40th Anniversary Model Guitars
Coming up to forty years since building my first guitar, I am planning on building a limited series of 12 Anniversary guitars. I intend these to be my finest guitars ever and the ultimate showcase for all I have learnt over the last four decades.
All will be individually built from the pick of my fully CITES certified old Brazilian rosewood and all will carry a specially designed stylised S logo in Birdseye Maple on the headstock. These twelve guitars will take me around two years, during which time I will not be taking orders for standard guitars.
As of late October, five Anniversary guitars are spoken for. This leaves seven available to order.
Martin Simpson was an early adopter of my guitars. For the last several decades Martin has been Britain’s foremost acoustic guitarist; his combination of dazzling and inventive technique, absolute precision and wonderful tone production has entranced audiences all over the world.
I asked Martin would he like to write a piece about the forthcoming Anniversary guitars and he kindly agreed. He wrote:
“This coming year marks the 40th anniversary of Stefan Sobell’s first guitar; it will also be the 38th anniversary of my relationship with Stefan and his guitars.
In 1983 Stefan and his wife Liz invited me to their house after a gig. While there I tried an early Model 1 flat-top guitar and Stefan asked me what I thought. My answer was ‘I think you’re not having it back’.
Since then Sobell guitars have been my inspiration. It is completely accurate to say that Stefan is the creator of a guitar which stands out as unlike the work of any other luthier. The clarity, punch, separation and enormous dynamic range of these instruments has helped me develop the sound and style which characterizes my playing.
Over the years Stefan has refined and experimented, rejoicing in the freedom of creativity, always pushing his design ideas in pursuit of a better guitar. For example, in conversation recently he mentioned a minor bracing alteration he tried which has enhanced the response of the top string.
His background as a builder involved building carved arch-top mandolin family instruments, citterns and bouzoukis rather than the more usual flat-top guitars, so Stefan’s ‘flat-top’ guitars started with a gently arched soundboard. But there is no resting of laurels going on in his workshop. Only this year, with 40 years of work on his bracing designs, has he built his first actual flat-top, just to see how it compares.
Stefan’s guitars have changed considerably over the years, becoming more accessible and sounding even better while at the same time retaining their distinctive sound.
The guitars he is building now are his best ever, and I was really pleased to hear he is planning a series of guitars to celebrate 40 years of guitar building. With his years of experience and development, his attention to detail and his extensive stock of aged air-dried tonewoods, I know the Anniversary guitars he plans to build over the next year or so will be wonderful instruments.
All Anniversary Guitars will have the special stylised S logo and all will be built with the pick of my Brazilian rosewood. This can be colourful, highly figured or chocolate brown; I have many sets to choose from and can send photos. All are fully CITES certified.
I will build every guitar individually; I expect build and finishing time to be around 3 months.
Each guitar will be built to customer specifications: type of Brazilian rosewood, choice of model, soundboard, trim and neck material are all to the customer’s choice.
Anniversary Guitar models available:
Martin Simpson Signature model Mark 3
New World Model
Model 2D Guitar
German or Figured Sitka Spruce, or Douglas Fir
Wengé or Figured Mahogany
Black Rocklite with red/gold/green trim
Black Rocklite with red/white/red trim
Santos Rosewood with red/gold/green trim
Fingerboard and bridge:
Tuners and Frets:
Gotoh 510 21:1 ratio Gold tuners with black buttons
Jescar Gold frets
Pricing and export certification
The UK price is £16500 including case for all models.
Guitars sent abroad cost $23000 including case, shipping and insurance.
All guitars are accompanied by CITES certification evidence.
Import into the US is straightforward, requiring the customer to show the UK export certificate (which I send in advance) to obtain a US import certificate.
Other countries may have different procedures, which should be checked out.
I love building guitars and am fortunately still in good health. However, I am aware that at some point time will catch up with me. So after building my twelve Anniversary Models, in around two years time, I shall take stock and consider whether or not I can continue building.
Stefan Sobell, September 2020
As of 6 October 2020, sets A6, A9, A10, A14 and A15 are no longer available, set 7 is reserved for the time being.
I can send photos of individual sets opened out if requested.