Builder/owner: Paul Suppo CEO/Luthier
When you began building: I built my first electric guitar in the mid 70’s. It was a pine ‘strat’ style body with dual humbucker pickups, Tune-o-matic bridge and a Saga neck. I built this guitar in junior high wood shop with the knowledge you could find in guitar player magazine. It was barely playable and not real sexy… but it was mine! I made it all by myself!!!
What inspired you to become a luthier? I have been playing guitar since the early 70’s and wood working as long. My fascination with making something with my hands has always been my favorite thing to do. Combining the 2 arts of being a musician and a craftsman only seemed natural. Learning and trying new things that I have a passion for has always been foremost. Learning and inventing what works and what doesn’t allows each product I make unique. You will never find any 2 instruments that we produce the same.
What kind of customer do you build for? My clients are musicians who wish to have that dream instrument of theirs. My clients are normally someone who has some sort of a vision of what they want and we make that dream come true. Being on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean my clients for my speculation builds are mainly tourist who see my guitars locally ( hanging in a local shop or being played by a local band) or people who find me on Facebook, Instagram or Reverb.com. As I only use top of the line hardware, materials and electronics my instruments are not for those who are looking for a budget instrument.
Clients of note: I prefer to keep my notable clients anonymous unless they consent to publication since they may have a sponsorship or other affiliations with larger guitar corporations. However, I can say that one of my clients is a very notable Hollywood actor who has a major network primetime show. Other clients include musicians from Germany and the US. My guitars have been played in concert by Grammy nominated guitarist and Hawaii’s Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winners.
Favorite materials and finishes to work with? I prefer to work with wood species which are indigenous to the Big Island of Hawai’i such as Monkeypod, Mango and Koa. I try to put at least one piece of Koa on each instrument in one form or another. I will at times use other woods which are imported when the local flavor is not mandatory. A current bass which I am finishing up is a custom 6 string fretless which has a monkeypod body and neck with a wenge fingerboard.
I will often use Mother of Pearl, Abalone or other shell materials as embellishments. On many of my instruments you will find wood inlay as well.
The finishes that I use range from oils that build and sheen, to French polish, lacquer and even automotive clear coats. The type of wood that I am using and it’s particular character tend to dictate the finish. Another factor in the finishes that I use is how is this instrument going to be used? If it is under bright spot lights, many times a finish with a softer luster is preferred to not blind the audience when the spot shines and allow the beauty of the instrument to show.
When did you discover Nordstrand and why you use Nordstrand in your builds.I have been following Nordstrand for quite a while on social media and have heard nothing but good about the product and the company. After interviewing a couple well known pickup builders for a 6 string bass project I am working on, I decided that the pickups and electronics I wanted were made by Nordstrand. In the beginning of 2019 I knew that Nordstrand was a company that I would be honored to create a relationship with. Outstanding product quality and personalized customer service Nordstrand electronics have the quality products which I demand for my custom guitars.
For more information contact Paul at:
Paul Suppo’s Barefoot Guitars, LLC
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740