Departures Magazine March 2010
A nice article by Evan McGlinn was published in Departures Magazine about Walker Guitars. Departures is the magazine for American Express Platinum cardholders. There is an online version of this article which you can access here. The hardcopy has some nice pictures also.
Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine
John Thomas wrote an article entitled Guitars with Real Soul: The Work of Luthier Kim Walker, which appeared in the #49 issue of Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine. I have reprinted that here, with permission. Thank you John and thanks to the folks at Fingerstyle Guitar!
Acoustic Guitar Magazine
The March 2003 No. 123 issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine, titled Dream Guitars, mentions Walker Guitars! The lead feature article, titled The Guitar of a Lifetime by Steven Stone, was written after interviewing five solo custom guitar makers, one of whom is yours truly! They included five of my photographs! Check it out.
Kim Walker may be the quiet type, but we sure get vocal every time one of his instruments passes though our door. This one is no exception. It would probably be cliché to say that the Model B Special plays great, sounds like a Hammond B3 organ, and is finished fast like fine Scotch. Well, it is all that, but let’s try to take another stab at it. This guitar personifies the ideal 14-fret fingerstyle guitar: sweet tone, great separation, awesome projection, wonderful action, and is responsive to even the slightest nuance of attack. It feels good to hold—and to behold. This guitar is a beauty.
More specifically, the guitar features a select Sitka spruce top, Indian rosewood back and sides, and rosewood body binding. Curly maple rounds out the aesthetic details of the purfling and rosette. Priced at $3,995, it’s finished in gloss varnish, which imparts a warm glow, recalling the vintage pre-war Martins that inspire this maker. Walker also extends a lifetime warranty, but a word of caution is in order. If you land one of these instruments, you run the risk of stealing away so much time with it that your spouse may become jealous. And while Kim Walker’s guitars may bring out the best in your playing, they do not necessarily promote domestic harmony!
For more information on Kim Walker, check out his feature in Fingerstyle Guitar No. 29.
A Flatpicker’s Delight: Kim Walker Style C Deluxe Dreadnought
As a flatpicker, I wasn’t familiar with the work of Kim Walker until my friend Kim Sherman of Cotten Music in Nashville, TN introduced me to one of his guitars early last year. It was a 000-12 fret mahogany/German spruce guitar with a 1 3/4″ nut and a through saddle (I love wide necks and through saddles). I was instantly smitten with this little guitar, but felt the German spruce wasn’t quite the sound I was looking for in a small bodied flatpicking guitar. I’m a big fan of Adirondack for guitar tops. However, it was perfect for fingerstyle playing! The 000-12 fret was extremely comfortable to play, had great dynamic range AND its sound was full and rich with clarity (some folks call this brightness). A mahogany/Adirondack 000-12 fret would make a great little flatpicking guitar! But, this review isn’t about the 000-12…
Over the past year I’ve made a point of playing as many Walker guitars as possible. Currently, I’ve played two mahogany/German spruce 000-12’s, one jaguar claw mahogany/Adirondack 000-12 fret, one Indian/Sitka OM, one jaguar claw mahogany/bear claw Sitka 0-18, one maple/Adirondack L-00 ( I bet you didn’t think maple and Adirondack would work, but it does), one Brazilian/Adirondack dreadnought, and last, but certainly not least, one ribbon-grained mahogany/Adirondack dreadnought. Please don’t ask me to pick one of the above guitars as my favorite because they are all wonderful instruments; indeed they are among my favorite guitars.
Recently, it was my distinct pleasure to play a Walker ribbon-grained mahogany/Adirondack dreadnought (serial number 111). I spent an afternoon reveling in its wonderful sound. The instrument easily fit into a jam of “Soldier’s Joy”, “The Red Haired Boy”, and “Whiskey Before Breakfast” as well as a couple of choruses of “Summertime”. It also sounds great played fingerstyle. This is an extremely versatile guitar. I would order one of these, but I already have a Walker jaguar claw mahogany/Adirondack 000-12 fret on order for my small bodied flatpicking guitar (oops, I hope my wife isn’t reading this! ).
This guitar was originally ordered in 1998 by Ms. Sherman as a custom configured instrument. Except for the addition of Adirondack, this configuration has since become a standard Walker model.
The top is medium grained, stiff Adirondack. The top has a slight tint from the gloss varnish finish and looks beautiful. It has tortoise shell grained plastic binding with fine line curly maple and black lined purfling. The pickguard is a brownish tortoise traditional style design. The rosette is made from lines of curly maple with black and white wood strips and it is understated and elegant. The ebony bridge has a bone drop-in saddle with ebony bridge pins with mother of pearl dots. The intonation is spot on.
The back and sides are made from stiff ribbon-grained mahogany. The book-matched back has a black center seam strip. The end pin is ebony (as is the end pin strip).
The scale is 25.5″ and the nut width is 1.75″. The neck is made from mahogany with an ebony fingerboard and graduated dots at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 12th and 15th frets. There is no volute, which is typical of D-18 style instruments. The neck shape is a slight “V”, but not as sharp as a vintage “V” shaped neck and felt quite comfortable. The gold foil Walker logo is on an ebony peghead overlay. I’m told that the Walker logo is now mother of pearl script which is very beautiful. The case is a Harptone deluxe hard-shell case.
What about the sound you ask? Well, it has depth and clarity with enough volume to compete in a jam, yet it also sounds great played solo. You can flatpick Norman Blake style tunes on it as well as practice your Parking Lot picker tunes and jazz standards.
Two “Picks” up for this wonderful guitar! My personal opinion is that Kim Walker is one of the best single luthier builders out there today and his guitars will become more popular among flatpickers.
I can’t wait for my little 000-12 fret flatpicking guitar to arrive! I’m confident it will be a great companion to my two Collings Clarence White guitars (a CW-28 and a CW-18) and my Collings mahogany/Adirondack CJ.
I’d like to thank Ms. Kim Sherman for allowing me to spend an afternoon playing this wonderful instrument during a very busy NAMM weekend.
Kim Walker lives in North Stonington, CT and can be reached at 860-599-1907. His web site URL is http://www.walkerguitars.com