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Larry Clyman's Story
(reprinted from Larry's posts in AcousticGuitarForum.com)

Part 2

I decided to first investigate what Howard Klepper (HK) guitars were available. I visited Howard's website (http://www.klepperguitars.com/) and quickly discovered that he didn’t currently have any guitars available directly from him. After a Google search as far as I could tell there were only 2 places I could find any of his instruments. One of them was Eric Schoenberg's shop, where I played 2 of his guitars. They were both wonderful looking, sounding, and playing instruments but they were both 12 fret designs. I knew from personal experience that as much as I love the 12 fret sound I would need a cutaway to allow me comfortable access to the upper frets in order for that body style to work for me..

The other available HK guitar was for sale at fineguitarconsultants.com (http://www.fineguitarconsultants.com/products/41) and is a top of the line, no holds barred model, but again a 12 fret design. A pattern was clearly emerging here...and the likelihood of me finding a used HK guitar that wasn't a 12 fret non-cutaway seemed very low. So, short of commissioning one directly from him (which maybe I can do some day) I decided to place another favorite builder on temporary hold...

OK..that left Bruce Sexauer. I left Bruce for last because honestly he was never really on my radar...not because I didn't like his guitars..clearly I did...but in retrospect I think it was the manner in which I experienced one of the most impressive guitars of my Bay area trip.

The Schoenberg/Sexauer 000 guitar, (link provided in the first post of this thread), was brought out to me only at the very end of my visit to Eric Schoenberg's shop...I had already played a whole lot of high grade guitars and was getting ready to call it a day. I then asked James (Eric's assistant at the store) if there was anything else he thought I should try. He said, as a matter of fact there was. Bruce Sexauer had just delivered a brand new build that he really liked...so new in fact that it still wasn't listed on the website.

He went to the back of the store and pulled out a very nice guitar case, placed it on the table and opened it up. The first thing that hit me was the smell...it was that new guitar aroma...it literally smelled like it had just come out of the wood shop...which it probably did. James handed it to me...it was very lightweight but seemed to balance perfectly in my hands...I began to play it...and the sound was just so big and clear..I was actually a little overwhelmed by the nature of it...and it resonated in a way that suggested all the notes were very eager and ready to pop out as soon as they were summoned...

I stopped for a moment and took a breath..and then looked a little closer at the woods. The top was clearly some sort of beautifully grained spruce...European spruce as it turned out...and the back had this pleasingly shiny orange-reddish hue to it that I had never seen before. James said the back and sides were made of Pernambuco, a rare wood from Brazil that is best known for making violin bows. The overall look was very clean, and elegantly spare. No fancy inlay or elaborate rosettes or wood highlights...but in your hands it unquestionably exuded quality..

I played it for a while longer and then handed it back to James. I asked him what the price was and sure enough it was the highest priced guitar I had played up to that point. I remember my reaction well…I felt that this guitar and builder were just out of my league...the price being one factor…but maybe more so was a sense that this builders' guitars are as good as they get...and I was not prepared to think that I was ready for that level of instrument. As good as many of the other guitars I played that day and on subsequent days were, none of them felt beyond me, but for some reason this Bruce Sexauer built Schoenberg branded instrument did.

I handed the guitar back to James, thanked him for all his help and assistance, put on my jacket and left to go catch the ferry back to San Francisco. Little did I know how much of a seed had been planted in my sonically saturated brain...!

Copyright Larry Clyman 2010

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