My guitar playing has always been repertoire driven and my pal Jonny infected me with the nylon disease, with the result that I was listening to more and more nylon guitar. But I was pretty taken aback by how great Tom’s guitars sounded for such a new builder. After a few weeks of thinking about it, I got on Tom’s list. I really wasn’t in the market for a new steel-string, and I ordered it on a whim. As it happened that was a great idea because several people had already jumped on Tom’s list after playing Adam’s guitars.
We worked a lot together to get the aesthetics of this instrument right for me. I wanted the lines simple and graceful, and, although biased, I think we got the headstock, cutaway and rosette to all sing together as a harmonious whole. I opted for Padauk back and sides, hoping this would be a great choice sonically. Tom picked out some for me after an afternoon of digging around and tap-testing. I knew it would look beautiful under finish. As the build progressed, Tom told me that he was just not happy with the way the top was responding when it came to the voicing. He didn’t think it was tapping with the sort of response that I would be looking for from the guitar so, with my permission, he abandoned it and fashioned a new top. This constant attention to detail is what you want from your luthier when you commission him/her. This sort of sustained scrutiny just wouldn’t happen in a big shop or factory.
I really didn’t want to get into a situation that I’ve seen happen more than a few times: lots of excitement about the upcoming guitar and then radio silence because the buyer is disappointed in some way. From personal experience, I know how very easy it is to invest far too much emotional energy in an upcoming build only for that to very quickly develop into completely unrealistic expectations. I guess I am saying that I wasn’t expecting fireworks when the guitar was delivered. I’ve been there, seen that film, and got that badge. However, whether I was expecting it or not, there were plenty of pyrotechnics when I got the guitar in my hands. This guitar has blown me away completely. I thought it very unlikely that he would build me a truly great guitar. I knew it would be good, but there are loads of good guitars out there. I was wrong. I'm not sure how Tom got to where he is so quickly, but it has to be the combination of Somogyi, innate talent, and the ability to soak information up like a sponge over the 3-years he was in Oakland. Several of my pals have Sands' guitars and all are completely bowled over with them; at least half of those guys have a very extensive knowledge of "high-end" guitars, whatever that is, and Tom is playing in that game easily. I wouldn't have got on his list otherwise.
I had been attracted to Tom’s guitars because pretty much all of those I’ve encountered have displayed definitely sweeter trebles than the large majority of Somogyi inspired guitars I have played. This is everything I could have hoped it to be and far, far more. I This guitar is complex, responsive, deep, and loaded with overtones. Whether the 12-fret bridge position has anything to do with it, I don’t know, but this guitar has that supple, mellifluous sound in spades.
I could not be happier – this is one of the very best guitars I’ve played and it’s mine! In my opinion, Tom has gotten into a build quality and sonic space that very few luthiers achieve. This is a keeper and I don't often say that.