Katana – From Dream to Reality

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I spent 5 years setting necks and fitting dovetails while working at The Santa Cruz Guitar Company. This is where and when the idea of incorporating a Japanese style neck joint came to me. And 10 years later it has come to reality.

In the new Katana model there is also a few other ideas implemented.

  • One piece solid body (Mahogany or Walnut)
  • One piece neck (Cocobolo or Paduk)
  • No truss rod
  • No glue or screws for neck attachment
  • No cavities
  • The neck is fretted, there is no fingerboard.

This guitar is about as bare bones as it comes. The idea of the body and neck interacting together and the reaction between them are really highlighted here. Using old air dried woods, quarter sawn and stable really provides a strong resonant musical platform you won’t see or hear in any other guitar.

The arch top style bridge matches with the neck angle and geometry of the guitar, given the player plenty of real-estate to really dig in to the strings. This really gives the player an unconscious freedom and expression with the right hand.

The Damascus steel tailpiece and pick guard give it a solid, “tuning fork” musical quality that really is unique to this guitar.

Other specs:

  • 24 3/4 scale length
  • 1 11/16″ nut width
  • Lollar “Johnny Smith” neck mount pickup


There is also Podcast #99 with The Fretboard Journal where we talk more about this model

Fretboard Journal Podcast


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37 Comments on “Katana – From Dream to Reality”

  1. Stuart Smith

    Absolutely incredible work, Scott. When will this beauty be available for sale? Do you have a price in mind? Thanks.

    1. scott

      Thanks Stuart! This one has sold. They will be going for $6500 with a Calton case. Info have its twin in the works if your interested.

  2. Jonah

    Wow! That looks beautiful!! Remarkable, I love the joinery. Great concept, design and execution. As a carpenter and a guitar player, I hope I can see and play a Katana one day.

  3. Andy

    As a professional guitar player and very amateur woodwork enthusiast, this is pure porn.
    It really could be the most beautiful guitar I’ve ever seen. Congratulations Scott, you and The Katana are really quite amazing. Good on you mate. Seriously, wow.

  4. Luís Piteira


    How do you remove the neck for repairs. It seems like once you put the peg in that neck is going nowhere.

        1. Claude

          I’d be tempted to put a strap button on the wedge and use that as a pry point.
          Theoretically that could pull the wedge without any damage.

    1. scott

      Drill and tap a small hole for a screw, extract the wedge. A new wedge will need to be made when ready for reassembly. Less work than removing a dovetail acoustic. Thanks!

      1. Luís Piteira

        Thought of that but figured I was just not picturing something. Neat.

        Do you notice any difference in the sound by using this method of attachment and is it worth it or is is purely for the theme?

  5. Bruno Lobão

    So awesome, man!! I was eager to see that one ready since you first posted about it! Your work is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Very skilled and inspiring. I’m a begginer, and I do hope to reach that level some day.

  6. Roberto

    F*** me. I’d love to put my hands on it and play it. What a beautiful instrument!
    It really looks like a Japanese wood work in its simplicity. Object of desire!

  7. Leo M Whitebird

    I would love to see how you formed that joint- quite impressive! did you use a CNC machine or was that hand work?

  8. Fanis

    As a novice guitar builder i always seek inspiration and knowledge through luthiers i admire. I have been in awe of your work since i first saw one of your instruments a few years ago. I ‘ve always thought that there’s more than meets the eye, with certain builders and i didn’t get it wrong this time, with this build. I can see years upon years of reading books (not high tech stuff, just literature), staring at everyday forms, getting the feel of materials, textures and shapes, chasing shadows. Thanks again for reminding me to do so, as well.

  9. Blogz

    The want is strong in this one.
    But I would really like to see Mathias Wandel go ass-first on to the joint and see how it holds up strengthwise. It looks like its gonna hold quite alot.

  10. Jeffe Glenn

    Already on the hook for another $6k+ build, due this summer, but will be keeping this in mind. Love walnut as a tone wood, though very few luthiers use it, except for the occasional top.

    Also, actually prefer a bare bones guitar, especially a set neck, so this is winner on both counts, for me.

    Will be in touch, once some of my stack sells…

    Best regards,


  11. Patrick

    The rare, fundamental beauty of your Katana is in the purity and integration of the design, materials, and function, not in applied decoration. Veneered quilts, complicated inlays, bindings, and added color look like they’re trying too hard alongside a piece like this that needs no giftwrap. It’s like a violin. No additions needed. I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford on of these — too bad for me! — but if I ordered one, I’d ask you to seek a way not to have those pickup mount screws so visible. There’s your amazing joint, and then, 3 inches away, a metal bar and screws. Congratulations on this amazing guitar.

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