New Zealand luthier, Richard Ralston grew up watching his father, Ian, make – and play – world-class violins. Ian’s dedication to the art of lutherie, along with his immense knowledge of stringed instruments and careful attention to detail, inspired Richard to carry on the family tradition of passionate craftsmanship and eloquent artistry. Drawing upon his father’s expertise, Richard began work on his first acoustic archtop jazz guitar in the summer of 2004. Half-a-decade on, he is now firmly ensconced in his father’s workshop, building exquisite instruments for discerning players who recognize the difference between a factory-made guitar and a lovingly hand-crafted and warmly responsive instrument. And when Richard is not making archtops, he is either playing them or teaching other people how to do so.
“In the end, the real test is in the playing”, Richard explains. “It is possible to make an instrument that, at a purely technical level, is near perfect. It is another thing altogether to build an eloquent instrument that has real soul and is a delight to play. It has to sing… it has to really sing.” It is this combination of passionate craftsmanship and eloquent artistry that has become the distinguishing mark of a Ralston acoustic archtop jazz guitar.