Shop Talk

The Birth of a Guitar - The 9-String Baritone Story

The following story is one example of the fun journeys that my customers take me on. It is truly a story that involves dreams and reality.


Willy Porter called me up one day. He had just gotten back from an East Coast tour where he had seen a 12-string baritone guitar. It was poorly made and in unplayable condition, yet it caught his imagination. He asked if I would make him one. First off I said that baritone guitars already had my interest in general. As yet I hadn't made one but would love to consider the project.

Several months later I had gathered information regarding common body sizes, scale lengths and tension loads at different tunings. I had to factor in that every baritone guitar I looked at was only a 6-string and not a 12-string like he wanted. So after gathering all of this information I was ready to start designing the new proto-type guitar. At this point I got another phone call from Willy. He said that every night for the past two weeks he had been dreaming of playing the new guitar. In the dream he imagined it being a 10-string: four pairs, and two single bass strings. Could I do that and also could I use the same size body as his other guitars? (Normally a baritone guitar has a bigger body size.) I said, "Sure." and that it made sense to me.

Go forward, now, six months, to a time when I'm building the guitar. I get another call from Willy and he asks if I could make it a 9-string instead, utilizing three pairs, and 3 single bass strings. Fortunately, I hadn't drilled any holes yet and was able to make the final change for the final design.

This guitar was a hit at the 2007 Montreal Guitar Show. Check out one of Willy Porter's live shows to hear it. Besides Willy's impeccable touch, the 9-string's full sound comes from the fact that his guitar is designed to play low and supports the low notes to give a really deep, rich sound.

Return to Shop Talk Main Page

© Bischoff Guitars, All Rights Reserved    •    5150 Deerfield Road    •    Eau Claire, WI 54701    •    Phone: (715) 834-3751