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News: November 7, 2009: Hello and welcome to the new Michael Lewis Guitars website. Lots going on here as we continue to develop these fine guitars. Check our media page for new videos including detailed demonstrations of each of the guitars.
We would like to thank Elixir Strings for doing a product spotlight on Michael Lewis Guitars. Our relationship with Elixir is based simply on my belief that they make the best coated string on the market. I've gone to great lengths to try as many coated strings as I could get my hands on. I started with Elixirs, tried a whole bunch of others and came full circle, back to Elixirs. I love the way they last, I love the way they sound and I really like how they enhance the resonance of the guitar.
From a specification standpoint, here's the rundown of why this guitar is really special:
MLG Studio Chambering™ The inside of the guitar was designed using principles of studio acoustics to improve the resonant response of the instrument. The result was much more profound than we even imagined it would be. The people who have been trying it out say it hits them like an acoustic guitar in the sense that they feel it in their body when they play.
Balance: You'll notice a big difference in the balance point of these guitars. Whether you have it hanging from a strap or sitting on your lap, the guitar sits balanced. The balanced body shape makes it more comfortable and easier to play. But this is one guitar where if you forget your strap, just pull up a stool and it sits comfortably on your lap.
Playability: This term is pretty overused these days, but for me, either the guitar feels great or I'm not playing it. And if I wouldn't play it, I wouldn't sell it. I took my favorite vintage guitars in and we took measurements and implemented my best playing guitars into one.
Authentic Boutique Tone: After playing great sounding boutique tube amps for years, I could not get into modeling. Same thing on the guitar, I want true vintage tone from my guitars and this one has it. The pickups sound great and all the hardware on the guitar is the best we could find -- the result is a wonderful boutique quality vintage tone from a modern instrument.
Flexibility: If you're like me, I play a lot of shows every year and I was always carrying around at least three guitars to every show. Usually, for the cover band shows, a Les Paul, Strat and an acoustic. Often I wouldn't have time to change guitars in between songs because we have to keep the dancers on the floor. With that in mind, I wanted a guitar that would cover the territory of several guitars and do it well. With these guitars you can go all single coil or you can quickly change to a Les Paul style configuration. I'm extremely happy with the flexibility and how well this guitar does all those different tones.
And in case you're wondering, when I get in the studio and I need a great Les Paul or Strat tone -- I don't reach for my top quality, signature model LP or Strat anymore - I just use this one because I prefer the way it sounds and I love the way it plays. The only exception is that I still use my Taylor acoustics 90% of the time, though recently I did a show using both electric and acoustic outputs on the Pro 1 -- the band was amazed and we all felt that the Pro 1 did just fine covering acoustic tones as well. So if I have to do a fly date, I don't have to bring along an acoustic guitar anymore (which is a bummer because if United breaks it... I could have gotten famous!)
First of all, as a company, our philosophy is not monetarily based. We are one of the few companies (that I know of) that is not pushing sales quotas and dependent upon moving a certain number of guitars to survive. The company was founded with one goal in mind -- make the ultimate players guitar. These guitars are not so ornate that you have to store it in your china cabinet. They are classy but simple enough that you can go out and use it.
During the design process, every time their was a choice for price or quality, we chose quality. Granted, the guitars aren't cheap, but they are built better than other guitars in their price range. They sound better, they play better - simply because that was the goal -- to make an excellent, high quality, pure, precision instrument.
Here's another thing -- If you're like me, you've read the hype from the major companies and gone down to a guitar store to try out the latest, greatest innovations from big guitar makers only to be disappointed that the guitar didn't live up to the hype. This guitar won't disappoint. Compare the feel, the tone and the features to the majors -- you'll be amazed at the difference.
In November of 2008, Michael took the prototype to a few of his friends in Nashville, you know, guys like Phil Keaggy, Johnny Hiland, Brent Mason, Tom Hemby and Stacy Mitchart. While most of these guys already have their own signature model guitars and major endorsements, Michael just asked them to give feedback that he could implement into the final design. All of the players gave valuable feedback that was used in the final product. That's one of the things that is so special about this guitar is that some of the top session players in the world weighed in on the features of the guitar. Everyone agreed that even the prototype was something special and that we were on our way to developing a wonderful instrument.
Brent Mason recorded with it, Phil Keaggy recorded with it, Johnny Hiland said he wants one and we're talking to Tom Hemby about endorsing it. I'd say that's some pretty positive feedback from guys that only use the best guitars on the planet! I debuted the guitar live at B.B. Kings in Nashville with the Stacy Mitchart band -- that's pretty special.
Michael Lewis started out playing the couch at age 3. Got his first guitar at age 5, got lessons at age 11 and began playing in church a month later, started playing bars at the age of 16 (complete with behind the head solos and beer bottle slide solos). Michael studied music from the 9th grade, played in the high school jazz band in the 12th grade, taught himself how to play bass at 14, keyboards at 15, drums at age 20. After High School, Michael went to San Jose City College in California, studied improvisation, composition, theory, piano and jazz. Got married at a young age and began touring the country as his own solo Christian act in churches.
In 1985 Michael opened a public recording studio in the Pacific Northwest and in '96 he moved to Nashville to continue as a pro studio/live guitarist, producer and engineer, toured with some major label artists, produced and worked with major label acts and in 2008 Michael returned to the Northwest and now does most of his work for clients worldwide via the internet (including many of the same clients he worked for in Nashville). He has played on hundreds of sessions over the years and dozens of bands he has a good ear for tone.
Michael has been married for 26 years, has five kids, five horses and a cat. When he's not in the studio, he's either performing live, training and riding horses or snow skiing (now you know why he moved away from Nashville).
Michael is endorsed by Taylor Guitars, Fuchs Amplifiers, Celestion Speakers, Keeley Pedals, L.R. Baggs and Furman Sound. He also has a bunch of recordings available.