russell guitars

When no one was willing to build him an acoustic with a scalloped fretboard for microtonal string bends, James Russell took on the project himself and became a full-time luthier.


The Filmore boasts a tempting blend of a Tele-shaped body with a Les Paul wood-and-electronics recipe. It features Honduran mahogany for both the body and set neck, flamed maple for the top, and Brazilian rosewood for the fretboard. For electronics, Russell went with a pair of Peter Florance's Voodoo '59 humbuckers.

James Russell got his start building guitars in 1979 out of necessity. As a huge fan of John McLaughlin’s acoustic band Shakti, he wanted a guitar similar to McLaughlin’s Abe Wechter acoustic with a scalloped fretboard that would enable microtonal string bends. But after asking several Southern California luthiers to build the guitar he had in mind, Russell was turned down by all of them. That’s when he decided to build it himself and quickly found himself hooked on lutherie. And that first instrument is still going strong today.

Russell truly lives and breathes all things guitar. Not only is he a full-time builder out of his one-man shop, he still finds time to regularly teach guitar and perform. Oh, and he’s also one of Eric Schoenberg’s builders, producing handcrafted guitars inspired by prewar Martin flattops under the highly respected Schoenberg brand.

Read MoreShow less