other
side of it was that the old ones had a tendency to fret out when you bent the strings.
To me, the 8. 5" radius is right on the verge
of fretting out but still has the nice feel of a
round neck. The nut specs and all that lean
more toward a vintage instrument. I combined the neck shapes to have maybe a tiny
little bit more of a V to them than the older
ones. I’m kind of combining some things I
did at PRS with some of the vintage Fender
feel—on the Chesapeake electric side.
Will there be different neck options on
each model, or are those standard?
The neck shape and design will be specific
to a model. So if you order a Keya, you’re
going to get a neck shape that’s specific to
the Keya. If you order a Chena, the neck will
be specific to the Chena. For instance, the
Choptank has a deep neck, front to back, but
a narrow nut. It’s bulky, but it doesn’t feel
bulky. The Severn is a little thinner, but with
the same nut specs, so it feels a little smaller.
Tell me about your new bridge designs.
Indulge your guitar with a Levy’s guitar strap.
That’s one of the most unique things about
both electric lines. They transfer the sound
into the guitar like no other bridges I’ve
heard. That, to me, is a big, huge impact
on the sound of a guitar. On the Influence
series—which has shorter scale lengths,
three-on-a-side headstocks, and carved
tops—I actually put a Tune-o-matic on top
of a plate that holds the strings, and that’s
screwed down to the top. The bridge on
the Chesapeake Severn Trem model is really
a pretty big deal. It’s a steel bridge with
brass saddles, and I’ve basically combined
a Telecaster bridge with a tremolo—it’s all
one piece. The bridge plate is bolted to the
top of the guitar, and then the tremolo is
on a hinge. So you’re not counting on these
knife-edge screws to hold the pressure of
the bridge going back and forth. It’s stable.
Another unique thing we’re doing is bluing
the steel on the bridges of the Chesapeake
electrics. Bluing is a process that uses black
oxide to change the chemical makeup on the
outside of the steel. It has this bluish black
tint to it, and they’ve been doing that with
rifle and gun barrels forever.
How about electronics?
The electronics are pretty standard: Three-way toggles, five-way blade switches, volume, tone. Pretty basic, but stuff that people
have always loved. The Chesapeake electrics
will have Fralin pickups in most of them,