Earlier this week I completed the construction of my acoustic guitar under the guidance of Luthier Dennis MacPherson. It looks great and sounds even better!
I had searched around for the best workshop for a while before finding that Dennis’ program would be tailored to my needs. He and I discussed my expectations and he helped me choose my woods and guitar style. Over a period of a few weeks, Dennis accommodated my schedule to spend six-hour chunks of time designing, shaping, joining, and refining the various components of my guitar. Throughout the project, Dennis thoroughly explained the processes, tools, and parts we used and how they significantly affected the look and sound of the guitar. And though I had some previous experience with woodworking, Dennis patiently and expertly instructed me how to get the best results from the tools I had never used.
As I created my instrument, the time flew by, and before I knew it, I was ready to bring my guitar home and put on my finish. A true professional, Dennis availed himself to answer my questions regarding the finishing touches of my guitar.
I highly recommend Dennis’ workshop to anyone interested in creating his own guitar while learning about the various facets of the instrument and developing luthierie skills. I enjoyed the journey and now I get to enjoy the destination!
Mike - (Triple O Guitar Building Workshop ( 8/2019)
”I recently did a workshop with Dennis to build a triple O guitar and it was a great experience. Dennis was flexible to accommodate my schedule despite short notice, and we were able to complete the raw guitar in 6 days (before sending it to a finisher). He patiently answered all my questions, guided me through the various steps, and ensured a hands on experience throughout the whole process. He wanted to make sure the guitar was tailored to my needs. It was amazing to see how much is involved in building a guitar, from small to big decisions and how Dennis’ experience came through in tackling all of the steps with ease. Every evening he would also share pictures he had taken throughout the day, which is a great way to document the whole experience. Not only was the workshop highly educational, but I also enjoyed the personal side of spending time with Dennis, sharing stories about life outside of guitar related topics. Now I can’t wait to receive the finished guitar”.
Thomas ( Triple O Guitar Building Workshop - 7/2019 )
"Dennis MacPherson is an absolute master of his craft. His years of experience enables him to creatively design, build, maintain and repair guitars with the consummate skill of a true, knowledgeable craftsman.
Now, top it off with his friendly personality and his laser-sharp dedication for making every one of his clients his number one priority, and you’ve got some Class A stuff right there indeed.
I should know. Playing and teaching guitar has been my livelihood for many decades. My guitars are my tools and I depend on every one of them to deliver. If they don’t work, then neither do I, and Dennis makes sure that we all are happily employed. I wouldn’t put my trust in anyone else.”
We’ve always looked up to Dennis MacPherson and his unbelievable talents for crafting amazing instruments from the finest materials in the world. We feel honored to play Black Pearl Guitars!
What I Like About Black Pearl: They are second to none when it comes to craftsmanship, materials and attention to detail. This leads to outstanding tone, playability, and attractiveness of the instrument.
What I Do NOT Like About Black Pearl: That we can’t get more of them! They are manufactured by hand and to personal specifications so that every guitar is unique, making them one of a kind and hard to acquire. We like everything about Black Pearl!
Black Pearl Quality: Second to none. Every guitar is handcrafted, and seemingly assembled with love.
Black Pearl Summary: A fantastic company with an outstanding product that will surely provide us with great sounds and inspiration for years to come.
Rating of this Black Pearl Guitars product: 5 stars out of 5!
The Jonas Brothers (recording artists)
My buddy Dennis at MacPherson Guitarworks just custom built me some PAF style pickups for my early 90s Sheraton. The pickups are hands down the nicest I have ever played. The bridge pickup is sweet, but has a real snarl to it (it's slightly over wound). We put new pots in it, and there are awesome tones all the way through the sweep. The neck pickup is the single best pickup I have EVER heard. It is smooth and full with a tiny bit of bite when pushed. He nailed exactly what I wanted. My guitar player buddy borrowed it and said, "that neck pickup is a GIANT". I own a lot of guitars, and pickups, and these make all my other guitar pickups sound like they have an internal EQ where everything is turned down.
The guitar has been tested through my '76 100 watt Bassman, '74 Vibro Champ, and Peavey 5150. My buddy ran it through his Twin, and Deluxe. It performed well through all. I really like it with the Bassman and a MXR FET driver.
Dennis is the MAN. His setups are killer, his repair work is second to none, and his pickups are unreal. His custom guitar line is called Black Pearl. Give him a call, you won't be disappointed.
I have been a working musician for over 30 years and I have a number of great electric and acoustic guitars. In the my collection of 30 instruments I have never had a Martin guitar or a really high end acoustic.. I have put off the purchase of a really top of the line acoustic guitar in hopes that something great would come along. About two years ago my wife showed me an advertisement for MacPherson Guitar works and it is about 5 minutes from my house….. I met Dennis MacPherson and after several minutes of talking to him I knew this guy was extraordinary with guitars. He had a number of his hand made guitars around the shop and since I am left handed it was not easy to really play them but I did know that what I could play (upside down on the righty guitars) sounded and felt like no other guitars I had ever handled. So last month I finally was able to actually purchase a gorgeous left handed Black Pearl guitar.
Believe me when I tell you that if you are thinking about spending the money for a custom, hand made guitar you can stop your search right now! Dennis MacPherson is a guy who knows what to do, how to do it and sits with you to discuss the different types of woods, the neck, the fingerboard, your particular style of playing, the kind of electronics and anything else you can think of so you have a CUSTOM MADE guitar exactly to your specifications. And the cost is around the same as a Martin, Taylor etc. The HUGE difference is the fact that this is a one of a kind guitar made just for YOU. YOU might think well does the love and caring of the person making a guitar really affect the guitar? If you read a book called "ERIC CLAPTON'S GUITAR" the author clearly states that this is absolutely true and once you purchase a guitar from Dennis MacPherson you will know this truth first hand.
The Guitar: The guitar is a 000 size auditorium and is as light as a feather but sonically amazing. It rings and sings.....I chose not to have electronics placed in the guitar but Dennis indicated they could always be put in later on. This guitar has back and sides made of African Mahogany, a Red Cedar top, A Mahogany neck. It plays like a dream and sounds beautiful....the notes resonate forever. Dennis a lots of different kinds of wood so you can really create exactly what you want.
If you are not familiar with what types of tones are created with different kinds of wood....Dennis does and he will walk you through selection process each step of the way. Remember that you are working with a person who knows his craft inside and out....this guitar will be unique and built just the way you want it to be!
Summary: Treat yourself to an instrument that will stand the test of time! Get to know Dennis MacPherson and trust his skill, knowledge and passion as you will have a guitar like no other. Once you have one of his custom, hand made guitars you will wonder how you did without one......they are the guitars that you imagine and dream about.....make you dream come true you will never regret it.
On a personal note: Dennis you are the best, thank you for all you have done for all of my guitars and my new "baby" the one you made just for me!
I never would have considered buying a custom made guitar before meeting Dennis MacPherson Guitarworks. The reasons are few. One would have been the astronomical cost. Then, every luthier you've ever read about was across the country, somewhere in the mountains. Thirdly, I wouldn’t know how to describe what I wanted in a custom made guitar. I did meet with Dennis in his shop in the mountains, but I didn’t need a packing mule to get there. His shop is crowded with evidence of someone who has developed and crafted his trade over the past twenty five years or more. Exotic wood samples, as well as guitars in progress, were a tempting feast everywhere you turn. Within a few meetings of interviews, his Q. & A. with me, outlined for him, the kind of guitar suited to me and my style of playing. I generally finger pick an American Classical - Leo Kottke style format. When my fingers are resting I play lead rhythm in a church gospel band. My 6 string Dreadnought needed a solid bottom end sound picking up the bass runs while picking; as well as a cutting and clear playability during the various chord colors and rhythm patterns I favor with the band. Dennis' cost for building my dream guitar was inspiring. The affordability enabled me to dream a little further with some additional personalized features. Dennis was fair in keeping my perspectives in line with his philosophy of what a good guitar should look like as well as what it should sound like. Which leads me to:
The Guitar: Dennis showed me, with pride, the most desirable exotic wood fit for human consumption I have ever seen. Brazilian Rosewood like this never came out of a Martin guitar shop. I own three Martins, and never thought I could top those. The wood grain typically pops out with it's varied polychromatic shades. But, this unique piece held an additional God - like fingerprint: whiter shades of sapwood. Pictures can only get you half way there. The top is Engelmann Spruce (which I challenged Dennis to custom tint with his staining skills). I requested a cutaway. Dennis blended every edge to perfection. The body has a border of Fine Herringbone purfling w/ Tortoise binding front & rear. The ebony fingerboard has a Full Vine Inlay w/ Mother of Pearl and Abalone. The bridge is a custom design by MacPherson Guitarworks w/ more inlay and Goldbug Floral Engraved Bronze pins. The MacPherson stylized headstock of ebony continues w/ the Herringbone border. It is inlaid w/ a Gold/Silver MOP Angel. Dennis inscribed, to perfection, my wife's signature "Angelique" across the top. The machine heads are Goldbug 14 carat gold plate floral engraved Gotoh 510 gears. I also wanted the Fishman Prefix Plus-T onboard Preamp system. Dennis applied a KTM-9 clear gloss lacquer finish. I learned all these guitar language skills from my relationship with a real luthier. Dennis will call, fax or tell you to stop by to reflect on the needs of the guitar as the work becomes progressive. He really makes you feel a part of the customizing of the guitar building process.
Summary: This guitar is summed up in a few words. Quality, beauty, and sound at their highest attainability, like you never dreamed of, are only found in The Mac Shop. This guitar deserves a 10 Gold Star rating. It's a hands down winner !!! And ever to keep me humble, Dennis reminds me, "a good looking guitar is only as good as it's maker; a good sounding guitar is only as good as it's Maker & player, and God makes them both".
This review was submitted by John Tripi
Guitar #2: The back & sides are of a High Quilted African Sapele. The top was a warm Lutz Spruce Luthiers choice. The neck was oversized mahogany w/ a Brazilian Bloodwood partial skunk stripe in the rear. Ebony fingerboard with oval Tahetian Black Mother of Pearl position markers to match the oval soundhole. A Celtic Peacock highlights the 21st fret. The machine heads are dazzling Gotoh gold/ Tortoise Buttons with Rosewood / Pearl dot bridge pins to match. There is an Ebony armrest with my signature scripted in Brazilian Bloodwood inlay. The headstock and bridge have the MacPherson custom shapes. For the electronics Dennis installed a Fishman Prefix/Tuner. I wont lie to you, as the challenges that went into this guitar were not for a novice guitar builder. Mac proved he was the man for the job. Dennis consulted with me along the way of the building process. Keeping you in the loop helps personalize the words "Custom Made". This is something MacPherson Guitarworks is fully aware of. You are on this journey together.
Summary: This guitar is another Masterpiece !!! Dennis will never cease to amaze you with his ability to blend fantastic sound with unprecedented beauty. This Black Pearl is one for the Guitar Hall of Fame. The high quilting is mesmerizing ! The Bloodwood keeps your eyes from wandering off the guitar as the movement plays tricks on them. It's almost more fun to look at than to play. I think I hear the tune of a custom classical being made for my next review..... yes, it's that affordable ! Dennis, thanks for your professional contributions and keep up the great work.
History: I have been playing guitar for over 20 years both for my own pleasure and occasionally professionally. Historically my choice has been Martin guitars because of their sound and quality. The Black Pearl Guitar is every bit as good as what I am accustomed to, however, it incorporates features not available from Nazareth.
Purchase: I obtained my Black Pearl directly from the luthier, Dennis MacPherson of Ringwood, NJ.
Features: I have a Black Pearl WD-18. This model has a mahogany neck with a snake head stock, ebony fingerboard and bridge, the top is Kermodie (which is also known as Lutz), the back and sides are highly figured walnut and the body is bound in tortoise.
What I Like About Black Pearl : The Black Pearl is extremely responsive to finger picking but can also stand up to hard flat picking. I think Walnut is one of the tone woods of the future. It has the woody sound of mahogany as well as the deep bass response of rosewood. The wood brings a deep resonance not found in other alternative tone woods like cherry and maple. Cosmetically the guitar is extremely striking because of the intense grain patterns, which are not too dissimilar to what old Brazilian Rosewood occasionally looks like. At first glance the shark like bridge seems large but I think that the bridge mass and size is one of the reasons that the top vibrates so intensely.
What I Do NOT Like About Black Pearl : It did not come with a strap button.
Black Pearl Quality: The build quality of Black Pearl guitars is 100% on the mark. The fit and finish is as good as any I have ever seen.
Black Pearl Summary: I would recommend Black Pearl guitars to anyone who is looking for a versatile instrument that is equally at home playing blues, jazz or bluegrass. These guitars are tone monsters that reach both ends of the spectrum. The walnut models have bright trebles and deep thumping bass response, however, in between there are tons of overtones that fill out to a very complex sound.
Rating of this Black Pearl Guitars product: A++
Jim Martin aka Zipster100
Model: Thin Line Dreadnought 6 string
I received my Black Pearl Thin Line Dreadnought 6 string as a gift from two great friends. Because the style I play which goes from jazz standards, fusion as well straight ahead, it is often difficult to find an acoustical guitar which encompasses the warm but lively tonal qualities I enjoy. The Black Pearl was a pleasant surprise.
Brazilian Imbuia Wood (back and sides), Sitka Heavy Bearclaw (top), Mahogany (neck), Ebony w/MOP Tiger Paws High lighted with Imbuia grass blades (finger board), Ebony (Bridge), Green/Black Tortoise Celluloid Pearl Dot (bridge pins), Bone/Tusq (saddle-nut), Ebony Overlay w/MOP Recipients Name full Tiger Inlay (Headstock), MOP dotted as well around the sound hole, Chrome Plate w/Ebony (Schallar Machine), Tortoise (binding), Electronics (L.R.Baggs Preamp/I-Beam system), Clear Plastic (pick guard), Clear Gloss Lacquer.
What I Like About Black Pearl:
The tonal woods chosen, South American Imbuia back and sides, Sitka Heavy Bearclaw top, their new and original bracing patterned base on years research, in addition the thin line body style which increases clarity so each note is distinct, produces warm sustain, often not found in wider body guitars, and allows me to play without any muddle notes.
What I Do NOT Like About Black Pearl: There is nothing that can say about the Black Pearl Custom Shallow Dreadnought that I didn’t like.
Black Pearl Summary: The quality of craftsmanship, the well thought out plan in design based on the playing style of the recipient, the inclusion of personality and creative desire to build an instruments presentation that draws the admiration of the future owner as well as others, has been very rewarding. Hey, just owning one allows the ability to show off a little bit! But, Dennis MacPherson founder of MacPherson Guitarworks is definitely dedicated to a long term quality relationship with current and soon to be owners of these very playable works of art, he provides a life time warranty which truly works.
Rating of this Black Pearl Guitars product:
10 being perfect, I would rate this guitar a 10, in quality and company service.
Neal T. Williams
Model: Small Jumbo Ziricote back & sides Lutz top
I purchased my guitar from MacPherson Guitarworks. I had spent 3 months going from Gibsons, Martins and Taylors. After playing the Black Pearl I can honestly say it is the BEST acoustic - electric guitar I've ever played.
What I Like About Black Pearl : Sound, sound and more sound!!! I have never heard a sound come out of any guitar I've ever played like the sound of the Black Pearl.
Black Pearl Quality: Of course the construction and quality are the highest standard since the guitar is custom made. The wood used is of the highest quality with a great look.
Black Pearl Summary: I have been playing for over 30 years. I've owed Gibsons, Guilds, Ovations & Martins, the Black Pearl is by far the best guitar I've ever owned.
Rating of this Black Pearl Guitars product: On a scale from 1-10 I would give it a 12.
Tim Van Duyne