Ken DuBourg

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Ken DuBourg

Postby LowdenF24 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:09 pm

I've found it puzzling that the maker of such a storied instrument sits in what appears to be relative obscurity in the golden age of luthierie. Web searches have proven fruitless, other than retellings of Michael's lost guitar and it's return; and Buck Curran's AG article describing the instrument (http://www.curranguitars.com/news.htm).

At one time, Buck posted to the original Rootwitch forum that he would be building recreations of the instrument, but that project as well seems to have fallen to obscurity (http://www.curranguitars.com/mh_prototype.htm). I've sent an email to one the the AOL address mentioned on Buck's website (the other bounced back as an unknown adddress), but note that the website does not appear up to date, so not confident I will get a response.

Does anyone have more information on Ken's guitar building activities or instrument examples?

Jeff (LowdenF24)
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Re: Ken DuBourg

Postby Rootwitch » Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:42 pm

Sorry - No info here.
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Re: Ken DuBourg

Postby turfdoc » Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:23 am

Long story here that I'll try to keep short. I searched for a long time before I finally found DuBourg, in Harpers Ferry, Va. He was living in relative total obscurity mending fences etc on a farm and had no idea that he had been featured in Michael's bio video. I sent him a copy of the video and he was very excited and thought about turning out a direct copy of the guitar he had made for Michael. Time passed and I guessed that idea diminished but talking with Ken was a huge trip. Wonderful guy. I know, or did know, how to get a hold of him and it anyone wants to hear the story, I'll tell it because it was hilarious, but rather long winded. I had read of the later plans on building a copy of Michaels guitar in the magazine, but havent heard of any follow up there, either.

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Re: Ken DuBourg

Postby Rootwitch » Wed May 19, 2010 10:49 am

Sure - Share the story.
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Re: Ken DuBourg

Postby turfdoc » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:04 am

So here's the whole Ken DuBourg story, from about 8 years ago. I wanted that perfect acoustic guitar so that I could sound just like Michael, as if was the guitar and not the fingers, hands, heart. Anyway, I saw the footage in the Artists Profile where Michael discussed the 'DuBourg' guitar and I decided that I would locate Ken and see what it would cost to have him make me a same or similar guitar. No problem, right? I spent 3 months searching daily on the internet, calling luthiers, even calling guitar dealers around the country, from Gryphon to Elderly to you name it. Nada. Then one day while doing my internet detective work up popped his name. Remember the internet was still developing rapidly at the time, so new info was happening constantly. Anyway, I had no idea I was going to happen upon one of the most bizarre interchanges I have ever experienced.
There was a phone number for this Ken DuBourg in Harpers Ferry, W. Va. I called it and after about a dozen rings an answer machine came on and a voice that I can only describe as from WAY WAY back in the hills of W. Va said something to the effect of "I aint here a right now and maybe wont be for some time, so if you wanna leave a message, go ahead and try" This was spoken with great deliberation from a male voice that sounded like someone with a mouthful of marbles. Watch out Demosthenes. Anyway, I knew there was no way possible that this would be Ken DuBourg so I hung up. The next day I tried again, just to see if I could talk to a real person, but again...the message machine. Being a person of some persistence, I decided to call some guitar dealers in the W.Va areas around Harpers Ferry, to see if anyone knew of Ken. No one had a clue.
About a month later I was reading an article about Michael where he describe playing in bars in the Baltimore area. Baltimore is not all that far from Harpers Ferry, so I called some guitar dealers there and what do you know, one of them said yes, he knew Ken, that Michael and Ken used to do open mikes together back in the day. I asked if anyone knew where Ken was and, would you believe it, they said they had heard that Ken was somewhere in W. Va, being somewhat reclusive. OK, so the message machine might have sounded nuts, but here we go again.
After three or four day of calling, finally finally someone picked up the phone. I said who I was and that I was trying to locate Ken Dubourg and wouldnt you know, I was indeed speaking to Ken. It wasnt the voice on the machine, but rather a very nice, normal voice.
We talked for about thirty minutes and Ken had no idea about the spot in the Artists Profile. Ken had gone through a tough patch and was doing carpentry and wood working in Harpers Ferry and pretty much out of touch of the whole music scene. I asked him if it was possible to build a recreation of the guitar he had made for Michael and he said sure, but he couldnt guarantee that it would sound the same. Michael had hand picked that guitar some several he had made, as it had a personality of its own. I asked Ken to think about it and then got his mailing address. I bought a copy of the Artists Profile and mailed it to him and then waited about a week and called him again. He had received and watched the tape and was flabbergasted. He said he had already locked it in his safe and was thinking of building guitars again. Needless to say, I was very excited for him.
I spoke with Ken off and on for the next couple of weeks, mostly about guitar construction, but also about his times with Michael. He told me they had shared quite a few open mike nights, with Michael doing a lot of Neil Young and Beatles covers, in his own way, of course. He said he knew Michael was going places.
As far as guitar construction, Ken told me several important things. First, the type of wood can be misleading, that he had built guitars out of oak that were better sounding than some the had done out of rosewood or mahogany. Second, the x bracing of the old martins was unsurpassed, although some of the new patterns were very impressive.
Ken told me it would take from six to eight months for him to build a guitar for me, so I decided that was too long for me, but we talked occasionally and he said he had hooked up with a local guitar dealer and was going to start reproducing 'the guitar' for them. About four months later, I lost track of ken but assumed he was building guitars again. All things seemed to be in go mode. But since then, I have not heard anything.
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Re: Ken DuBourg

Postby tinsmith » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:32 pm

Being a tradesman all my life, there's nothing wrong with making a living & supporting a family doing honest work.
If I had a specialty, that people wanted & it upset that......I guess too bad for them/us.....He deserves to live his life & not be hounded because he made a guitar for Michael Hedges.
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