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McPherson guitar shop in Sparta, Wisconsin

The History of McPherson Guitars

In 1979 father-son duo, Mander and Matt McPherson, embarked on a quest to achieve a better sounding acoustic guitar. Both avid guitar players, they felt that acoustics were lacking in tone, projection and resonance and decided to explore building a new guitar to achieve that end.

Rather than follow the designs of the past, they re-examined every portion of the guitar. They found that placing a guitar’s sound hole in the center of the soundboard eliminates a vital area for vibration and resonance. To solve this problem, they proceeded to make an acoustic guitar with three offset soundholes. Moving the soundholes to the edges of the top allowed a larger central portion of the soundboard to vibrate, producing better resonance and sustain. This “three-hole” design was produced in Japan in the early 80’s retailing between $500 and $800.

In 1995, Matt McPherson, a musician and engineer, envisioned a new future for the McPherson Guitar brand that merged art, skill, and innovation to create a truly exceptional and inspiring acoustic guitar. He began experimenting with different bracing patterns and sound hole locations, leading to several noteworthy breakthroughs, including:

  • Non-Adjustable Truss Rod made of high modulus unidirectional carbon fiber and secured to a zero-tolerance, triangulated heel design. This design stabilizes the neck and eliminates the need for adjustment. The increased stiffness and weight of the neck helps transfer energy more effectively and efficiently to the bridge of the guitar, resulting in the increased vibration of the soundboard and long-lasting sustain.
  • Cantilevered NeckTM design elevates the fretboard above the top, allowing the soundboard to resonate to its fullest potential.
  • Overpass-UnderpassTM bracing is a novel, uninhibited bracing design that uses laminated tone woods to achieve an improved transfer of energy and sound.
  • Offset Sound Hole allows vibrations from the bridge to travel directly across a longer, unencumbered soundboard, increasing sustain and resonance.

These innovative breakthroughs resulted in a guitar with exceptional tonal qualities and sustain. However, Matt believed that a truly exceptional guitar is built not just on innovation, but on artistry and detail. Using this as a guide, he crafted a simple yet distinctive artistic design that incorporates soft curves throughout the guitar, including the bridge, the cantilevered section of the neck, and the sound hole, which has become the most recognizable aspect of the McPherson Guitar. When combined, these design elements result in an instrument that is a true work of art—one that is easily recognizable. You know you it’s a McPherson when you see the iconic curves of the signature McPherson sound hole. 

Since the late 1990s, McPherson Guitars has focused on incorporating these designs, along with the industry’s highest quality standards, from its workshop in Sparta, WI, USA. Today, McPherson guitars are known for having exceptional resonance, high quality craftsmanship, and its signature McPherson sound hole. 

In 2014, McPherson set out to produce the best sounding carbon fiber acoustic guitar possible featuring the signature McPherson sound hole. Built with the same design principles as the wood guitars, McPherson carbon fiber guitars are made from materials that are unaffected by the normal climate shifts that often affect wood guitars. Fully refined over the years, these carbon fiber guitars have achieved the pinnacle of tone and playability available to non-wood acoustic. The McPherson name has come to stand for excellence, integrity, and artistry.

Building the best acoustic guitars in the world
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