Two hands that restored hundreds of vintage guitars and after that started working in one of the most luxurious guitar shops in the USA, what kind of guitars could such a pair of hands make?
The answer is: Iris Guitars. This is the new guitar brand from the very experienced hands and the very clever head of Adam Buchwald. When we saw his latest model at the last NAMM Show in Las Vegas, we immediately bought it: a worldwide exclusive!
Over the past decades Adam Buchwald has worked somewhat silently among the best of the American guitar builders and repairmen. Early in his career he tinkered with vintage Martins and Gibsons at Vintage Refret in Brooklyn, New York. Working with those classics he quickly realised how well those guitars were made. This authentic source can clearly be seen and heard in the Iris Guitars he is making today.
Before returning to that authentic source, Buchwald first made a somewhat ‘high end’ detour leading him to Froggy Bottom Guitars. Fans already know that Froggy Bottom may not be a very big and well known brand, but it is a very exclusive guitar studio in the US , where they make truly exquisite guitars. No expenses are spared to build dream guitars with an insane eye for detail and ear for sound.
Occasionally we bump into one and we are always very impressed. In that incredible Froggy Bottom studio, Buchwald's hands learned the finer tricks of the luthier’s trade. With all he learned he left in 2012 and started his own guitar shop: Circle Strings Guitars. Like Froggy Bottom they are very exclusive, 'high end' guitars, made to order.
So by now Buchwald's hands are working with the most exclusive tonewoods and he allows himself all the time he needs to get the most out of those special woods. To top it all of he has a clientele that appreciates his work ánd is able to afford it. What more could any luthier ask for?
Well, he would just love to make instruments that are often used to make music in front of an audience, because most of his guitars now end up in a studio or at a safe in a collectors home. His fine work had become out of reach for most working musicians.
But how to make a custom shop quality guitar at a factory price?
Thanks to his years of experience, Buchwald came up with all kinds of smart solutions to make this dream come true. Like finding some more affordable woods that sound great, but are not always perfectly book matched. If you give these topwoods an awesome sunburst, the end result actually looks great!
Instead of an ebony fretboard, he opted for katalox: a nice sounding alternative that leans more to rosewood in terms of sound and you can travel with it without any problems.
To cut costs even further, Buchwald initially limited the number of models to one: the OG. It's loosely based on Gibson's L00. A compact guitar, but the OG has a slightly different and easier to process neck length and a touch more depth in the body, making it real all-rounder. Fingerstyle, strumming, bluegrass: on the Iris OG it all sounds great.
Buchwald also gives his 'budget' guitars an open pore finish, instead of a high gloss finish. This might be a little more vulnerable, but we think that matte look actually suits that sunburst better. And it allows the wood to 'breathe' a little more, giving the guitars a very nice open sound straight out of the box.
Obviously Buchwald also gives these guitars his sublime setup for unparalleled playability.
And there it is: a US Made, custom shop guitar for the working musician, at a very sharp price! To emphasize the difference with his more exclusive work, Buchwald gave them a different name: Iris Guitars.
Initially he only sold them himself through his online shop, but after a great start the demand is now so high that some dealers are joining in selling Iris Guitars. For us at TFOA this is a great opportunity to add them to our range. We are always looking for American top notch guitars that can compete with even the biggest brands. Just look at this shoot out.
Others about Iris
Acoustic Guitar.com took a closer look at one of the first OG models and writes; 'a winner in every respect'. We saw the prototype of its latest model, the DF, during the last NAMM show in Las Vegas and immediately took it to the Netherlands. At Iris guitars they hadn't had the time to take good pictures of it, which is why we've had our photos and videos on their website recently.
Want to know more about Iris Guitars? Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us, because these guitars are gaining momentum and are moving fast. As the only dealer on the European continent, we try to keep them in stock, so please call or email us if you want to know more about these guitars made by those very special hands of Adam Buchwald.