Cry of Love


“There is no percentage in remembering the past”
— Taj Mahal, Take a Giant Step.


For the most part, I view lingering in the past as a cry for help. If you are afraid that your audience will abandon you, the first thing some performers do is dig into the archives for the old hits. I’m not saying that old hits are bad, I’ve had my share of “glory years” but they’re all in the rear-view mirror now.

As time passes, I become more attuned to the different needs and desires of my own motivation. I want to build guitars that have a back-story built in as opposed to building the back story for the second or third time.


Here’s a look at the hand-made book of sketches, dimensions and ponderings that accompanies each “Signature” guitar that I build. It’s a place to draw, doodle and communicate the concept that drives the build. It’s a place to record dimensions and ideas. The pages step through the thought process behind my choices—the true back-story that is built into the guitar. This is one that I’m calling “The Crow”, and when the instrument is finished, the book is hand-stitched, bound with a beautiful cover of original artwork and goes with the guitar.

I bring my experience, my taste and my sense of humor to each project. Serving the client is only one side of the coin; just as fitting my designs into a template dictated by a company policy isn’t my priority any longer. I’m free to express my own desires and esthetics with my own projects. I love what I’m doing and I hope it will show. It’s not such a bad place to be.


All of this comes to mind as I am simultaneously designing new instruments and building a classic “replica” for Anthony. In that regard, it certainly feels better to obsess on someone else’s past than your own.

The question that remains is, can guitar designs that owe so much to a vintage esthetic, move ahead without being purely nostalgic?


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Jol Dantzig is a guitar builder, designer, writer and filmmaker. He has worked for Gibson, Fender, Guild, Ovation, Gretsch, and was a founding partner of Hamer guitars—one of the first boutique custom guitar brands. Dantzig’s work has been played by hundreds of artists including Sting, Steve Stevens, Larry Coreyell, Dug Pinnick, Billy Gibbons, Keb Mo’, Nick Lowe, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, John Abercrombie, Glen Campbell, Rick Nielsen, Kenny Vaughan, Lita Ford, James Honeyman Scott, Elliott Easton, Andy Summers, Peter Frampton, Martin Barre, Lyle Workman, Brad Gillis, George Harrison, Jeff Ament, Dweezil Zappa, Jeff Tweedy, Nancy Wilson—and many others.

9 thoughts on “Cry of Love”

  1. I enjoy your designs Jol. They have always been one foot in the vintage and one foot in something new.It is sad that Hamer has gone so downhill as to lose you, but I think your name means even more now that others are adrift in the past. Stay true to yourself. Kudos.

  2. That’s so over the top. True artist at work! The crow drawing looks amazing. Who ever gets that axe will be famously happy.

  3. Speaking of the past…………..I still get a little nostalgic for Northern Prairie Music, playing some of the best guitars ever made. Glad you’re still moving forward, still playing my Hamers of course.

  4. I am confused. Who are you designing guitars for now? I have a stable of Hamers, and always think of you as my personal guitar tech/designer. I think Hamer lost it’s mojo in recent years, but The Monocco and the Talledega are very appealling to me. I would buy one or the other. . . or both, but if you are designing guitars elsewhere, I would like to know.

  5. Chris, I am building guitars in my own shop, one at a time. Each instrument is different and is built to a theme, continuing as a natural extension of my design esthetic. Guitars are available for purchase before or during the build process. I imagine that there will be about three or four instruments per year, and the price will reflect the complexity of the theme.

  6. I love to see this blog rolling on. Whether I will be able to afford one of the few themes or not, it is very much interesting to follow up. There are not that much websites like this which are in a positive way lyric.

  7. By the way, Jol. Take a Giant Step was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. I do like the Taj version the best though.

  8. Kevin, yes you are correct. Goffin/King. How it escaped me all these years I don’t know. Thanks for the correction, can’t always be on top of everything I guess. There’s also a Monkees version… a good day is when you learn something.

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