It’s hard to imagine really.
What started out as an idea over breakfast on February 2nd, 2022, had progressed from drawings to vetting partners who shared my vision of creating a true archtop Tenor guitar. By February 13th, I had gathered enough skilled people to pull things together, or so it seemed.
Covid isolation had taken a toll on all of us. We all wanted something new to do but it wasnt long until it was clear that crafting a production Archtop guitar in western Canada wasn’t a realistic reality. The final cost of each of our guitars would have been well over $4500 in order to pay for everything involved. It proves that when a luthier offers to build you a one of a kind guitar and you hear the cost, his price is very well justified and you’re most likely getting a pretty good deal at that.
By Feb 13th, most of the original 5 of us had given up the idea and moved on. Two of us stuck with it. I started vetting manufacturers in China because the responses I received from potential U.S. and Canadian manufacturers were abysmal.
The vetting process began with getting past the first question asked, “How many are you going to order?” When I would say, “Quality over quantity” interest waned quickly. From 8 potential vendors the numbers dropped rapidly to 4. Prototypes were ordered from 3 of them.
By mid march then they arrived, the boxes were opened and they were garbage. The 4th vendor was a tough nut to crack, he was vetting me as much as I was him. His questions had a more complex tone to them, he was digging for a clear understanding of the guitar, the design, the vision, my expectations and my goals.
It wasn’t long before I felt I had found a person of vision to work with. Someone who had the capabilities to produce but understood the difference between production and crafting. I had found someone who seen value in crafting quality rather than mass producing something for cheap consumption.
A year ago today, February 13th, 2022 we began the journey of creating the first archtop tenor guitar to be built for low production since 1965.
By March 20th, this prototype arrived and it made its way through the hands of all of us who had started out on this venture. Each of us looked it over closely, played it in our favorite tunings, changed strings, put it on repeated benches. This prototype held up in every way. Cosmetic details were adjusted but it was agreed, This was it. More so, I had found a business partner with the same ideals, the same passion for quality that I could depend on. A partner that wouldn’t cut corners, one that understands hands on involvement and quality control.
This past year has been incredible. The support of individuals who have bought our guitars have filled us with gratitude. The social media support continues to inspire us to keep moving ahead. Not with the goal of being the biggest, the cheapest, the market leader, but to be the company known for heirloom guitars and for our honest business approach.
When John Lawlor agreed to allow us the rights to bring you his Jazz model Tenor guitar we had to live up to his expectations of quality first. That meant sending him our very first prototype 327 to inspect, trial and review. From there, together with John we worked to bring together the Model 350JLS, the guitar that bares his name. Never straying from the concept of the creation of authentic quality, authentic tones and authentic sizes of vintage Archtop Tenor Guitars. To be honored with his trust and to live up to his expectations has been an overwhelming inspiration to do more, to continue to grow within reason and to never loose track of our core business beliefs. We continue to hold to our business ethics of Community, Artistry and Transparency.
From the first Big Jake to The Shari Ulrich Songbird in one year, how is that even possible to imagine. What Shari seen in us was our quality and that has allowed us to begin the development and production goals on her Signature O body guitar.
This past year we have seen that professional musicians and writers don’t necessarily feel inspired by the most expensive guitars and novice players are open to the moderate cost of quality over cheap. We are finding our niche with people who love playing tenor guitars.
We’ve also gotten over the hurtle and misconceptions that go along with Chinese crafted guitars. The analogy of 2 orange drinks coming from the Unite States is a very vivid one that cuts through to the misconceptions around nation based quality ideals, after all quality isn’t assigned to one country over another, quality and craftsmanship comes at the hands of the people creating the guitar the the goals of the company creating the guitar.
In one glass you have the sugary crystal orange drink “Tang“, in the other, freshly squeezed orange juice. They are both “Orange drinks” and they both come from the United States. If your friend has a sip of Tang and decides that all orange drinks from the U.S. are terrible, well, he really didnt have enough information to make a clear decision. If he had enjoyed a glass of Freshly squeezed, his mindset would have been much different.
If you buy a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice at a Tang price, you most certainly can expect its not going to be the real thing. If you’ve paid for a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice and it’s priced appropriately, you can and should expect a premium glass of delicious freshly squeezed orange juice. 2 orange drinks from one nation, both very different in quality and both sold with different objectives. Honest expectations can be met though honest crafting and realistic pricing.
We avoid Basswood and inexpensive alternatives and stick to premium, hand selected tone woods. Our electronics are built exclusively for us, to our specifications. Even our hard shell cases are of premium quality rather than cheap, premade commodities. We strive to be the ” Freshly Squeezed” choice in the Tenor Guitar community.
Craven doesn’t do cheap and disposable. We dont produce for quick sales that’ll end up in pawnshops. We craft guitars that are the quality that will stay with you, that will be a family heirloom. While we dont strive to sell to everyone, we strive to sell to those who want a true guitar experience that will bring joy to them for years to come, those who value the quality that comes with spending just a little more of their hard earned money knowing that they are buying an investment of pleasure.
Thank you for our first year of bringing you our growing Craven Tenor Guitar product line, we look forward to the years ahead.
Owner, Craven Tenor Guitars