About Us


Lawrence Berndt here.

I'm a native New Englander except for my teen years when I lived in East Tennessee. My Tennessee home was 8 miles from the Carter Family Fold in Virginia. I took my first guitar lessons at the same music store where Johnny Cash and June Carter bought their guitar strings.

There's a picture of me somewhere at age 4 - smudged face - holding a short section of plank. I have been working with wood all my life. Each chapter brings new excitement and new challenges.

Around 1992 I started supplying neck blanks to the Fender Custom Shop. For the next 20 years I supplied almost every single maple neck blank the Fender Custom Shop used. This included plain rock maple, quartersawn rock maple, birdseye maple, and flame rock maple. I supplied all of this wood from logs I bought and processed in my own mill and kilns.

I could visit the master builders. They would point out their likes/dislikes. They shared their challenges and solutions. This was priceless experience that continued for most of 2 decades.

At this same time I began supplying curly eastern maple to Gibson's Montana Division. This is Gibson's acoustic division. As with Fender, I became their near exclusive supplier for 20 years. Again, I supplied all this wood from logs I found, bought, and processed into the required blanks.

I began supplying Tom Anderson with his plain maple neck blanks a couple of years later. (I still supply Tom).

About 1995 Ernie Ball added Birdseye Maple for necks. I supplied most of that for 15 years.

John Suhr came on as a customer when he left the Fender Custom Shop to start Suhr Guitars.

It seemed crazy. How could one guy get all that business?

The short answer is I was very serious about doing a great job for them.

The long answer is I was able and willing to build the supply chains and inventory required to always deliver on time, on grade, and on price.

I drove 100,000 miles a year buying logs. I designed and built a large sawmill dedicated to producing guitar parts. I did the same with kilns. I taught my associates the specs and requirements, and, I graded every single blank personally - every weekend.

It was my life/work and I loved it.

In 2009 all orders virtually ceased. There were just trickles with occasional spurts on into 2012. The whole industry convulsed and purged. Companies did whatever it took to survive. They had to cut costs any way possible and that included finding cheaper components.

Luckily, I was working in a new direction - Berndt Guitars.

During the 20 plus years I supplied neck blanks to the guitar industry the two words I heard most were stability and tone. It is impossible to talk with any serious guitar builder or player without using or hearing those two words.

I got serious about playing acoustic guitar around 2005. I became extremely interested in stability and tone. I got fluent in the language with words like: underbow, backbow, string tension, glue creep, truss rod, double action trussrod, rate of hydration, oily wood, surface tension, hide glue, epoxy, flatsawm, riftsawn, quartersawn, airdried, kilndried, case hardening, conditioning, stress relief, top sag, body shift, dead, vintage, tone, vintage tone, highs, mids, bottom, tight, boomy, holy grail, and myth.

Without a doubt, guitars, and particularly acoustic guitars - are among the hardest working wooden structures on the planet - rivaled only by other members of the violin family. All these thin tiny and thin huge pieces of wood glued together so somebody can strap six strings on them and play the crap out of them. Whoa. Then put them in a hot/cold car that is dry/wet/humid, whatever, until it's time to play again. Guitars have it rough and luthiers sit on the hot seat because they make em'.

Through all of this here's what I think is true:

  1. Vibration drives tone
  2. Tone "flavors" depend on all the vibrating components and how they are put together
  3. The best instruments are those most able to vibrate and withstand all the forces against them

I started Berndt Guitars to contribute to line 3 above.

The unique feature of every Berndt Guitar is a Berndt XSP Neck.

We use great, properly sawn, woods reinforced with an internal carbon fibre t-bar. This adds resistant strength and stability to the neck.

We use crowned bar frets with thick tangs. We force the tangs into slightly undersized fret slots. This establishes additional stability at each fret location and initiates an element of embodied strain in the neck itself. (Embodied strain means the neck has tension like a drum head or the hair on a violin bow) This embodied strain heightens the necks response to string vibration. This heightens the tonal response of the guitar.

We control the embodied tension by using tangs of different gages (we have 7) at different fret locations.

The neck setup is based on the specific string gauge and players style. Each neck is stable structure, a triangulation of strength, embodied strain, and string tension.

We set up a/b tests of pairs of identical instruments: one with standard frets and neck reinforcement, one with our carbon fibre t-bar and bar frets, at the 2013 and 2014 NAMM shows. These tests were fun and positive - it was clear that our necks signifigantly improved the tone and response of these fine instruments.

We use great woods that we process in house including mahogany.

We hand split our own Adirondak Red Spruce.

We now offer Berndt Guitars and Berndt XSP Replacement Necks for sale.