Our Story

Greetings, my name is Jonathan Lee and I am the Founder and President of Walden Guitars. In 1996, Walden began as a collaboration between myself, Charles Fox, and KHS Musical Instruments. At that time I was building handmade acoustic guitars at CFOX Guitars under the mentorship of master Luthier and partner, Charles Fox in the San Francisco area, California, USA.

I had a major role in Walden’s design and construction as well as leading our shop in China. Our team built the Walden brand into quite a respected brand with numerous reviews, satisfied dealers and guitarists in over 70 countries worldwide. In 2014, KHS, Walden’s owner, decided to cease production and I moved on to work with Breedlove Guitars and Washburn Guitars. I always felt the Walden story was not over and in 2019 I partnered up with Jaco Liao who joined Walden in 2002 as Sales and Quality Assurance Manager, and also led Washburn’s process improvement operation. A dear friend of almost 20 years and a bass player himself, Jaco and I obtained all rights to Walden Guitars. We will be re-releasing these fine instruments in 2020 and I hope that you will be part of our continuing story.

As a Luthier, my mission has always been to deliver the best balance of tone, playability, stability, appearance and affordability. Many elements typically found only on hand made guitars grace today’s Walden. Here are a few:


Low Mass Bracing

Inspired by the some of the great luthiers of our time, bridge building, and “Drillium,” I created Walden’s Low-Mass bracing design with the purpose of reducing the overall weight of soundboard bracing allowing for increased resonance, tone and harmonic content while maintaining stability.

internal view of low mass bracing
Neck Reinforcement

During my time at CFOX Guitars in the mid-1990’s, we were building with 2-rails of Carbon Fiber reinforcing the necks of all our guitars. The added stiffness and stability provided numerous benefits to tone and strength. All Walden guitars incorporate this design using either Graphite or Glass-Fibre rails to increase the long term stability of our necks, improve note-to-note clarity and sustain, and eliminate wolf tones.

neck reinforcement detail image
Baritone

Responding to the challenge to build a Baritone guitar comfortable for today’s typical guitarist, our Baritone is built using my Grand Auditorium body shape. The decision to use a side-port and offset sound hole is to allow for increased useable soundboard length and area and improved vibration and compression dynamics. The Double-X Low-Mass soundboard bracing design allows for a good balance of stability and resonance.

detail image of baritone side sound port

History

The story of Walden Guitars can be traced back to the early 90’s and Walden’s eccentric and charismatic boss, Jonathan Lee. Jonathan’s forays into the world of guitar started off as a guitarist for various electric and acoustic acts in New York, San Francisco and Middletown, Connecticut. According to Jon, success during these first gigs meant getting paid just enough to pay for gas and a couple of beers.

It was around this time that Jonathan first attended a guitar building class conducted by veteran luthier Charles Fox, and his life with the instrument would be changed forever. Lee and Fox immediately found common ground with their mutual love of the instrument and soon became partners to found the CFox Guitar Company. And even while working at CFox as the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Lee continued to finish, buff and setup guitars even while handling the sales and marketing of the completed instruments. And by the time the CFox Company closed in 2001, Lee, Fox and their team of eight luthiers had lovingly crafted hundreds of acoustic guitars which are still highly desired today. During this time, Charles and Jonathan were working with Taiwanese musical instruments manufacturer KHS Musical Instruments to develop their guitar manufacturing project in China. Jonathan, born in Boston, Massachusetts, and an admirer of Thoreau’s work suggested the Walden name and a brand was born. Charles and Jonathan went on to create the designs and manufacturing processes that would be the beginnings of Walden guitars.


The Walden Philosophy

Our Mission. Has always been to create guitars with the absolute best balance of Musicality, Stability, Cosmetics and Affordability; a merging of expertise in US design and manufacturing with Asian efficiency and affordability.

Design. A great guitar is informed by the whole, not any one feature or material. When the minutia come together to create an instrument that is “just right,” this is a Walden. It comes down to features that you can’t see such as Walden’s Graphite and glass-fibre reinforced necks (normally seen only on hand-made instruments) and Low-Mass voiced scalloped-X bracing resulting in instruments with a tonal complexity and immediacy that is exceptional. Premier features such as the Laskin/Ryan inspired ergonomic armrest bevel are built into select instruments.

Trust. With our expertise in manufacturing and sourcing, we ensure cosmetic excellence and stability. Partnerships with D’Addario, Fishman Transducers, and Graphtech NuBone nuts and saddles & Ratio-tuned tuners further enhance the trustworthiness of a Walden. I invite you to take a walk through the following pages where you will find descriptions of Walden’s 2020 lineup including some of our historically most popular models.

It is our hope that you will find inspiration and a musical partner in a Walden Guitar. Please enjoy your time exploring our website and may your Muse be a frequent visitor. Thank you for visiting us here at Walden Guitars.

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