Hand-carved beauties from Missouri
William Jeffrey Jones Guitars is a one-man shop in southern Missouri where Jeffrey Jones pours his decades of commercial carving and sculpting experience into a line of handbuilt custom guitars. Jones has been running a table saw since he was a kid, thanks to the tutelage of his woodworking father, Willy. His artistic skills led him to a career sculpting toy prototypes for companies like McFarlane and NECA. He has played guitar for 35 years, and his desire for creative freedom eventually brought him back to the guitar.
Jones has been building guitars full-time for a year and a half, and in that time he has built a gorgeous collection of instruments. His models range from intricately carved affairs like the Dragonwing to smoothly contoured models like the Kronos and simpler instruments like the Arcadia double-cutaway.
Jones uses local woods almost exclusively, ranging from exquisitely figured walnut to sassafras. He favors chambered and semi-hollow guitars—he loves the response—and most of his instruments weigh less than seven pounds. Jones uses Tru-Oil finish on nearly all of his guitars because the thin film “lets the wood sound like wood.” Jones also enjoys building fretless guitars because he says they’re so fun to play.
The Dragonwing solidbody is carved from a single piece of walnut and has a rosewood neck, ebony fretboard and a sculpted-ebony floating bridge. It features a P-90 single-coil custom made by Clint Searcy of Searcy String Works—Jones’ main pickup supplier—in Nashville. Carved instruments are a small portion of what he builds, but Jones is constantly sketching ideas. His mermaid and Victorian scroll carved instruments can be seen on his website.
The Argos semi-hollowbody features a walnut back and a one-piece walnut top, with a blackdyed maple veneer in the middle. The set neck is also of walnut, and it features carbon-fiber reinforcement, a dual-action truss rod and an ebony fretboard with a C profile. Controls include a three-way pickup-selector, a volume and a push-pull tone knob for tapping the Searcy String Works P-90s. The guitar also features a Tune-omatic bridge and Gotoh tuners.
The Proteus features a 1.5"-thick walnut body with a maple top, offset waist and a seductively carved heel joint. Its ebony bridge is handcarved and matches the ornate volume and tone knobs. The neck is a combination of walnut and maple to brighten the tone and enhance stability, and the fretboard is of Indian rosewood. The humbuckers are custom-made by Searcy String Works.
Arcadia Double-Cutaway Jazz
The Arcadia Double-Cutaway Jazz features a semi-hollow body carved from bookmatched big leaf maple, and the back is a single piece of walnut. The floating bridge is made of ebony topped with a maple saddle. Jones sculpts his own hardware when possible because he says choosing the materials gives him the most tonal flexibility. The pickups are Carvin Holdsworth humbuckers.
Jones’ guitars start at around $2,800 for an Arcadia Double-Cutaway Jr. and go up to $12,000 for the Dragonwing. Jones works on two to three commissioned instruments at a time, and he also sells finished guitars through Destroy All Guitars (destroyallguitars.com).