Luthier Focus: Michael Greenfield
"My name is Michael Greenfield and I am passionate about tone. Great tone. FAT tone. I believe in squeezing every last molecule of tone out of my guitars…." Michael Greenfield
In this week's Luthier Focus, we dive into the world of a true master of craft Michael Greenfield of Greenfield Guitars. Taking an in-depth look into his never-ending search for tonal magnificence, we focus on the history of the man behind the guitars, the artists that play that play them, his stunning designs and what we have incoming for 2019...
Michael is without a doubt one of the most dedicated individuals I have ever had the honour of meeting and knowing, his vision for crafting extraordinary musical instruments and squeezing every last drop of tone out of a set of wood is something that blows my mind every time I play one of his guitars. Whether you are a strummer, a singer-songwriter, a bluegrass player, a blues player or a fingerstyle aficionado, Greenfield Guitars will take your music to the next dimension! Michael's continuous search for the tonal magnificence is a never-ending process, and he still spends hours researching the history, mechanics, dynamics, and physics of the guitar in order to cultivate a deeper understanding of what makes it work and how he can continue to advance his instruments.
“While playing music professionally in the 1970s, I began setting up and repairing electric guitars. By the 1990s, this evolved into a career repairing and restoring vintage and antique guitars. Having had the opportunity to examine so many of those iconic pre-war and early 20th century instruments was an invaluable education. I was able to examine, measure, play and HEAR those wonderful guitars!! It also pointed out the issues that typically need service down the road, which I attempt to engineer out of my own instruments. Maintaining the guitars of so many musicians nurtured my understanding of how to address the needs of players with varied repertoire, styles and musical needs. I bring all of this to my craft and my current work. My goal is that you are not just satisfied but THRILLED with your new guitar...” Michael Greenfield
Greenfield Guitars HQ - aka 'The Woodnest'
Having experienced The Woodnest first hand, I very quickly learned that Michael Greenfield is no ordinary luthier and his HQ is no ordinary workshop. From 80 years sets of Cocobolo to master grade sets of 'The Tree' Mahogany (that would bring tears to any man's eyes), Michael has made it his mission (and passion) to travel the world only sourcing the most desirable tonewoods available, all sourced with the utmost responsibility. All woods at The Woodnest are meticulously filed, labeled and stored in a perfect humidity controlled environment.
"There are no bad woods here at The Woodnest" Michael Greenfield
Greenfield 'The Tree' Mahogany
Greenfield Amazon Rosewood
Greenfield Figured Mahogany
Playing a Greenfield guitar for the first time is an eye-opening experience. These are incredibly responsive instruments with a huge useable dynamic range. The immediate attack of each initial note retains its clarity and power as a wave of beautiful sustained sub and overtones rises up seemingly out of nowhere. The trebles are fat and rich, and even past the body join the guitar’s voice retains its power.
Explosive with a pick, rich and subtle for fingerstyle and unsurpassed when it comes to contemporary acoustic techniques Greenfield guitars represent the pinnacle of the steelstring luthier’s art form...
The Greenfield G1
Slightly larger than an OM, this is an extremely versatile grand concert size guitar.
The G1 is quick to respond to even the lightest touch and it lends itself well to many different styles of music. It has a very focused yet open sound with a tight responsive bass, transparent mids and thick, clear, ringing highs. While primarily a fingerstyle guitar, it is also superb for light strumming, acoustic jazz and even classical repertoire.
Scale length: 25.4″
Body length: 19.5”
Lower bout: 15.375”
Upper bout: 11.5”
Overall length: 40″
One of the fastest selling guitars in the history of The North American Guitar this stunning Greenfield G1.2 in African Blackwood and Moon Spruce (pictured above), the G1 has always been a personal favourite of ours. As with all of Michael's guitars it is versatile and can take pretty much anything you throw at it, but the G1 has a sensitivity to it that all who play them find mesmerising. Even with the lightest of touches, this guitar will fill a room. The G1 is best known as the go-to cannon for the likes of guitar aficionado Tony McManus.
In Michael's own words "It is an incredibly responsive instrument that lends itself to many different styles of music. Its light touch gives a very focused and open sound with a very snappy bass and choir-esque trebles. While primarily a fingerstyle guitar, it is also superb for light strumming, acoustic jazz and classical repertoires".
Here is one of our favourite videos by Tony McManus on his Greenfield G1.2 multi-scale acoustic guitar.
The Greenfield G2
The G2 is a great all-around instrument and will easily lend itself to any musical style.
With a longer body, tight waist and round shoulders, this guitar still sits comfortably in your lap. The longer scale length makes it a great instrument for contemporary finger-style players with more aggressive, percussive styles and for those who use alternate and dropped tunings. The G2 is a canon for flat pickers and singer-songwriters. Able to handle strong picking/strumming styles, the sound will fill an auditorium; yet it’s still so amazingly sensitive it will respond to the lightest touch.
Scale: 655 mm (25.78″)
Body length: 20”
Lower bout: 16.125
Upper bout: 12.125”
Overall length: 40.875”
The sensational Brooke Miller and her Sitka/Indian Rosewood G2:
The Greenfield G3
The classical inspired body shape makes it more versatile and lends itself better to a wider variety of musical styles than traditional parlor guitars do.
This small body, concert size guitar is slightly larger than the old pre-war 00 size parlour guitars. The classical inspired body shape makes it more versatile and lends itself better to a wider variety of musical styles than traditional parlour guitars do.
The G3 is a lot of fun to play and has beautiful clear highs, yet a surprisingly present bass response for such a small-bodied instrument.
13-frets clear of the body.
Not available with cutaway.
Scale length: 25.0″
Nut width: 1 7/8″ or 1 13/16″
Body length: 19 1/4″
Lower bout: 14 3/4″
Upper bout: 11″
Depth: 4 1/8″
Overall length: 38″
The mighty Pipo Romero on his Greenfield G3 Fan Fret.
The Greenfield G4
Perfect for many of today’s percussive, fingerstyle players, the G4 has a punchy bottom end and great definition across the tonal/harmonic spectrum. This is a large body, 17” instrument.
Picking up the Greenfield G4 Fan Fret in African Blackwood (pictured above) for the first time was an overwhelming and truly humbling experience that I shall never forget. Aside from it being one of, if not the most beautiful instrument I had ever seen, the sound, projection and tonal complexity it delivered set the bar as high as it can go! Little wonder it is the signature instrument for the likes of the great Andy Mckee.
We had the privilege and honour to bring in the first G4 into the UK and since that day it has not been the last! Reviewed by Acoustic Magazine the day she arrived and hail as "It's the Holy Grail, the guitar of the gods, an otherworldly music-making machine", receiving a staggering 10/10. We're so proud of this we have it framed and hanging on the TNAG wall as you enter the showroom.
Another direction for this versatile instrument: if strung with .014” - .064”, the G4 can also fill in the gap between conventional and baritone guitars (C to C). This guitar is a powerhouse!
- Scale length: 660 mm (26″)
- Body length: 20 3/4″
- Lower bout: 17″
- Upper bout: 12 3/4″
The Greenfield G5
A soprano or Terz guitar. A fantastic addition to anyone’s collection. Wonderful for layered tracks in recordings and live performance.
Back in October 2016, we took a trip out to California for the Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration. This was the first time we had seen Greenfield Guitars' G5 model (or as Michael Greenfield likes to call it, the mini or wee G) and we quickly realised we just HAD to bring one to TNAG! Since then we have seen several ordered and have another incoming into The North American Guitar showroom in 2019.
The G5 soprano guitar is a real masterpiece, just like every Greenfield guitar. This model was designed by Michael specifically for his singer-songwriter and fingerstyle player customers, who spend a lot of their time with a capo around the 5th fret. The tuning is based on standard tuning at the 5th fret A to A and is basically the parallel opposite to a baritone instrument guitar down five frets to B to B.
Due to its small size, the G5 has also been used by many of Michael's clients as the perfect travel guitar as it can easily be carried on as hand luggage.
"It is the perfect recording instrument, as well as for home playing. Great for layering different voices bringing different colours to the pallet you wouldn't find on a regular guitar," Michael Greenfield.
Inspired by the C.F. Martin size 5 from the turn of the last century. Great for fingerstyle players as well as singer-songwriters who like to play capoed at the 5th fret or higher. Because of its very small body size, the G5’s voice brings an exciting timbre to your music!
The G5 is a lot of fun to play and has beautiful clear highs, yet a surprisingly present bass response for such a small-bodied instrument. Some enjoy it as a travel guitar.
12-frets clear of the body.
Not available with cutaway.
Scaled to be tuned A-A with light guage strings
Nut width: 1 11/16“
Body length: 16″
Lower bout: 11 1/2“
Upper bout: 8 1/8“
Depth 3 3/4“
The Greenfield GF
The GF is the essential Greenfield Guitar. Discreetly priced, options are limited. The GF is fashioned with elegant, understated appointments and delivers that legendary, piano-like Greenfield tone.
Hugely popular this year, the Greenfield GF is perfect for the player wanting to enter the world of Greenfield Guitars for the first time. An incredibly responsive and articulate guitar, with clean and clear trebles, and a warmth and depth that can only come from a the master hand of Michael Greenfield.
The GF model is built on my G1 body with its own unique parameters. It has a more open, traditional voice than my lattice braced guitars. It is perfect for the aficionado who appreciates a performance-level instrument without the more ornate appointments and complex options available on my other models.
Scale length: 650mm
Body length: 19.5”
Lower bout: 15.375”
Upper bout: 11.5”
Overall length: 40″
The one and only Stuart Ryan playing our last GF in Figured Mahogany...
In short, Michael handcrafts bespoke guitars for those who wish to experience the exhilaration of playing a truly responsive instrument, fashioned to the highest standard.
Incoming Greenfield Guitars:
Greenfield G5 East Indian Rosewood & Sitka Spruce
This guitar is currently being built and is available for pre-order. Payment will be taken now and we will get in touch when the guitar is ready to be shipped.