The Twelfth Fret • Guitarists' Pro Shop
The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

NO LONGER AVAILABLE!!! Tom Holmes THC DC Lenny Breau Jazz Guitar

One of the most impressive and influential jazz guitarists, the late, great Lenny Breau had an incredible talent honed by obsessively hard work.

Born in 1941 in Auburn, Maine, Lenny Breau started playing guitar at age 8 and by 14 was lead guitarist in his parent’s touring band. At 15, he started work as a recording session guitarist, heavily influenced by learning Chet Atkins and Merle Travis styles.

In 1957 the Breau family moved to Winnipeg, where Lenny started to learn about jazz, and was influential in the development of other local guitarists like Randy Bachman. In 1962 he moved to Toronto, formed a 3-piece jazz group and played regularly in Toronto, Ottawa and New York City. Eventually Lenny returned to Winnipeg and became a regular session player for CBC Radio and television, eventually getting his own show. His recordings came to the attention of Chet Atkins, who was thoroughly impressed and the two became friends and recorded together. It’s clear that Chet adopted techniques from Lenny, just as Lenny learned from Chet.

While he learned primarily on electric guitar, Lenny Breau also played classical and flamenco guitar. He came to rely heavily on the classical guitar as an instrument, because of its dynamics and rich harmonic response – and also because the wider fingerboard can make complex left-hand fingerings easier.

Because he was regularly shifting between classical and electric instruments, Lenny Breau had a series of electric guitars built with classical width necks. In the Talmage Farlow video, a portion of which can be seen in this post, Lenny goes into some detail about his rationale for these guitars. Unfortunately, they do not mention the builder!

The guitar seen here was one of several, including a 7-string, built by Tom Holmes specifically for Lenny Breau. Tom Holmes had been chief repairman at George Gruhn’s shop in Nashville and was building THC – ‘Tom Holmes Company’ custom instruments and were sold through the Ax-In-Hand guitar shop in Dekalb, Illinois. Part of the reason for building these guitars was to showcase a pickup design by Holmes, which featured three coils. Later, Holmes developed what is arguably one of the best ‘PAF’ re-creations and these are still available directly from THC.

Many of the unusually shaped and high quality instruments from the 1970’s to early 1980’s played by Billy Gibbons, Bo Diddley and others came from Tom Holmes.

In addition to these custom instruments, THC did offer a ‘standard’ DC or Double Cut design, and this is what this original THC Lenny Breau model is based on. The THC DC model was given a single THC pickup at the neck, and the fingerboard is a full two inch classical width, with 650mm or 25.6 inch scale length, based on Lenny Breau’s specifications. A Leo Quann Baddass bridge and Grover Roto-Matic tuners, and a single volume and tone control complete the hardware.

In keeping with the values of the time where weight leads to sustain and clarity, the ash and maple used for the body and neck are dense and heavy.

This guitar was used by Lenny Breau on many performances and recordings, and appears in the Tal Farlow video sections below. Note that this video contains much preliminary footage that wasn’t used in the final version of the Tal Farlow movie.

Lenny Breau died in 1984 in Los Angeles. Much of his early material has been made available through the efforts of Randy Bachman, and the album ‘Boy Wonder’, containing recordings made in 1956 when Lenny was 15, is very worthwhile.

Two of Tom Holmes’ late 1980’s guitars can be seen in this posting here!

Offers for this historic instrument  are being considered by the owner’s family through the Twelfth Fret.   If you have an interest, please use the contact form below and we will  gladly convey it to them.

The Twelfth Fret

Guitarists’ Pro Shop
2132 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, Ontario  M4C 1J9
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