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Incoming Ronin Songbird

Ruiner

Member
Messages
3,016
I've been eyeing a Ronin for a long while now ever since I first found out about them through @splatt and Dan Phelps. I've been eyeing this particular one for half a year and finally pulled the trigger. I reached out to @RoninGuitars recently to potentially get a Stormcrow (which is also a beautiful guitar) but there was something about this particular one that's been calling out to me for a while so had to go with it.















So what makes it special? Well this is a review of the same model guitar but a different one that explains it well (Except i have their signature foil pickups which is one thing i'm really excited about):

"California’s redwoods are the tallest and largest species of tree in the world, and among the longest living, as well. They are so majestic that tourists from all over the world travel to Northern California to walk among them.

John Reed, however, is drawn to redwoods for more than their splendor. He finds that the timber yields an unparalleled musical sound when it is crafted into a guitar body. “It seems to hold onto a note indefinitely, and on a new guitar it sounds old, like it’s been played every night for 50 years,” he says. “It doesn’t hide mistakes and captures every little nuance.”

A New Yorker via California, Reed is the designer and luthier behind Ronin, a five-year-old line of handmade guitars and basses with vintage-inspired styling. His partner, Izzy Lugo, one of New York’s finest repair techs (Lugo’s clients include Keith Richards and Jim Campilongo), puts the instruments together and provides the meticulous fretwork. Each year, Reed and Lugo decamp to Humboldt County, California, where, along with Reed’s father, Jack Reed, they build roughly 100 guitars in about four months. Then, Reed and Lugo return to their private showroom in Manhattan to peddle their wares. “It’s impossible to do marketing or sales when you’re up in the woods in middle of nowhere,” Reed explains.

Reed’s family owns 12 acres of protected forest in Humboldt County, and the Ronin team has exclusive access to another 2,000 acres that belongs to a family friend. The guitar maker is careful to point out that no living trees are harmed in the making of his guitars, as all of Ronin’s redwood comes from stumps or from fallen trees, which have been cured by the sun to the perfect moisture content. A small portion also comes from the barrels of a wine factory that was decommissioned some 40 years ago. Reed says, “Judging from the ring count and size of the pieces, I would estimate that this wood is between 800 and 1,000 years old. It’s got wine built into it—all these sugar and mineral deposits which provide extra clarity to the sound.”

Reed and his cohorts are very particular about wood in general and have a careful approach to assessing its sonic properties, similar to how an acoustic builder listens for tap tones in preparing a soundboard, but more scientific. “We separate the wood by origin, grain characteristics, and density,” he explains. “We also use tuning forks and stethoscopes to listen for certain tones and attributes, which helps us further divide the wood into subcategories, like how we want it react to a particular scale length.”

If the ’67 Foil Songbird (base price, $4,880) shown here looks vaguely familiar, that’s because it draws visual inspiration from an odd, old production instrument. The body’s asymmetric silhouette recalls that of the late-Sixties Hagstrom eight-string bass Noel Redding sometimes played with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. “I designed the Songbird to have the clarity of a great Tele but an alternative vintage look that’s been overlooked by guitar makers until recently,” Reed says.

This Songbird boasts a choice selection of woods. Its dense but lightweight body was quarter-sawn from an old-growth redwood that fell when it was struck by lightning. The neck and fingerboard are fashioned from more traditional selections: Honduran mahogany and Indian rosewood, respectively. When the guitar is played unplugged, this trio of woods produces a remarkably rich and loud sound, almost like a tiny grand piano. “Strum a chord, put your ear to the Songbird’s body, and you will hear something magical happen,” Reed says.

Special details abound on the guitar. The finish is a Fifties-style noncatalyzed nitrocellulose lacquer, sprayed thin to allow the wood to vibrate optimally. The knobs, little gold teacups, are vintage radio parts, while the capacitors are NOS Sprague oil-in-paper, providing timbres that range from warm jazz to stinging rock.

Most notable, however, are the Songbird’s 1967 DeArmond gold-foil pickups, standard on guitars by Harmony, Silvertone, and others. Reed acquired them unused, with their wiring harnesses intact, and in their original packaging. “Those cheap old guitars sound great,” he says, “but they were not built to professional standards and usually don’t play well. So with the Songbird we’ve put some original electronics into a solidly built instrument to create something new from something old.”
 

j.s.tonehound

Member
Messages
7,465
Pish! It's only a week or so away ;) I feel your pain on that front though. I have two guitars coming at some point next year and an amp that's now a long time overdue.
 

Ruiner

Member
Messages
3,016
@splatt, I don't think you own a Songbird that I know of but I thought I read somewhere that you've played one, yes? no? Thoughts on it?
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
26,447
@splatt, I don't think you own a Songbird that I know of but I thought I read somewhere that you've played one, yes? no? Thoughts on it?
yeah, @Ruiner; yes, i played a bunch of Songbirds, when i first met john & izzy a goodly bunch of years ago.
i almost made the Songbird my main guitar, but..... things got complicated.
i loved it with the sc gold-foils!
but, but..... i was desperate for a guitar with humbucking, usefully splittable gold-foils, which did not exist at that time.

finally, we re-jigged the Mirari platform to suit me better, including the boys putting their heads together to design & build the very first Foilbucker pickup (and my non-pickguard pickguard); part of my choice of the Mirari revolved around the amount of body real-estate needed for my Tornipulator circuit & the special, larger rout necessary for my wack vibrato-bridge setup, and another part was my comfort w/the Stratty form.
so? no songbird for me! still a great guitar, though, ime.

i have 2x freaked Miraris, and 1x freaked MorningStar on its way.
 

Gnash

Member
Messages
239
Great looking guitar, and I'm sure it plays/feels/sounds fantastic!

Congratulations on a fine aquisition sir.
 

Jaya

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,286
Congrats Ruiner!
You are in for a special treat. I played many of them while Ronin guys had a shop in NYC and still own very special Kingbird with Songbird (Firebird) pickups.
Magical guitars.
 

Ruiner

Member
Messages
3,016
Looks like a very cool guitar. Classic but, not. :aok
The aging I'll leave alone and keep my opinion to myself. ;)
Normally I'm with you on that but for some reason I like it a lot on this particular guitar. I don't think it would look right to me being totally new and perfect looking...
 

Metal Tiger

Member
Messages
783
Went for a Mirari a year ago, such a unique instrument. It makes the traditionalist inside you want to experiment and that says something, at least to me. I would love to try a Ronin with sc foils.
This one looks beautiful!
Enjoy
 

Furilla

Odd Bird
Messages
864
So dope. I really like the Songbird body - I'm not usually stoked about anything with horns, but this design makes me happy and it's really comfortable. And that red is LOVELY. Congratulations!
 

TDJMB

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,636
The Songbird is a very sweet guitar and is super-comfortable to play. For me, I'd rather wait a few weeks for the holiday rush mayhem to subside. I expect you'll be very happy.
 

Ruiner

Member
Messages
3,016
yeah, @Ruiner; yes, i played a bunch of Songbirds, when i first met john & izzy a goodly bunch of years ago.
i almost made the Songbird my main guitar, but..... things got complicated.
i loved it with the sc gold-foils!
but, but..... i was desperate for a guitar with humbucking, usefully splittable gold-foils, which did not exist at that time.

finally, we re-jigged the Mirari platform to suit me better, including the boys putting their heads together to design & build the very first Foilbucker pickup (and my non-pickguard pickguard); part of my choice of the Mirari revolved around the amount of body real-estate needed for my Tornipulator circuit & the special, larger rout necessary for my wack vibrato-bridge setup, and another part was my comfort w/the Stratty form.
so? no songbird for me! still a great guitar, though, ime.

i have 2x freaked Miraris, and 1x freaked MorningStar on its way.
Oh wow, can't wait to see your MorningStar. I'd definitely like to try a Mirari one day. I heard the single foils became much less in demand after they made these so i'll hold you accountable for affecting the resale value of my guitar. ;) Been watching a bunch of your YouTube videos in preperation and i'm super excited to get mine now!

So dope. I really like the Songbird body - I'm not usually stoked about anything with horns, but this design makes me happy and it's really comfortable. And that red is LOVELY. Congratulations!
Yeah, funny thing is normally it's not a shape I would like nor would I want a candy apple colored guitar but for this particular guitar and the combo of shape and color work so well for me!

The Songbird is a very sweet guitar and is super-comfortable to play. For me, I'd rather wait a few weeks for the holiday rush mayhem to subside. I expect you'll be very happy.
Quit being logical!
 

suckamc

Member
Messages
4,615
I have a Songbird with Firebird-style mini humbuckers in it. It weighs practically nothing despite having a really big neck and a freaking Callaham trem in it. The most resonant guitar I've ever played. If yours is anything like mine, you're probably in love.
 

Ruiner

Member
Messages
3,016
About to head home shortly to try it out finally. The first thing i noticed when i picked it up was how incredibly light it was. By far my lightest guitar.
 






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