Santa Cruz Catfish Special 1929-0 All Mahogany
Santa Cruz Guitar Company is thrilled to debut The Catfish Special, a custom 1929-0 model built for the world renowned blues musician, Catfish Keith.
After Santa Cruz built a custom, all Mahogany O for Catfish a few years back, fans around the world kept asking for more information on this ‘little guitar with the giant voice.’ Following Catfish’s riveting performance at their 40th anniversary party and the reaction it received, it was obvious that a signature model version of this customized 1929 O would be a welcome addition to our catalog. We are proud to present The Catfish Special!
The Martin 1929 00-17 Inspiration...
In 2008 we had the opportunity to explore 2 depression era Martin 1929 00-17 guitars. We suspect this was indeed a challenging feat during the Great Depression. Spruce was hard to come by and costly, Mahogany cheap and plentiful. Spruce is less stiff than Mahogany, and the latter will typically accentuate dominant mid-range.
Imagine luthiers challenged with time on their hands, and Martin Company seeking direction with such a trying economy. Behold the opportunity! Their crafts-persons must have applied extraordinary effort to bring along a solid bass and treble register to meet up with the dominant mid's of the mahogany soundboard.
Certainly no accident, we conclude, that both guitars were as light as a potato chip. A respectibly responsive build, with no frills, no elegance. Heck, there were no bindings! If you looked closely you might see blade marks along the edge of the top and back where they were glued to the sides.
So! No bindings, no fretboard inlays for markers, no pearl of any sort, metal open gear tuners, but with Ebony buttons (less expensive), and breaking with tradition for 12-fret guitars, no slotted peghead. Makes sense, as it would require more man hours (more women hours) and saw blades to make the slotted peghead. This was as fundamental as it got, for respectible guitar building in those days. Yet the light build yielded a large voice, we suspect owing to the devoted craft and workmenship of the era.
The Santa Cruz 1929-00 Project
During our perpetual meeting at NAMM in January of 2009, I proposed these specifications to Richard Hoover. Bothered by the lack of bindings on the body - He said "I could do that, but it's not elegant enough. Let's do mahogany bindings". I reminded him that in homage to a depression era guitar, we were also thinking to keep the cost down.
To that point in time, we had previouslly commissioned and sampled every body style that Santa Cruz offered at the time, in All-Mahogany. Pure, rich, Honduran Mahogany. The luthiers at SCGC never failed to create a voice that didn't have a complimentary bass and treble repsonse in companian to the mid-range narrow voice of mahogany.
With plans to place an order for 12 of these magnificent guitars, I proposed a Santa Cruz logo that might capture the depresssion era, something in the Raymond Loewy style. Santa Cruz sent us a digital image of the new script logo, and voila! I approved the design and specified that it be inlaid in grained ivoroid. We were off to a great beginning.
The 1929 Family
By late spring of 2009 we had recieved the 3rd of twelve 1929 00-17 models. Richard and I spoke by phone. I wanted to convey how important the new script logo was for both old an new fans of Santa Cruz Guitars. He concurred graciously - the new script logo could be ordered on most any new Santa Cruz as a custom feature. Though he was way ahead of me, on his way to summer NAMM with a 0-17 and 000-17 on either side of our beloved 00-17. Thus the 1929 Family was born.
Catfish are jumping...
In 2016, Santa Cruz celebrated their 40th Anniversary, to much deserved fanfare, at the Rio Theater. Great artists and performers from across the country and around the world sent well wishes and accolades.
The 1929 Series provided yet another inspiration, for Catfish Keith, in the form of a 1929-0 12-fret, flamed mahogany! The way they build them at Santa Cruz, this little guitar is resounding as it represents the vibe of our vintage 00-17!