It’s Much More Than a “No Strings Attached” Kind of Relationship

Ken Jones at work.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Ken Jones, a renowned luthier in Candler who will participate this month in the Mountain Acoustics Luthier Invitational, has spent 30 years in the art world and 14 years building and repairing guitars. “I’ve worked in wood shops my entire adult life,” Jones tells Asheville Made. “There are many great joys of building guitars — for example, working with so many different types of wood is fascinating to me. Mother Nature has essentially created the beauty, and I am just putting those materials together.” 

Jones received his MFA in Sculpture from the University of Arizona. He went on to become part of the adjunct faculty in the Art Department there for ten years. He was the shop supervisor for the College of Architecture, working in the wood, metal, glass, and ceramics studios — and receiving an invaluable foundation for his future career as a luthier.

At the Invitational, Jones will be exhibiting two of his odalisque acoustic guitars. “The inspiration for my guitar body shapes is my wife, Elise,” he reveals. “She is my muse.” He’ll also bring his tools, hosting a repair-shop promotional.

Ken Jones holding his own Baratone Acoustic Guitar while sitting on his sculpture.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

“The big thing to note is how diverse the luthier community is in the area,” exclaims Jones. “This is our first event, and I’m very excited to finally have our own show represented locally.”

Hosted by Jay Lichty, of Lichty Guitars in Tryon, the weekend will showcase more than 30 luthiers from the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, and West Virginia, all bringing vastly different skill sets. It’s about the makers, and about the musicians, too — those who coax sounds out of the custom guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, hammered dulcimers, violins, cellos, and harps that will be on display. On Saturday night, Kaki King — hailed as the first woman “Guitar God” by Rolling Stone — will headline a concert at nearby Parkway Playhouse, supported by Burnsville duo Ron and Minnie Powell and Asheville-based 12-string guitarist Nick Gonnering.

“The response has been amazing,” says event director Chee Ammen. “An opportunity to see such fine hand-built instruments in one venue is rare.”

Ken Jones’ Odalisque Acoustic Guitar set up in his workshop.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Ken Jones, Mountain Song Guitars, Candler. For more information, see mountainsongguitars.com or visit his Facebook page: Mountain Song Guitars. Jones’ work is also represented by Dream Guitars, Asheville, dreamguitars.com. The Mountain Acoustics Luthier Invitational happens over Memorial Day Weekend, Friday, May 24 through Sunday, May 26. The showcase and workshops run Saturday, May 25, 9am-4:30pm, and Sunday, May 26, 10am-3:30pm, at Burnsville Town Center (6 South Main St.). General admission is $10 a day, $15 for both days. For more information, including a list of workshops, visit mountainacoustics.com or call 828-682-4285. 

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