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Jimi’s new guitar

June 28, 2017

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Tonight:  Jimi Tunnell (Steps Ahead)with legendary percussionist Jose Rossy (Weather Report & Patti LaBelle), Mario Cruz (saxes, EWI), Jeff Plant (basses) and Dennis Durick (drums) at Dan’s Silverleaf, 103 Industrial, Denton. 8 pm. Tickets – $10.

Jimi Tunnell, is a fantastic performer, a recording producer, but first and foremost – an amazing guitarist. A very integral part of his music is his custom-made “Strat” – a singular instrument that has helped craft his signature sound for almost 30 years.


A few years ago, Jimi realized his irreplaceable model was becoming fragile, and at risk from the airline travels he put it through. A new, traveling model was needed.

Not an ordinary instrument, Jimi needed to work with a guitar-smith who could construct an instrument to coax the nuanced phrasing and precision modulation required for his phenomenal fusion Jazz.

I wanted the resonant body – porous, densea headless model with the bridge I wanted – a tremolo arm that had precision for incredibly subtle phrasing,Jimi said. “I got in touch with Allan Holdsworth*, and Tim Miller, who had guitars made by Rick Canton.”

He found Rick was “was really into that.”

* Allan Holdsworth, a spellbinding guitarist who influenced generations of jazz and rock musicians with his innovative sound, has died unexpectedly at age 70 – April 15, 2017. FMI:

Rick Canton, based in the high desert of New Mexico, has been designing and building guitars professionally for the better part of a decade. He creates guitars with a focus on ergonomic design, an artist’s sensibility and a musician’s ear.


The Jimi Tunnell model (in progress) by Rick Canton.

Jimi sent me his design specifications and we have been working on his model over the past two years or so,” Canton said.

Canton chambered the alder wood body for the more resonant quality Jimi required, and having tried a bridge that wasn’t to their liking, finally found the exact element.

The bridge Jimi wanted “had not been designed yet,” but Geofferey McCabe,, finally offered a bridge design with a locking tremolo – one that could augment string settings with a wheel.

It’s not just the guitar, Jimi added, it’s the guitar and the amplifier.

“I’m using the new guitar a lot more,especially for traveling, but if I’m in town (Denton), my other model is on stage with me as a back-up.”

Jimi said he is tweaking stuff with his new guitar all the time.

“I consider this the Beta model,” Jimi said.

The Jimi Tunnell Model

Jimi needed to find a replacement for the guitar he had been using for 25 years. He approached Rick with the design he wanted and worked with Rick to ensure the new guitar would replicate the tonal characteristics and playability of his previous guitar while expanding on its dynamic and ergonomic qualities.

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