Folks in the bluegrass community in Florida, and those who closely follow the world of resonator guitars, know the work of Rudy Jones. His RQ Jones guitars are highly prized for the detailed workmanship he put into them, and for the old school sound they delivered.
Sadly, Rudy passed away in 2015 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s Disease, but before he left us, he developed a method for retrofitting square neck bodies made overseas into highly playable and fine sounding instruments at a fraction of the price of his hand made masterpieces. With his health failing, Jones had been looking for a way to complete guitars without all the time consuming wood construction involved in building bodies.
Before he had to give up luthiery completely, Rudy passed on his system for retrofitting these guitars to Billy Samford, who had learned at his side in the RQ Jones shop in Bristol, FL. Jones passed along not only his knowledge, but his name and logo to Samford, with the hope that money from the sale of these retrofit guitars could benefit research into Parkinson’s Disease.
And so, RQ Retrofit guitars were born. Billy has started his venture with a pledge to build 10 new squarenecks using the secrets he learned from the master, and is donating at least 30% of the net profit from each sale to Parkinson’s research. Using imported bodies and necks, he can offer a traditional style reso-guitar, with solid tone, volume, and projection, for only $1500 with case.
Samford is also offering a 5 day satisfaction guarantee, and a 10% discount to young players 18 and under. The new retrofit resos are being offered through Banjo Ben’s online store, and Gordons String Music.
So far, the response has been quite positive. No less a bluegrass legend than Rodney Dillard has endorsed these guitars, as has Troy Boone with the Amanda Cook Band. Further details can be found on the RQ Retrofit web site.
The Jones retrofit technique is also being applied to a new, small shop handbuilt guitar project. Working with Tallahassee luthier Danny Goddard of Jett Instrument Company, Billy will be installing hardware into new, American made bodies as well. They expect to debut their first build within a fe weeks. We’ll be sure to report on that when it is ready.