Nowadays, we’ve become quite adept at ‘hand-assembling’ guitars from well-designed pre-made parts, I’ve come from cutting almost everything with my own hands, to writing ever-more-expert CAD-files (Computer-Assisted-Drawing) and translating those into specific codes for automated routers (CNC, or Computer-Numerical-Cutting) and thusly, who-ever has those written-by-me files can make a ‘Teye’-guitar.
However, it remains patch-work. There is a general design behind my instruments, and the majority of this is very unlike the ‘usual’ ‘standard’ ‘vintage’ designs, so that not everybody is capable of putting the emphasis where the design demands it, simply because they do not know the design like I do.

My most recent guitar incorporates all of my changes/improvements/latest designs. I am a very active guitar builder and am improving my craft all the time. My 2020 Gypsy Troubadour stands head-and-shoulders above ‘the pack’. Recently the owner of a ‘Teye Apache’ guitar purchased my own 2010 ‘Master’ La Llama. His reaction was: “You haven’t said a word too much, she is unbelievable!” But, I am replacing that guitar with an even better one, with again new small changes (the devil is in the details)

They call that I believe: “The MAGIC of Compound Improvement”.

I want to show you here how exactly my shop, and my process of making the guitars developed from pre-drilling cavities in bodies with Fostner-bits and cleaning up with a hand-router, dome-sanding bodies with a palm sander, cutting aluminum parts with a Dremel… To eventually routing bodies and necks on a budget router, to eventually farming that out to the guys with the $300,000 CNC-routers, Thank God I met a very passionate professional in Steve Jonas, who took a real liking to my guitars, and cuts parts with an obsession for perfection in look feel and sound that rivals my own! Any small change or correction that I suggest to make the end result better, he uncomplainingly and enthusiastically implements. You must realize what a pleasure it is in this hard-to-put-in-words TONE-world, to be collaborating with that rare human being: a total cool professional and yet someone who shares the passion for not just the instrument, but also the music that it makes!

I started out personally spending a day at the sawmill, hand-selecting planks based on weight and resonance. Nowadays I don’t even see the production-guitars, ever. EXCEPT of course the Master guitars, which I build and which literally carry my sweat (and sometimes my blood and my tears)

This photo collection is for you to enjoy, and to marvel at under what circumstances some fantastic guitars were made, all in the USA, providing many families with food on the table, and following a lifelong passion.

My jig to get the neck pocket at the correct angle every time
The bottom 2×2 acts as a stop: once I hit that, the bottom of the neck pocket is done
Gluing in the sound chamber cover, one guitar at a time (for lack of clamps?)
The ‘rotisserie’ to apply the shipwreck and the luthiers oil. This is 2006. We’re in 2020 now and I just installed one in my Sevilla shop. Not much has changed. And I still store my amps underneath my workbenches
Hand-cut, hand-engraved aluminum plates
Jason Lollar actually told me to go with water-cutting instead
This was neither fun, nor the best way. Nowadays I have this done by an expert machine shop
Pre-drilling with my very first Ryobi drill press (which is still functionning in the Nashville shop. And I just installed a new Ryobi in my Master-shop in Spain)
Then cleaning up the cavities by hand-router
Took me about 4 passes to do all of the body depth
With all cavities cut, time to cut the body profile. Yes, I did cut the first ones with a SCROLL SAW (2″ thick Mahogany) Well, it was what I had…
Big move upward! A shop where I can stand up in!!
Using a mike stand to get the vacuum cleaner where I need it most
Making a jig to duplicate my favorite neck. A sort of very primitive CNC?
Shaping and doming by hand
My collection of body jigs. My most prized posessions?
The first Mood-circuitry
Put into a soda bottle cap, black-epoxied against prying eyes. I STILL do it this way.
Hand-mosaicing: means exactly that, and it still does
Binding the binding
Switching to mass-production đŸ¤ª
Me in my little world – absolutely nothing has changed (well, the zip code)
And then the enormous shop in the back of my yard in Manor, Texas (2008 – 2015)
Hand-piecing together the Nautilus
And the Cordoba
And then moving the entire shop out of my back yard in Texas

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to Nashville where now the production facility is

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While I’ve made another back-yard shop just outside of Sevilla, Spain
Still hand-routing?!? Yes, where needed. I HAVE a router and not forgotten how to.
The Spirit of John to guide all drilling: I’m seriously happy to have a drill press in my shop once again!
This is also where I’ve developed the new Ju Ju Command circuitry which is the next step up in the Mood – MOJO story. I’m very excited about this one! The green cap houses the current MOJO; the 2 yellow caps taped together in pink: the new Ju Ju circuitry, quite more elaborate altho it sounds less filtered than MOJO.
My just-completed 2020 version of my 2006-‘RĂ´tisserie’
Where I make my guitars like in the old days, and where ‘hand-mosaic’ means exactly that. Due to my inlay laser-cut company not being allowed to work during the Covid19 I had to cut all those ebony pieces by hand to fit the aluminum plate.