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Laplante Guitars

Around 1994, chemistry professor and longtime guitarist Jean-Pierre Laplante, frustrated by the dearth of decent left-handed instruments available on the market and tired of playing converted right-handed models, decided to

Around 1994, chemistry professor and longtime guitarist Jean-Pierre Laplante, frustrated by the dearth of decent left-handed instruments available on the market and tired of playing converted right-handed models, decided to take matters into his own hands. “I built myself a proper left-handed electric,” he says, “and basically made all the mistakes that could be made when building a first guitar. I learned from those mistakes and built a second, then a third, and eventually I had a number of eager customers.”

Two decades later, Laplante handbuilds a variety of guitars—archtops, flattops, and electrics, both solidbody and hollowbody— in his one-man shop, in Kingston, Ontario. His creations range from thoughtful, modern interpretations of the Fender Telecaster, to 17" electric archtops with exotic tonewoods, to guitars inspired by the masterworks of artists such as Pablo Picasso and Gustav Klimt.

Laplante has recently received an uptick in requests for archtops, and is also currently writing a book. The planned title is Building an Electric Archtop Guitar, which will detail the building—from start to finish—of a 16" model. He feels positive about the change in consumer tastes and suspects that more and more electric players will discover the exciting range of tonal colors they can get from archtops.

Silver and Gold

Design to withstand climatic changes, this

17" archtop is made from figured bubinga

laminate on the back and sides and a laminated

spruce top. It has a handsome organic

appearance, thanks to its maple binding and

purfling, and the bubinga backplates, pickguard,

pickup rings, and headstock faceplate.

The electronics are Seymour Duncan

Seth Lover SH-55s with CTS 250k pots.

The Kiss

From Laplante’s artist series, the Kiss is

inspired by the Gustav Klimt masterpiece

of the same name, and boasts more than

100 pieces of mother-of-pearl for the top

inlays. The tiny flowers in Laplante’s rendition

were painted with colored acrylics, and

faux gold dust was added to recreate the

original painting’s warm glow. While a standard

body of this type is about 13" wide,

Laplante made his 14" to accommodate

the artwork. Meanwhile, to compensate

for the extra weight, he chambered out the

mahogany body.

Hot Club "O"

This 16" Selmer/Maccaferri-style guitar

is made from choice tonewoods, with a

master-grade solid bearclaw Sitka spruce

top and AAAA-grade solid Indian rosewood

back and sides. Like many original

manouche guitars, it has ladder bracing and

a pliure, or seven-degree top crease. Made of

curly maple and rosewood, the traditional

laminated five-piece neck lacks a truss rod,

but is reinforced with carbon fiber.


Laplante most often makes his flattops in

the OOO size first seen on Martin guitars

from the early 1900s—a body style he finds

underrepresented these days and perfect

for fingerpicking. This particular example

has Macassar ebony back and sides and a

master-grade Sitka spruce top. The ebony

fretboard is embellished with a stunning

inlay pattern of vines, and abalone trim

throughout lends to the instrument’s opulence,

while an asymmetric ebony bridge

adds a modern touch.

Lil Dragon

Lil Dragon has a makore back, sides, and

neck, and a carved spruce top. The guitar’s

old-fashioned slotted headstock contrasts

nicely with the modern, slanted elliptical

soundhole. The ornamentation is handsomely

sparse, with its simple white and

black binding, save for the elaborate dragon

inlaid with white mother-of-pearl and green

and blue abalone at the highest frets.

Pricing and Availability

“About half of my guitars are commissioned

by serious musicians who know exactly what

they want,” says Laplante. “The other half

just comes out of my passion for building

singing art.” Laplante always has a small

stable of guitars available for purchase on his

website. At press time, instruments for sale

included a Tele Twang 2010 ($1995) and

the Silver and Gold ($3250), among others.

If you happen to be in Kingston, you

can normally find one of Laplante’s guitars

at Limestone Music or Renaissance Music.

As for custom orders, archtops generally

cost around $3000-$5000, and flattops

and solidbodies begin at just under $2000.

Delivery time averages eight months, but

workload permitting, Laplante can complete

a guitar in three months for a rush order,

which does require a surcharge.