Guitar Talk

It is pretty awesome to see and hear who by many is considered the world's formost blues guitar player: Joe Bonamassa.  Joe held a guitar clinic for the Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation last August.  Here is a picture of him spending time on a Montana Guitar Shop OOO-SP.  He is an avid guitar collector, toured with B.B. King when he was 12 years old, has 11 albums to his credit.

Joe Bonamassa



Typically the conifer trees (evergreens) are used for guitar soundboards with the Spruce varieties (Sitka, European, Adirondack, Engelmann, etc.) being the most common.  Some of the other conifers used are Western Red Cedar, Port Orford Cedar, Redwood and yes even Pine.  Every different species of wood has it's own particular tonal properties and has to be voiced accordingly.  Voicing a guitar top involves every aspect of guitar construction but what has the most effect is the bracing wood and how it is constructed and shaped and then the proper thicknessing of the top.  To read an involved explanation I refer you to Ervin Somogyi's wonderful book "The Responsive Guitar".  Ever loving to explore new territory I just recently finished voicing a Montana White Pine top for a 14 fret OM style instrument and judging from all the tapping; it is going to be a REAL CANNON.  This guitar was built very understated (Butternut back and sides) with the intention of seeing how much tone we could sqeak out of what would be considered ordinary woods.  Hope you get a chance to hear it!

Montana White Pine   

Go for the tone!  Rick.....





It is a real pleasure to me to correspond with my customers through the process of, first, how they want their guitar built and secondly keeping in touch through the building process.  Letting them know where we're at.  E-mail has worked so well for this exchange of ideas and I believe produces a bond between the customer and myself that helps create an instrument they can truly feel is their own.  And I believe I have made a friend for life.  From start to finish of having a dream guitar built it usually takes many, many e-mails and sometimes phone calls.  And if you are considering that special guitar you can rest assured we will take our time and do it right and not rush the process.........

Here are a couple pictures of a recent custom order from a family that lives in Alabama.

OOO-SP 'Bear Claw" Sitka Spruce

Hand building Acoustic guitars takes skill and is time consuming so these guitars are not inexpensive.  But I would like to let you know, guitar making is a labor of love for me and I am thankful to have the opportunity to follow this passion.  I would like you to know as a prospective customer you will be receiving a QUALITY instrument that many makers would charge much more for.

Hawaiian Koa back & sides

Kindest Regards, Rick McCollum......Montana Guitar Shop

Wonderful Tone

The Antonio Torres Formula (Modified) Print E-mail

Antonio de Torres (1817-1892) was born in Almeria, Spain and is credited with being the father of the modern day (especially classical) acoustic guitar.  We have to give him thanks because we incorporate in our OOO-N nylon string a modified fan bracing based upon his design.  Guitar makers have learned a few things since Antonio Torres and have many advantages (like humidity control in the shop) that he didn't have, yet it has been said that his guitars had "sound that transcends the sum of its parts".  THAT statement is our goal at Montana Guitar Shop.

OOO-N Soundboard & Bracing

The soundboard and bracewood for this OOO-N modified classical is select Swan River Valley Engelmann Spruce.  The bridge plate is select Washington state Yew .  All these pieces are allowed to acclimate together for a period of time before being glued in the go-stick board.

OOO-N Interior

After braces are expertly glued to the soundboard (joints so good...they become ONE) they are meticulously hand carved and sanded.

Spanish heel construction

Traditional Spanish foot construction for the OOO-N.  Select Spanish Cedar is used for the foot and neck construction.  Since the arch of the back (15' radius) is trimmed with our (in shop designed ) side trimmer, the curve of the foot and end block perfectly mate to the arch of the back.

Padauk sides add wonderful tone

With African Padauk sides and back and impecable construction we have a winning combination to give a lifetime (and more) of musical enjoyment.  You will love the tone and playability.....better than the sum of its parts?  Wish we could get Antonio's assessment.


What's Inside.....THAT COUNTS... Print E-mail

guitar bracing

What's inside REALLY counts when it comes to acoustic guitars and at Montana Guitar Shop we take our time to make sure your instrument will "HAVE THE TONE!".  Bracing wood is only the most select. And unlike guitar factories is hand carved AFTER it is glued to the soundboard and back.  Glue joints are done with good squeeze out (which is painstakingly cleaned) unlike guitar factories which must use a minimum of glue to avoid extra time with cleanup.  We have developed through the years what we think is the best balance of strength AND resonance.  A guitar with beautiful balance and extraordinary tone (and structural integrity) that will sound sweeter and sweeter generations down the road.  Notice the cap over the X joint?  We want your guitar to be an Heirloom your great grandchildren will cherish.  Notice the bridge plate?  It is quartersawn Yew Wood......yes the same wood bow makers use.  It is very hard yet has a flex to it that is part of the reason a Montana Guitar has that crisp, special tone that is so enjoyed by listeners.

interior bracing

Let us build the love of your life!  With Kindest Regards....... Rick


                Montana Paint peghead  What could compare to a Montana Paint horse?

How about a MONTANA PAINT GUITAR from Montana Guitar Shop!!!!  This pair of OOO-SP guitars are made of Montana grown woods and are they ever sweet to play.........and exceptional tone....... One has Paradise Black Walnut back and sides.....the other Paradise White Walnut back and sides.  Both have Swan River Valley Engelmann Spruce tops.  Fretboards and bridges are made of rare Montana grown Mountain Mahogany, not really a mahogany at all but on the Janka hardness scale as hard as Ebony.  Naturally these guitars have all wood bindings and bracing is hand carved, you won't find a factory instrument like these.....                                                                                                

                                     Montana Grown Wood


May we serve you by building the guitar of your dreams?

                          Rick McCollum


Thought I'd share with you a couple pictures of recently completed D-SP cutaways.  God certainly created some beautiful woods......and they sound so....good.  Both have Sitka Spruce tops.  The first picture is Brazilian Rosewood the second is Hawaiian Koa.

Brazilian Rosewood

Hawaiian Koa

Oak Guitar Bench Print E-mail

Wish you could be here to see my new guitar work bench, it is awesome.  All solid oak, it is trimmed with purpleheart (as are many of my guitars).  It was built by my friend Rick Celata of R.P. Celata & Sons, Dillon, Montana.  I'm so excited about it I just had to share a couple pictures of it with you.  It is extremely well made and is a beautiful example of real craftsmanship.  Thanks Rick!!!

Guitar Operating Table

what a treasure


In 1862 John White discovered a rich deposit of gold on Grasshopper Creek and that was the beginning of Bannack, Montana.  News traveled fast and by the next spring the population had grown to 3,000 people.  Bannack went on to be the first territorial capital of Montana and has quite a colorful history.  There are still about 60 existing structures left and fortunately Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks does a wonderful job of maintaining Bannack and has turned it into a state park.  Every year in mid July Bannack Days is held to celebrate the history of this wild west settlement.  Exhibits of everything from gold panning, candle making, blacksmithing, quilting, hat making, spinning & weaving, lots of old time music and much more take place.  This year Montana Guitar Shop was invited to set up a shop to exhibit hand made guitar building......and did we ever have fun!  Bannack is open year round and may be contacted at

Guitar making in Bannack

Rick playing a Brazillian Rosewood/Sitka Spruce creation.  photo Amy Brooke

Hay Wire

"Hay Wire" playing in the Hotel Meade (John Bacon on fiddle).

Rick & Gerben Celata

Gerben Celata didn't give up until his parents purchased a 00-P Parlor guitar for him.

Young Bannack string players

"The Junior Fiddlers" play on the porch of Hotel Meade.

Jerry Burtts

Jerry Burtts is a one handed guitar player / singer who would amaze you.

Ross Stocker

Ross Stocker witnessed the last gunfight in Bannack in 1932 and sings about it.

Bannack Church

Annette and I were priviledged to sing and play "How Great Thou Art" in the old Bannack Church Sunday morning.  We were accompanied by John Bacon (on fiddle) and was a joy.  The church building was built in 1877 by Brother Van (a horse traveling preacher) and Bannack towns people.




Rob Quist & Tim Ryan
Working at the Montana Guitar Shop can be a pretty exciting thing.  This week my friends Tim Ryan and Rob Quist stopped by to see what I was up to; naturally.....building guitars.  If you haven't seen or heard them before they are the best that Montana has to offer in country music.  They are both prolific songwriters, guitarists, performers, and band leaders.  To have them both corralled in my shop and house for a couple hours was a real treat.  To hear them picking Montana guitars around the kitchen table was too cool.  They will be playing together for awhile in the Mission Mountain Wood Band and then Tim will be headed back to Nashville and Rob to his many musical endeavors.  Though both Tim and Rob have been in the national scene with touring and hit songs......they are really just down home Montana boys.


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