Welcome to Xaver Guitars
My name is Gerry Gruber, and I hand-build guitars under the brand name "Xaver Guitars" (pronounced X-offer). I specialize in performance level steel-string acoustic guitars, in three models: dreadnought, mini-jumbo and grand concert. I have a limited selection of guitars in stock, available for immediate delivery, and also take custom orders. Click here to see the guitars currently available, or here to find out how to order a custom guitar.
Blake Shelton and Xaver Guitars
April 9, 2014
As you may know, Blake Shelton is often seen on stage playing a Takamine guitar (Takamine Guitars are headquarterd in Nakatsugawa, Gifu, Japan). Takamine guitars are one of the few production-level guitars that offer a split saddle (i.e., two saddles rather than the more common single saddle). I've been using a split saddle on my guitars from the beginning, due to the improved compensation that a split saddle offers. Whether the split saddle is one of the reasons that Shelton plays a Takamine, I don't know. But I do know that Shelton was announced as the opening big act at this summer's Ottawa Blues Fest, which got me to thinking...
Wouldn't it be cool if a big act like Blake Shelton were to play one of my guitars at a prestigious event like the Ottawa Blues Fest! That would be an incredible boost to my efforts to get the word out about my guitars. Ok, you may say, "Gerry, you're dreaming in technicolour." And, you're probably right. But, Blake does have to play some kind of guitar when he comes to Ottawa. And, I know what a bother it can be to travel with a guitar (you know, checking it in at the airport, lugging it to the hotel, etc.). So, I would really be doing a big favour by lending Blake one of my guitars for the concert, don't you think? And to top it off, my guitars are made right here - in Ottawa. So, sort of like the "100 Mile Diet", Blake would be playing a guitar from Ottawa, rather than one from Japan.
So, Blake if you happen to read this (and I know you're a big closet fan of Xaver Guitars, but just don't want to offend Takamine), could you ask your people to get in touch with my people? Oh, by the way, did I mention that I love "The Voice", and Miranda Lambert, and...
Cocobolo and Engelmann Mini-Jumbo
January 7th, 2014
This is the latest guitar that I have completed. It is a mini-jumbo with an Engelmann spruce soundboard and cocobolo back and sides. Ebony is featured throughout as well, with an ebony fingerboard, bridge and headstock veneer. The guitar also has a Laskin style armrest, side soundport, and venetian cutaway. I used golden Gotoh 510 tuners with black knobs on this guitar. The sound is balanced, clear, and sustaining. No doubt the Adirondack spruce bracing contributes to the pleasant tone. This guitar has already been spoken for. It was a custom build. I worked closely with the customer over the past months, not only to determine his specific needs but also to ensure that he was aware from week to week how the build was progressing. I do have an extra set of cocobolo in my shop. So, if you like what this guitar looks and sounds like (check out the uploaded soundfiles and videos), let me know and I can start on a guitar like this for you. Here are the details.
OFC Songwriter Profile and Shannon Rose Playing an Xaver Mini-Jumbo
November 5, 2013
The Ottawa Folklore Centre recently intereviewed Shannon Rose, lead singer of Shannon Rose and the Thorns about her songwriting. Shannon was checking out one of my mini-jumbos during the interview, and played it during an in-store performance of her single "Winter Alibi" from the EP "Seasons". Check out the video below. (The guitar, incidentally, is available at the OFC on Bank Street, just south of Lansdowne. Check out the specs on this guitar here.)
Ottawa Citizen Publishes "Guitar Hero of Orleans"
September 24, 2013
The Ottawa Citizen "Style" website published an article on Xaver Guitars titled The Guitar Hero of Orleans. Style reporter Julie Lan wrote the article and also did the photography. I must say, Julie had her work cut out for her, trying to make me look presentable in a style magazine. You can see more of her incredible photography at PopChampagneblog.com.
Gord Black of Blacksmith to Play Xaver Dread at East Side Marios
August 31, 2013
Xaver Guitars is teaming up with local music duo Blacksmith this Saturday evening at East Side Marios, Bells Corners. Gord Black will be playing one of my dreadnoughts during the show. I've known Gord for several years, and he has always been very appreciative of my work. He is an excellent guitarist, performer, and guitar instructor, which makes his praise for my guitars that much more noteworthy. The instrument he will be playing is a sitka spruce/East Indian rosewood dreadnought with a venetian cutaway. (Now, if I can just hide that Takamine he's holding, he might have to play my guitar all night...)
So come out to East Side Marios this Saturday, August 31st, and enjoy the music of Blacksmith.
Eve's Daughter to Feature Xaver Guitars at Kinburn Swampfest
August 16, 2013
If you haven't heard of Eve's Daughter yet, you soon will. They are the hottest new Ottawa based country-rock band, featuring Kim Remus' incredible vocals and Frank McKinlay's artistry on lead guitar. Having worked with Canada's elite, including Paul Brandt, Colin James, and Johnny Reid, Kim and Frank have the musical chops to set the Canadian country music industry on end. And it gets better. Rounding out the team is Bill Green on bass (what this guy can do on a bass guitar...), John Hoogeveen on drums (one word, "Wow"), and Tom Forsythe on you-name-it (I don't think there is an instrument he hasn't mastered). And they all can and do sing! So, expect some sweet harmonies to accompany Kim's dynamic vocals.
Why am I gushing over this hot new entrant into the Canadian country music scene? First, because they are good! I know this first hand, having been invited to attend their recent rehearsals in preparation for their upcoming show at the Kinburn Swampfest. Second (full-disclosure), they have chosen to feature my guitars during the show! Frank and Kim will be doing a special acoustic rendition of "Stay" (by Sugarland), with Frank playing one of my East Indian Rosewood dreadnought guitars.
The show, as part of the Kinburn Swampfest, is coming up Saturday, Aug. 24th, at the Kinburn Community Centre in Kinburn, Ontario. Eve's Daughter, taking the stage at 9:30 pm is headlining a day full of fantastic music. So, mark it on your calendar, make your plans, and join Eve's Daughter and Xaver Guitars for an unforgetable musical event.
Xaver Guitars Visits Nuremburg Guitar Collection
July 4, 2013
A few weeks back I had the privilege of visiting the Germanisches Nationalmuseum (German National Museum) in Nuremburg, Germany. This museum houses one of three major historical guitar collections in Germany. The other two are in Berlin and Leipzig, which I visited during a previous trip to Germany. The guitars that I saw dated back to the 17th century. Unfortunately, unlike historical violins, guitars of this era did not age well. The tension on the necks made all but a very few instruments unplayable over the years. Fortunately we can still enjoy the style and design of these early guitars thanks to the efforts of museums like the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. Well worth a visit if you have a trip to Germany on your horizon.
Ottawa Folklore Centre Features Xaver Guitar in Local Luthier Spotlight
May 23, 2013
A big thank-you to the Ottawa Folklore Centre for featuring my mini-jumbo guitar in their "Local Luthier Spotlight". The Ottawa Folklore Centre is an institution in eastern Ontario, and is one of the biggest supporters of local luthiers (like myself) in the region. If you've never been to this iconic music store, you owe it to yourself to pay them a visit. An incredible selection of guitars (including hand-built ones) as well as other stringed and non-stringed musical instruments, and the most knowledgeable and friendly staff in the city. Here's a link to the Local Luthier Spotlight feature. You can read all the specs for this guitar on my site here, but to hear this guitar, you've got to got down to the OFC. Just a few blocks south of Lansdowne on Bank Street.
Don Ross Demo'ing an Xaver Grand Concert Guitar
May 16, 2013
I would like to offer a big thanks to Don Ross for generously demo'ing my and other luthiers' guitars at the recent Elmira Guitar Show. Don is one of, if not the greatest fingerstylist today. You can check out Don's music and CDs at his gobyfish.com website. The guitar he is demo'ing is one of my Grand Concert models. You can read more about this guitar (which incidentally is still available) here. Enjoy.
A Guitar is Born
January 4th, 2013
I had the opportunity to play Santa Claus in a special way a few weeks back. I completed a mini-jumbo - a custom build - and delivered it to the happy customer, Jack Stacey, just two days before Christmas. As you can see from the picture, this guitar was customized with pearl inlay on the ebony fingerboard (as well as custom inlay on the headstock).
The guitar not only looks nice, but it sounds very nice. It has a lively cedar soundboard, and figured walnut back and sides. The fingerboard, bridge, and headstock/backstrapping are ebony. This guitar also features a venetian cutaway, a side soundport, and a Laskin-style armrest. Add to that upgraded tuners (510 Golden Gotohs) as well as the industry leading K&K Pure Mini passive pickup.
I invite you to have a closer look at the guitar here and if you like the style and specs, give me a shout and I can work up an estimate for one like it for you.
Compensated Nuts - Why Your Guitar Needs One
October 24th, 2012
A compensated nut is a nut that is moved closer to the first fret by a small amount, in order to remove the "flatness" when playing open (non-fretted) strings. (On an aside, we do have many "over-compensated nuts" here in Ottawa, we call politicians. But that's another matter.) On my mini-jumbo model, which has a scale length of 25.4", the theoretical distance between the nut and the first fret is 1 and 13.6/32nds of an inch. However, if you were to measure the actual distance it is 1 and 12.6/32nds, exactly 1/32 shorter. That is, the nut on my mini-jumbo model is 1/32 inch closer to the first fret than it theoretically should be. This shortening of the open-string is done to offset the flatness that is introduced by compensated saddles.
(Confused yet? I was, when I first started learning about compensated saddles and nuts. But, it does make sense... eventually.)
To understand why one should compensate the nut, one must also understand why one compensates the saddle. Saddle compensation is the lengthening of the string by a small amount to offset (or compensate for) the increased tension that is applied to strings when they are fretted. You see, there are only three things that determine the frequency of the note we hear on a guitar: the length of the string, the thickness (mass) of the string, and the tension or how tight the string is wound around the manchine posts. Problem is that when we fret a string, we are not only changing its length but also its tension by a small amount. The tension is increased because of the downwards force applied to the string to get it to touch the fret. This increased tension is not a lot, but enough to make strings sound sharp, that is, if we didn't do something to counteract this increased tension. Fortunately, almost all guitars have some system that lengthens the strings by a small amount to offset the increased tension from fretting a string.
If you look at a typical guitar, the saddle is not perpendicular to the strings, but rather is slanted slightly, and also moved back (away from the fingerboard) by a small amount. All strings are lenthened. The low E string is lengthened the most (because of its greater mass) and the high E string is lengthened the least. The other four strings fall somewhere in between. Therefore, whenever a string is fretted, the increased tension is offset by the increased length, and you hear the note at the frequency that it should be. However, what happens when you don't fret the string?
With a correctly compensated saddle, fretted strings will play in tune, but non-fretted strings (open strings) will play a tiny bit flat, unless the guitar has a compensated nut as well. The compensated nut shortens the string by virtue of the nut being located closer to the first fret than it theoretically should be. In this way, open strings are "sharpened" to get rid of the flatness that otherwise would be heard.
So, in summary, the increased tension from fretted strings is compensated by the saddle being moved back (away) by a small amount (more for the low E; less for the high E). The increased length that results from compensated saddles is counter-compensated by the nut being moved forward - toward the first fret.
As I said earlier, almost all guitars have compensated saddles. But, not all guitars have compensated nuts. One of the ways guitar manufacturers cut corners and save money is to skip on the compensated nut. The difference in frequency between a correctly compensated nut and a nut that is not compensated is small. Some people can't hear the difference. However, for many discerning guitar players the difference is noticeable. So, if you are one of those people who is hearing your open strings playing a bit flat, chances are your guitar does not have a compensated nut.
All Xaver Guitars have compensated nuts. I am often told that my guitars play perfectly in tune all the way up the fingerboard. I would like to think it is because of the attention I pay to properly compensating both the saddle and the nut. If you've never played a guitar with a compensated nut before, I invite you to try one of my guitars, and see whether it makes a difference. You may never go back to an uncompensated nut again.
Juno-Award-Winning Teddy Leonard Enjoying an Xaver Guitar
May 14th, 2012
One of the rewards of building guitars is to hear accomplished guitarists play them. I had that opportunity recently at the Ontario Guitar Show. Teddy Leonard performed a few pieces with my grand concert model guitar for those in attendance at the show. Leonard was honoured in 1999 with a Juno Award for Best Blues Recording. His masterful riffs can be heard on numerous CDs as he has performed over the years with bands including Fathead, Handy, Juno nominee Paul Reddick, Colin Linden, Morgan Davis and Pork Belly Futures. Leonard has shared the stage with legends no less than B.B. King. So, you will forgive me if I had a broad grin on my face as one of my guitars came to life under the spellbinding artistry of one of Canada's greatest guitarists. Thanks Teddy. I owe you one.
Samantha Mouchet and Xaver Guitars
May 2nd, 2012
I am delighted to announce that Samantha Mouchet, singer-songwriter and recording artist, will be featuring my grand concert guitar on her upcoming CD Strange Dreams. Samantha's soulful folk sound and lilting lyrics accompanied by her silky smooth vocals makes you just want to sit back and enjoy. Fresh off an appearance at Gulliver's, Samantha is quickly establishing a name as a talented songwriter and performer, reminiscent of the classic sound of Cassandra Vasik. Check back here for updates on her pending CD release. And in the meantime check out Samantha's site SamathaMouchet.com and have a listen to some of the tracks that will be featured on the CD.
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