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Santa Cruz HT/13
 
A beautiful signature model for folk legend Happy Traum.
May 20, 2021
 

Few acoustic guitar makers have built as many signature models for highly respected players as the Santa Cruz Guitar Company, which has developed instruments celebrating Tony Rice, Janis Ian, Eric Skye, Catfish Keith, Otis Taylor, and others. But even in that company, Santa Cruz’s latest collaboration with Happy Traum is a meeting of luminaries. A vital part of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s, Happy Traum has worked with artists including Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and John Sebastian, and his duo with his late brother Artie Traum was a highly successful touring act for decades. His solo performances continue to delight audiences today. As the founder of Homespun Music Instruction, Happy pioneered teaching via audio tapes and video, and he is a highly respected member of the acoustic music community. Santa Cruz Guitar Company founder Richard Hoover first encountered one of Happy’s lesson books in 1969, so creating a signature model in Happy’s honor is a fitting continuation of a long association. I have known Happy for many years, so I was excited to check out one of the first Santa Cruz HT/13 models to come out of the shop. 

The HT/13 is based on a custom Santa Cruz H-13 that Happy has been playing for several years. Inspired by vintage Nick Lucas model Gibsons, which have a small but deep body, and a neck joint at the 13th fret, the H-13 has become one of Santa Cruz’s most popular models. For the HT/13, Santa Cruz chose beautiful mahogany for the back and sides, pairing it with an old-growth redwood top. The guitar has Adirondack spruce bracing and it features hot hide glue construction. Santa Cruz offers a variety of bridge and peghead options, and Happy chose a  pyramid bridge and slotted peghead for his signature model. Ivoroid binding, abalone top purfling, abalone rosette, and Style-42 fingerboard inlay (augmented by Happy’s signature at the 18th fret) contribute to a distinguished appearance without detracting from the instrument’s top-quality woods. 

I’m a big fan of mahogany guitars, and I’ve also found that a pairing with redwood often yields a tonality that really works well for how I play (for instance, I loved the Santa Cruz Legends in Lutherie FS that I had a chance to demo last year). So I was excited to get the HT/13 out of its case, and from the first note I plucked, I knew that this was a special guitar. The guitar has a highly dynamic voice, and it offers complex tones even with the softest touch, making it an amazing fingerstyle machine. The HT/13’s soft-V neck shape sits somewhere between vintage and more contemporary shapes, and I found it comfortable to play regardless of the position I found myself in. With its long scale, the guitar worked great whether I was in standard or alternate tunings, which I tested by playing Eric Skye’s “The Locktender’s Reel” in CGDGCD tuning. 

Santa Cruz has built guitars at an incredibly high level for decades, but instruments like the HT/13 demonstrate that the company continues to raise the bar. I can’t wait to hear the music that Happy will be making with his new guitar, a preview of which can be seen and heard on the Santa Cruz YouTube channel

SPECS: Santa Cruz H-13 body. Old-growth redwood top. Hide-glued, Adirondack spruce scalloped/tapered X-bracing. Mahogany back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fretboard and bridge. 25.375-inch scale. 1 ¾-inch nut width. Waverly tuning machines. Made in USA. $8,800. santacruzguitar.com

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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
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