Crow Hill Guitars: La Paloma

A look at one of Erik Smith''s La Paloma, a natural beauty from Crow Hill Guitars

Crow Hill Guitars are lovingly crafted one at a time by luthier Erik Smith. The wood is hand selected for grain, figure, color and tone, in order to develop a stable and beautiful instrument that sounds great over a range of playing styles, which can be further refined through electronics. No two Crow Hill guitars are alike.

The La Paloma guitar is a semi-hollowbody, made of Nicaraguan cocobolo on top of African wenge, African mahogany, and Nicaraguan cocobola with curly maple veneer accents. The seven-piece through-neck and heel are arduously carved from African wenge, Brazilian macacauba and purpleheart with curly maple and wenge veneer accents and an Indian rosewood fingerboard. The inlays are black Mother-Of-Pearl, white Mother-Of-Pearl, and abalone. The neck and heel are carved asymmetrically to fit the curvature of the hand, and each instrument is shaped by hand to ensure maximum balance and comfort, whether the player is sitting or standing. Controls are intuitive and accessible while playing.

A bone nut being back-filed for proper string placement and correct action height.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to change your acoustic guitar’s tone and playability.

In my early days, all the guitars I played (which all happened to be pre-1950s) used bone nuts and saddles. I took this for granted, and so did my musician friends. With the exception of the ebony nuts on some turn-of-the-century parlors and the occasional use of ivory, the use of bone was a simple fact of our guitar playing lives, and alternative materials were simply uncommon to us.

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While Monolord has no shortage of the dark and heavy, guitarist and vocalist Thomas V Jäger comes at it from a perspective more common to pop songsmiths.

Photo by Chad Kelco

Melodies, hooks, clean tones, and no guitar solos. Are we sure this Elliott Smith fan fronts a doom-metal band? (We’re sure!)

Legend has it the name Monolord refers to a friend of the band with the same moniker who lost hearing in his left ear, and later said it didn’t matter if the band recorded anything in stereo, because he could not hear it anyway. It’s a funny, though slightly tragic, bit of backstory, but that handle is befitting in yet another, perhaps even more profound, way. Doom and stoner metal are arguably the torch-bearing subgenres for hard rock guitar players, and if any band seems to hold the keys to the castle at this moment, it’s Monolord.

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