Guitar Related - Spent an afternoon and evening with Jim Olson

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by DIGMAN52, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. DIGMAN52

    DIGMAN52 F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Jan 30, 2004
    Dallas Texas
    Full Name:
    Philip C
    Image Unavailable, Please Login Image Unavailable, Please Login Image Unavailable, Please Login Image Unavailable, Please Login Image Unavailable, Please Login Image Unavailable, Please Login Image Unavailable, Please Login Image Unavailable, Please Login Image Unavailable, Please Login Image Unavailable, Please Login I was very fortunate to be able to travel with a friend to Circle Pines Minnesota last week, to visit the luthier shop of Jim Olson. James Taylor has been playing Jim's guitars exclusively since 1989, and travels with 4-5 of them on the road. I had been in contact with Jim in late spring, as I saw one of his rare 12 string guitars for sale, and being a 12 string guy, I had to have it. It is guitar #1137, and is every bit as good as his 6 string guitars, of which I own #759 Small Jumbo as well. He built 11 or less ( in his memory) 12 strings, and it now sits next to it's big brother, my 1972 Guild D-40 12.

    I had been following an Olson build thread on the Acoustic Guitar Forum, and read about the possibility that Jim was building a 40th Anniversary Guitar in this year's batch of 28 guitars. I contacted Jim immediately about it, put down a deposit, and got to hold and play it on my trip to Minnesota. I couldn't bring her home with me without paying state tax, so it was sent to me 2 days after our trip there. Jim had kept the best straight grain Brazilian Rosewood he had bought in the 80's to use on a special guitar. Jim really blinged out this amazing piece of usable art, and the detail work blows me away ! It plays like a dream, and has that famous Olson sound, knowing that it would just continue to get better as it opens up over time.

    We spent the afternoon going through the shop, peppering Jim with questions, and learning how much of his tooling he designed and built himself. A self taught artist, Jim's wife bought him a book in the mid 70's showing how to bend wood for guitars, and the rest is history. He began making guitars in 1977, but was met with no success for many years, and did much of the work out of his church basement. His rent was cleaning up the church, and fixing things, while Sue brought in the bacon for the family. He got a little bump when Phil Keaggy started playing an Olson in 1984, but his life changed forever when James Taylor played one in 1989, and pretty much played them exclusively since then. It was the best advertising an aspiring luthier could have, producing a stack of future orders that would take a couple of years to work through. That pressure to produce so many guitars was daunting, and Jim decided to not overcommit again, and started the new each year waiting lists.

    Some of the most fun we had was standing in front of his wall of photos, many signed by the artists holding their Olson's or with Jim. There was James Taylor, Phil Keaggy, Leo Kottke, David Crosby, Lou Reed, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Zack Brown, Sting, and the list just keeps going. Many artists have traveled to this small shop in Minnesota, and we were so thankful to get to visit as well.

    Jim asked us to go into the house and sing a couple of songs for he and Sue, so my buddy and I each did a 2 song mini-set, and were so humbled to play in front of the couple who had heard so many music icons play these guitars before. Then off to dinner with them both. What a delightful, down to earth couple, who live a simple life in Minnesota, and part time in Scottsdale, where golf has become a passion of Jim's.

    It was a bucket list trip for both of us, and I wanted to share this special experience with my F/chat family.
  2. Ak Jim

    Ak Jim F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 23, 2007
    North Pole AK
    WOW! Fantastic. Great guitar and what a great experience! Any chance of posting a video so we can hear it?

Share This Page