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Luthier Focus: Julian Gaffney

In this week’s luthier focus we are looking at Julian Gaffney Guitars. We are delighted to have been representing Julian and his outstanding guitars since 2016.

Here is a 'Talking Guitar Session we did with Julian back in 2016:


Julian had always loved acoustic guitars and driven by this passion he began his guitar making path by attending the Galloup School of Lutherie in Big Rapids, Michigan. Following this he moved back home to New York and worked for Roger Sadowsky Guitars for about seven and a half years, where he learnt many of his skills and his passion continued to grow. Julian then contacted Ervin Somogyi, known as the godfather of modern lutherie, with the intention of next working with him.

Ervin Somogyi is known for training and mentoring a large number of word leading luthiers and is incredibly selective about his apprentices. On arriving at the Somogyi workshop Julian was greeted with the task of whittling a misshapen block of mahogany into a perfect cube, using nothing but hand tools. This tested his woodworking ability; problem solving skills and gave Ervin the opportunity to asses him. Julian passed the test and continued into a very successful apprenticeship. During his time there he got the opportunity to work and learn almost the entirety of the lutherie process; bracing tops, carving necks, setting up guitars and everything in-between, besides from voicing the guitars which was always Ervin’s role. As well as this, he got to work alongside other apprentices, who are now also successful master luthiers.

"One of the beauties of the Somogyi Apprenticeship is the camaraderie between the Senior and Junior apprentice. I count myself very fortunate to have apprenticed alongside Julian, I would not be the maker I am without him. During the two years we worked together we really pushed each other to be the best makers we could be and the skills and techniques I picked up from him, I continue to employ today. Julian is a Luthier very much in love with his craft and it shows in his obsession with every process, detail, piece of wood and ultimately in the sound of his gorgeous guitars." - Tom Sands

Following the apprenticeship and developing Gaffney Guitars, Julian continued to take a lot of inspiration from Ervin’s work, yet takes his instruments in a totally personal direction. He continues to create unique, varied and innovative guitars with the goal being to keep changing and evolving these designs and processes.
As many would say, the sound of a Somogyi guitar is unlike any heard before. Having worked so closely with Ervin it is understandable that this is the standard that Julian aims for within Gaffney Guitars, but by creating this through his individual means.

"I've trained quite a few apprentice luthiers by now. While it is impolitic to publicly favour one over any others, I do think that Julian Gaffney is one of the more promising ones. I consider it important to encourage individuals to find their own style, look, and "voice" of guitars. I've never been particularly interested in teaching anyone to turn out copies of Somogyi guitars; rather, I want them to learn the principles (aesthetic, structural, and tonal) of good guitar making and run with them. Julian, I think, is doing that rather well." - Ervin Somogyi

Julian Gaffney sets himself with the challenge of being able to make consistent instruments, regardless of the shapes or materials, knowing the importance of a balanced instruments regardless of styles and playing techniques. Having said this, Julian does preference rosewoods, as these beautiful tonewoods simply serve their purpose perfectly, taking a particular liking to Cocobolo.

Guitar Models

Modified Dreadnought
This is a big body guitar, yet with a shifted waist to make it more comfortable. This is the largest guitar which Julian offers and is patterened from the model of the same name by Ervin Somogyi. The modified dreadnought was conceived as a more ergonomic dreadnought with a shifted waist and a wider fingerboard. In addition to this added comfort it is engineered to be loud and present with a commanding bass response and thick, full trebles.

Orchestra Model
The Orchestra Model is a versatile medium sized guitar with wonderful lines and curves and a rich voice. The OM is perfectly suited for finger style playing but is equally at home in all musical genres. Gaffney’s OM model is patterned off of a 1930’s Martin OM which came into Roger Sadowsky’s shop whilst he was working there. This design is smaller than the Somogyi OM, with a tighter waist and balanced tone. This is Julian’s favourite of the models he offers

Here is a phenomenal TNAG session with James Cole and Jess Harwood singing an original piece 'Mia's Song'. James is playing a Gaffney MD Cutaway in Sapele:

We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of two new Gaffney Guitars into the TNAG showroom later this year:

Gaffney Modified Dreadnought Cutaway Acoustic Guitar, Cocobolo & Figured German Spruce - £12,995

To say we are excited to have not one but two Gaffney Guitars incoming to The North American Guitar Showroom this year is an understatement. Julian is one of the most requested young luthiers on our books delivering exceptional instruments with a rich and full voice. Having seen a few sneak previews already we just know this Gaffney Modified Dreadnought Cutaway in Cocobolo and Figured German Spruce is going to set the guitar community alight!

And the good news is there is not that long to wait, with a delivery date of November / December 2019.

Model/#: MD/22
Back & Sides Cocobolo
Top Figured German Spruce
Fingerboard Ebony
Binding Ebony
Inlays Segmented Amboyna Rosette
Back of Neck Inlay
Fret Markers Gold 18k
Deconstruced Block Inlay
Tuners Gotoh
Bridge Ebony
Extras EVO Gold Fretwire
French Polish Face

Gaffney OM Cutaway Acoustic Guitar, Palo Escrito & Swiss Moon Spruce - £12,995

We are huge fans of Julian's OM having already delivered several to TNAG clients over the past few years. They offer a wide dynamic range and are incredibly versatile all rounder instruments. This beautiful OM Cutaway in Palo Escrito and Swiss Moon Spruce is going be a real show stopper offering a lot of shimmer in the highs and plenty of depth in the mids and low end.

This guitar also has a delivery date of November / December 2019.

  • Model/#: OM/27
  • Back & Sides Palo Escrito
  • Top Swiss Moon Spruce
  • Fingerboard Ebony
  • Binding Ebony
  • Inlays Segmented Abalone Rosette
  • Abalone Peghead Inlay
  • Fret Markers Silver
  • Tuners Gotoh
  • Bridge Ebony
  • Extras Tapered Backstrip
  • French Polish Face
  • Cutaway

To find out more information about Julian Gaffney, please get in contact by emailing or calling 020 7835 5597.

Have a great weekend and play lots of guitar!

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