Up North Strings

Service and Sales of Stringed Instruments

silloette of child violinist www.upnorthstrings.com

About us
Virtual String Shop
Custom Instruments
McKay   Guitars  
Traverse City Area Music


 McKay Benchmade  Guitars
Benchmade - Stage worthy

Are available through
Ken McKay
Cliff at
Sunrise story   Guitar specs

Guitar anthropology: Making guitars is more direct and simple if copying an existing example is your goal. There are fine examples and much of the ideal sound that we all have in our mind exists from the memories of these. An oversimplification is to take an existing design and copy it exactly using similar materials. In reality this kind of thing can occupy a luthier's lifetime and never quite get there.
The Sunrise project is born from my desire to emulate what I envision as the sound in my mind. Can there be improvements though? I believe there is room for some. Are there ethical and legal ramifications? Yes, some. What about ergonomic and esthetic possibilities? Perhaps.
I designed the Sunrise 16 and 19 with these things in mind.
Still, I use tried and true methods born from taking an anthropological approach to guitarmaking. I have studied good guitars and feel I know what makes them tick.
Sunrise16 top & Sunrise19 bottom

Sunrise 16 and Sunrise 19 overview: These guitars were designed over a period of  months with several mock ups and changes. This represents the final designs. You might notice they look somewhat familiar, yet there are obvious variations. Holding each guitar feels similar, in a way, because they have the generous "upper half".  Both guitars have a longer upper horn and deeper cutaways in the treble end for better balance and access.  Playing the "16",  your left hand reaches out to play the "cowboy chords" and finds them close to the body, while diving in to the high frets, the thumb conveniently hits the body at the 16th fret, with plenty of space in the cutaway, unimpeded, up to the 19th fret. Playing the Sunrise 19, you will find the access to the upper frets very nice with the longer shaft and 19 frets on the bass side and the full 21 on the treble. The "cowboy chords" are a bit farther out though. Choose our poison. 

 Construction: Those players who are familiar with McKay guitars will know I am fond of  "laminated construction"  to create a semi-hollow guitar. This is opposed to carving solid wood to make the plates. I have done both and am not an advocate of either one over the other but I do like using materials to get the sound desired.  I laminate my own plates using custom sliced maple veneers of different thicknesses to engineer the stiffness across and along the plates. This helps me get a guitar that can go the 10  with a Marshall stack and sustain a note from now 'til sunriseI incorporate high grade wood because I think it is important!  This includes straight grained spruce for contour bracing, soft, light maple for the center block, old growth mahogany for the neck, brazilian or madagasgar rosewood for fingerboards, holly headstock veneers, and mahogany kerfed linings and blocks.  

Please notice the size difference between the two, with the Sunrise 19 being longer behind the bridge and a bit wider too. The two guitars are adorned differently but on purpose. The Sunrise 19 has distinctive "dots" inlayed into the fingerboard while the "16" has oval, yet vintage looking inlays. These guitars will be made to be lightweight as possible, around 8.5 pounds or less, and will take a leap backwards for pickup and wiring schemes. Of course anything can be done as I am a custom maker. I prefer Seymour Duncan to make my pickups as well some of the other great pickup makers who can replicate a good PAF. So hang in there with me. 
A look ahead: I have had very good luck with the instruments that I have made using these methods and so I am going to stick with it.  These designs will appeal to many different players. I wanted a guitar that looked and played in a familiar way yet had some fresh ideas that distinguish them from the crowd. Please feel free to contact me at kenmckay@hotmail.com, Or call Cliff at Destroy All Guitars. 

Thanks, Ken

Aailable in tese colors