When a total stranger approached Brandon Isaak after a Twisters gig in Germany a few years back, saying he wanted to build a guitar for him, Isaak’s response was positive, but guarded.
“Most of the time when people tell you that, you don’t really believe them,” the Whitehorse-raised bluesman admits.
In the case of Daniel Kuppels, a luthier with a small company called Redemption Guitars in Nettetal, Germany, the offer was legit.
“I emailed a few days later and we started talking. He asked me what I was looking for, what kind of wood, shape and all sorts of stuff.”
Something with a “dark, clear tone,” the musician replied.
“He needed a loud acoustic sound for unplugged gigs,” Kuppels told What’s Up Yukon by email from Germany.
The luthier chose hard-to-find African blackwood for the body – from a supplier in Windsor, Ontario.
That choice presented challenges, Isaak says.
“It was really hard to bend, because it’s a really hard wood.”
A year later, Kuppels drove to Lillehammer, Norway, where Isaak was playing, and presented him with a “really sweet” guitar with his name inlaid in bright script along the neck.
At some point, the instrument acquired the nickname of Bad Girl.
“I can’t remember how that came up, actually,” Isaak claims. Kuppels does.
“He couldn’t stop telling everybody about his new Redemption guitar, his Bad Girl,” he says.
Kuppels, a luthier since 1992, put no stipulations on how Isaak used it.
“He said I can just use it to sing lullabies to my daughter, or whatever I want. He just said he was going to make me a beautiful guitar. I can’t believe he did it. It’s just so cool.”
Before meeting Kuppels, Isaak had never heard of Redemption Guitars (http://www.redemption-guitars.de).
“There’s so many small luthiers around, you can’t keep track of everything. Now that I’ve played them, I love them. They’re great guitars.”
In fact, Isaak was so pleased with his “bad girl” he asked Kuppels to build another guitar with a resonator shell for slide-style playing.
Even with two Redemption instruments in his arsenal, Isaak didn’t expect the news he received recently.
Redemption Guitars is adding a distinct new line of products – the Brandon Isaak Signature Series – starting with 50 instruments modeled on the original Bad Girl.
“It will say ‘Brandon Isaak’ on the inside, but I don’t think it will have the actual name written down the neck. Then again, who knows?” Isaak says.
“It’s always an honour to win awards and all that stuff. But having your own signature guitar line is pretty exciting, especially in another country.
“It’s fabulous. I’m honoured. It’s hard to believe, really.”