Kenny Hill Shop Tour

Kenny Hill Shop Tour

Feb 15th 2014

From day one of my association with Hill Guitar company I've admired both Kenny Hill's lutherie skills and business acumen. I was fortunate enough to be able to arrange a visit to Kenny's workshop in Ben Lomond, California in 2014 to talk to the master luthier. The content is just as relevant today as it was back then, so I decided to re-post it on my Marfione Guitars website. Kenny gave me a look behind the scenes of the Hill Guitar Company and he generously shared his thoughts and insights as well as some of his techniques that go into creating the characteristic “Kenny Hill sound”.

kenny hill shop tour part I

Kenny Hill Shop Tour Part I

0:00 Shop Intro
0:20 Intro to Kenny Hill’s Shop
0:53 The Kenny Hill Soundboard Process 
0:58 Two-Layer Soundboard (Spruce on the Outside, Cedar on the Inside)
1:08 Bracing Is Assembled Separately
1:17 Then Glued Into Place with a Vacuum Bag
1:27 Go-Bar Deck (A Clamping Device That’s Spring Loaded)
1:49 Cross-bracing Explained
1:56 After the Clamping Process You Use a Plane and Chisels to Shape and Voice the Braces
2:01 The Kenny Hill Arching Process for the Solid Top
2:48 The Characteristic Kenny Hill Sound
5:17 The Kenny Hill Porting System 
10:04 The Top-Building Process Double Top and Solid Top

Kenny Hill Shop Tour Part II

0:00 Shop Intro
0:19 The Elevated Fingerboard Process
1:39 The Performance Model Neck
2:15 The Subassembly of the Neck and Headstock
3:15 The Final Dimensions Discussed
3:40 Kenny Hill Talks About the Playability of the Guitar
5:30 Luthier at Work
6:00 This Is Where the Real Skill Comes In
6:44 The “Mexican-Style Knife” and 19th Century Guitar Building Techniques
8:30 Kenny Hill Explains Neck Relief and Fingerboard Considerations
9:10 Chuck Asks Kenny Hill About His “Strings-Down” Approach to Building
12:15 Checking the Bridge Height

Kenny Hill Shop Tour Part III

0:00 Shop Intro
0:19 Kenny and Chuck Discuss French Polish Considerations
5:16 Kenny Displays a Guitar After the French Polish Process
5:44 The Final Stages of the Set Up Process
8:44 Kenny Looks for a Finished Guitar
9:12 Discussion About Saddle, Nut and Intonation
12:42 Kenny Demonstrates Adjusting the Nut Height
14:00 Chuck and Kenny Wrap Up Discussing the Guitar’s Playability
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