The Companion Model is a very fun recent project coming out of our workshop here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Companion is a small “parlor size” instrument made with no frills in an old school manner, that is all solid woods, fan braced 19th century Spanish style guitar.
Originally I was just trying to find a way to make a more modestly priced handmade guitar, and use some materials that had been set aside because they wouldn’t work for full sized more pricey instruments. It became curious to bend the “rules” of lutherie in intriguing ways, such as making hardwood soundboards, or using un-matched sets of woods, like making dinner out of leftovers in the fridge.
The body size and shape were directly influenced by the Antonio Torres FE 18 built in 18xx, and the bracing is a simple 5 bar fan. Departing from 19th century tradition we put in sound ports, which adds to the sound on such a small guitar. We have built Companions with both a wider flatter “classical” style neck and with a narrower radius fingerboard “crossover" style neck. It has a short 620mm scale to go along with the the smaller body.
By reducing or eliminating mostly cosmetic features like purflings and binding, and simplifying the finish to a basic wash coat of shellac and lacquer we can cut down the labor going into the build. It’s still hand made, but with more streamlined simplicity. We’ve experimented with woods in whimsical ways, and with quite successful results, making bodies with all the same woods such as all rosewood, all maple, all koa, with very interesting and musical results. Not a concert classical guitar, not a native folk guitar, but simply a guitar for all purposes.
Our concert classical guitars are still the flagship of our workshop production, but in our “spare” time its nice to be able to make something that is relatively affordable, adventurous, a go anywhere guitar and a wonderful addition to our daily musical lives. You can find the Hill Guitar Companion Model in our showroom now.