Ruthy

Ruthy is the first guitar that was made under the Dagmar moniker. Swanson pulled the name from the hot rod subculture dictionary. Dagmars are what hot rodders call the bullet shaped adornments found on car bumpers from the 50s. Further research on the origins of this word reveal that General Motors nicknamed their 1953 Caddy bumperettes Dagmars after a voluptuous blond bombshell comedian named Jennie Ruthy Lewis. Mrs. Lewis was a regular on the Milton Berle show and used Dagmar as her stage name. It was her ample figure and trend-setting torpedo shaped bra that inspired GM to name their adornments after her.

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The guitar's checkered rim is made using keystone shaped segments made up of Honduras Mahogany and blond Flame Maple. The concave interior is laminated with two layers of Carbon Fiber and the Spruce neck and tail blocks are hidden within the rim's curve, which greatly reduces the glue surface of the plates. On a traditional guitar the top and back are glued to the neck and tail blocks, impeding the plate's ability to vibrate freely in these areas. The compound curved rim also takes the brunt of the lateral string tension, which reduces the stress on the sound plate, allowing it to vibrate more freely.

The top sound plate is parallel braced and is finely carved from German Spruce that has some beautiful Bear Claw figure. The back is deeply furled blond Big Leaf Flame Maple.

The fingerboard, Deco Bolt bindings, peg head veneer and bridge are all made from Rosewood.

The neck is a nine-lamination design; a center of blond Flame Maple, 4 pieces of Honduras Mahogany and in between each piece of wood is Carbon Fiber. The carbon fiber adds strength and stability to the neck especially in the transition area where the fingerboard bends 15 degrees to the peg head. This area is where the wood grain is at it's shortest and weakest. A two way adjustable truss rod is also used in the neck to dial in the preferred relief. The neck is a bolt on unit that cantilevers above the top plate, again to promote unimpeded vibrations. This neck design is the Dagmar standard.

Other features include Schaller tuners, a natural bone nut and an Ebony tailpiece with a numeric ā€œIā€ inlayed in Rosewood.

Jennie

Jennie is Pete's second guitar. She was made with the same mathematical offsets as her older sister Ruthy. All of her segments were cut all at once and not checked against the drafting. All the machining was set up using digital tools that claim a tolerance of .1 degrees. Even though Swanson was diligent in making sure the numbers in his notes matched the digital read outs exactly, the guitar came out a different shape than Ruthy. This anomaly was a bit of a surprise to Swanson and the experiment helped establish a reference point and confirmed that minuet differences in machining will result in a different guitar. He concluded that every guitar should be considered a one off sculpture, as each one requires it's own set of unique patterns to complete.

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Jennie is X braced and instead of Rosewood appointments like Ruthy she is adorned with Ebony. Inlays of white Holy wood and black Carbon Fiber help define the top and back plates. Her Ebony tailpiece is engraved with a Swan.

Mary Lou W

In Swanson's words: "My goal with this guitar was to make her my showstopper for my debut at the 2009 Montreal Guitar Show. I wanted to build an electric guitar to expand the breadth of what I can offer. While researching electronics and surfing the net I came across Charlie Christian and became intrigued by his cult following. I loved the hardcore look of the Charlie Christian pickup with it's large cantilevered mounting plate and 3-screw adjustment. I was struck with a kind of Norman Rockwell like vision of Charlie playing his guitar at a filling station while waiting for the tour bus to be serviced. I pulled styling cues from my vision to design the aesthetic. The rim is made of Cooked Flame Maple, which has a beautiful golden color. I figured out a way to pipe every square with red veneer to imitate the fine thread pattern in Charlie's 1930s era tweed suit. In my research I also became aware of Mary Lou Williams who was a piano playing friend of Christian's. She was the person who introduced Charlie to all the right people and helped him launch his legendary career. I want this guitar to be my Mary Lou."

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Mary Lou W was another break through guitar for Pete. He tinkered with the initial laminations and adjusted the foundation angles to create a deeper rim. In the midst of building this guitar Swanson became comfortable with adjusting the machine set-ups by eye to dial in her pleasing shape.

The guitar has a Western Red Cedar top and a stellar piece of heavily figured Cooked Birds Eye Maple for the back. A simple form was built to give the Carbon Fiber reinforced Spruce bracing a gentle curve so that when installed in an X pattern they would swoop around the Charlie Christian pickup. Most Charlie Christian pickup equipped guitars are parallel braced.

This guitar is also the first one to be inlayed with the Dagmar logo. It, along with the tailpiece inlay, are made in a unique way that is reminiscent of a jewel where light seems to reflect from the inside out.

Eve

Eve is Pete's prototype single cutaway. All of her main pieces are made from Ancient Kauri wood which has been carbon dated to be 50,000 years old. This special wood comes from New Zealand and is considered an environmentally friendly wood because it was the ice age that knocked the trees down. However, it is also a precious material as there is only a fixed amount of it. To learn more about this incredible wood go to ancientwood.com.

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Swanson says he named the guitar in a very tongue in cheek way after thinking about how luthiers are often compared to as Geppettos because they're desperate aim is to breath life into the objects they make. So, Swanson, "the creator", decided "Eve" was an appropriate choice since the guitar would be his second major body model and is also made from the world's oldest wood.

A lot of knowledge was gained in the creation of this guitar especially with regards to the neck joint. The heel of the guitar is carved at an angle to follow the body shape and allows the player a very comfortable and unobstructed access reach into the upper frets.

Eve's Ebony tailpiece is engraved with an apple.

Vicky

Vicky is a very special guitar that was commissioned by Queen's University to help debut, test and develop their state of the art Photonic pickup system. The guitar's Sitka Spruce top has 7-fiber optics spliced into the wood fibers on the underside. Laser light is fed into the sensor-equipped optics (about the size of a human hair) at a very high and locked in frequency. When the guitar is played it's vibrations cause the light within the optics to refract, which creates the signal. All audible (and inaudible) bandwidths are captured and are converted into an exact acoustic signature of the instrument. This is a link to a segment that aired on the Discovery Channel for The Daily Planet that is further explained by the inventor, Professor Hans Peter Loock.

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The guitar is X braced. The X's box joint is off center and is located more on the treble side. The treble side of each strut is taller and thinner compared to the bass side and material was routed out from the center to make them like I Beams. This allows for the braces to loose 20% of their weight but none of their strength. Higher frequencies move better through light yet stiff material. The bass side of the braces is less in height, wider, longer and left solid without "I Beaming" them. These braces are heavier yet less stiff than the treble side. Bass frequencies move better through heavier yet less stiff material. The total result is a treble side that is thin and light yet very stiff and a bass side that is heavier but less stiff. The tone of the guitar is impressive with a full well balanced voice.

Vicky was named after Queen Victoria who chartered the school. Her tailpiece has been inlayed with a crown, which is one of the elements found in the University's crest. It is set into red tinted epoxy for a jewel like effect.

Gretchen

This double cutaway was developed with grant money Pete received from The Ontario Arts Council in 2010. The aim of this guitar was not only to develop a double cutaway body shape but also to produce a rock and roll scream machine that could be used to learn more about high volume performance and feedback control. The guitar recently received an A+ review from Pete Prown of Vintage Guitar Magazine.