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A "Legacy" guitar built to Honor a Husband, father and master woodworker

The legend of the Tree really begins in the late 1970s, just after the birth of the boutique-guitar movement. A friend had told Robert Novak, a wood importer in what was then British Honduras, about the felled mahogany tree.  It looked like nothing Novak had ever seen. When he went to check it out, he was stuck by its rich, wavy figuring.

The Tree mahogany left from Richard to his son Jared to became the back, sides, top, and neck of the guitar.

Jared also supplied ebony from his father’s studio for the fingerboard, bridge and binding, and Richard’s chisels for the tuner buttons. The metal and leather cap from the chisel head were inlaid into the rosette, and pieces of the antenna from Richard’s wood shop studio radio became the fret markers used in the detailing. Richard's ashes were also inlaid [in coal] inside the rosette design and other detailing locations.

JOI "Legacy"
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A build to honor the legacy of a husband, father and master furniture maker Richard Heisey.

Richard, an amateur bluegrass player, passed in 2018 and left a stack of mahogany wood in the family barn, sourced from a tree known in the guitar industry simply as “The Tree.” 

It was a pleasure coming up with ideas on how to incorporate items that Richard would likely find important to instal in a piece as a woodworker himself. Things just naturally fell into place and became meaningful for Jared and myself with the items I requested. Ideas, as well as how they were to be incorporated, flowed naturally between us, and that made it a very special experience. Jared mentioned that he felt his father was joining us during the creation of this guitar, which contains much of the essence of Richard.


The acoustical properties that can be obtained with this wood are beyond any other mahogany that I've built with, which I attribute to its density and figuring. It creates instruments with a sonic palette that has been compared to rosewoods, but stands alone as a unique wood in all ways.

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