“Koi Fish Pond” Masterpiece by Thompson Guitars

As the year 2019 came to a close, the crew at Thompson Guitars in Sisters, Oregon, wrapped up their 2nd Masterpiece handcrafted guitar.  Titled, “The Koi Pond,” this incredible work of art is more than a beautiful instrument. 

Highlighting a pair of Koi fish on the back, this 00 12 fret model guitar  with a select Adirondack top is adorned with an exquisite inlay on the fretboard and headstock that ties the front and back together in a stunning aquatic theme. 

Koi fish inlay on the fretboard
Brazilian Heelcap with Brass Purfling

Simon Haycraft, Thompson Guitars’ inlay designer, artist and angler, spent many years using his skills to master the art of stain painting.  His technique uses the wood as a canvas, the wood grains and textures being an integral part of the art work.  The back has a 3D quality, where the fish look like they’re swimming just under the surface of the water.

The top is a beautifully booked matched bear claw Adirondack spruce that gives an illusion that wind has created ripples on the surface of the guitar.  Simon began working on “The Koi Pond” after showing Preston Thompson and the shop crew the unique fish art he’d created on various wood surfaces. 

“The Koi Pond” has a 3D quality, where the fish look like they’re swimming just under the surface of the water.”

Thompson Guitars Masterpiece #2 – Koi Pond
Cherry Blossoms inlaid on the headstock
Cherry Blossoms on the headstock
00-14fret Quilted Western Maple/Adirondack top

The headstock is filled with cherry blossoms, with a few petals falling delicately on to the pond featured on the fretboard.  Simon has drawn on Japanese and Chinese aesthetics with the cherry tree being an iconic  part of the landscape.  The inlay is dotted with lily pads and flowers tying the scene together using a myriad of green reconstituted stones. 

The flowers are made up of pink mussel shell providing pink and white hues, while strips of shiny brass and fine purf lines reflect light and create a sense of movement. The Koi carp illustrated on the back are stunningly recreated in pearl and stone on the fretboard, bringing continuity to the concept of this guitar.  

28 style rosette with brass ring
Brazilian rosewood binding with brass side purfling

Each crew member at Thompson Guitars played a role in the overall creation of “The Koi Pond.”  With the combined expertise of these luthiers, the guitar is truly worthy of being a part of the masterpiece series.  The ability to create this quality of design in-house allows Thompson Guitars to offer something extra special to their customers.     
Crew member Gareth Jenkins used his experience to carve the braces of the guitar to achieve the desired tonality and nuance of Thompson guitars.

Kaleb Klein offered his talents by working side by side with Simon to help cut the inlay, to research the use of brass as a binding material, and to highlight it in the rosette.

Scott Salgado bound the guitar with utmost precision and detail, taking many hours to manipulate the brass into the curves of the guitar.

During the finish process, Jason Hardesty and Peter Daggatt worked their magic to make “The Koi Pond” perfect after hours of repeated scraping, sanding and spraying lacquer.  Joel Chadd completed the final step in the process.  Using his confidence and expertise, Joel brought it all together with the final touches on the nut and saddle using unbleached bone.  Then they incorporated brass and green stone in the bridge and end pins to complete the masterpiece.  Altogether, Thompson Guitars has created not only a masterpiece of artwork, but a tool and instrument that wants and needs to create music. 

A deep connection exists between guitar building and fly fishing at Thompson headquarters in Central Oregon. The natural environment, including the lakes and rivers near the guitar shop, plays an influential role in the creativity and ideas these luthiers bring to their work.

Simon applies his artistic touch to all of his passion, including fly-tying.  These folks share a common passion for fly fishing and for their own waters.  This shared passion not only feeds their souls, but it feeds their artwork and production.

00-14fret Quilted Western Maple with Koi fish stained on the back.

“The Koi Pond” guitar will be for sale at Dream Guitars in Asheville, North Carolina.  For more information on this guitar or designing your own fish-themed handcrafted Thompson guitar, contact 

Contributed By

Thompson Guitar – Sisters, Oregon

From our workshop in the music-loving town of Sisters, Oregon we build custom guitars and standard models based on the best American made guitars from the 1930’s. The choice of Grammy-winning flatpick and fingerstyle guitarists alike, Preston Thompson Guitars are among the best acoustic guitars available anywhere, renowned for superior tone, craftsmanship and materials.

Our fine guitars are designed by master guitar luthier, Preston Thompson. Discovered by bluegrass virtuosos Charles Sawtelle and Peter Rowan in the 1980s, Preston has built a reputation for handmade, original vintage style guitars based closely on the measurements and sound quality of those golden era steel string guitars. He got his start building guitars under Charles Fox at the School of the Guitar Research & Design Center in Vermont, one of the first schools for guitar making in North America.

It was during his collaboration with bluegrass great Charles Sawtelle of Hot Rize, that Preston began to gather measurements from Sawtelle’s collection of rare and famous pre-war vintage instruments.

The guitar Preston built for Sawtelle based on these studies became one of his most treasured instruments. And Preston uses his detailed measurements of those instruments to this day to create guitars that are coveted for their superlative sound, the beauty of their materials, and the precision of their construction.

For more info about Preston Thompson Guitars goto

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