NEWS Whittemore Guitars: custom archtop, semi-hollow and solidbody guitars hand crafted by Ned Whittemore in Costa Mesa, CA



Miles Jensen purchases Whittemore Kalamazoo Archtop (Buttermilk)Miles is a student in the world renowned USC jazz program, studying with luminaries Pat Kelley, Frank Potenza, Bruce Forman.  This is the same guitar that Bruce Forman toured and recorded with!  Check Miles out at various gigs in the LA area.  Click HERE to see the specs of his fine new instrument.

I continue to do repairs and set-up work, with many satisfied customers from the LA working breed!  Shoot me an email to find out what I can do for you.  Happier guitars include: Bruce’ Forman’s 1969 L5, Frank Potenza’s Elvis Tele, Tim Fischer’s Sadowsky, Brandon Bernstein’s Andersen, Dave Koonse’s 1952 ES-175, Miles Jensen’s Ibanez, John Guastella’s Heritage, Ryan Stewart’s PRS flametop.  Photo of Brandon’s Andersen (getting new floating Armstrong pickup), and photo of Brandon himself playing the Kalamazoo thin line JackieBrown during a recent guitar repair session.  Check out Brandon’s new CD at

Now making custom tailpieces following the tradition of James D’Aquisto and Roger Borys.  A correctly designed tailpiece yields a remarkable improvement in string feel and instrument response.  You have to try it to believe it.   Thanks to Roger for advice, friendship and inspiration.

LA jazz man Tim Fischer purchases Whittemore BlueJayTim is a fantastic LA-based guitarist, and music educator, who has studied at both Cal Arts and USC.  He is playing the BlueJay with the remarkable Michael Mull Octet.  Click HERE to link to a YouTube video of Tim, the Whittemore BlueJay, and the Octet live at the Blue Whale in LA in June. 

Check Tim out at

Two (2) NEW Whittemore 165 Kalamazoo archtops have just been completed

  1. 1. “Ella Mae” - beautiful full bodied archtop (16.5 x 3-3/8” body), hand-carved European spruce top, flame maple back and sides, single Lollar Imperial.  Big Kalamazoo sound in a hand-made archtop.

  2. 2.“Jackie Brown” - fantastic thin-line archtop (16.5 x 2-3/8” body), 5-ply laminated top and back (Borys’ plates!), mahogany sides, single custom-wind Armstrong humbucker.  Incredible depth of tone for a thin line guitar.  (check out photos of Bruce Forman playing this guitar with CowBop)



Photo courtesy John Guastella

Barry Zweig and Shane Savala play Whittemore Archtops in Long Beach CA on Saturday January 17, 2015. 

Great Saturday duet with two fine musicians at the Federal Bar.  The guitars sounded great, but the musicianship was out of this world.  Check out the photo, and the FULL TUNE video.  Nice playing gentlemen!

Get out there and support local live music!!  Both of these great players are out there in LA area often!

THANKS Barry and Shane.

Three NEW Stradivari-T guitars just completed.  Sugar Pine, Ash, Alder --- each has a different tonal color.  What color do you need?  Currently for sale at Laguna’s Guitar Shoppe.

Two Whittemore Guitars recently SOLD at Laguna’s famous “The Guitar Shoppe”.  Too late to get down there and check them out!   SOLD: (1) Kalamazoo 165C, (2) Stradivari-52T.

Kalamazoo 165C.  Handcarved bearclaw european spruce top, parallel braced.  Flame maple back and sides.  Single Lollar Imperial humbucker.  Gold tailpiece and tuners. 

Regular price $4400.  Laguna Guitar Shoppe SPECIAL price for this demo model: $2400 (!!).  See photo of Barry Zweig playing this in Long Beach January 2015 (above).


Stradivari-52T.  Classic swamp ash 52T.  Maple neck, Lollar 52T pickup set, superb GlenDale bridge (like a resonator!).   Look no further for the classic tele sound. 

Regular price: $2150.  Laguna Guitar Shoppe SPECIAL price: $1850.  It won’t last.  Call Laguna now.


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Jazz player Chris Motter checking out the BRAND NEW Stradivari-T48 SugarPine tele here in the workshop.   Chris was in the shop for a set up on his fine 80s Fender D’Aquisto.  Chris loved the Tele --- warm and mellow.  Check out Chris at a bandstand near you.

Recent activities --- scroll down for more.

The GREAT Ron Eschete playing a Whittemore BlueJay at the world-famous Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton, CA -- February 4, 2015. Check out the full length video! 

Ron with fantastic band of Kendall Kay and  Luther Hughes tears it up on the BlueJay --- a guitar that can do it all (in the right hands!).  Nice playing gentlemen!   These great musicians play regularly here in Southern California.   Get out there and support local live music!!  THANKS RON!

Whittemore Archtops at Guitar Night February 3, 2015. 

John Pisano and Barry Zweig playing two fine Whittemore Archtops at Viva Cantina in Burbank.  John Belzaguy and Dean Koba rocked the rhythm section.

Nice playing gentlemen!  Thanks for playing Whittemore Guitars!!

Guitar Night is EIGHTEEN YEARS STRONG.  Get out there and support local live music!! 

Bruce Forman playing the Whittemore 165 “Kalamazoo” Archtop at a gig in Seattle.   Check Bruce out with his superb band Cowbop (, and in other musical adventures in the LA area, or whereever fine music is played  (

Daniel McLaughlin purchases Kalamazoo 165C (“Ella Mae”)

Daniel is a student in the USC studio jazz program --- a great young talent --- taking advantage of the wonderful guitar program at USC.  Here is his “testimonial” on the new guitar:


When I started looking to buy my first archtop guitar, I did some serious shopping around --- going to numerous guitar shops, big, small, mainstream, boutique.  In this search, I played 25-30 archtops, ranging from entry level Epiphones to five-figure Benedettos.  A friend of mine owns a Whittemore Kalamazoo 165 archtop that I had played a few times and I really liked it.  So as part of my search I contacted Ned Whittemore to see about the possibility of purchasing a Whittemore archtop.  Luckily for me, he had a Kalamazoo 165 archtop for sale, and we arranged to meet at his workshop for me to try it out.  I knew within the first few minutes of playing the guitar in Ned’s shop that I was going to buy it --- it was simply the best sounding guitar that I had played.  A day later I bought the guitar, and have owned it now for about a week.  It is just a great archtop guitar.  Big fat electric sound, loud acoustically, plays like butter, and beautiful to look at.  Check one out if you get a chance.

Here is Daniel picking up the guitar, and playing the beautiful Norah Jones tune “Don’t Know Why”.  THANKS DANIEL!

USC-bound Mallory Hauser purchases Sugar Pine T49!
Mallory is entering the USC music program this fall and is a great versatile player.  Watch this spot for future video file(s) of Mallory running “Suga-Cookie” thru its paces.  THANKS Mallory.


Barry Zweig picks up ALL NEW “BZ Custom Archtop”!

Barry and I have been collaborating on a new design - a small guitar with a big sound --- and Barry came by the shop November 29 to take delivery on the #1 prototype.  The video below is Barry playing the guitar for the first time --- minutes off my workbench.  THANKS BARRY!  Look for Barry playing this fine new instrument in LA area, and particularly GUITAR NIGHT with John Pisano Tuesday December 1, 2015.  SEE YOU ALL THERE!


The great Bruce Forman playing new K165C-Deluxe at John Pisano’s Guitar Night Sept. 12, 2015.  
The guitar was about 1 hour “old” and Bruce broke it in.  Apologies for the iPhone audio!


Three new guitars have just come hot off the workbench!

New Guitar #1: Barry Zweig Thinline (prototype). Incredible new design that I have been thinking about for years: small-bodied archtop with a big full jazz voice.  15” x 2-3/8” guitar with laminated top and back, solid high flame AAAA maple sides, Honduran mahogany neck, Honduran rosewood fingerboard and matching headplate, figured mother of pearl inlays in fingerboard and headplate, and single Lollar Imperial.  Finished in nitrocellulose lacquer with my custom Naked California Beach Blond shading (unadulterated lacquer), hand buffed to a mirror finish.  Hand made in a true one man custom shop.   Big jazz voice in a small package -- just like Barry!


The series of photos below were taken with a new lighting system and a Canon 7D DSLR camera by the great nature photographer John Guastella.  THANKS JOHN for the photography expertise!

New Guitar #2:  Blonde Kalamazoo K165C. AVAILABLE FOR SALE.  Hand-carved full body archtop - 16-1/2” x 3-3/8”.  AAAA European maple top (with a bit of bearclaw figure), flame maple back and sides, 5-ply maple neck, Ebony fingerboard and head plate, figured pearl inlay on fingerboard and headplate, black multi-line binding, and single Lollar Imperial.  Finished in nitrocellulose lacquer with my custom Naked California Beach Blonde shading (unadulterated lacquer), hand buffed to a mirror finish.  This guitar is inspired by the venerable L5-CES - but is a true hand made custom guitar.  This guitar will take your creativity to the next level!


New Guitar #3:  Whittemore JazzMonster My first J-style solid body.  Made mostly to standard J-Master specs, but with a few special alterations:  (1) custom hard-tail tailpiece (in copper for tone!) (2) tunomatic bridge, and (3) stealth Lollar P-90 pickups under j-master style pickup covers.  Standard “two circuit” j-master wiring.  Swamp ash body, maple neck / rosewood fingerboard, nice beefy neck profile.  Two tone sunburst in nitrocellulose lacquer, hand buffed to a mirror finish.  Fully handmade in a true one man custom shop.  This is the first J-master style guitar that I have ever liked --- with exceptional voice unamplified that comes alive thru the amp.  A monster gigging guitar for jazz / blues / and any style of music where tone is king.   Stop messing around and do yourself a favor.

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T-63 SOLD at Laguna’s famous Guitar Shoppe

Another astute buyer with good taste started 2016 out on the right foot by purchasing a beautiful Whittemore T-63 -- sold by my good friends at the Guitar Shoppe in Laguna.  Fantastic instrument.  The woods.  The workmanship.  The feel.  The sound.  You could follow this lead........

Whittemore Guitars now for sale at the world famous Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto!
Gryphon is one of the best guitar shops in the known universe.  Get there and check it out for yourself if you have never been!! 

For sale now at a discounted price: Whittemore Kalamazoo K165L archtop guitar!  Contact any of the incredibly knowledgable team at Gryphon for information on ordering.  Here is what they had to say about this guitar:

Ned Whittemore, a talented luthier from Southern California, built this great playing arch top out of gorgeous heavily flamed maple. This instrument, constructed with a laminated top fabricated by Roger Borys, combines a strong acoustic sound with high quality Lollar Imperial pickups. The neck is easy to play and comfortable from the first fret to the last. The soft Venetian cutaway is a perfect look for this classically shaped arch top with a lower bout width of 16 1/2 inches and a 3 3/8 inch depth.

We snapped up this demo from Ned on his last trip to Palo Alto and, since it is a demo, we are offering it at a reduced price. There are a some small circular dents in the finish near the end of the bass f-hole in the area of photo #13, but they don't show up on the photo. You can blame John Pisano, Pat Kelly, Barry Zweig and Bruce Forman for the dents, since they all played this guitar at the LA Guitar-Night gigs.

Steve S

The great Barry Zweig playing his new Barry Zweig Model at John Pisano’s Guitar Night February 8, 2016.  
There was a huge turnout for Mr. Popular’s annual BIRTHDAY GIG. 


To get a feel for the public’s reaction to this man’s great playing, I got an unsolicited email from somebody I don’t know (email address “wesfan”) who was at Barry’s gig at the Speakeasy in Venice Beach a few nights later.  The email was direct and to the point:

I’m at the Speakeasy and Barry is playing the f--- out of your guitar.

THAT IS HIGH PRAISE!  Nice work Barry!!


Whittemore Guitars now for sale at the world famous Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto!
Gryphon is one of the best guitar shops in the known universe.  Get there and check it out for yourself if you have never been!! 

For sale now at a discounted price: Whittemore Kalamazoo K165L archtop guitar!  Contact any of the incredibly knowledgable team at Gryphon for information on ordering.  Here is what they had to say about this guitar:

Terry S. buys Kalamazoo K165C-deLuxe archtop!

Terry contacted me about the K165C-deLuxe after finding Whittemore Guitars on the internet.  He was looking for a hand-crafted, carved-top electric archtop with the classic Gibson sound - but better.  My email answer led to a series of phone calls with Terry to discuss specific features of the guitar (pickups, tailpieces, bracing patterns, neck dimensions, etc etc etc), to talk about my build philosophy, and to discuss purchase details.  Terry is a skilled and experienced player who gigs 3-4 nights a week and who owns a number of custom built archtops by other builders.  He was looking to find a guitar that had particular sonic and playability features, and for a guitar that could solve various issues related to his main gigging guitar – an X-braced all carved archtop by a well known east coast builder (name not given here out of respect). 

Terry had never seen or played one of my guitars, but was impressed by the LA jazz cats who have played my guitars (with videos on this site!), and this gave him confidence.  (Thanks cats!).  After his careful due-diligence, Terry decided to purchase the guitar, with the added confidence of the 48-hour return policy for mail-order guitars.  Terry received the K165C-deLuxe by mail and sent me a video clip within an hour with a subject line “soooooo gooood”.   He played it at a solo guitar gig that same night, and sent me this:

Terry’s testimonial.

I played my new Kalamazoo K165 at my gig tonight, and it sounded great, played just great.  I love the guitar, and the tone puts my custom X-braced archtop to shame frankly.  

I came home from the gig and A/B’d the two guitars.  My custom X-braced guitar (flamey, blonde, all carved, etc.) looks great and plays fine, but sounds muddy and flat next to the K165C, and wants to feed back easily.  It does not have the fat yet elegant sound with presence nor feel that your guitar has.  I dig the girth on the high strings yet the Kalamazoo 165C is clearer sounding at the same time.  The difference and improvement in tone was glaring.  The K165 has much better sustain and plays very easily for me.  The 25.5" scale is nothing to adjust to from the 25" I'm used to and the neck fits my hand.  Also your guitar's neck is more comfortable than any of my 1-3/4" wide necks.  Hand fatigue was non-existent tonight (with some guitars my hands get crabby after 3 hours).

I might be experiencing new car smell here, but I know my ears and hands are not being fooled.  I know I'll be selling a few guitars soon and the X-braced guitar is one.  If I didn't hear the K165C next to it I would be okay with it but once you hear the difference it's like night and day. 

Bottom line my new Kalamazoo is fun to play!  Makes me sound better.   Thanks for your artistry Ned

Thank you Terry!!