Random Scheerhorn thread mostly out of curiousity.

23337 reads
Lakeview's picture

 Used to be if one wanted to stir things up around here you could just drop the S word. Then came the great recession some guitars came out and lately it has been kind of snoozy. Has anyone taken delivery of a wishlist guitar? (photos please if you don't mind) Any random sightings? I dunno I guess I would like a distraction.



MarkinSonoma's picture

This is my take on it, and maybe I'm full of crap - actually I'm likely full of crap a good portion of the time, but that's beside the point -  I think the advent of the Nati-horn has turned the whole 'horn thing on its ear and we're just not doing the 'horn rap around here like we used to.  I think the dearth of Scheerhorn threads aside from the long one about the new guitars made at National is for just that reason - the Nati-horn program has put a big damper on it. It's sort of a buzz-kill.

I believe Tim is still turning out some Wish Listers, and if you just gotta have a special guitar touched by Tim and Tim only, and you have the dough, then I imagine Tim will be willing to make your masterpiece for as long as he feels he can safely operate the tools. Actually the newest Tim'horn I've seen lately is the lap steel he made for Paul Oddvang in Norway that Paul has shown on Facebook.   

I still have yet to see a Nati-horn in person, I don't know of any individual or any store in Northern Calif. that has had one of the new 'horns from National darken their door.

I don't think the Great Recession effected the Scheerhorn Phenomena all that much. In taking about a five year plus break from my long-time career in the horticulture industry and working in premium wine sales from late 2007 to early 2013, I found that once people with money figured out that the sky wasn't actually falling, they kept right on buying the $75-$200 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon.  There are still plenty of people with money out there, most of them don't play the dobro, but for the ones that do and are enthusiastic about it, sooner or later they discover Tim Scheerhorn, and take at least a good look and listen as to what his guitars are all about.

And there's also regular working folks that had to scrimp, save, and sell off a bunch of stuff to get a WL guitar, I'm not implying anything of the sort that all the WL guitars go to "one percenters,"  or even "five percenters."

But it's the Nati-horn thing that to me when it comes to this often entertainng subject over the years that has become sort of the elephant in the room. Tim has worked closely  with the folks at National, where they have done what is apparently a pretty remarkable job in duplicating his "recipe" on three different models, with retails ranging from $2600 to $3900. With the exception of the slightly different shaped tailpiece and the sticker inside that reads "Made in San Luis Obispo, California" just about everyone is saying that you really can't tell the difference if you're being honest about it.

If I had a hankering for a mahogany Scheerhorn, and my choice was  between a shiny, brand new Nati-horn @ $2600 vs. someone's used mahogany L-body 'horn from the "Old List"  with some dings and scratches and they are asking ballpark $7000, or even if its pristine and they are asking $7000 - I don't have to even think twice about it - it's the Nati-horn.  


Lakeview's picture

  This could get interesting....I think you are on target and.....I kind of see this as playing out like  signed originals vs  lithographs. I am pretty sure that Tim tap tunes his tops and I doubt that is the case with the Nati Horns . I heard a maple at Reso-summit, it sounded pretty good, but not the same as an original to me (obviously there is a range of tone in both groups of instruments). Is there a wine correlate?

MarkinSonoma's picture

There sort of is with wine, but in a different manner of speaking. You might be familiar with the French term, negociant, where one purchases wine from a  vintner and bottles it under their own label.

What happens in Napa Valley sometimes is say a high end winery has a sales plan to make 500 cases of their $100/b Cabernet. After the harvest, and the grapes are crushed and the wine is pressed they end up with enough juice to produce 575 cases. But to stick to their sales plan and maintain the demand and price, they sell off the extra juice. So the extra 75 cases worth of wine that one normally pays $100/b from Joe Blow's Excellent Cellars gets sold to Jim Bob's Killer Wines, and Jim Bob kind of leaks it out there that this is the same stuff as the $100 juice from Joe Blow, but because they negotiate a good price, they can offer it @ $55/b under the Jim Bob label.

So it's not the same in that it doesn't read Joe Blow on the label, and might not be as impressive to serve to one's guests from that standpoint (it's not "Wish List Wine," because there is a waiting list to get on the membership list witih Joe Blow's Excellent Cellars)  but the cool factor is that you are "in the know" and scored this stuff from Jim Bob's Killer wines at a considerably lower cost, and it tastes the same.

Kind of like a Nati-horn pretty much looks and sounds the same as a Tim'horn in a like tonewood configuration. Except in the case of these guitars, they read "Scheerhorn" on the fretboard, not "Jim Bob," or "National."  

Lakeview's picture

I  haven't seen comparable wood selections in the nati horns although I don't know how to recognize high quality spruce visually. The maple's and mahogany nati's aren't like the typically stunning selections that I am used to seeing in Tim's personal work. If it is true that they sound very similar then I guess it isn't that important.

I  just went craigslist surfing and bumped into this: http://nashville.craigslist.org/msg/4534807666.html Look familiar to anyone?  I wonder what the keeper guitar is?


melman's picture

I can't get on board with the wine analogy.  The National guitars are production instruments built in a factory.  It doesn't matter whose specifications were used, they're still factory guitars.  They don't have a stock of Scheerhorn's surplus "juice" that they're bottling under their own name.  The earlier post was more accurate in that they've copied his "recipe," but even that's an imperfect analogy, because that assumes that the builder has no role as long as the right "ingredients" are used, a proposition which I reject, at least in the context of guitars.  If Tim builds it, it's a Scheerhorn; if he doesn't, it ain't. (I realize that's probably not going to be a popular opinion, but there you go.) 

Having said that, however, the new National resos are great guitars; I've played them.  Value-wise, I agree with you that the Nationals are bargains at $2600 and the older Scheerhorn for $7,000 may be over-priced in comparison.  However, if I had $2600 and wanted a reso, I'd go to a smaller builder rather than order a production guitar.  I have two Wolfes, both of which I prefer over any of the new Nationals I played, and both priced roughly the same.  There are also other guitars in this price range which I also think are at least as good as the Nati-whatevers.     


MarkinSonoma's picture

Good luck with that, Knoxville guy who is thinning the "heard." Maybe that's a play on words. Wink

As far as the wood, the earliest maple Nati-horns didn't quite have the vibrant sunburst that we're used to in some of the Tim'horn maples, but Eric Smith of National got on here one day in the long thread and said they were refining the look. As far as wood selection period, if you go to any of the tonewood purveyors, most flamed maple and mahogany sets are relatively speaking not very expensive. There isn't any reason not to have killer looking wood in those models. 

Even at that, mahogany on guitars except for the rare and exotic sinker stuff and the like, has never displayed huge character.

I don't know if a picture is worth a thousand words or not, but on my screen this Nati-horn that went out the door in late April has some fine looking mahogany.




bozabus's picture

I own a mahog Nati-horn.  I love it. For me, it's good enough.  I also own a factory Collings HD2.  That's a factory guitar too.  For me, it's good enough.  I also have a Loar period snakehead A mando.  That's a factory instrument too.  These all work well for me.  I am VERY happy with these instruments.  I could have paid $7k or more for a Tim-built reso.  But to be honest, I probably couldn't tell the difference.  Esp when you have so many variables.  Since I play out a lot, I'd rather not have to take such an expensive axe to a gig.  This way, I have a great axe with less theft liability.  

I know a lot of you guys are total pros and feel you need the slight advantage.  The quest for good tone grips all of us.  If you feel you need a Tim made 'horn, I say go for it.   And the good news is I won't be competing with you as a bidder when one comes up for sale.  'Cuz I'm totally content with what Eric and Tim have made for me.  I totally love my Nati-horn.  


Thanks to Mark E for encouraging me to consider getting the N-H.  I greatly appreciate it. 

MarkinSonoma's picture

I like to think I helped influence bozabus (Tom) to pull the trigger on his Nati-horn. He queried me some time back about the Nati-horns. I only regret I couldn't join him in placing an order for myself! 

Melman, I never claimed my wine analogy to be a direct correlation if you read my post. It was sort of in the ballpark, but Lakeview asked so I came up with something that more or less related to it. 

It's late so I won't get into it tonight but over the years I have become more and more convinced that the old axiom that if a person is an accomplsihed luthier,  a one man operation always trumps a "factory" guitar operation is not necessarily true, I've seen too many exceptions. 

Perhaps the most "Holy Grail" of all acoustic guitars are some of the pre-war Martins. That company hasn't been a one man operation since C.F. Martin  started it in 1833 in New York City and five years later he "pulled into Nazareth" Pennsylvania and expanded the business.

As far as whether or not these new 'horns are the real deal, go back and read the long National Scheerhorn thread. Players who are 'horn customers that know Tim much better than I do have commented in their conversations with Tim that he has been very pleased with the results and has even made comments like "these are Scheerhorns."  The cynical among us might think he's blowing smoke, that it's the entrepreneur in him. My gut tells me that isn't the case.  

When does an operation with employees become a "factory?" I thnk Natonal Reso-Phonic has maybe 20 employees.  I think of factories as businesses where there are many dozens to hundreds to even thousands of employees. 

Paul Beard I believe has about  five employees. Does this make his guitars automatically not quite up to the level of the one man shops because doesn't perform every single operation on a guitar from start-to-finish? 

I'll sleep on it, to be continued...

chuck hall's picture

That Horn on craigslist is also for sale on The Reso-Hangout, it's Matt Leadbetter's. I wonder if he's keeping the Nati-horn.

daver's picture

The maple National Scheerhorn guitars I've seen have quite nice figure.  The difference is that Tim hand rubs aniline dye stains to get his maple sunbursts, then clear nitrocellulose lacquer, leaving a deep almost "fiery" look to them.  National uses shaded lacquer toners which give a more opaque look to the sunburst.  Tim's process is fine for one-at-a-time guitars but is harder to do for "production" instruments.  Both are nice; I prefer the hand-applied stain look.  However, if I were in the market right now (I'm not), it would be hard for me to justify a $7000 upcharge (from National maple to Wish List maple) for the finish alone.

That said, a master instrument is the result of great design, fine materials, and doing hundreds of minute operations to perfection.  The Wish List guitars are master instruments.  I drive (and play) "Hondas".  Some drive (and play) "Maseratis".  Good thing there are so many choices at so many quality levels!



Inveterate Tinkerer

User login