Ernie Burkhardt – May, 2015
The guitar arrived safely on Friday as scheduled. It is absolutely beautiful and beyond my expectations. You hit every target perfectly as we initially discussed. Foremost on my list was sound and playability. Each and every note throughout the entire fretboard is clear with nice resonance and overtones and the upper register tones sound like ringing bells. This instrument is very easy and comfortable to play, very responsive and will reflect and express whatever is played. The next factor of course is the beauty of the whole instrument: grain of the wood, color finish, topcoats, and perfect craftsmanship in structure. I could go on and on but if you haven’t figured it out yet I am entirely pleased and excited about this masterpiece. Wait until it acclimates and opens up a bit; it shall only improve. Well worth the wait. Thank you, Ted and if the time and funds present themselves, I wouldn’t hesitate to have you build another. Thanks again.
Name witheld on request – March, 2015
Ted, I hope you’re doing well. I’ve taken a little time to really evaluate the guitar. Here goes:
OK, you’re my hero. The guitar is completely flawless; thanks for caring about the quality.
The sound unamplified has slightly more of an acoustic quality and is richer than my Gibson Johnny Smith, which is what I was hoping for. Amplified, it’s very much like my Gibson. The neck access with the Florentine cut-away is so much better than the Venetian style. can grab chords that I’ve only dreamed of.
The playability is noticeably better than my Gibson. I’ve raised the bridge a bit to eliminate some string buzz on the 1st and 6th strings. Maybe I play harder than you 🙂 I don’t understand why the playability is better as the neck was such a close reproduction. Maybe I’ve let the Gibson go too long without a fret job.
The finish is exactly as I envisioned. The maple back, sides, and neck look natural, with a high contrast figure. The top is a bit lighter than my 35-year-old Gibson, which has yellowed with age. Initially, there was a mild, pungent odor from the guitar, but that has gradually faded. The inlays are great and the weight of the guitar seems about perfect. The ebony tuning buttons look great.
The front strap button is positioned perfectly. I’m using a simple nylon strap with slots in the end leather that are tight enough not to require any button locking feature.
… My mentor … loves the guitar and he is not an easy sell. He is a world-renowned jazz guitarist and educator.
Dennis Blair, another delighted customer – June 15, 2014
I was looking for a small custom archtop builder that would accommodate a fingerstyle flattop guitar player. I wanted someone who could voice the guitar appropriately. Ted Megas was that luthier. I realized I would be commissioning Ted on the first call with him.
Ted’s guitars exhibit outstanding workmanship, with an extremely high attention to detail. They sound both acoustically and electrically wonderful.
Ted has an extraordinary selection of fine woods in stock. Particularly for the finer appointments such as headstock, pickguards and tailpieces. He is flexible in building both traditional and non-traditional archtops. With his many years of expertise and his artistic touch, Ted is willing and able to help a person decide on the guitar of his/her dreams.
Ted’s a great guy and a great builder. I would highly recommend him to anyone looking for a one-of-a-kind instrument with exceptional quality.
Elliott Randolph – May 17, 2014
Ted, I am lost for superlatives which do proper justice to the magnificent guitar you just finished for me. Your passion for excellence is unmatched and this guitar certainly shows your best skills. Like the seven string Athena archtop you built for me in 2009, this guitar, your chambered solid body Athena model, was, for me, a departure from dozens of archtops that I’ve been playing for more than 50 years. I couldn’t be more pleased! Your attention to detail and choice of beautiful woods way exceeded the expected. Absolute perfection. The neck plays like a dream.
Tom Witt – August 15, 2011
I just wanted to say thanks again for one of the most beautiful guitars I now own. Seriously, it’s just a knockout. I know it was a bit of a headache; I hope I didn’t put you too much out of your comfort zone going with the royal blue (as opposed to the one you usually do) This is exactly what I was hoping for, and much more. Thanks again, Tom
Bob Colwell – May 5, 2010
Ted: I love that (Athena) guitar (you made for me). It is incredible and beautiful beyond reason.
Michael R. McCrary, Guitar player for more than 40 years and professional Hawaiian and jazz guitarist for 25 years – May 5, 2010
I asked Ted to make a non-cutaway, parallel braced, acoustic archtop to evoke the style and sound of the great Freddie Green, Count Basie’s world class rhythm guitarist. Rhythm guitar is a wonderful combination of keeping the tempo as well as adding complimentary chords and notes to the overall mix. The old, big band archtops were parallel braced for power and cutting ability; I knew I preferred those characteristics more than the warmth usually associated with x-braced arch tops. In addition, I wanted a purely acoustic guitar, so the acoustic power and sound were paramount.
About 15 years ago, I played one of Ted’s archtops at Gryphon Music in Palo Alto, CA. I was immediately taken by the clean and precise workmanship and by the beautiful sound. Many archtops, particularly those really designed to be amplified, have a clanky, weak acoustic voice. The Megas had a throaty, assertive, and musical voice that reminded me of the old archtops. And, although, I have played many, many archtops over the years, including old Gibsons and Epiphones, none had the sound I heard in the Megas guitar.
I contacted Ted to make my dream guitar. We discussed musical objectives, style, preferences in neck width, fingerboard radius, scale length, body depth, and wood choices. With the exception of neck width, I gave Ted full artistic license to design the guitar with the Freddie Green sound in mind. We talked many times during construction so he could explain what he had in mind. I also asked Ted to photographically document the progress so I could see what was going on. One by one, the photos came by e-mail – first, top choices (bear claw Sitka or European spruce). We decided on the Sitka. Then, photos of the maple for the neck, back, and sides (all from the same tree). Later, pictures of the top and back shaping, the parallel braces, the binding (Koa) and inlaid purfling (ebony, maple, ebony), the head stock, etc. The last picture I received was when the guitar was complete except for the finish. It was a picture of Martin Taylor playing my guitar (he liked it)!
The finished guitar has now arrived and it both visually and sonically exceeds my expectations. I knew that the guitar would sound good, based on my previous experience, but for a new guitar, the sound is very mature. I had seen only one picture of the guitar (before finishing) and it looked very light. I was very impressed by the final warm, beautiful amber finish. One final touch that I asked of Ted was to put a satin finish on the back of the neck, rather than the usual glossy (which can sometimes feel a little sticky). Ted put the glossy finish on and lightly sanded it to the softest, silkiest texture I have ever experienced on a guitar neck.
In summary, this guitar embodies: The finest artistry and workmanship, attention to detail, and a musicality that is powerful, mature, and expressive, while still being warm and desirable. Thanks, Ted, it is exactly what we discussed and exactly what I wanted. And, thanks to Freddie Green for the inspiration – he would love this guitar!
I’ve played many high end archtops over the years, and the Megas Athena I own is the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. The fit and finish, the wonderful action and feel, and the beautiful sound just amaze me every time I pick the guitar up. The fact that the guitar is gorgeous and a sight to behold is just icing on the cake. Thanks for everything!
Greg Gagliano, Contributing editor at 20th Century Guitar Magazine
…I consider myself lucky to own a guitar from one of these fine builders, namely, a Megas Athena. This guitar astounds me in every way possible. Its flame maple body literally glows under the amber finish . . . it’s drop-dead gorgeous. The fit and finish is absolutely first rate as exemplified by the binding work – all but one of the binding mitered joints are impossible to detect. It plays like an electric guitar and rarely goes out of tune thanks to modern technology (graphite rods in the neck for extra strength and stability).
Jack H. Hedblom, Ph.D., guitar player
Having recently (October 1998) received my new non-cut Athena, I felt compelled to write and share my reaction. Although I did not think you would be able to match the quality of the first guitar I bought from you (a cut-away Athena) you did, and in different woods no less.
The workmanship in both guitars is exquisite as is your choice of materials. Your attention to detail is reflected in all of the materials that you choose to use as well as in your finish. I have never seen better wood in any guitar regardless of age or price. Your design while traditional is both elegant and balanced. The head stock shape is well proportioned; in fact, all of the appointments on my guitars are tasteful. I particularly liked your toning. Both guitars are unique in color and appearance. The toning does not mask in any way, the grain of the wood. Given the quality of wood that you use in all of your guitars this is a very positive quality. I could not find a physical flaw in either guitar. I noted that even the inside of the box was finished sanded.
None of this would be of interest, however, if the guitars didn’t work as instruments. Yours do. The sound is even across the strings. The guitar is neither booming in the bass register, nor tinny or thin in the treble range. The sound is rich and full as it should be in an acoustic guitar. The neck is fast with action low enough for comfort. Curiously neither guitar has required any neck adjustments. This might well be because of your inclusion of graphite in the neck. I seldom use my amplifier unless playing out. In short, I am delighted with my guitars. Thanks for your dedication to your product. All in all I think your guitars are sensational.
Bill McCormick, Composer/publisher, M-Pub Corporation
My first encounter with a Ted Megas guitar was at a guitar show. The Megas booth was surrounded by scores of rock guitar dealers, whose wares were being sampled at maximum volume levels — what a terrible din! Nonetheless, the beautiful acoustic tone of Ted’s blond Apollo cut through the non-musical ambiance around me with crystalline, bell-like purity. And what extraordinary, loving workmanship I held in my hands!
I lacked the funds to buy that guitar that day, but the sound and light-as-a-feather feel of it stuck in my mind. The next year, at the same show, same booth, I learned that, alas, ‘the who hesitates is lost’ — the Apollo was sold! But there was a beautiful, full-bodied Athena for sale — and its sound also majestically surmounted the grotesque sonic chaos around me.
This time I knew what to do — I bought it on the spot! And it has inspired me time and again with its superb tone, sustain, projection, and resonance. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m enthusiastically recommending Ted’s work to all that seek the highest possible quality archtop guitar…
Ted, I hope that you have dreams other than building the finest guitars in the world, because it is over. You did it. No one can build more beautiful looking and elegantly sounding guitars. Not even you. You may be able to equal this guitar, but it will never be surpassed. You build the finest guitars man or the gods can build. I am deeply grateful. Ted, thank you for your beautiful work, you are a true artist. I also enjoyed getting to know you during this process and think of you as a man of deep passion and integrity.
Mr. Rick, Band leader (The Martini Brothers), collector, and bon vivant, San Francisco
When I first met Ted, I had already owned 20 guitars — some vintage and some new. I had worked with other builders, but Ted was different. He was more serious about producing exceptional acoustic archtop guitars. I felt his goals went beyond what other builders had discussed with me.
Ted is his toughest critic, and due to this, he makes exceptional guitars. He cares more about the details than anyone should, but that is why his guitars are so individualized and great. I play his guitar exclusively on my gigs and people are always asking me about it. It’s the best!
David Roos, Jazz guitarist and guitar salesperson, The Podium, Minneapolis
A perfectly balanced, rich, complex tone; easy to play, impeccable workmanship. What more can you ask for? I love my Ted Megas guitar!
Scott Chinery Estate
See The Chinery Collection in Featured Guitars
See Don Fisher Portrait Guitar Collection in Featured Guitars
The Imelda Guitar
See The Imelda Tribute Guitar in Featured Guitars
See also Megas Guitars on Facebook