News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Billy Strings takes the stage with Sisters-made guitar

Preston Thompson Guitars in Sisters works with a number of big-name guitar players. Billy Strings, rising Americana and roots guitar player is one of those musicians.

According to their website: “Preston started making guitars in the 1980s. Charles Sawtelle and Peter Rowan were among the first to enjoy the quality and sound of Preston’s builds, along with his friendship.”

Many years ago, Billy Strings was in Carter Vintage Guitars in Nashville where he found a Thompson guitar. Shortly after came the order for his next guitar. He ended up doing a meet-up at the shop before his show in Bend at the Volcanic Pub Theater in August of 2017. Since then, Preston Thompson Guitars has collaborated with Billy Strings to create a limited-edition Brazilian Dreadnought signature model guitar.

Strings wanted to decide what elements to include. According to the guitar maker, the model is a DBS-EIA with an Adirondack top, made from East Indian rosewood backing and sides with a Honduran mahogany neck. It has slotted diamonds and squared fretboard markers with a special inner stone. It also has the Billy Sunburst – Nitrocellulose Lacquer and an 18-style three-ring rosette. This guitar is based off the classic D-93 Martin Guitar.

Preston Thompson Guitars is one of few guitar shops with an in-house inlay artist with Simon Haycraft doing inlays, building and finishing of the guitars. Billy Strings wanted a specific jade-green inlay torch on the guitar that can be seen on the headstock of the signature model.

Preston Thompson Guitars got the OK from Strings to create a signature model based off of his original guitar design. They put 33 model guitars out for sale. They have since sold out of the model and are still in the process of building each one sold.

“Strings designed the logo and signed each of them for the model,” said Christine Funk, general manager of Preston Thompson Guitars.

Strings specified the “specs,” or specifications of the guitar, including special pickups and microphones for plugging into his pedal board to create his unique sounds in performance.

Billy Strings has been to the shop in Sisters twice now, once in 2017 to pick up his second Preston Thompson that he had specially designed, after getting his first one at Carter’s in Nashville. He was there once again to get a tour of the building process in 2019. They did most of the design work and discussion over the phone over the months of build. A video of Strings picking up the guitar in 2017 can be found at: https:// href="" target="_blank">

Preston Thompson Guitars and Billy Strings have no exclusive contract, just a mutual love for playing and creating high-quality handmade classic guitars.

“We try to keep in touch with him and promote what he’s doing with our guitars,” said Funk.

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