Talking Guitar: The sensational Isaac Jang...
In this weeks talking guitar interview we managed to grab five minutes with the one and only Isaac Jang. One of the most humble (and nicest) human beings I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and knowing, Isaac is taking the guitar world by storm one guitar at a time!
Isaac joined us here at The North American Guitar in 2018, but we have been following and admiring his work for many years. With an order book already filled until 2021, he is build utterly superb guitars that will take your breath away both visual and sonically. Isaac's instruments have a rich and full voice, with a traditional character, combined with a stunning aesthetic and sense of line, creating what can only be described as one of the finest contemporary guitars on the market.
We hope you enjoy the interview below...I know we did!
BM: Isaac, so good to finally catch up with you! What an amazing couple of
years it has been! Tell us what you have been up to?
IJ: Hi Ben! Yes, it is so nice to catch up with you, and thank you for taking time to
chat! It has been incredible couple of years already working with you, and
TNAG team to represent my guitars in the U.K., and other parts of the world!
After Winter NAMM 2019, I had been back in the shop catching up with my
orders, and preparing for Sound Messe in Osaka, Japan.
BM: Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your journey as a
IJ: My name is Isaac Jang, and I am a guitar maker based in Los Angeles,
California. I started playing guitar when I was 14, and growing up listening to
Tommy Emmanuel, I fell in love with the sound of acoustic guitar. The curiosity
of the sound of acoustic guitar led me to study at Galloup School of Lutherie,
followed by apprenticeship with incredible Kathy Wingert. After finishing 10-
year apprenticeship with Kathy, I have been building steel string acoustic guitars
under my name in my small workshop in heart of Hollywood.
BM: Magazines, customers and players all over the world are raving about
your phenomenal guitars. How does it feel to be so in demand and spoken of
so highly, in a relatively short period of time since you launched your guitar
IJ: Thank you for your kind words Ben! I have been incredibly overwhelmed, and
grateful for all the love! More so, I receive it as an encouragement to stay
focused, grounded, and be inspired to build better guitar each time.
BM: How would you describe the Isaac Jang sound?
IJ: I like the sound of old Martins, and Gibsons. Although I wouldn’t describe my
guitars as vintage-like sounding instruments, there is a common characteristic
that I pursue in my instruments that I find in old Martins, and Gibsons. It is
liveliness of an instrument. When a player plucks, or strums a chord on my
guitar, I want him/her to feel the whole instrument at his/her body, and
experience the connection between player and instrument. In terms of actual
sound quality, I aim for clear fundamentals that are coated with blooming
BM: How do you go about voicing your instruments?
IJ: I start out with material selections to start my sound design, which sets
the whole direction of voicing. I do few things in my voicing process for top and
back. It gets a bit technical, but I’ll say it anyway. I handplane my tops at
different thicknesses at different areas to achieve desired stiffness. After
installing braces, I run a glitter test for Chladni pattern to see how top is
behaving at different frequencies. This gives me visual guidance for top
movement, but finalize voicing by taptuning. Once I have the top, and back
glued to the body, I start my coupling process where I tune the top, and back
together so the body sounds in harmony. I tried to keep it short and concise. I
hope it makes sense!
BM: You launched your stunning SJ model at this years NAMM show. How
was it received?
IJ: Yes, I launched my Small Jumbo model at Winter NAMM 2019. This is my
take on Gibson J-185. I had a chance to play several of Gibson J-185’s when I
worked at Westwood Music in repair shop. I always loved the size, and the
overall balance of the sound when strummed, or fingerpicked. This model has
16” lower bout, and has a headroom of a dreadnought, but with more refined
note separation. After debuting at NAMM, I received around 4-5 SJ models
from different dealers, and several clients who are on waitlist decided to go for
BM: And how did it feel to be one of the luthiers featured in the official
NAMM video? That looked awesome by the way…
IJ: I felt extremely honored when I was contacted my NAMM foundation about the
film. It made me feel like I am doing something important! Haha! The filming
happened just about a month before NAMM, so the timing was a bit tight, but it
ended up working out fine.
BM: Do you have any new models or designs in mind for the future?
IJ: I currently have fan fret version of my OM, and SJ in works. Also, I will be
showcasing my OO model this Fall! So please stay tuned!
BM: Your guitars are sonically outstanding but we have not spoken about
just how beautiful visually they are too. We absolutely love the lines and
aesthetics of your instrument’s, where do you draw your inspiration from
when building and designing the theme of the guitar?
IJ: Thank you for your kind words again Ben! I cannot take all the credits myself. I
have many mentors, and colleagues in the business who inspired me. Also, I
draw my inspiration from nature. I find nature has beautiful lines that attractive
to human eyes. So to answer your question, it is both the existing works of many
great luthiers, and nature.
BM: What was it like working under the great Richard Hoover?
IJ: When I worked at Westwood Music, Richard kindly invited me to SCGC shop
for a crash course for repairs, and later spending another week in warranty
department. Both times in SCGC, Richard, and his team showed me how each
process mattered, and that there was no secret in guitar making. If there were
one, it was doing each step right, and doing it again.
BM: We always like to ask this one…how do you deal and overcome set
backs in the build process?
IJ: Calmness. Calmness. And Calmness.
BM: What are your favourite materials to work with?
IJ: I have been liking Adirondack/ Brazilian RW, and Italian/ Cocobolo combo.
BM: What would be the guitar you would build for yourself?
IJ: If I could afford a guitar for myself, I would build myself a Mahogany OM with
BM: What plans do you have for 2019 and beyond?
I plan to stay focused to catch up with my orders in 2019, and prepare for 2020
Isaac thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us, we just want to say how proud we are to represent your work and your incredible guitars! Look forward to seeing you soon!
For more information on Isaac Jang Guitars please do not hesitate to contact us on +44 (0) 207 835 5597 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have an amazing weekend and play lots of guitar!