Scott Lentz – Lentz Guitars
In the guitar world of the so called “small builders” one man stands out among many of his ilk. That man is Scott Lentz. His instruments are his way of expressing himself and every instrument he builds has some of his heart and soul built-in so to speak. Scott’s focus is on electric guitars for the discerning musician. These are not for players that are looking for alot of flash, buttons and switches they are meant for the player that wants a great feeling, dynamic guitar having only what it needs to get the job done. No need to be cluttered or weighed down by excess baggage. A Lentz guitar is hand crafted in the good ol’ U.S.A. by Scott, his son Scott Jr and with the help of Ian Anderson. You cannot get much more “hands on” than that. The end result is a guitar that so easy to play it practically plays itself requiring much less physical energy than alot of other guitars. This frees up your mind to be more open to make music!
300guitars: Hi there Scott. Can you tell us where were you born and grew up?
Scott Lentz: I was born in Wisconsin, we left when I was 5 years old for California, where we lived in Bell Gardens. We moved again when I was 11 to Encinitas where I’ve been ever since.
300guitars: When did you first start playing guitar and what inspired you to pick it up?
300guitars: What was your first guitar?
Scott Lentz: My first guitar was an Epiphone Coronet. I worked all summer when I was 15 to buy it, and it was used!
300guitars: Who were some early guitar influences?
Scott Lentz: The very earliest was Bob Dylan then came B.B., Chuck and then the British invasion.
300guitars: Were you in bands throughout the years? What music did you play?
Scott Lentz: I tried. I was not really serious enough for the guys I knew. I hunted and surfed, they really controlled my life far more then playing guitar.
300guitars: When did you start working with guitars? Did you start out as a guitar tech or repair person and then become a builder?
Scott Lentz: I lived with my Grandparents and my Grandfather was an amazing man that could and did everything, he always had a shop filled with metal and woodworking tools. So my friend brings over this Framus Jazz guitar with the side cracked. I glued the side with a couple clamps sanded and sprayed the burst back with rattle-can candy red and black, hit it with clear and it was done. I was 20 years old, a Carpenter, working on Housing Tracks.
300guitars: When did you start Lentz Electric Guitar and how many products did you have?
Scott Lentz: First I was Deluxe Guitar Refinishing then in the 90’s I changed to Lentz Electric Guitar now we’re just Lentz Guitar. With Lentz Electric we started making guitars and of course still performed restorations and refinishing.
300guitars: What are some of your favorite guitars/designs and why?
Scott Lentz: My number one guitar design would have to be the Broadcaster. This guitar started it all and is still in every studio and on every rhythm track out there. I can still remember the first Broadcaster I ever heard… it left its mark on me big time. The Les Paul is a work of beauty and also a very inspiring instrument. I love working on 50’s L.P.’s. There something almost spiritual about this guitar.
300guitars: What are some of your favorite amps?
Scott Lentz: Amps, there is not enough time here to talk about amps. What it comes down to is what I use. All my pup’s calcs and fine tuning has been done on my Penn amp! I use this amp every day and have since I got it years ago!
300guitars: What guitar players or bands do you like to listen to?
300guitars: What kind of music do you like to play on the guitar?
Scott Lentz: Mostly blues stuff. I really don’t play much any more.
300guitars: Did you always want to manufacture guitars?
Scott Lentz: No, but there came a time when I decided to express myself through my guitars.
300guitars: How important is the wood when building a solid body electric guitar?
Scott Lentz: The wood is everything! It is the very fundamental of making electric guitars. The neck and the body must work as one because pickups are only able to access the frequencies that are available.
300guitars: Where do you acquire high quality wood for guitar making? Is it getting harder to find acceptable sources?
Scott Lentz: I get the wood from the same place all the other people in the know buy it. I bought most of what I’m using years ago, and lucky me, I have not had to source much since. But when we do, we pay what everyone else pays and are happy to be able to get what we need. Mahogany is a wood that is going and will be gone in the near future and will have to be substituted.
300guitars: How does the glue play a part in tone and strength?
Scott Lentz: I have been and still am a big fan of animal glue. All my fret boards are glued on with animal glue as well as any veneers I may use. I use Titebond on the body because I usually use wood that is 10 inches or wider and I do not feel it has any undesirable effect on the body.
300guitars: What weight is best for your solid body guitars?
Scott Lentz: It would depend on what the guitar was going to be used for. I mean a rhythm or lead guitar. Generally speaking, 3 to 3.5 pounds with a neck between 450 and 480 grams without frets.
300guitars: What are the sonic differences between lighter vs heavier bodies and how should the pickups match accordingly?
Scott Lentz: Heavy guitars need less resistance or one can use say a 43 gauge wire and Alnico 23. Most of the frequencies are high on the heavy wood. The light wood has a midrange sound and can be influenced by a higher resistance wind to produce the desired effect. But as we all know there are exceptions to any rule.
300guitars: What are the current models you are making?
Scott Lentz: The HSL, DL-90, SSL, and set neck Croyden.
300guitars: How did you arrive at the current models?
Scott Lentz: We used a French curve and designed the body and head stock directly from that.
300guitars: What sets your guitars apart from other manufacturers?
Scott Lentz: I think it’s my experience with so many guitars over the years. I’ve refinished hundreds of vintage Strat’s and Tele’s, not to mention several 50’s Les Paul’s. What this has done for me is to give me an ear for certain nuances that I found to be the essence of guitar sounds I like.
300guitars: How did you design your pickups?
Scott Lentz: For years I had been after a sound in my head left from the first Broadcaster I heard. Trial and error is how we got there. The S style was different. I wanted an S guitar that did not sound like a Vintage guitar. A guitar that you could use on all the pickup positions, not just the neck position. The tone circuit came from frustration with the rear pup. At the time I used a .01 cap and wired it the usual way except I jumped the wire to use the rear tone control on the rear pup. After talking with a friend, he recommended using the rear pot for the rear pup with a .02 cap. So now we have a .01 in the neck and middle with a .02 on the lead. Along with linear tone pots and poly caps the design was born.
300guitars: Do you hammer frets or press them? What size & material are they?
Scott Lentz: Press, 6105 , 6150, and 6100 nickel silver.
300guitars: What kind of lacquer do you use and after sanding and buffing how thin is it?
Scott Lentz: Shellac sealer with nitro, we shoot for .010 but as with everything, different grains can change the amount you use.
300guitars: Is there any other finish that gets the same results as lacquer?
Scott Lentz: Lacquer is something I’ve always used, and was a traditional finish used by guitar manufacturers of fine guitars in the 50’s and 60’s. I’m not advocating it’s the end all finish and that a nitro finish is the silver bullet for a mismatched body and neck. It’s just a finish nothing more or less.
300guitars: What is the nut material on your guitars?
Scott Lentz: Bone.
300guitars: Are tighter fret slots better than looser fitting ones?
Scott Lentz: Tight fret slot with the wrong size tang will charge the neck back. Fret slots too loose with the wrong tang will not hold. We use .022.
300guitars: Are your necks flat-sawn necks or quarter-sawn and what truss rod type is in your necks?
Scott Lentz: Always flat sawn, I never understood why someone would build a neck with grain lines running off the edge of the neck. Our truss rod is and has been a work in progress. We started off by coping ‘63 Strat geometry and after a couple years out grew that and changed, now we’ve changed again and each time the neck gets better with less overall work!
300guitars: How important is a tight neck pocket for a bolt on neck type guitar?
Scott Lentz: It should be tight enough to fit well, but not to tight to damage the finish. My necks are lacquered so they always stick to the bottom lacquer of the neck joint.
300guitars: Have you ever thought about making a Lentz bass?
Scott Lentz: Yeah, I’ve built a few Basses, but the only one that really does it for me is the old P Bass with the Tele style pup and the big guard. And that one is taken!
300guitars: How long has your son been in the business with you?
Scott Lentz: Scott has been here on and off since he was 17 he’s now 35. He has become a real asset in terms of how many different hats he wears and how good he is at all he performs.
300guitars: Who are some of the artists playing your guitars?
300guitars: What are some of your outside interests of guitars and music?
Scott Lentz: I’m still searching for something!
300guitars: Are their any new models in the works right now?
Scott Lentz: At some time I will convert the Croyden to a carve top.
300guitars: What are your future plans for the business?
Scott Lentz: To keep learning, implementing new ideas, and going forward with my guitar.
300guitars: Thank you very much Scott for taking the time for this Spotlight feature! I wish you much success in the future with your instruments!
Scott Lentz: Thank you Billy, the pleasure was mine!
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