Formerly of London but now operating from York, PJD guitars are the brainchild of Leigh Dovey. Dovey has steadily built his business from a literal shed filled with hand tools at the bottom of his parents’ garden to a large, dedicated workshop with staff, CNC machines and ventilated spray booths. A love of guitars and a respect for the work of his late theatrical prop maker father (PJD is named after him, Philip John Dovey) is at the epicentre of the PJD story, along with one man’s ambition to follow his dreams whilst staying true to the memory of his dad.
We’ve recently taken a few beautiful PJD guitars into stock here at Art of Guitar, and we can’t wait to tell you about them! There are some genuinely interesting features to the brand in general, and we thought we’d discuss them today by way of introduction. Whilst we have a couple of different designs in stock right now – Carey Standard – the points highlighted in today’s blog apply mostly to the brand as a whole. As you’ll read through you’ll realize there is more to the build of these instruments than meets the eye...
All PJD guitars have bolted-on necks. They are joined to the body via a very strong, direct method of inserting bolt threads into the body and then attaching the neck via proper industrial bolts. This method is extremely strong, stable and ‘true’ in terms of the fit, especially given the exactness of luthiery involved here. Standard bolt-on situations involve wood screws and a backplate, as we know from Fender onwards through history. PJD maintains their way keeps more tone and sustain in the instrument.
Some of the necks are quartersawn and all are roasted. What do these terms mean? Firstly, quartersawn is when the initial log is sawn at an angle going across the timber’s grain rather than ‘with’ it, which is how logs are normally harvested. Cutting like this offers a much stronger piece of wood (more resistant to temperature changes and warping etc) but, due to the waste involved, it’s a more expensive choice, too.
These player benefits are furthered by the roasting process, which, as most of you will know, refers to a process called ‘torrefaction’. The wood is placed in a moisture-free environment of extremely high temperature until all of the moisture is removed, leaving a stronger, and more resonant timber behind. The drying process makes the wood more resilient to the environmental factors that can normally play havoc with an instrument’s structural integrity. A pleasing ‘caramel’ colouring happens, too, but the real benefits are stability and weight reduction.
PJD necks have all of these plus points, along with compound radius fingerboards, which flatten out the higher up they go for comfy chording and choke-free soloing.
The fretwork is spectacular, with each fret placed into a carefully routed space in order to bypass ‘sprouting’ issues resulting in a playing surface that can drive you crazy! The frets themselves are finished with semi-hemispherical, rounded ends. These are sometimes called ‘hot dog frets’ and you’ll see why when you look close! This is definitely a comfortable, smooth and classy way to finish the fretting, and it pays off handsomely in contributing to each guitar’s masterful feel.