The distinction of a Bischoff Guitar
Since 1976, guitar aficionados and musicians have come to Gordon Bischoff for their dream guitar. Bischoff Guitar owners include popular Wisconsin performers like Jim Pullman (of the Jim Pullman Band), Larry Heagle, and Chuck LeMonds, to national and international celebrities like Willy Porter and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). But what is it about a Gordy Bischoff guitar that makes it so special?
Reading the Wood
"I enjoy the tactile, hands-on approach of traditional guitar building," Gordy says. That's why there are no CNC milling machines in the Bischoff workshop. Gordy first studied and experimented with guitar building at a time when the luthier craft was carried out solely with hand tools. This demanded intensely accurate skills, and all those years and countless hours of study and practice contributed to Gordy's almost instinctive ability to "read the wood."
Hand tools, basic jigs and guides are still a part of Gordy's process to create his guitars and ukuleles. Gordy's hands touch, feel and guide him through every step of the process.
Another significant aspect to Gordy's craft is over 3 decades repairing thousands of guitars. With that level of experience, a much broader and deeper understanding of guitar building and manufacturing techniques nuance Gordy's knowledge.
Select Tone Woods
The right type and quality of wood is essential to the guitar-building process. With 36 years of working on and building guitars, Gordy is able to select the right combination of tone woods to compliment any playing style and ear.
Fortunate to live in Wisconsin with one of the largest importers of guitar wood only 3 hours away, Gordy is able to hand-select his tone choosing only the best quality in tone and appearance. "I label and stack my wood with slats between," says Gordy, "to properly store and age the wood in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment until I feel the wood is ready to be used." These woods include master grade Sitka, Engelman and Adirondack Spruce, Koa, Indian Rosewood, Cherry wood and Black Walnut.
Gordy's "Private Reserve"
Every year, Gordy pulls out his favorite pieces of tone wood to save for special projects. These pieces are reserved because of their exceptional grain, distinctive tone, and Gordy's instinctive relationship with wood that allows him to recognize that 'certain something' which is extra-special.
What You Don't See, You Will Hear
Gordy's passion for hand-crafting his custom guitars means that each detail of every guitar is built to that particular instrument. Even the braces inside the guitar body. Each brace is made one at a time, thinned and shaped to balance resonance against strength ratio to support the particular wood of that specific guitar. In this way, the guitar will achieve its best volume and tone. Like snowflakes, no two braces of a Bischoff Guitar are exactly alike. Many Bischoff guitars have featured 100 year old aged Sitka Spruce bracings.
Every Note Resonates with Every Detail
Guitar enthusiasts understand that, regardless of the duplication of a process, every guitar—even one of thousands of a manufactured model—can have subtle variations in voice and character. Why? Some see it as infinitesimal variances across the multitude of processes and materials that go into the construction. Others, leaning more to the mystical unknown, simply say, "Wood has memory."
Imagine then, a guitar that is custom-crafted by hand, each element of it carefully selected and shaped. Every aspect of the guitar attended to with the passion and scrutiny of Gordy Bischoff, who has a 36 year relationship with wood and music. With this amount of attention and customized skill put into each guitar Gordy builds, is it at all surprising that Willy Porter, who owns six Bischoff guitars, says that a Bischoff guitar "speaks to you." Not only an exceptional instrument, Willy calls them "works of art."