Testimonials Testimonials

I am the proud new owner of a Roderick Octigan acoustic archtop ( No. 8 ). The journey from the initial discussions and concepts to a completed instrument was a very engaging and delightful process.

Rod is a very meticulous, thorough and uncompromising luthier who is influenced by the Bob Benedetto design but whose passion for working with wood comes from his forebears. the word “artisan” rests easily on Rod’s shoulders and my guitar has a breathtaking aethstetic and elegance about it and harks back to the golden age of lutherie. and now to the sound of the guitar…… it is magnificently voiced and beautifully balanced.

It has that characteristic and defining hallmark of all finely carved archtops;– it has a harp-like quality in the upper registers.the guitar projects very well and you can feel the power behind every note and chords are very ballsy and articulate . amazingly this guitar is only three weeks old ! i would put this guitar up against any Benedetto, Monteleone , Ribbecke et al and it would hold its own. finally, Rod is a very affable and accommodating kind of guy and strives to produce the instrument you have in your imagination.

Bravo Rod !

Joseph Cozza. September 2011.


Over recent months Melbourne jazz musician Geoff Hughes has been trying out some of my instruments and has had a few kind words to say about my work, to quote Geoff…

I met Rod Octigan for the first time, late last year in his workshop in Boronia – where he had a couple of his earlier guitars hanging up on the wall – including a lovely tobacco sunburst archtop. I was struck by the beautiful simplicity of the instrument, a fairly orthodox build on a familiar theme – but beautifully made and very playable; and for Rod – a sublime document of the realisation of his latest idea – which was simply leading him onward to his next creation. As a professional musician, I feel a great comradeship with anyone in the business who has become utterly obsessed with their calling -and it was pretty clear that Rod, a self employed carpenter, had seriously embarked on a journey of guitar-making to a level that was way in advance of where you might expect someone in the early-ish years of that journey. This unassuming and intuitive luthier already had a strong aesthetic with his instruments – and the practical, sure hand of a true craftsman.

While I was in the workshop on a couple of occasions at the end of 2011, another of Rod’s projects was taking shape – a cutaway archtop with a different combination of woods; including engelman spruce, blackwood and rosewood – and the most beautiful neck I’d seen on an instrument for some time. That guitar was completed over the summer – it was a real beauty to behold and Rod allowed me to take the instrument for a spin on a club date, where I had fully intended to play a few tunes on it before returning to my own guitar. As it turned out, I just couldn’t put “the beast” down – the instrument had the most beautiful and unique tone, and was a total joy to play.

I have had Rod do a couple of jobs for me on my own instruments which have improved their playability no end – and I’m currently in cahoots with him over another instrument for myself.

Geoff Hughes
April 2012

Over the past 18 months or so Geoff Hughes has had a chance to “road test” a few acoustic archtops of mine. The following is a bit of a review of three of my instruments. This is what Geoff has written.

B2: We ended up calling this guitar B2 – because it was based on the design and materials used to create B1 – so called because I named it “The Beast” and it was the first. These two guitars are very similar in some ways – but I decided when I commissioned the B2 build for a few different features as explained later on.

All three of the guitars I’m talking about here are “17″ archtops with solid tops.

The Beast, (#1) is an extraordinary instrument. I used it on a couple of gigs and on the Michelle Nicole recording “Mancini”. Its construction and pickup are critical to the sound. The Engelman spruce top and Blackwood back and sides, whilst looking amazing, also give the guitar a noticeable mid range – generating real warmth in its acoustic sound. B1 is fitted with a floating single coil Benedetto (one of the later models produced by Seymour Duncan) it’s a nice, clear sounding pickup, but the guitar was prone to feeding back in the bottom end around drums and other loud signals. This was only a problem live when the band cranked up a bit – and no problem at all in the studio; where I miked it up and mixed that with the amp signal. (I should add that the amp I used to test all of these guitars was a Fender Deluxe Reverb Blackface 65 Reissue – with a tube makeover).

B1 is a special instrument – at quiet volumes it has a rich and complex tone both acoustically and amplified and has a deep burgundy burst finish. The detail around the neck and headstock is also wonderful – B1 is a real work of art.

The wider neck and flatter rosewood fingerboard were another inspiration in the B2 build. Very different from any other guitar I have played.

The “Curly” – an earlier build is a different guitar altogether. I would class this instrument as a Jazz Classic. Also sporting a floating pickup (but this time a Kent Armstrong mini humbucker), the Curly as a beautiful tobacco finish on a sitka top – and the back and sides are the more standard maple – but figured maple. Curly has a much more straight ahead tone. To be honest it didn’t grab me when I first played it – it seemed a little thin sounding and a little unresponsive. But that all changed when I changed strings to Thomastik Flatwounds (12-52) and took it out on a gig. This guitar has everything most jazz guitarists love – clear ringing fat electric tones and an even acoustic response. It was so hassle free – no feedback even when the band cranked up – and as the gain increases through the pick up – the tone starts getting warm and gnarly. It’s a brighter, simpler sound than B1 or 2 – but all the more appealing for that to some peoples taste I think.

Its also a dream to play – this guitar could easily blow an L5 or a Super 400 away – and its very similar in some ways but much, much more responsive than the majority of newer Gibsons I have played.

The plan to build Beast #2 evolved mainly around the structure of B1 with the stability of Curly and a few different ideas about hardware and electronics. I provided Rod with some vintage electronics from my own collection, and whilst I loved the acoustic tone of B1, the prospect of feedback issues were a real concern. We decided on the same build – Engelman spruce, Blackwood and maple, but with the pickup mounted in the top of the instrument rather than floating – this would sacrifice a small amount of acoustic output for more stability in the top.

I also went for the full size humbucker – the Benedetto A6 is warm and clear with no overloading bass tendencies that I have noticed – although pickup height is critical to the tone and attack – I’m still experimenting with that.

The finish on B2 was inspired by a custom finish on some of Sadowsky’s archtops – called Caramel burst – a sort of golden 3 tone sunburst.

Rod did a beautiful job here – offsetting the browner Sadowsky shades with a bit more red on the outside. It sits somewhere between Cherry and Caramel – stunning.

The other differences were the plain squarer Grover tuners over the more ornate ones on B1 – a practical thing for me as these are more comfortable to use when playing – and just the one fret marker – just the “O” for Octigan on the 12th fret. There is something elegant and simple about a guitar neck without an over abundance of inlays in the fingerboard!

I also took a fancy to Rods home fashioned Aluminium tailpieces – brushed to a burnished black, over the slightly more orthodox trapeze tail on B1.

The sound of B2 has all the mid-richness of B1 – but with the Humbucker and tone control – more clarity and tonal variation from the amp signal. It’s a joy to play – I love picking it up and practicing or playing on it. I haven’t used it with pedals or processing yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if it lent itself to some of that too. But its natural tone is beautiful – both subtle and rich.

The action is tight and smooth – low and even – but I really love the tone through the rosewood – and the beautiful neck on B2 – its an exquisite piece and I can feel the sound in the heel of my palm when I play – its that resonant.

Geoff Hughes
21/11/12.

Recently Nick made the trip down from New south Wales to meet me and play some of my guitars,

A couple of weeks ago I received my Octigan guitar. This guitar has beautiful cherry burst soundboard made of curly maple with equally gorgeous curly maple back and sides. The neck is maple with blackwood. A stunning guitar to look at and even more to hold. Many jazz guitarists seek a laminate construction for both its electric tonal quality and its feedback resistance and yet finding a builder who works with laminate is not easy. I found all of these things with this guitar.
In the past when I’ve bought guitars I loved in the shop I would get them home and find something that annoys me about the guitar that would never really go away. With this guitar, the more I play it the more I enjoy it. The tone is superb. Unlike some laminate guitars, this guitar has a woody resonance akin to that of many solid top archtops, especially when unamplified. It is acoustically the loudest laminate archtop I have ever heard. Amplified it is wonderful. It has tight, controlled basses with beautiful singing, clear trebles. The guitar sounds organic and slightly acoustic – a quality present in many vintage archtops but much harder to find in modern ones. The fretwork is perfect, the neck extremely comfortable, with a gorgeous tone and beautiful finishings – this is a guitar that easily exceeds the Gibson archtops it emulates, of any era.
You can see from simply holding this guitar why a handmade guitar is far superior to a factory one. I played many of Rod’s archtops when I was looking for a guitar and all were superb. Rod is making instruments of a quality and value that is many times higher than what he charges for his guitars, making these handmade instruments excellent value. Rod is a wonderful and passionate craftsman and his instruments deserve to be in the hands of a far greater number of musicians.
Nick Russell (Sydney, February 2017).

Thanks again for the amazing axe!