It's an amazing guitar right out of the gate. Sounds as good as it looks. Very balanced, and still has plenty of bass. It's very loud, with great tone.Right out of the box, it's next to the strongest guitar I've heard brand new.
-Tommy, North Carolina
Words cannot describe how beautiful she is and how heavenly she sounds. I promise I will try to get some pics up this weekend. Thanks, everyone, for all of the interest. Special thanks to Tommy, for it was his posts about Hooper guitars that initially got me interested. Boy, am I glad I believed in the words of the Preacher from Mt. Airy!
This guitar is actually MAKING me a better player (only about 40 years to go to reach the "capable" level ); it is hard to describe, but it is capable of such nuanced tones that it encourages me to try different pick angles of attack, light to heavy touch, etc. To say I am thrilled is an understatement.
-MartinEnvy, from the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum
Hi Ken, I thought I would get in touch and let you know about Hooper H-28, #031, that I purchased from you at Merlefest 2013. First, I did not mean to be rude by buying your guitar on such short notice. The timing had to be perfect. The day before I spent plenty of time trying out several other guitars that were on display, including Collings. I must have spent an hour going back and forth until I had one picked out, so the next day I went back to check and see if the one was still available and also try out some others. Actually I was playing the Collings I had picked out when you showed up with #031 and Jason the salesperson told me I had to try this new Hooper guitar. I waited my turn to try it, and to my surprise the Hooper had that great loud clean sound I was looking for, not to mention the great look.
SO I had to make a quick decision; buy the Hooper guitar on the spot or wait until the next day and find out it might be sold...I knew it would had been gone.
To this day, the same great sound is in my hand, no regrets. This is the best guitar I have ever played. To top it off, I got to meet a super nice person, Ken Hooper, the builder of my beautifully handcrafted Hooper Guitar.
Keep up the nice handcrafted Hooper Guitar making, they have a great unique sound!
-Mike , Michigan
Hey Ken, just wanted to write you after I've gotten to spend a few days with #18. It's been difficult to put down! I've played and owned lots of great -18 style dreads over the past few years. Each was great in its own way, but I never found one that had all the things I was searching for: playability, tone, and balance. My Hooper has it. Best guitar I've owned, period!
I'm amazed at how responsive this thing is; you don't have to push hard to get volume or tone out. It is incredibly balanced as well. Phenomenal bass response, but all the other strings are there, no muddiness. Can handle heavy bluegrass attack, Townes-type fingerpicking, or jazz progressions up the neck so easily. The action is just right; I've played countless dreads that you have to fight from the 10th fret up. But not this one. Great set-up out of the gate. And MAN is the burst you sprayed tremendous!
Thanks so very much for building me a life-time instrument. Great getting to meet the family! I'll be in touch for a matching -28 or OM as soon as I can!
The guitar is loud, it's bright (maybe due to the FWI nut and saddle) and I wanted it that way. Iseem to be going up in pick thickness, which lessens brightness, in my experience. So this is perfect for me. It's really chimy, WAY more than my HD-28, which I believe is a good example of the model. The notes kind of blossom, unlike my D-18A where they punch and fade, I dunno, I guess it's the difference between Mahogany and Rosewood. It plays really easily, the action is set up to my liking (a bluegrass 7/5 set-up, with a good amount of relief) It plays much easier than you'd think. Or maybe my fingers and calluses are getting stronger! The fretwork is perfect, with nicely beveled fret ends, which I prefer to the overly filed and rounded shapes. A nice clean bevel that's just barely cleaned off for comfort. Did I say it sustains forever?
It's very well balanced, the bass is nice and rumbly, and the trebels really ring, all the way up the neck. I really think that the fat neck contributes to this. My HD-28 has noticably less power as you play up the neck, this Hooper growls all over.
Ken did a great job of shaping the neck to my liking, which is basically a copy of the D-18A neck. It's beefy, but very comfortable. I think I like it even better than the neck on the D-18A. It's a bit less cheeky from 6th fret up, a rounder "V" as opposed to a really sharp "V". Holding and playing the guitar, it feels like an old friend, which is what I was really shooting for. I wanted a Rosewood partner to my D-18A that only sounded and looked different, but did not throw me for a loop when switching between the two.
The "Hooper" inlay on the headstock, and the diamond inlays on the neck are truly exquisite! I don't know where Ken get's his shell, but it's SUPER colorful, green pink, blue, etc. It must Puaua shell, or just choice stuff.
The finish is nice and thin, you can tell by looking at it. It's got a varnish finish, and the feel on the neck is great. Not sticky at all like a new nitro neck. Ken offered a Nitro finish if I wanted it, but I'm glad I went with the varnish.
The pickguard was picked out of Ken's stash, I'm not sure if it's Axiom of Colling Material, but I love it. I told Ken that I was REALLY picky about pick guards, if they're not just so, it really bugs me. The material, the bevel, the shape, and the position are all spot on. I'll NEVER look at that pickguard and wish it was any different! Bravo! LOL.
Not sure what else to say, but I'm loving it more every miniute that I play it. It's like getting to know a new lover...it takes time.
The fact that it's only a few weeks old and sounds as good as it does it really encouraging, I cant wait to hear her develop over time. I know my D-18A was sort of underwhelming(not underwhelming, but not as loud or clear as I thought it would be) right out of the box, but it has grown into a monster over a 2 year period. This Hooper sounds so good right now, it will turn in to a Mega-Monster when it grows into itself.
AND ONE YEAR LATER...............
It's been a great year with #016. It's my go-to guitar daily. It's LOUD. It's bright and shimmery. It has a great feel in the hands. I love the Authentic style neck.
It's loud. It's brash and authoritative, in the best sense. It's got a strong attack, but has legs as well. It's very light in weight. I notice this every time I pick it us. It's light, un-filled with BS. It's opened up quite a bit in the first year. I expect a lot more in the next few, if prior experience counts for anything. Interesting and exciting to think where this will be when it's 20 years old. Or 70...
-MIkeyV, from the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum
I have had my Hooper D-18 since early May of this year. It is THE guitar that I have been searching for. That quest was about a two year journey that included owning a Martin D-18 G.E. A Huss and Dalton T D M Custom and a Collings D 1. All fine guitars to be sure, inspired by the legendary pre-war Martin D-18. Each had its own qualities and charms but still lacked that key ingredient that I was looking for. The Hooper D-18 possesses that key ingredient. It is plenty loud and yet very responsive when you are playing
softly, with a balanced tone across the strings. But lots of high end guitars have those traits. This guitar has that warm, wonderful and satisfying deep bass growl that reaches deep into your innards. It is at once refined and primitive..... ancient. I have bonded with this guitar........... The workmanship is first rate and the customer service is too. Ken takes the time to work with you in a one-on-one
relationship before and AFTER the guitar has been delivered.....