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Thread: Stephen Holst Guitars?

  1. #1
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Stephen Holst Guitars?

    Yes, this is a Fender forum, but Fender has never (IMO) been known as an archtop maker. I've played an archtop more than any other kind of guitar, so I feel very comfortable with them. I recently heard of Stephen Holst (no relation to Gustav, that I know of), a luthier in Oregon who has been hand making custom guitars for more than twenty years. Each guitar is made specifically for the purchaser. Holst apparently "interviews" a customer to learn what features and items would best suit the person, then makes pretty much a one-of-a-kind guitar. As you can imagine, these aren't cheap. But for a custom made, personalized guitar, $3,500 - $5,000 doesn't seem outrageous. The people who own one rave about them, and I don't think one can find a used Holst for sale anywhere.

    So, I've been dreaming: Sell a few of the guitars that are taking up space in my seemingly shrinking home and getting myself a custom made guitar. What do you think?







    A gallery of images of his guitars can be found here: archtops, semihollow, and flat top. Actually, I think he may be better known among mandolin players and owners!
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    Forum Member phantomman's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    If you cannot find a commercially-made instrument to accommodate your playing style, why not? There are hundreds of custom builders in this country filling the needs that their customers crave (or think they do). Fender and Gibson aren't the only fish in the sea.
    "When injustice becomes law then rebellion becomes duty."

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    Quote Originally Posted by phantomman View Post
    If you cannot find a commercially-made instrument to accommodate your playing style, why not? There are hundreds of custom builders in this country filling the needs that their customers crave (or think they do). Fender and Gibson aren't the only fish in the sea.
    Indeed. Sometimes I think manufacturers offering nine models to Sunday are doing themselves a disservice. For example, take a look at the Ibanez site. Just the hollow bodies section alone contains the signature models (GB, PM, EKM, and JSM) as well as the AS, AF, AG, AM and AGS lines. Within each line there are differences in woods, pickups, neck materials, etc. I bought an AG95QA which I'm very happy with, but it was the look that sold me, not the specs.

    I have the same problem with Martin, Taylor, Fender, Gibson, and their offshoots. In fact, even the boutique guitar makers start overloading with choices.

    Choice is a good thing, don't get me wrong.

    You can't "test play" a guitar online. These days, it's nearly impossible to get quality time in a guitar store to sample the wares.

    Even the Holst guitars are presented by their looks. Well, the people I've spoken with who own one universally love them! I suspect part of that is that if they have an issue with their guitar, Stephen will correct it.

    I'm hearing that the wait time for one is about a year. Maybe I should look into one while I'm still breathing?
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    Forum Member gibsonjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    Hopefully he'll take phtots along the way to show progress. My Stol Guitar (my 60th birthday present) started off as a chunk of 40 year-old mahogany that Mark Stoleson turned into a classic beauty. I got to pick out every characteristic. He even borrowed my ES-335 to copy the neck profile as I love that neck over all others. The same piece of rosewood supplied the binding, parts of the neck and the pickup covers.My two regrets - I should have put the pickup selector on the bottom and I REALLY should have had the body chambered. It's a hefty 10.6 pounds, although it is so well balanced that you really don't notice it, although if I did a three hour gig I imagine I would. I think my serial number was #26. If I'm not mistaken, Less Dudek's was #25.



    "We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness." Mark Twain

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    Forum Member gibsonjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldStrummer View Post
    Yes, this is a Fender forum, but Fender has never (IMO) been known as an archtop maker. I've played an archtop more than any other kind of guitar, so I feel very comfortable with them. I recently heard of Stephen Holst (no relation to Gustav, that I know of), a luthier in Oregon who has been hand making custom guitars for more than twenty years. Each guitar is made specifically for the purchaser. Holst apparently "interviews" a customer to learn what features and items would best suit the person, then makes pretty much a one-of-a-kind guitar. As you can imagine, these aren't cheap. But for a custom made, personalized guitar, $3,500 - $5,000 doesn't seem outrageous. The people who own one rave about them, and I don't think one can find a used Holst for sale anywhere.

    So, I've been dreaming: Sell a few of the guitars that are taking up space in my seemingly shrinking home and getting myself a custom made guitar. What do you think?







    A gallery of images of his guitars can be found here: archtops, semihollow, and flat top. Actually, I think he may be better known among mandolin players and owners!
    BTW - this is one of the most beautiful guitars I've aver seen!
    "We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness." Mark Twain

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    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    OS, I ain't you, but if I were, I'd sell a few guitars and get this one. That is a very nice looking instrument, and if you hear some demos and like the sound, throw down the dosh, and get this sucker. I also think it's one of the most beautiful guitars I've ever seen.

    And good lardy, gibsonjunkie, that guitar is absolutely stunning. Loved seeing the progression. Ha ha, I bought myself a retirement Ric 330, but then I kept on celebrating for about 4 more guitars. oops.
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    I agree, GJ - that Stol is a beauty! There's another maker, Mark Campellone, who makes hand made guitars. They're even pricier than Holst's, and he seems to offer specific models rather than one-offs. They can be seen here.
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    Forum Member DanTheBluesMan's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    I'd probably get a '58 Flying V replica. Gibson wants too much for theirs, when and if you can get one. Trying to think of some astral related inlay that can go on the headstock. I'd like a representation of a barred spiral galaxy, maybe a holograph of some sort.
    "Live and learn and flip the burns"

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    Well, I'm doing it! I sent a query to Steve Holst and received a reply today. We've begun the interview process, and I have to say I already like this dude! I mentioned seeing the guitar I posted above (referred to as ch1) and his reply was, "The 'ch1' guitar is a fun little guy. 14.5" wide lower bout and an 18.25" long body." That's almost exactly the size of my GS Mini! He'll build to whatever scale I wish, between 22" to baritone length. My GS Mini is 23.5". I think 23.5-24.0 would probably be the scale I'd be most comfortable with. He's already discussed the sonic differences between a carved top (which would be my choice) and a laminate. He sent a spreadsheet for me to complete.

    One-third down payment and the rest on completion. I can do that.

    I'll keep updating progress. This is all new to me. I don't make my own guitars, so why not have one built for me? Those who build their own may have a better understanding of what this is like. I'm pretty excited!
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  10. #10
    Forum Member gibsonjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldStrummer View Post
    Well, I'm doing it! I sent a query to Steve Holst and received a reply today. We've begun the interview process, and I have to say I already like this dude! I mentioned seeing the guitar I posted above (referred to as ch1) and his reply was, "The 'ch1' guitar is a fun little guy. 14.5" wide lower bout and an 18.25" long body." That's almost exactly the size of my GS Mini! He'll build to whatever scale I wish, between 22" to baritone length. My GS Mini is 23.5". I think 23.5-24.0 would probably be the scale I'd be most comfortable with. He's already discussed the sonic differences between a carved top (which would be my choice) and a laminate. He sent a spreadsheet for me to complete.

    One-third down payment and the rest on completion. I can do that.

    I'll keep updating progress. This is all new to me. I don't make my own guitars, so why not have one built for me? Those who build their own may have a better understanding of what this is like. I'm pretty excited!
    Sounds like a cool adventure.
    "We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness." Mark Twain

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    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    I hope they can send you photos of the process. I'm excited about this one for you. I'd bet that guitar is capable of some Wes Montgomery.
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

  12. #12
    Forum Member gibsonjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    So, our old friend TeleBob (or Telenator) did a video of my Stol guitar as an advertisement for his buddy Mark...

    "We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness." Mark Twain

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    That was better than many of the reviews I've seen on YouTube! Nice guitar and terrific presentation!
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    Forum Member gibsonjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldStrummer View Post
    That was better than many of the reviews I've seen on YouTube! Nice guitar and terrific presentation!
    Bob is a very talented guy. We did a couple run-throughs to get a good copy, but he basically winged it.
    "We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness." Mark Twain

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    The adventure continues. I confess to a bit of nervous enthusiasm, mixed with uncertainty and even a tinge of fear.

    Steve notified me today that the spruce wood has been ordered from Switzerland. He even sent a
    link to the supplier, which is pretty neat. He also asked me what type of curly maple I prefer. Heck, I don't even know what curly maple is! I guess I have more research to do. (By the way, if you know, and if you have images, could you post them here? Wide curls? Tight, thin curls? Combination curl & quilt? Wild and unusual or very consistent tiger stripes? Hoo-boy! I have to respond because he can't suggest any looks until he has an idea of what I like.

    I don't feel right in saying, "Oh heck, Steve -- YOU choose."

    Whatever I decide, the end product will be the result of MY decisions, and a one-of-a-kind guitar. Wowzah!
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  16. #16
    Forum Member DanTheBluesMan's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    If it's any help, if you like violins and their finishes, the tight curly maple most associated with them is called fiddlehead figure or curls.

    My Les Paul R9 has a very variable appearance, if you're looking at it from the player's perspective, or from the control knobs by the front, or if you're looking straight on. Distance makes a difference.

    The old school stuff was not enhanced, which is a darker dye that is quickly applied and rubbed off and it makes the flames pop out more. However, it also freezes the motion that un-enhanced curly maple has so to me it isn't natural. The early '90s pre-historics and early Custom Shop stuff was enhanced up to about 1998. Starting in '99 for the 40th anniversary of the '59 Standard, they dropped the enhancement procedure.

    I like all kinds of figuring, although very straight and narrow aka barbecue grill does the least for me. I like a mix of nice ribbon under glass and crumbled silk under glass. I would spend some time looking at mostly Gibsons because they are the easiest to find with figured maple. Find some that speak to you and show them to your builder.
    "Live and learn and flip the burns"

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    Forum Member DanTheBluesMan's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    saw that picture you posted elsewhere. nice. so how is the maple search going?
    "Live and learn and flip the burns"

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanTheBluesMan View Post
    saw that picture you posted elsewhere. nice. so how is the maple search going?
    Thanks for asking, Dan! Little did I realize that when I started this journey that I would be required to research, learn and choose the details that will end up being my custom guitar! It's intriguing, annoying, and exciting beyond belief! When all is done, I will know much more about guitars and their construction than I do today.

    I still haven't seen enough examples of tiger striping and wide versus tight to make a comfortable choice. I do know however, that I don't find the quilted look that appealing. I've seen enough Les Pauls to know that they are my least favorite. That's about the best I can do until I see more.

    Which is what is keeping me busy when I'm not working, cooking, sleeping or playing.
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    No, I'm not going to buy a custom guitar from Oregon. I'm happy with my $200 Fender. But I think Holst's philosophy is something we could all use more of in our lives, especially when giving gifts. So many people feel stressed out by the holidays because there are so many expectations when it comes to gift-giving. We're expected to find the perfect gift for everyone on our lists, and we're expected to spend a certain amount of money on them. Holst seeks to take all those expectations off the table - if you want to get a unique, customized piece of art, you can't just go out and buy one from evergreenviolin.com.
    Last edited by ndiagacol; 08-01-2022 at 11:59 PM.

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    Forum Member blackonblack's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    Quote Originally Posted by ndiagacol View Post
    No, I'm not going to buy a custom guitar from Oregon. I'm happy with my $200 Fender. But I think Holst's philosophy is something we could all use more of in our lives, especially when giving gifts.
    You do realize you response is over a year past the last response. The OP has already taken delivery.
    Mark

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Stephen Holst Guitars?

    And is extremely delighted with it! It's perfect! (not a statement I make idly). Built to my specs, it fits me like it was, well built for me. It sounds gorgeous, looks gorgeous, and has cure me of GAS.

    OK, maybe not "cured" me, but certainly has put my GAS into remission.
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