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1983 Kim Leland Schwartz 16 Custom

Signed and dated: 1983, hand inscribed on underside of soundboard.

Body size at lower bout: 16" Body depth: 2 7/8" Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .80/.87

Materials: Solid handcarved bookmatched X-braced spruce top; solid handcarved bookmatched tiger maple back, sides and neck; solid ebony fingerboard with pearl dot inlays; three ply top binding; three ply body and neck binding; bound f-holes.

Hardware: Handcarved ebony pickguard, tailpiece and bridge; chrome Sperzel tuners; Bartolini floating humbucking pickup, volume control and thumbwheel tone control mounted to pickguard, 1/4" output jack.

Notes: If you wanted a custom built archtop guitar in the early 1980's, the phonebook was pretty thin. If Jimmy D'Aquisto on Long Island, or Bob Benedetto in Florida were both busy, you were pretty much out of luck. Unless of course you lived near the Windy City, which had it's own tradition of fine luthiery, dating to Carl Johnson's Albanus Guitars of the '50s and 60's. As Albanus begat Barker begat Hollenbeck and Cook, somewhere along the line a young fellow named Kim Schwartz learned his way around a chisel, to eventually surpass his Chicago predecessors, as this handsome instrument so ably demonstrates.

An eclectic luthier, Schwartz built everything from classicals to solid bodies, up to and including a bespoke acoustic guitar for a South Indian performer, which included over a dozen sitar-like sympathetic strings. But he is perhaps best known for his archtop guitars, which were meticulously hand graduated, and exquisite in their fit and finish. Having moved to the sunny skies of Rio Rancho, New Mexico sometime in the '90s, Schwartz eventually retired, completing the last KLS guitar we know of around 2009.

This striking instrument is hand carved of extravagant AAAA tiger flame maple, chevron bookmatched on the back, with matching sides, and a one-piece D'Angelico style curly maple neck. Some reddish grain in the tap-tuned soundboard is suggestive of Adirondack spruce, and the fingerboard is solid dark black ebony. Most notably, at a mere 4lb 11oz, the instrument is exceptionally light in weight, and simply floats on the lap or the strap, with a body depth is slightly shallower than the typical L-5, for additional comfort.

Not surprisingly, this finely calibrated construction is a clue to the instrument's distinctly supple and responsive voice, clear and open, with unusual sensitivity and detail. Fingerstyle players will appreciate the generous 1 3/4" nut width, and the floating Bartolini humbucker faithfully conveys the lively timbre of the instrument to the amp, with a volume knob and thumbwheel tone control both fitted to the handsome bound ebony pickguard.

Maintained in splendid all original condition, the instrument is notably free of playwear, with only a few incidental finish nicks to show for its long career. The gentle C profile neck is subtly tapered, with smooth low action over a fresh high precision setup. In over thirty years, this is only the second instrument from this fabled builder we have had the pleasure to present. The rarest of finds, from a master worth hunting for: one only, call now.

Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished as necessary; trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.

This instrument is strung with medium gauge flatwound strings. The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.

Case: Original deluxe black plush lined hardshell case.























































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