Preston Thompson passes

The world of steel stringed acoustic guitar is in mourning today following the passing of Preston Thompson yesterday. He was 62 years old, and had been ill since last summer following complications from surgery.

As the designer and original luthier for Thompson Guitars, Preston’s had become a household name among serious flatpack guitarists, and those who sought the qualities of prewar flattops made with todays best materials. Many top bluegrass artists use and swear by his instruments, like Jake Workman of Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Trey Hensley, Billy Strings, and Molly Tuttle, to mention only a few.

Preston learned his craft at the School of the Guitar Research & Design Center under Charles Fox, and refined it at Randy Wood’s Old Time Pickin’ Parlor in Nashville during the 1970s. His handmade guitars made it into the hands of a number of notable artists during the ’80s, including former Hot Rize guitarist, Charles Sawtelle. Charles and Preston became friends, and Thompson was given the opportunity to carefully study Sawtelle’s extensive collection of pre war instruments.

He drew on the wisdom he gained examining those old guitars in the designs used by PK Thompson Guitars.

In an official statement this afternoon, the company he leaves behind makes it clear that they will continue making guitars in honor of their founder.

Since 2013 and the creation of PK Thompson Guitars, Preston has shared and trusted his team with those detailed measurements to build a company that produces that vintage sound he so cherished for many musicians to enjoy. We are one small family here in Sisters, Oregon, and along with his wife Julie and daughter Piper, we appreciate all of the support we have received while Preston has been ill over the past year. He was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. We look forward to carrying on his legacy and dedication to the craft of guitar building.

No information on arrangements has yet been released by the family.

A fund to assist with medical expenses has been set up at GoFundMe for those called to contribute.

R.I.P., Preston Thompson.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.