Larrivee Guitars is the choice of Spy Tunes Guru!
Jean Larrivee studied classical guitar but soon turned to building after meeting Edgar Monch (German Luthier) in his early twenties.
Jean became Edgar’s apprentice and built a few classical guitars in his workshop before moving on to continue his passion from his home in Toronto, Canada.
After some years in the workshop, Jean built his first steel string acoustic in 1971, catering for the thriving folk scene of Toronto.
In the model L-09 you can clearly see the classical guitar influence.
This has proved to be one of Larrivee’s most poplar model and as some of you may know, this is the guitar that Guru used when recording the exercises and all the acoustic songs.
Guru bought his L-09 new from a shop in Stockholm in the late 90s, it has since then traveled everywhere with him, being his only acoustic guitar since.
The L-09 is not your average steel-string; the body shape, the bracing and the neck have their own unique twist with a strong classical influence.
Guru fitted his L-09 with a Sunrise pickup and a customized B-Band setup making this a triple source pickup system.
When fitting this system the pickup market had just started to properly expand.
Dual source preamp units had just come into place from more manufacturers than just Rane and Pendalum who for years had been completely on their own in this field.
Guru took this one step further by blending the under saddle transducer with a condenser on the actual guitar.
Using a stereo cable this is then fed into a stereo preamp where the sunrise would run on the tip, the B-Band dual source on the ring.
A few years ago Jumbo frets where also fitted making the L-09 difficult to play but resonating even better.
Cutaway and Inlays
Larrivee might be known to most people for their unique cutaway and full on inlay designs.
The Florentine being the extreme cutaway first used, a sharp design that really made Larrivee stand out.
The later development of the Venetian cutaway with its softer shape has since then become a more popular choice and is today offered on many models.
The full on inlays that you might have seen on head stocks are mostly done by Jean’s wife Wendy Larrivee.
Ironically the first Larrivee guitars didn’t have any inlays at all, not even any dots!
So it seems Wendy not only completed Jeans private life but also his guitars.
Jean Larrivee is a proud builder who doesn’t compromise on his builds.
Take the factory tour and learn all his secrets in building top of the range acoustic steel-string guitars and watch this YouTube video which contain Jean himself talking about the guitars he builds.
Larrivee Electric Guitars
During the 80s when everybody wanted to play electric guitar like Eddie Van Halen the acoustic market dried up heavily.
Larrivee took the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach and started to produce models suited to the 80s guitar scene, complete with sloped headstock.
With the early 90s (Eric Clapton Unplugged anyone?) the acoustic scene was once again booming and Larrivee returned fully to his acoustic roots to which he has stayed true ever since.
Today Larrivee only offer one Electric model.
With a far more classic look than the off the wall 80s design the RS-4 looks like a serious contender for the electric market.
As usual Jean has his own take on every little detail in this build, even making his own pickups!