Working solo from his Portland, Oregon workshop, Megas handcrafts a few custom guitars each year. He personally handles every aspect of design and production from beginning to end. Megas archtop guitars are owned and treasured by collectors and players worldwide.
Ted was one of the original 23 luthiers commissioned to create an instrument for the Blue Guitar Project, an homage to legendary archtop guitar maker Jimmy D’Aquisto. The blue guitar collection lives on as a part of the estate of Scott Chinery.
Megas guitars consistently reflect Ted’s attention to detail and his commitment to the luthier’s craft. They reflect the sure hand of a master artisan with the vision to bring raw materials to life, possessing every skill necessary to creating a fine guitar, including woodworking, metalworking, finishing.
The instruments embody fine hand-selected woods, meticulous handcrafted construction, striking aesthetic appeal and unique voice. The highly personal integration of these elements within an instrument is what compels us to say, “That’s what I want!” — to express ourselves musically and aesthetically. Ted Megas says:
I recently completed a custom guitar for a client; he already has two others based on my standard models. It was his first custom and he told me, ‘Ted, I can tell you really gave extra effort to this guitar. I can appreciate that he felt this way because he was more involved in the design process this time, but the truth is I give 100% effort on every guitar I make. A customer can give me all the specs and input they want or, as many do, but just give me the latitude to create something just for them.
The distinctive character of Megas instruments comes from his seeking to fulfill the almost unlimited potential of the archtop guitar as a source of musical expression. Ted explains:
Archtop guitars have so much variety and potential in their sound. I’ve experimented with the sound variables … the arching, the bracing, the woods themselves. I can create a wide range of tonalities, depending on what’s wanted. It’s the challenge of building each guitar and the fun, too.
We’re still discovering the range of the archtop guitar has an instrument. Depending on how it’s built, an archtop can move toward the open, sustained sound of a flat top guitar; achieve its traditional hard, percussive sound; or embrace a soft, warm quality, which flat tops can’t. It’s a question of balance; the more you strive for and focus on one quality, the more likely you’ll lose something of the others.
People emphasize the top, which is so visible. The quality of the top is important … but the combination of elements are even more important. For example, the bracing, the sound holes, arching, and aspects of the enclosed sound box – they all influence the sound. It’s the interrelationship of the parts that’s most important. I once built a machine just to test the sound qualities of individual tops. It was helpful for a time, but it led me right back to understanding the importance of the elements of the instrument coming together in the right way.
For me, the key has been to develop my own style. I’m a neo-traditionalist. I love to try out new concepts and ideas, but ultimately they have to work toward making the classic archtop guitar the best instrument it can be.
Today, Megas guitars bear the imprint of his experience and singular vision for the elements of design and construction of a modern archtop guitar.