The Handmade Music School (at The Floyd Country Store) & Southwest Virginia luthier Jackson Cunningham are offering a chance to win one of Jackson’s beautiful custom-made guitars to benefit programming at The Handmade Music School.
Raffle tickets are $25 (available for purchase through June 10th) and the winning ticket will be selected on June 11th during the Friday Night Jamboree (in-person and live stream). The goal of the fundraiser is to sell 800 tickets to raise $20,000 in support of programming at The Handmade Music School, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to handing down music and dance traditions through lessons, workshops, and camps.
Jackson reached out to Floyd Country Store with the idea for the raffle, inspired to give back to the musical community that has inspired and supported him. “The Floyd Country Store has always provided a gathering place for music and so many opportunities in the community,” says Jackson. “Southwest Virginia has been my home for many years and folks have been very supportive, generous, and giving to me. This is a chance for me to try and return some of that generosity.”
The guitar was handmade in Jackson Cunningham’s workshop in Grayson County, Virginia. It is a faithful recreation inspired by the classic steel string models from the early 1930s. This is a versatile guitar masterfully built with a responsive tone. It is very adaptable to playing many styles of music from flat-picking old-time and bluegrass to fingerpicking blues and is a wonderful guitar for backing up an instrumentalist or accompanying vocals.
Jackson selected some of the finest woods to build the guitar. “It is all top-shelf tone-wood I’ve been waiting for the right time to use on a special instrument,” says Jackson. “I’m most proud of the fit and finish and the sound of the guitar. Some instruments just come together with the way you want and this one is definitely one of my favorites.”
Floyd Country Store owner and Handmade Music School founder Dylan Locke is blown away by the instrument and hopes to increase awareness of Jackson Cunningham’s beautiful craftsmanship through the fundraiser. “Everything about this guitar is impressive. He didn’t hold back at all,” says Dylan. “the precision of Jackson’s craftsmanship is amazing. The inlays, the frets, the pick-guard, the sunburst are flawless. And it has a beautiful tone and feel.”
Raised in rural Southern Oregon, Jackson Cunningham grew up in a home where music and woodworking were a way of life. His father was a master craftsman and these skills were passed down at a very young age. Family ties and a love of music brought Jackson to Southwestern Virginia where he began building instruments full time with the generous help of many local luthiers including Audrey Hash Ham, daughter of pioneering fiddle maker Albert Hash. Working with Audrey inspired Jackson to pursue building instruments full time and led to visits with other talented local luthiers including Floyd County banjo maker Mac Traynham, Grayson County guitar maker Wayne Henderson and Floyd County fiddle maker Arthur Conner as well as many others.
After 15 years, Cunningham Handmade Instruments remains a one-man operation. From the selection of tonewoods, construction, custom neck profiles, to the final fit, finish, and setup, Jackson ensures each step is taken with meticulous care. His instruments are sought after by collectors and have been played by musicians on stages around the globe. Jackson’s instruments are featured at the world’s premier instrument retailers, including Gruhn’s Guitars in Nashville, Tennessee, and Folkway Music in Ontario, Canada.