Luthier

Santa Cruz Guitar Company

Luthier
Richard Hoover
Founded
1976
Location
Santa Cruz, California. US.

Founded by Richard Hoover in 1976, the Santa Cruz Guitar Company brought boutique guitar making to the forefront of the steel string guitar business. With the aim of developing a true custom shop, a small team in the hills of Santa Cruz, California, build around 400 ‘heirloom quality’ instruments every year.

“It’s never just going to be business for us. It’s about our values. About making the most perfect instrument for an individual,” says Richard Hoover. “A true custom shop has empathy for their clients; without that, you could push people into something they don’t want and they’ll feel dissatisfied no matter how good it sounds because they just won’t bond with it.”

“We’re a true custom shop. That’s exactly what’s in my DNA.”

Building such a modest number of instruments per year, the Santa Cruz Guitar Company procures the top 1% of tonewoods and employs the world’s most passionate team of luthiers. Expertise and mastery can only be earned through practice, and their luthiers’ combined experience spans over a century.

“This custom thing is a relationship. If we're just talking cosmetics, it's not a big problem, because somebody can describe or send pictures back and forth. You can do inlays, you can do wood binding combinations, you can give somebody just what they ordered. Just like a combination plate in a Chinese restaurant. But that's not lutherie, that's just filling an order. And that was the revelation for me that led me to become a custom guitar maker; it’s not just in cosmetics, but in sound.”

Richard Hoover

The Guitars

Santa Cruz Guitar Company offers a wide range of options to build and customize your dream instrument, but these are considered their ‘base’ models

Models

Baritone

A collaboration between Bob Brozman and Richard Hoover resulted in a spectacular baritone guitar that can lend a piano-like presence to slide and open tuning playing styles. The very 27-inch scale, 12-fret mahogany neck allows the guitar to accommodate heavier strings at the lower tensions of open tunings.

Dimensions
Length
TBC
Lower bout
TBC
Wasit
TBC
Upper bout
286mm
Standard specifications
Soundboard
European spruce
Back
Mahogany
NecK
Mahogany
Neck
Profile round
Fingerboard
Ebony
Inlay
Diamonds squares
Tuners
Gold Waverly tuners
Nut material
Bone
Nut width
1-7/8"
Scale length
27
Peg head veneer
Ebony on slotted peg head
Pickguard
No
Rosette
Herringbone
Purfling
BB herringbone combo
Back strip
Zipper
Body binding
Ivoroid
Bridge
Ebony
Pins
Ebony, mother of pearl dots
Saddle material
Bone
String spacing
2-5/16"
Richard’s notes

The very long (27 inch) scale, 12-fret Mahogany neck allows the guitar to accommodate heavier strings at the lower tensions of open tunings.

The highest quality Mahogany back and sides and a rare European Spruce top provide extreme tonal clarity. This unique guitar combines design elements and tone woods for unrivaled volume, tone and sustain. If your set list includes Blues, Hawaiian Slack-Key or open tuning fingerstyles, this guitar is the ticket.

Dreadnought

The Santa Cruz D Model has a unique tapered bracing, voiced to enhance the midrange and treble without compromising the bass volume. This voicing gives the D Model a more even balance and a greater versatility than traditionally braced dreadnoughts.

Richard's notes

The Santa Cruz Guitar Company Dreadnought Model was carefully conceived to accommodate the modern player’s need for sophisticated balance with more substance in midrange and treble. To deliver these qualities in the acceptable dreadnought-sized body required a very non-traditional approach, as compared to the factory offerings of the day. Our innovative D Model remains a mainstay of artists who require acoustic volume without compromising the quality of higher frequencies.

Standard specifications
Soundboard
Adirondack spruce
Back and sides
 Indian rosewood
Neck
 Mahogany
Neck profile
Round barrel
Fingerboard
 Ebony
Inlay
2mm dots in mother of pearl
Tuners
Nickel Waverly
Nut material
Bone
Nut width
 1-11/16”
Scale length
25.375
Peg head veneer
Ebony on solid square peg head
Pickguard
 Tortoise
Rosette
Ivoroid
Purfling
Herringbone
Back strip
S29
Body binding
Ivoroid
Bridge
Ebony
Pins
Ebony with mother of pearl dots
Saddle material
Bone
String spacing
2-3/16

F Model 

Some SCGC models are designed for specific genres like bluegrass, fingerstyle or rhythm. The F Model’s intent is versatility. Recording, performing and composing with picks or nails on the same instrument is a necessity for many of us. When your repertoire also demands full dynamics from subtle to bold, you needn’t settle nor compromise on your presentation if you have the proper tool.

Richard's notes

Our ability to control the EQ of the F is the secret to avoiding boominess, while maintaining impressive acoustic volume and giving an articulate voice to fingerstyle playing and open tunings. The F Model is a favorite of performing songwriters. Its classic shape and design make it a popular choice for 12 string, cutaway, custom finish and inlay options.

Standard specifications
Soundboard
European spruce
Back and sides
 Indian rosewood
Neck
 Mahogany
Neck profile
Round
Fingerboard
 Ebony
Inlay
2mm mother of pearl dots
Tuners
Chrome Gotoh 510
Nut material
Bone
Nut width
 1-11/16”
Scale length
25.3765
Peg head veneer
Ebony
Pickguard
 Tortoise
Rosette
Purfle combo
Purfling
Purfle combo
Back strip
S29
Body binding
Ivoroid
Bridge
Ebony
Pins
Ebony with mother of pearl
Saddle material
Bone
String spacing
2-3/16

H Model 

Long an honored presence in the Santa Cruz collection, the 1930s inspired H Model joined their catalog in 1977 during the formative years of the company. This was a challenging era to introduce a non-Dreadnought, non-12-fret guitar. Opting to be favored by natural selection, SCGC presented the now standard 14 frets to the body configuration to an audience that valued the additional 2-fret access on such a classic, vintage body.

Richard’s notes 

Most players are astonished when they play the Santa Cruz H for the first time. Its volume is startling for a small-bodied guitar. The body’s depth allows for a much larger presence than would be expected in an instrument of its size. The guitar’s balanced hand voicing gives the H a precise response at every fretboard position. This model is highly recommended for those who prefer the sweetness and ease of playing a small guitar but require more comfort and volume.

Standard specifications
Soundboard
European spruce
Back and sides
  Indian rosewood
Neck
 Mahogany
Neck profile
Round
Fingerboard
 Ebony
Inlay
2mm dots with mother of pearl
Tuners
Nickel Waverly
Nut material
Bone
Nut width
 1-11/16”
Scale length
25.375
Peg head veneer
Ebony
Pickguard
 Tortoise
Rosette
Ivoroid
Purfling
Herringbone
Back strip
S29
Body binding
Ivoroid
Bridge
Ebony
Pins
Ebony with mother of pearl dots
Saddle material
Bone
String spacing
2-3/16

OM

In the 1920s, the Orchestra Model was originally intended to be a large guitar capable of being heard over other orchestral instruments, hence the OM name. Although it fit the bill, its relatively large body was soon eclipsed by the mighty dreadnought. Fortunately, the OM had secured its place in history as a powerful and versatile voice for public performance. Santa Cruz was among the first modern builders to reintroduce this now smaller bodied favorite at the beginning of the 80s.

Richard’s notes

The OM is delightfully versatile. Our OM players range from blazing flat picker James Nash to John Mayer and Elvis Costello. Our OM provides clean, loud mid-range and trebles that are complimented by a slightly predominant bass. Deeply appreciated for fingerstyle and contemporary flat picking work, the OM is our number one request.

Standard specifications
Soundboard
European spruce
Back and sides
  Indian rosewood
Neck
  Mahogany
Neck profile
V with volute
Fingerboard
 Ebony
Inlay
2mm dots
Tuners
Nickel Waverly
Nut material
Bone
Nut width
 1-3/4”
Scale length
25.375
Peg head veneer
Ebony
Pickguard
 Tortoise
Rosette
Herringbone
Purfling
Herringbone
Back strip
Zipper
Body binding
Ivoroid
Bridge
Ebony
Pins
Ebony with mother of pearl dots
Saddle material
Bone
String spacing
2-3/16

OOO 

The OOO is the 12-fret predecessor of the OM. If access past the 12th fret is of no concern, the OOO adds some distinct advantages tonally and cosmetically. The extension of the body to the 12th fret adds additional airspace, which translates into increased sound volume and a more predominate bass in the EQ. The slotted peghead is a standard feature that adds classic styling. The peghead’s reduced mass accentuates the guitar’s open, airy ambiance, making it a fingerstyle favorite.

Richard's notes

You’ve seen the SCGC OOO on stage with Jeff Tweedy and Dave Matthews as a solid performing songwriter’s tool. It has also been heard on numerous recordings as a mainstay of pro session players. You will find an immediate purpose for the OOO and wonder why you didn’t have it in your arsenal all along.

Standard specifications
Soundboard
European spruce
Back and sides
 Indian rosewood
Neck
 Mahogany
Neck profile
V no volute
Fingerboard
 Ebony
Inlay
Diamond and squares
Tuners
Nickel Waverly with Ivoroid
Nut material
Bone
Nut width
 1-3/4”
Scale length
25.375
Peg head veneer
Ebony
Pickguard
 Tortoise
Rosette
Ivoroid
Purfling
Herringbone
Back strip
Zipper
Body binding
Ivoroid
Bridge
Ebony
Pins
Ebony with mother of pearl
Saddle material
Bone
String spacing
2-3/16

Slope-shouldered dreadnought 

The Vintage Jumbo Model combines the essence of coolness possessed by its forbearers with built-in improvements from SCGC’s decades of lutherie. The VJ’s spruce top is braced and voiced for volume and the body is built with premium mahogany for clarity of tone. The balance favors the bass to the degree found in the originals, not to the excess found in many from the golden era of the square-shouldered brand. 

Richard’s notes

The Vintage Jumbo is the ideal Blues guitar. Inspired by the classic round-shouldered dreadnoughts of the 1940’s, we infused it with the characteristic Santa Cruz volume, balance and complexity to create a guitar that can cover a lot of different styles. The VJ is dripping with the kind of deep, rich bass and sweet trebles that really shine in chord-oriented work. You won’t find this one coming up short when you call on it for more!

Standard specifications
Soundboard
Adirondack spruce
Back and sides
  Mahogany
Neck
 Mahogany
Neck profile
Round
Fingerboard
 Ebony
Inlay
Doppler dots
Tuners
Nickel Waverly with Ivoroid
Nut material
Bone
Nut width
 1-11/16”
Scale length
25.375
Peg head veneer
Ebony
Pickguard
 Tortoise
Rosette
Ivoroid
Purfling
Single violin purfling
Back strip
Black
Body binding
Ivoroid
Bridge
Ebony
Pins
Ebony with mother of pearl
Saddle material
Bone
String spacing
2-3/16”

OO 

The OO is an ergonomic delight. This instrument delivers ease of playability and surprising volume for its size. Certainly not just a smaller version of the OOO, the OO is a specialized tool onto itself. The 12-fret body and 24-3/4 inch string length tunes to pitch at lower string tension, making the action supple while requiring less of a stretch between frets. 

Richard’s notes 

The size and voicing of the OO give it an exceptionally balanced EQ with a wonderful complex tone and remarkable projection. This serious instrument is surprisingly loud. The OO’s portability makes it an excellent companion for composing and recording, and its sophisticated voice encourages players to explore undiscovered fretboard possibilities. Holding this guitar just feels right.

Standard specifications
Soundboard
European spruce
Back and sides
 Indian rosewood
Neck
 Mahogany
Neck profile
V no volute
Fingerboard
 Ebony
Inlay
Diamond and squares
Tuners
Nickel Waverly with Ivoroid
Nut material
Bone
Nut width
 1-3/4”
Scale length
24.75
Peg head veneer
Ebony
Pickguard
 Tortoise
Rosette
Ivoroid
Purfling
Herringbone
Back strip
Zipper
Body binding
Ivoroid
Bridge
Ebony
Pins
Ebony with mother of pear
Saddle material
Bone
String spacing
2-3/16”

Firefly 

The FireFly concept: Current technology has allowed artists to lay down tracks from remote locations creating a need for a sophisticated guitar that travels well and still delivers a professional performance. That’s this guitar! More than just a travel guitar, but a great composing instrument.

Richard’s notes 

Some impartial observations from Guitar Player Magazine: “I’ve never reviewed a guitar that caused so many people to utter some variation on the phrase ‘This might be the best guitar I’ve played in my life.’ This isn’t just the best small-bodied guitar that I’ve played in years – this is one of the best guitars I’ve ever played period. The SCGC FireFly is a truly inspirational composing guitar.

Standard specifications
Soundboard
Cedar
Back and sides
  Indian rosewood
Neck
 Mahogany
Neck profile
Round
Fingerboard
 Ebony
Inlay
2mm dots
Tuners
Chrome Mini Gotoh 510
Nut material
Bone
Nut width
 1-11/16”
Scale length
24”
Peg head veneer
Ebony
Pickguard
 None
Rosette
Ivoroid
Purfling
FF combo
Back strip
S29
Body binding
Ivoroid
Bridge
Ebony
Pins
Ebony with mother of pearl
Saddle material
Bone
String spacing
2 1/8”

Explore Santa Cruz Guitar Company

Why Buy From The North American Guitar

Secure payment methods

We accept all major credit and debit cards as well as PayPal or bank and wire transfers

Flexible finance options

We offer an array of flexible finance options so that you can secure your dream guitar

Safe and secure packaging

All instruments ship in triple-layered guitar boxes stuffed with packing peanuts

Fully insured global shipping

We use the most trustworthy couriers to give peace of mind no matter the location

No hidden fees or taxes

What you see at checkout is what you pay so there are no surprises at your door

72-hour appraisal period

All our guitars come with an appraisal period meaning easy returns if you’re not satisfied