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About Me

Hello! I am Wilson Burnham and welcome my blog!



I hand craft classical guitars in a small studio outside of Allen's Park, Colorado.

I use only hand tools and high quality woods to make my guitars. This allows me to make a guitar that has a true singing voice, one that is loud and has a large range of tonal colors and nuances.

As a classical guitar player myself, I know the joy of playing a truly wonderful guitar - one that sings, is responsive to your playing style, is easy to play with a voice that reaches the last row of seats in a recital or concert hall, and most of all, a guitar that you fall in love with so much you never want to stop playing it.

That is the kind of guitar that I make.


Please contact me at
highcountrylutherie@gmail.com
for details on how to acquire a handcrafted Burnham Classical Guitar!




I began studying the classical guitar in 1974 when I was 12 years old, my first teacher was Bob Backes, he had studied with Pepe Romero and Christopher Parkening. In 1980, when I was 18 years old, I auditioned for and was accepted into the August 1980 Christoper Parkening Master Class at Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana. It was an incredible experience to study with the master, who then, was only 33 years old! At the end of the class I was selected, along with five other students to perform in the student recital.


L-R: Christopher Parkening, Ed Weir, Wilson Burnham, Bozeman, MT 1980




I started making classical guitars because I could not afford to buy the guitar that I wanted!



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How to Make a Traditional Froe Mallet

What holds the Holy of the Holies, what did Brahma become? Wood. Why will aspen always tremble? For the nails driven into the cross. What makes the color of wood? The soil it tastes. Cradle, fiddle, coffin, bed: wood is a column of earth made ambitious by light, and made of beauty by the rain.

Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
Shake, noun, a split in a piece wood. (Heart shake, ring shake)
Shake, verb, (Middle English), to split.

I know I should have been in the studio working on my back log of guitars, but the day was so nice and warm with a tall blue canopy, I couldn't stay inside. I decided that I needed to make a proper froe mallet. This style of mallet is traditional to northeastern California, primarily Tehama (where I'm from), Butte, Shasta and Plumas counties where making shingles by hand from sugar pines was an industry. I don't know if it was used in any other region along the Pacific Rim, other parts of the United States or even o…

Basic Hand Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar, Revised

Ours is really a simple craft.

James Krenov, The Impractical Cabinetmaker, 1979


So, you want to build a guitar.

Since the original post, Basic Hand Tool Kit for Guitar Making, click here to see it, is the most popular post on this blog, I thought I would revisit it and adjust it to what I am using now to make a classical guitar.

The first thing I recommend doing is to buy or borrow copies of the following books:

Guitar Making: Tradition and Technology, by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson
Making Master Guitars, by Roy Courtnall
The Guitar Maker's Workshop, by Rik Middleton

These are required reading before you begin making a guitar.

Also required reading are these books by Roy Underhill:

The Woodwright's Shop
The Woodwright's Companion
The Woodwright's Workbench
The Woodwright's Apprentice


Why these books by Mr. Underhill? You will learn valuable wood working techniques if you make any of his projects. The dovetail joints used to join a drawer together are far mor…

The New Workshop: New Roof, Snow, Rain, Sub-zero Temperatures

A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!

Author Unknown


Cold weather and snow delayed me in getting down the corrugate tin roofing on the new workshop. January 3rd proved to be a day of snow flurries and sunshine which at least allowed me to install the roofing. Then it snowed six inches.


The temperature fell to -5 degrees Fahrenheit and it kept snowing...


...until there was 22 inches of snow on the ground. And the temperature fell some more to register -14 degrees Fahrenheit on the thermometer.



Yesterday, the temps warmed up to 36 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind gusting up to 50 mph and we lost power for about two hours.

This morning we woke up to rain and warmer weather. I am very glad that I got the new workshop "dried in" before all this snow fell.



The high reached 40 degrees today with rain and snow flurries, there is a good six inches of slush underneath all the snow. No wind to speak of today, though…