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1999 John Kinnard Frank Hicks Model
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Serial #: 899134
Body size at lower bout: 17" Body depth, endpin to heel: 4"-3 1/4", Scale length: 25" Nut width: 1 3/4" Neck depth: .87/.95, 1st/10th frets
Materials: Solid bookmatched Sitka spruce top; solid AAAA bubble maple back and sides; solid maple neck with centerstripe; solid ebony fingerboard and headstock facing; triple bound body, neck, and soundholes.
Hardware: Solid ebony hardware includes violin style tailpiece, pickguard, truss rod cover, tuning keys, and bridge, with compensated bone saddle; gold Schaller M6 16:1 tuners; Vintage Vibe floating double blade humbucking pickup, with thumbwheel volume and tone controls, and endpin jack
Notes: Many acoustic players have contacted us over the years, searching for an instrument that combines the open bass response and sustain of their dreadnoughts, with the smoother amplified voice of a carved archtop. To these and all other restless souls, we present for your consideration: the Kinnard Frank Hicks Model.
Frank Hicks was a fabled player from Fresno, California, whose skill in chord backup influenced a generation of western swing players all the way to Texas and beyond. Another Californian, John Kinnard is the innovative luthier who designed and built the distinguished gypsy jazz instruments of Dell'Arte Guitars. Their combined creative vision produced this original and versatile guitar. The soundboard of the Hicks model is bowed slightly by the bracing, creating a gentle, resonant arch in the top. (Also known as tension bracing, this venerable technique has been employed by builders from Maccaferri to the Larsen Brothers, to increase the carrying power of the voice.)
The 17" body is roughly the size of a Gibson J-200, but with an added cutaway for improved fret access. With its lightweight construction and tapered dreadnought style depth, the result is an instrument voiced for a wide range of acoustic improvisation, from swing to gypsy jazz to the far left wing of newgrass, celtic and beyond. The tone is as unique as the design, with a Maccaferri/Selmer type attack in the treble, combined with a distinctly more open and powerful bass register than your typical gypsy guitar.
Plugged in, the Hicks really shines, producing a velvety archtop-type voice, with the added clarity and sustain of a high quality flat top, equally at home with fingers or a pick. The suspended ebony pickguard with matching control knobs supports a Vintage Vibe double blade floating pickup, which amplifies with peerless clarity and detail. And Kinnard pioneered this hybrid design years before the famed Ribbecke Halfling, over twice the cost of this striking instrument, one of the best kept secrets of the acoustic guitar world.
This example was hand built by Kinnard just after he began his association with Dell'Arte, long known for their high quality Selmer style gypsy guitars. The back and sides are positively aboil with the most extravagantly bubbled AAAA figured maple, and the top is beautifully bookmatched solid Sitka spruce. The visual style of the Hicks model mirrors its traditional roots as well. The pin-type tailpiece and the solid ebony bridge are reminiscent of the early Gibson L series guitars, while the triple bound cat's eye soundholes recall the Gretsch Synchromatic of the 40's.
The guitar has been maintained in superb condition, with all original Cremona sunburst finish. Apart from a few incidental finish nicks and some wisps of age checking in the lustrous vintage style lacquer finish, the instrument shows few signs of play altogether. Action is smooth and low with a fresh high precision setup on the gentle D profile neck, with solid ebony fingerboard.
We'd guess that no more than perhaps a dozen or so of these remarkable instruments ever left the bench during their brief production run, making them one of the rarest of contemporary luthier built acoustic models. As versatile as it is striking, the Frank Hicks model is truly a guitar for the 21st century player. One only: call now.
Case: Original deluxe black arched plush lined hardshell case.
Setup: This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel 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.
Instruments /Accessories / Ordering / Tips