McPherson Guitars started in 1979 as a quest to achieve a better sounding acoustic guitar. Matt McPherson and his father, Mander, felt that acoustics were lacking in tone, projection, and resonance, so they looked into building an altogether new guitar.
Rather than follow past designs, Matt and Mander re-examined every aspect of the guitar. They found that placing the instrument’s sound hole in the center of the soundboard eliminated a prime area for vibration and resonance. They proceeded to make a guitar with three sound holes; two were placed at the edges of the waist and one near the tail block. Moving them to the top edge allowed a larger central portion of the soundboard to vibrate, thereby producing better resonance and sustain.
In 1995 Matt felt that there was still more to be pulled from the instrument, and he completely redesigned the McPherson guitar from the ground up. He experimented with different sound hole locations and bracing patterns, which led to several technological breakthroughs. His innovations included a unidirectional carbon fiber truss rod and triangulated heel design, which stabilizes the neck and eliminates the need for adjustment. His guitar’s unique cantilevered neck design elevates the fret board above the top, allowing the soundboard to resonate fully.
McPherson guitars are now well known as one of the most innovative and best sounding guitars in the industry. They are frequently used in both Country and Christian music circles by artists like Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Paul Baloche, and Jeremy Camp, and a host of others.
The company has expanded to include a custom-build shop, which has quickly become a third of its business. McPherson works with customers to create a highly personalized instrument. Though the main components of the guitar cannot be changed, McPherson offers clients distinct designs and artwork. Mother of Pearl, select woods, and refurbished stone are all options for inlay materials. In addition, the neck can be shaped wider or more narrowly upon request.
McPherson Custom Shop has created some of the most beautiful, one-of-a kind guitars. “The Four Seasons,” for example, is a set of four guitars built with exotic woods from around the world, and depicting a tree changing with the seasons. The one-time only set sold to a collector for $100,000. “The Picasso” followed with a smaller body style and over 425 pieces of hand cut and placed woods, referencing a 1912 Picasso painting called “Guitar;” it is priced at $35,000. “The 1776,” priced at $100,000, is made from American woods and features fossilized woolly mammoth tusk overlaying the headcap and bridge. The neck was sent to a Scrimshaw artist who added an incredible representation of the Declaration of Independence signing.
The McPherson team’s latest work, “The Nautical,” depicts a ship design theme with inlay on the back and neck; it promises to be a great addition to any collection.
Though they now design and build artful guitars, they have not lost sight of Matt McPherson’s original mission, which emphasized, first and foremost, the playability and sound of guitars.
McPherson guitars range from $5,800 to $15,500 for standard builds; custom designs are priced individually.