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The Heart of New York

by Robert L Kantor


Bruce and I go back to his days at the Gibson Custom Shop. I became very interested in Bruce’s work as he clearly demonstrated that he was first and foremost an artist as well as a second-generation fine wood craftsman. Being one of the few real artisans left who has a clear understanding of wood and its sound, I turned to Bruce to make for me what was to become his final version of his future vision for the Les Paul.

I often return to Gibson where the showpieces that are wheeled out always are the art guitars hand built by Bruce, a true testament to his time honored abilities.

Upon calling Gibson one day to speak to Bruce about a new project, I was informed that Bruce had gone out on his own. I couldn’t wait to hand Bruce a project and fully believed in his ability to make the finest hand made instrument possible.

Needless to say, Bruce delivered a true work of art; The Heart of New York was born.

I had the good fortune to take delivery at Bruce’s new shop and was given a demonstration by the famous D.R. Auten of just how sweet the Heart of New York is. It is hard to imagine that an instrument of such beauty could be made from scratch by one person’s hands. No words can describe the visceral beauty and sound of this work of art.

Somehow Bruce had managed to carve a dream into reality. This is the moment in which all of Bruce’s experience, talent and ability had come together. Imagine a neck that plays as easily as your favorite electric solid body. Then, pair it with the most amazing volume and tone from fine figured Koa, I was simply at a loss for words.

There simply is no substitute for fine hand craftsmanship like a Bruce Kunkel guitar. Every minute detail is thought out, and then executed. The inlay work is so finely detailed that you can see just what a lost art this type of carving is. Whether you are a player, or an art collector, there simply is no equal.

Bruce doesn’t need to be further complimented; his work simply stands for itself. It is truly an honor and a privilege to own a Kunkel guitar. It remains one of the finest instruments in my collection, and I will always treasure it knowing it was one of the first instruments to be spun from the hands of this master luthier.

Robert L Kantor - November 2003

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