Stumpy, the Stump Preacher Guitar!

Well, since John asked, here are some pictures of “Stumpy” — my Stump Preacher guitar.

This guitar was the brainchild of John Devitry Smith. I was introduced to John by a friend of mine (James). They had been classmates together at BYU and had stayed in touch. When James found out that the two of us had a common interest, he arranged a meeting. I picked this guitar up from John at the Stump Preacher booth on the floor of the NAMM show in ’96 (I think…).

John built this so he could have a guitar to travel with that would satisfy a players need and still stand up to the hazards of travel. Given he was using composite/molded material for the body, he came up with a process for being able to get good visual designs. I had a number of models to choose from when I was on the floor. I wish I’d had the extra money to buy a few more of these when I was there, but alas I did not.

Here’s what it looks like in the “gig bag”:

Stumpy in gig bag

Stumpy in gig bag

As one might expect, the front pouch I keep picks, a capo, string winder and a glass slide. I’ve sometimes kept an extra set of strings, but I usually don’t. The pouch is quite roomy.

This is what the “tennis racket” looks like in its case. There’s enough room left over in there for me to keep my strap on the guitar… usually wrap it over the top of the nut and then around the back.

Stumpy in open gig bag

Stumpy in open gig bag

There’s not a whole lot of mass (at least, in the sense of being heavy) to this guitar. The main body is a single piece composite with a truss rod in it. It’s quite comfortable to play, though it doesn’t necessarily look like it would be. Unlike other guitars (like the original Steinberger), this was weighted properly so it had a very natural gait and didn’t feel like it would tip over if you let the neck go.

Body view

Body view

This particular body style was discontinued for mass production with a row of tuning machines across the bottom. I know there had been complaints about accidentally hitting the top row of machines, though I can say that I have never had that problem. They are recessed just far enough that it doesn’t cause me any issue. Now, the one thing that you do need to get used to is the lack of a big body. If you’re used to using the body as an anchor for your arm, it could be quite an adjustment. Needless to say, it can break one of bad habits, if that is your crutch. As you can see there’s a single EMG pickup that has a toggle to go between single- and double-coil sound. You can also see the custom brass “mechanism” for getting the strings wrapped around the body and into the rear of the guitar where the tuning machine heads are.

View from head down neck

View from head down neck

Looking down the neck, its easy to see that the total body width is not much more than the neck itself — and the neck is not that wide to start with. It’s one of the nicest things about this guitar. One of the other nice things is that it is a real conversation started. It’s hard for folks to believe that this really is a full-scale guitar! It is!!

Side view

Side view

Here’s a side view to see the profile, as well as where the back plate and the body come together. The rosewood fingerboard is glued to the body, not fastened.

Back plate off

Back plate off

Here it is with the back plate off. Two things to note. The white buttons are the fastener mechanism that holds the back plate on to the body. Great design — have never had any issues with it popping off or anything like that, nor do I expect to. It’s also important to note the contour in the back plate itself. When John designed this, he explicitly accounted for its acoustic properties and that’s why it’s shaped like that. For an electric guitar, it’s got a great acoustic sound, but you wouldn’t want to depend upon that alone. It’s one of the reasons why I got the Eastman.

Close up view of back

Close up view of back

Here is a close up view of the back. Note the serial number — or lack thereof. This guitar is one of only 20 prototypes that were ever made. I own one. I remember that some famous players had one… and me. :-)

I think this is just a magnificent piece of engineering and a joy to play. I’m very sorry to hear that the company didn’t make it, but that’s business. Sometimes you eat bear; sometimes the bear eats you!

I’ve heard that there are some available on eBay from time to time, but haven’t seen one personally. If you ever get a chance to play one, I’d highly encourage you to do so.

There’s not a whole lot of mass (at least, in the sense of being heavy) to this guitar. The main body is a single piece composite with a truss rod in it.

Stumpy in open gig bag

August 20, 2009 · kengon · 11 Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Music

11 Responses

  1. asudsy - February 24, 2010

    Hi,

    This might be a random request but I am trying to get in contact with John Devitry-Smith.

    While he was at BYU he wrote a paper on a LDS Missionary named William Barratt. I too am doing some research on William Barratt and would like to contact John about his work.

    Does he have a blog or could you forward me his email?

    Many thanks,
    Andrew Southerton

  2. kengon - February 24, 2010

    Hi Andrew,

    I don’t happen to have contact information for John, but I have a fried that may. I’ll pass your request on to him and see if we can help you out.

    Best,
    kengon

  3. jrollins3 - June 8, 2010

    Andrew,

    I can contact John and pass along your request. He is still very much into historical and genealogical research so I expect he will be quite willing to share.

    James Rollins

  4. allanlindberg - July 12, 2010

    Hi All,

    I happend to own one of these great little guitars. I found the company early 1999 when they had a website called http://www.stumppreacher.com which is completely gone since long ago. Someone else had that domain name last time I checked,(completely unrelated).

    A gentleman named Rod Brower that made the guitars (never heard of anyone else involved except for a guy hired to market them). Rod runs a small company in Woodinville, Wa that outfits commercial boats and builds custom made interiors of fancy restaurants in the Seattle area.

    I visited Rod`s shop several times between 2002 and 2009. He told me the first time I visited, that he had gotten in some kind of dispute with the guy he had hired to market the guitars, and I think they had both sued each other for reasons I cannot remember.

    He had a container full of parts and was willing to assemble new guitars if someone was interested, and even though he ended up putting the whole project pretty much on ice due to lack of time and lack of spirit due to the above mentioned dispute, he had developed the guitars further with a through body neck as opposed to my bolt on neck for enhanced sustain and looks.

    I bought some spare parts to mine since I thought that it would be a good idea if I lost contact with him. Also I had accidentaly dropped the guitar once while walking across the tile floor of Stockholm Airport because I had been stupid enough to put the zipper shoe at the bottom of the gig bag. I thought I had crashed the guitar, but it proved to be sturdy as a tank, I replaced a couple of the patented rolls at the back end which the strings are going around to get into the tuners bay inside the guitar, and one of the clips that holds the backplate of the body was also broken.

    I am almost certain that you can get him to build you one of these rare ones. You can reach him at phone number 425-402-1935. His shop address is 12604 NE 178th St, Woodinville, Wa 98072.

    They made three models with different arrangements of the tuners, a V 6 with three tuners at the top and three tuners at the bottom of the body. A straight 6 with all tuners at either the top or the bottom of the body with an optional built in effect box, and one other that I think they called the tear drop model or something like that.

    Cheers,

    Allan Lindberg, Sweden

  5. allanlindberg - July 12, 2010

    …Forgot to mention, except for a normal amplifier jack the Stumpy also has a built in head phone amp with a 9V battery so you can practice at the hotel room in the middle of the night w/o disturbing anyone, on top of that it has an extra 3,5 mm jack where you can connect your mp3 or laptop etc to get Clapton paralell with your own playng in the same head phone. Great feature.

    Allan Lindberg again

  6. kengon - July 13, 2010

    Hi Allan,

    Thank you so much for your comments on the Stump Preacher guitar. I appreciate your putting Rod’s contact information there as well.

    I hope I never have to get spare parts, but it’s nice to know that there’s a contact if I ever do.

    I did try the model with all the tuners on one side and I didn’t really like the feel of it.

    Now having the built in effects box and audio input mixer would be a very interesting idea! Saves having to lug around more pieces when you travel.

    Best regards,
    kengon

  7. garytruesdale - April 1, 2011

    I’m looking for John Devitry. I worked with John at Intergraph when he started first modeling the stump preacher, eventually he pursued his own patents, manufactured the first prototypes, and I even attended that first NAMM show with him. I hear he lives in Utah. I’m there next week and would like to look up John. I appreciate any help.

  8. kengon - April 21, 2011

    Hi Gary,

    I’ll see what I can do for you. Expect to hear from me regarding this.

    kengon

  9. lulu - September 13, 2011

    I have a stump preacher guitar that has bud wiser all over it and is signed by the members of Blues Traveler. I would love to sell it,but not sure where to go…any suggestions? I have tried bay with no responses.

  10. kengon - September 16, 2011

    I would have thought that trying e-Bay would be a pretty reasonable way of doing it. Surprised that you didn’t get any responses. Perhaps a specialty auction house or a consignment store for rare/collectible instruments?

  11. Dezignstuff » Utah State uses Solid Edge to Create Artful Contrivance - December 10, 2012

    [...] Devitry is a former member of the Australian rock band Turncoats, and the inventor of the Stump Preacher compact electric guitar. He’s also the CAD administrator for the Space Dynamics Lab of Utah [...]

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