We, at Thompson Guitars, are very saddened to let all of you know that Preston Thompson passed away April 11th after struggling with health issues over the last 9 months. We are one small family here in Sisters Oregon, and along with his wife Julie and daughter Piper, we appreciate all of the support we have received while Preston has been ill.
Preston led a uniquely talented group of craftsmen while passing along his skill and knowledge to each member of the team. Over time, this developed into complete trust in us to build guitars that create the vintage tone he so cherished.
We loved him dearly and he will be greatly missed.
His legacy will live on in every guitar we build.
Our fine guitars are designed by master guitar luthier Preston Thompson. Discovered by bluegrass virtuosos Charles Sawtelle and Peter Rowan in the 1980s, Preston has built a reputation for handmade, original vintage guitars. He got his start building guitars under Charles Fox at the School of the Guitar Research & Design Center in Vermont, the first school for guitar makers in North America.
During the 1970s, he honed his guitar-making skills at the legendary Randy Wood’s Old Time Pickin’ Parlor, the center of Nashville’s bluegrass music jam scene. In the 1980s, Preston’s custom acoustic guitars attracted the attention of the top flatpicking and fingerstyle guitarists in the world. For three years in a row, his instruments were selected over other top brands as the choice of prize by the winner of the National Flatpicking Championships at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas.
His collaboration with bluegrass great Charles Sawtelle of Hot Rize gave Preston access to Sawtelle’s collection of rare and famous pre-war vintage instruments. The guitar Preston built for Sawtelle based on these studies became one of his most treasured instruments. And Preston uses his detailed measurements of those instruments to this day to create guitars that are coveted for their superlative sound, the beauty of their materials, and the precision of their construction.