"It is a rhythmic gift binding us to the human experience. The time & meter of our existence on earth is defined by this fundamental cycle. The Solstice represents our connection to what is real."
~Ryan R. Elewaut
...a new line of masterpieces...
I believe that strategic variation is the key to creating unique & perfect instruments for different players. Solstice Guitars are built individually using time-honored & innovative construction methods, blending traditional with modern design elements.
acoustic • electric • bass
Acoustic guitars are my first and original passion. The Ecliptic model is a refined design from years of planning and experimentation. The unique bracing and body shape create an ideal fingerstyle guitar. But it has enough punch to handle moderate picking. The Ecliptic is a big guitar considering the smaller body. Your wood choices will further define the overall voice.
It is my goal to seek the optimal response from each piece of tone wood. During construction, all tops are individually voiced and tap-tuned. I am looking for the best possible balance of tone and potential power. Every integral piece, including braces, are selected based on consonant tonal characteristics and tap tones, pairing all components within each guitar. Hot hide glue is used exclusively for all bracing and the bridge joint. Standard woods and exotic upgrades are available. I offer many customizable options for each player.
I've been looking to create the perfect T-style guitar for many years now. But there are too many options! That's why I designed the Transit model to be customized by you.
We offer a wide combination of specs and appointments, upgrades and options. Every Transit comes stock with our unique 3-bolt neck joint using machined inserts (no wood screws.) We also use parallel graphite rods in combination with a modern truss rod system in the neck. Check out the various options here, or contact me to build your Transit!
Visit the Transit page for details.
The Nova Bass was created from a collaboration with Jordan Fairless, bassist for the band Spafford. It is a thunderous five-string made with a unique cut of local wood from a tree that I personally harvested near my home in northern Arizona. This bass is different in a few ways.
This unique model is a neck-through design, built with mahogany and maple/walnut lamination. The body wings are made from locally harvested old-growth Ponderosa. The top is fully capped with figured Walnut, hiding the neck-through. For the pickups and electronics, Jordan chose a Nordstrand P-J set powered by a Demeter onboard preamp. The neck has graphite tone rods helping to reinforce a two-way truss rod system.
ABOUT ~ SOLSTICE
past • present • future
Who is Solstice?
Solstice Guitars is currently a two man shop. Ryan Elewaut and Jason Lindsey produce a limited number of guitars per year. This allows us to focus on our quality and customers.
Solstice is growing surely and slowly, yet our schedule fills quickly each year. Wait times depend on the model and current deposit orders. We occasionally have guitars available here, and some guitars that are now in process aren't reserved yet.
A Short Story
I started playing acoustic guitar at the age 13. Everything about the instrument was magical to me. When I was 14, a family friend loaned me a book called Guitarmaking Tradition & Technology and I was immediately obsessed with the notion.
The very concept of a person building a guitar was like a revelation to me. It rocked my understanding of how things are made and created. The fact that this was possible for an individual person was astounding. After buying a copy of that textbook, I read it thoroughly twice while highlighting and making notes.
My dad had an old ShopSmith tool buried deep in our garage. And it was overwhelming when I learned that this dream might be a real possibility. He showed me basically how the ShopSmith multi-tool worked, and I began building my first guitar at age 15. I found a natural talent for the process, along with an aptitude for woodworking and the required attention to detail.
A Longer Story
Back in 1996 I was a teenager taking guitar lessons at a small shop renowned for their acoustic repair work in California. While reading the guitar making book I started bugging the shop owner with questions. Lots of questions. He showed me a mail order business called Luthiers Mercantile for acoustic guitar building supplies. Back then it was all catalog and call-in orders.
My course in life was starting to reveal itself long before I really knew it.
I finished my first guitar when I was 17. It was a modern classical guitar with an Engelmann spruce top and Macassar ebony back & sides. With that guitar I earned my first real apprenticeship. The guitar was somewhat impressive, and not just for a kid working in his garage teaching himself. It was pretty good for anyone's first build. I still have it hanging in my shop to this day. (The top is way too thick, and I'd never make a classical with Macassar again. The tone is not fantastic. But it plays well, still looks good, and sounds just alright.)
In 1997 I started to learn acoustic guitar repair and restoration work from Greg Mirken at The Shade Tree Instrument Store. He was the only Martin authorized tech in Orange County at the time. While learning more about repair and restoration work I began designing my next two guitars. I was hooked.
In looking back on that time, the notion of becoming a guitar builder wasn't even considered a real professional possibility. The custom luthier guitar movement was just beginning. I didn't know it at the time, and I had no direct connections to that world. But apparently I was catching the same creative wave as many others in the late 90's / early 2000's. However, in 1999 I moved to Flagstaff to attend Northern Arizona University.
So, the first time I dropped out of college was to build those two guitars I had designed. And then I went back to finish my degrees in microbiology and music composition while working on the side as a repair tech. I ended up managing a repair department at the big music store in town.
And the second time I dropped out of college was to start my own guitar shop. I was a talented repair luthier by then and the opportunity came to open a store in Flagstaff. At 23 I didn't completely know what I was getting myself into, but I was up for the challenge.
The next decade was a long and arduous education in business, accounting, marketing, management and finance. That experience served me well and I learned a lot about myself, creating multiple brands, revenue streams and business models. Over those 20 years I have become recognized as one of the top repair luthiers in the region. But I have always wanted to create and share my original guitar designs.
While I have built occasionally along the way, Solstice Guitars are the culmination of my study and career.
Philosophy & Strategy
I design with an aesthetic that is both classic and original. I spend a lot of time thinking about voicing and the pairing of consonant wood components. And like most luthiers, I have an obsession with superior materials and a wood collection that keeps growing.
Throughout my career I have worked on thousands upon thousands of guitars and other instruments. (Approx. 6,500 as of 2020.) My history as a repair luthier has significantly informed my approach to design and building. The way a guitar plays and feels, along with longevity and stability are all components of my target. Aesthetic beauty, tone and function are also primary aspects of this target. It is impossible to fully understand what goes into achieving these marks without working on thousands of guitars. There are a lot of good builders out there. But only the best luthiers know how to produce stunning guitars that also play perfectly, sound amazing, and pass the test of time.
My desire is to craft the best guitars possible in the style that I build. And that includes perfectly setting up and adjusting the action to make them play amazing in your hands. My aim with acoustic guitars is articulate voicing combined with power and tonal balance. I want all the woods to shape and color the overall voicing. In luthier speak, I tend to build more refractive guitars, as opposed to reflective ones. Except for the upcoming Precession model... that one is designed to be a canon.
For my electric guitars, I like a vocalized and vintage tone with modern functionality. But I also like versatility. My favorite voice is the neck-middle position on a strat, and a tele neck pickup alone can often sound similar to that. And while my preferences are somewhat important here, I'm more interested in making a guitar that is perfect for you.
I spend a lot of time thinking about voicing and the pairing of consonant wood components... I have an obsession with superior materials and a wood collection that keeps growing."
Every piece of wood is different, just as every player and thus every guitar. I am consumed with making sure various components are chosen together for their consonance of tone and the aesthetic result.
We build each guitar with the final target of exquisite beauty, superior voice, perfect playing action, and stability. My repair career has led me to a deeply informed understanding of what makes a good guitar sound amazing and play great, along with what can make a good guitar sound bad and play horribly! I believe in offering models with specific variables to provide you with the best options for your playing style and taste. This is what creates a perfect experience when you find the right Solstice, or when you have one made exactly for you.
I am inspired by many great builders from past and present. Specifically the true artists and craftsmen of the modern luthiery movement. I have studied the works of Ervin Somogyi and use his texts often as reference. My earlier inspiration comes from James Goodall and Dana Bourgeouis. All three of whom are masters of voicing, specifically with techniques for treating the top plate. I have also studied the works and lecture notes of John Greven and many other luthiers. I believe that a craftsman can never stop learning. And this world of modern luthiery continues to explode with builders trying many new things.
However, I am still founded and inspired with a perspective of "Tradition & Technology."
The Solstice event itself is foundational to the patterns of life on earth. It sets the clock, as it were. Our human paradigm of time itself is determined and defined by it.
I believe humanity has forgotten how connected we are to the natural rhythms, pulses and cycles created by the rotational motion of our planet. And I'm not talking about astrology here. I'm talking about the fact that the angle of the earth's axis relative to the sun is the reason we have seasons. It's the reason trees grow the way they do. And it's the reason some trees "grow better" than others depending on their orientation and location. I'm talking about how these embedded patterns and variations actively shape all terrestrial life, and how it grows and experiences itself here on this planet.
Music in all forms is completely and utterly a tapestry of rhythm, pattern, frequency and pitch. All of these components are vibrational by nature. There is a unique window with which we perceive and enjoy music. And it is framed by the connection we have to the fundamental vibrations of our existence. That fundamental frequency of our lives is veritably defined with the biannual Solstice, whether we realize or not.
To me, music has always been the most serene and pure thing to experience as a human. And I think combining these pure elements is a great honor and privilege. Solstice is the culmination of my life's work.
Well, if you've made it this far with me, and if you like the style of my guitars, you will fall in love when a Solstice reaches your hands.
Because an experience is perhaps the only thing that can be truly perfect. And I want you to achieve the best musical experience you possibly can.
Solstice Guitars is the result of a career dedicated to luthiery.