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2008 Humphrey Steel String Millennium "Prototype #2"

2008 Humphrey Steel String Millennium "Prototype #2"

Regular price $18,000.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $18,000.00 USD
Sale Sold out

Thomas Humphrey Millenium Steel String Acoustic Guitar, 2008.

Towards the end of his all too brief life, Thomas Humphrey made some of his most sought after Millenium classical guitars, incorporating the fullest development of his innovative design and construction. He also made a few steel string guitars during this time. This particular example is dated 2008 on the underside of the top alongside his signature, built shortly before his untimely death in April of that year. While there were a few known steel strings built by Humphrey in the early 1970’s, it is not widely known that he briefly returned to building them in the 2000’s. This is
one of three, from this time period, that we will be offering for sale.

With a 16” lower bout, a 12” upper bout 1 7⁄8” nut width and twelve frets to the body, in silhouette at least, this guitar could be mistaken for a 1930’s Gibson Roy Smeck. The similarities pretty much end there though, as this guitar is one of the most innovative steel string guitars ever built. The woods chosen for this unique creation are traditional enough, with an Adirondack spruce top, Brazilian rosewood for the back, sides, bridge, headplate and heel cap, a mahogany neck and an ebony fingerboard.

The design incorporates, fully, Humphrey’s Millenium design concepts, with a forward pitched neck, an unusually thin top delicately arched with a combination of two x-braces and a matrix of delicately carved braces replacing the tone bars normally seen in flat top guitars. The bridge anchors ball-end steel strings, much like a classical guitar. The forward pitch of the neck allows for easy access to the upper frets and it changes the angle of the strings as they meet the body, something that Humphrey thought contributed to a significant improvement in tone.

The underside of the top is signed and dated with no additional markings on the label. The soundhole is surrounded by a three ring rosette, with a finely executed checkerboard pattern in boxwood and ebony for the outer rings and four-ply ebony and boxwood alternating on either side of an abalone central ring. The top is bound in ivoroid with a purfling of rosewood bordered by strips of ebony and boxwood. The back is similarly bound in ivoroid, with only a thin stripe of curly maple for purfling, a sharp contrast to the dark and finely figured Brazilian. A colorful center strip and a Brazilian heel cap round out the back.

The wide 1 7⁄8” nut width sits atop a fingerboard with 18 full frets and two partial frets. The neck is a full “D”, somewhat similar to his standard classical profile. The heel is bolted to the body and a one-way truss rod is accessible under a rosewood cap at the base of the headplate.

Overall, the guitar is in remarkable condition with no outward signs of repair.

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