Tony’s Personal Santa Cruz For Sale

The mysterious and über cool no-name headstock.

This just posted to the Mandolin Cafe Classifieds, an interesting place to post it, Tony Rice’s personal Santa Cruz Guitar is for sale.

I’m sure the forums and discussion groups like Flatpick-L will be abalze in speculation and rumor about why he is selling. It makes no difference to me.

My only complaint about all the Santa Cruzes I’ve played, and I’ve played more than most folks because I worked for a Santa Cruz dealer way back in the day, is that the fret ends are too sharp. He always left them, even the Brazillian Rosewood Tony Rice Pro models very pointy and when sliding your hand up and down the neck, they always felt too sharp, like they were slicing your fingers off. Bill Collings on the other hand, always had a very pleasing soft-rounded feel to them, when he was actually making guitars himself that is. Anyway details from the ad are quoted below.

We are proud to present Tony Rice’s personal guitar from Santa Cruz, which was in fact used on the Tone Poems record. This was a unique record in that many of the most archetypal instruments were consolidated for historic representation on one record with two of the finest pickers that have ever lived. Along with famous Loar mandolins and Pre-War Martins, Tony chose this particular instrument to represent the very best that modern guitar builders could produce to stand alongside the giants of older instruments.

In the early 70’s, Tony cemented a lifelong musical and personal friendship with mandolinist David Grisman. Dawg had begun to experiment with a deeper form of improvisation than standard Bluegrass fiddle tune chord changes offered. Tony decided to expand his knowledge of music and left the JD Crowe band to complete the now legendary David Grisman Quintet. Tony quickly befriended band mate, fiddle player Darol Anger. Darol was a friend of Richard Hoover and introduced the two. Richard asked if he could design Tony a custom instrument that would benefit his playing and tonal requirements, and there began a lifelong friendship in 1979.

The first design for the Tony Rice Signature model was produced that year, and continues to be offered in the Santa Cruz line today. Tony has constantly been a sounding board for his guitar’s design and a few of his instruments have been sold to the public in those years. This particular instrument was one of Tony’s favorites, nicknamed “Chocolate.” In a personal note that will accompany the guitar, he describes that this “guitar has been used by me more so than any other ‘Cruz’ both in public performance and recording projects.” He goes on to say “Its performance was particularly satisfying to me on the Bluegrass Album Band Volume 6. On that particular recording event, it was used in conjunction with my 1935 Martin D-28, and I defy the listener to distinguish one guitar from the other.” He also states that John Carlini used this Santa Cruz almost exclusively on his album River Suite for Two Guitars.

Tony’s instrument preferences came from years of playing his favorite guitar, Clarence White’s 1935 D-28. When Clarence’s father purchased the guitar from McCabe’s in California, this guitar was almost destroyed. Clarence’s father had the shop replace the fingerboard with a Gretsch fingerboard that had pre-cut fret slots, hence Tony’s preference for the in-between scale of 25 1/4 inches… not as long as a Martin long scale 25.9” and not as short as a Gibson 24 ¾” scale.

“Chocolate” is incredibly comfortable to play. Upon receiving any new Santa Cruz, Tony takes the guitar to his personal technician for a “special neck treatment.” This involves removing all the finish and then working in a special finish that gives the feel of a well worn vintage neck. This treatment is a characteristic of all his guitars. He discusses this on his Homespun DVD set entitled, “The Tony Rice Guitar Method.”

The German Spruce top has aged beautifully, while the neck is flat with very little relief, according to Tony’s low profile set-up requirements. This guitar even uses Tony’s choice of string, D’aquisto Steel strings! The figured Brazilian back and sides provides a growl to the instrument, along with clarity you won’t find on other guitars. Despite being used on numerous recordings, and public performances, it does not have as many dings and scratches that you might associate with a highly used instrument.

From Tony’s own words: “I am parting with this instrument as I have with others made by Dick Hoover because our combined research and development efforts have been very successful in the ongoing efforts to create a superior sounding Dreadnought acoustic guitar. This one being a ‘strong link in the chain.’” We humbly agree with Tony’s words and invite you to own a piece of musical history and heritage!

For more photos visit:
Artisan Guitars

Price: $55,000

Freakin Freaky Fiddle Friday

Well, its that time of the week again, Freakin Freaky Fiddle Friday, where we go diggin around in the vast intertubes and dig out some weird fiddle stuff. This week brings us an interesting line up, featuring the late great Vassar Clements, a truly unique voice of fiddle virtuosity, and this version of Kissimmee Kid lives up to everything we’ve seen from Vassar over the years. It also features
Tony Rice on guitar, Mark O’Connor on mandolin? Jerry Douglas on dobro John Hartford on banjo Glenn Worf on bass. Wow now that is a weird line up. Someone must have gotten sick and canceled at the last minute for Mark to be playing mandolin, but who cares, this tunes it sweet.

Tony Rice Workshop in Roanoke VA


Tony Rice performing at our beloved Merlefest.


Just announced today, the Ultimate Guitar Strummit, in Roanoke Virginia featuring workshops by Tony and Wyatt Rice as well as Josh Williams, and John Miller. Sounds like a good time. I do think saying Tony has never participated in a workshop environment this intense is a bit of a stretch, but whatever it takes I suppose. He has done workshops like this at Jorma’s Fur Peace Ranch right down the road from Fiddle and Creel World Headquarters. But you know, everybody’s gotta be the biggest and the best or first and the mostest, right? Big Mon wouldn’t have it any other way, competition brings out the best in us. Anyway it looks like a good event.

Check the map of trout streams around Roanoke below. Looks promising. I say leave Tuesday morning, fish Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday, hit guitar the Strummit on Thursday and Friday, and get home on Sunday. Who is in? Thats a heck of a way to beat the February blues right?

And for good mesure here is s clip of Bill Monroe playing an old time fiddle Tune entitled Roanoke! Bobby Hicks and Charlie Cline on Fiddle, priceless.

Larry Keel, Flat picking Sensation and Master Fisherman?

Love em or hate him Larry Keel is a firebrand of flat picking. Ever the agitator among the traditional Bluegrass crowd, I haven’t really kept up with him and his band. The Bluegrass Blog had a nice interview with him posted today. And I found out he enjoys fishing too, he even calls himself a “Master Fisherman.”

I’m not sure I’d ever trust anybody that call themselves a master fisherman, thats a title that only comes from others. Maybe someone else gave it to him? Who knows, but plastering it on your homepage as big as he did says a little something strange. But he doesn’t take himself too seriously so I’m sure its all in good fun. Check out the cool illustration on his header, thats freakin cool.

And he can play the strings off of a guitar, there is no doubt about that.

Today we are awarding Larry Keel a star on the Fiddle and Creel walk of fame for his devotion to all things fishy and bluegrassy, well done sir!

Here is the fishiest quote from the article…

I couldn’t resist asking for a fishing update as well, “I have done as much of that as I’ve wanted to,” said Larry. “I did some out in Idaho, fly fishing. I fish every kind of way I can, I do a lot of bass fishing. I did some fishing in the Outer Banks this summer, some saltwater fishing  I caught a lot of bass in Georgia. Every chance I get, I go!”

AKUS at The White House


AKUS Live on the Road

Via the

Alison Krauss & Union Station will be in Washington, DC today (7/21) to help the Obamas celebrate American country music, and demonstrate the music to middle and high school students.

There will be a workshop from 2:00-3:00 p.m. at The White House where 120 music students from all over the US will learn more about bluegrass and country music from Alison and her band, along with country superstar Brad Paisley. Songwriting as well as instrumental and vocal performance will be covered, and there will be a song performed from student and professional songwriters who collaborated through the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Words and Music program.

Then at 7:30 p.m. (EDT), there will be a concert in the State Room, emceed by Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs, and including remarks from the President. It will be broadcast live online via The White House streaming video site.

This event will be hosted by Michelle Obama in her role as First Lady, and presented in association with The Country Music Association, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, produced by the Grand Ole Opry and Great American Country Television. One imagines that a TV special may be forthcoming?

We will have more details about this afternoon and evening’s goings on after the fact.