Cumpiano guitars                             Cumpiano articles archive                               Make a guitar with William          

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UMass Professor of Communications Henry Geddes with the curly-koa cutaway wedge
steel-string guitar custom-made to his specifications.

My guitars are made individually and in small quantities, barely a couple of dozen per year. Consequently they can be difficult to get, or get quickly. But, you can purchase one of my guitars in several ways:

1) You may commission a custom-made instrument.
I currently have a long waiting list for custom commissions. You will have to be patient in your wait.
If you need to have a date certain for delivery of your instrument, I may not be the best option for you. Instructions for establishing a custom-instrument commission are listed at the bottom of this page.

2) You may commission an "in the white" instrument.
These are completed instruments in inventory I made during my teaching sessions. They just need to have finish coats applied, so you usually only have to wait a month or so for them!

Go to my Cumpiano Available classic
 in-the-white instruments

Go to my Cumpiano Steel-string in-the-white instruments


Currently in Inventory

Y ou may browse through the gallery (below) of these instruments that are currently in stock and available for immediate purchase. As they are sold, and as new instruments are added, the gallery will change, so if you don't find the kind of instrument you are looking for, please check back soon.  Arrangements can be made to send you an instrument for a tryout.

Terms of instrument evaluations/tryouts


The seven-string's back and sides (and headstock veneer) are made entirely of 4-inch wide slats of Amaranth (also known as purpleheart or violetwood), a resonant hardwood similar in density and tambour to rosewood. The narrow slats were fashioned into a multi-piece wide guitar back, arranged in converging, wedge ribs, giving the impression of a lute-like shell.

Singer-songwriter Joel Zoss (recording artist for Rounder, Smithsonian and BMG Japan) stopped in the shop recently and tried his hand on it.
You can listen to a short fragment of his try-out here:   

Purpleheart Seven-string Jumbo Steel String Guitar (wrc 220a)

Like new, never owned. An extremely rare, and hard to get seven-string variant of the American flat-top steel string guitar was made by William Cumpiano for his personal use a decade ago, when his love for Brazilian music instigated him to create a Violao de Sete Cordas in a plan to learn to accompany his work partner Harry Becker, an excellent guitarist, during R & R music sessions in the shop.

The musical project never took off, and this beautiful personal instrument that was played only half a dozen times was placed in storage, and forgotten among the dozens of other cases in the shop. Recently, the guitar was taken from storage, tuned up and played. It's action, intonation, and appearance emerged intact over the years, although its finish had ambered slightly. William has decided that the guitar should be in some ambitious guitarist's hands instead of in storage.

The guitar is tuned like an ordinary steel string guitar (it's scale is Martin standard long scale) with the customary light-gauge set, but a seventh .060 wound string is added on the bass side, which can variously be tuned to a low B, C or D. The existence of a large, low-tuned string and it's sympathetic vibrations colors the entire sound range of the instrument, lending a unique baritone quality to the instrument--regardless of its standard guitar scale.


Including case, less shipping.......                $4000.00


Para Rosewood Jumbo Steel String Guitar  (wrc 186)


Its strictly straight-grained, uniform (yet colorful ) Para Rosewood back and sides; and a perfect Bavarian Sliver Spruce soundboard lend a smooth, silky, formal and distinctively "baritone" sound  to this  large guitar. Its markedly arched fingerboard makes barring particularly easy and fingering secure.
Less case and shipping...

Download a short video slide show of this guitar with the guitar being played in the background ( 1.6 Meg .Quicktime movie). Live acoustic performance in the background: Antonio Jobim's arrangement of Ari Barroso's "Estate" performed by Harry Becker on this guitar. Note: if you receive any error messages while attempting to view this file, simply click past the error message)

View additional photos with closeups

Becker & Cumpiano
Cedar/Mahogany Wedge
Steel String guitar (wrc 162)


This instrument features a slim neck and exceptional holding comfort due to a reduced sound box size under your arm--while keeping full sound box air capacity by the expanded lower side. Read more about the wedge design here. Satin finish lacquer back and sides. Polished lacquer soundboard. Fully warranted.

Less case and shipping....

Download a short video slide show of this guitar and view while you listen to it in the background  ( 940 k Quicktime movie).
Hear my partner Harry Becker play a fragment of his original composition. Note: if you receive any error messages while attempting to view this file, simply click past the error message)

View larger pictures and close-ups

Listen to this guitar 450 k

Sitka/Koa Acoustic Bass Guitar
(wrc 153)


You don't have to back your acoustic folk group up with a Fender Bass any more!  It's actually a super full-size jumbo guitar with a long scale (34"). This refined instrument features abalone sound hole inlays,  multi-color marquetry purflings and beautiful, AAA figured Hawaiian koa back and sides. Custom-fit hard-shell case included.  Due to it's long neck, the use of a full length guitar-strap is recommended for best balance. Slight shop wear, but guaranteed new and fully warranted.
Case included. Less shipping....

Download a short video slide show of this guitar with the guitar being played in the background ( 1.4 Meg Quicktime movie) . Live and totally acoustic performance by Juan Vazquez
Note: if you receive any error messages while attempting to view this file, simply click past the error message)

View larger pictures and closeups

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Becker/Cumpiano Cuatros
This rotund fellow to the left immediately below is none other than living legend Yomo Toro, perhaps Puerto Rico's greatest living senior Cuatro player. My dear friend Yomo is seen in my shop trying out one a series of six cuatros, made in my shop by my longtime partner Harry Becker with my encouragement and assistance.

Download a audio-video slide show of these cuatros with John Sotomayor playing one of his compositions in the traditional style while you view it. (1.4 meg Quicktime movie)

Note: if you receive any error messages while attempting to view this file, simply click past the error message)

SOLD OUT. We've just sold the last instrument of the current batch of 10. Becker is no longer making cuatros, but Cumpiano is. However he is making only a very limited number a year, and if your order make it onto this year's batch, you may have to wait for next's!
Less shipping and case..    


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I will continue offering individually handcrafted guitars made in the American, European and Latin-American traditions, on a tailor-made, custom basis. Prices for made-to-order steel string guitars begin at around $4500. Prices for classic guitars begin at about $5000. They are available in a wide variety of materials and configurations to suit the owner's preferences. Delivery of these instruments varies according to William’s work load and teaching commitments. An instrument can take four to six weeks to complete from the time that it is begun, but it may take as much as a 12 months before the buyer’s particular commission can be attended to. The order in which commissions are begun is determined by the order in which commission deposits are received, so if you are seriously planning to commission a Cumpiano guitar, it is advisable to reserve your position in my work list at the earliest possible time.

Commissions for custom made instruments usually follow this sequence:

1- The buyer contacts me by phone, email, or makes an appointment to visit my shop.

2- Preliminary discussions regarding design, materials and appointment are begun. An approximate commission price is proposed.

3- Before any further detailed discussions can proceed, a deposit representing a third of the proposed commission price must be paid. At this point, the commission is entered on my building schedule. Details are subsequently established precisely after one or more additional conversations.

4- I submit by mail a commission contract specifying final costs, features, appointments, materials and design of the commission and applicable refund policies. Signed copies are exchanged.

5- Contact is renewed when construction of the buyer’s instrument is about to commence. The instrument is actually begun after I receive a second payment representing 50% of the balance of the final costs specified in the commission contract minus the original deposit.

6- When the instrument is completed, the final balance becomes due before the instrument is delivered. If the instrument is shipped to the buyer, a check for the final balance must be received before shipment. The check is held un-cashed until the buyer receives, evaluates and approves the sale. If the buyer does not accept the instrument for good cause, the final balance check is returned immediately upon receipt of the instrument in saleable condition.

Returns and refunds:

Either because of skill or luck, (or a combination of the two), in almost three decades of professional guitarmaking, I have never had an instrument refused or have had to  refund a commission fee (save for instruments that were damaged in shipment), either due to the instrument not passing muster or from neglecting a feature which was originally requested. Indeed, every one of my instruments have met or surpassed buyer's expectations! However, there is always a first time, and I know that potential buyers need understand what my refund policy is, so that they can decide the nature of the potential risks which are indeed involved. 

I feel that I risk that the buyer will not be able to pay for the instrument when it is completed, and that I may end up owning an instrument that has an unusual or unpopular design feature that I will find difficult to resell. On the other hand, the buyer is certainly entitled to the perception of a risk that the instrument may not appear in a timely fashion, or even appear at all, or that it will be a disappointment when it does appear. Thus I feel that it is reasonable that these risks be shared between maker and buyer in the following fashion (the following is included in the commission contract):

If the finished (completed) instrument is deemed to be a disappointment for a clearly articulated and well-defined reason ("I don't know, it's just not right for me" is not a valid reason), I will cheerfully refund the already-proffered payments in the following manner and under the following conditions:

Final payment: returned immediately upon receipt of the returned instrument in a saleable condition (note: all shipments to and from the maker must be adequately insured!).

Second payment: the middle payment made at the time that the instrument was begun will be returned in full to the buyer within sixty (60) days.

First payment: the original commission deposit will be returned to the buyer upon the resale by the maker of the instrument at the originally quoted price.

If the commission must be cancelled before the instrument is finished (completed) because the buyer or the maker realizes that the buyer is unable to pay either the second or final payments, the following considerations apply:

The instrument has not been commenced: previous payments will be refunded in full within ninety (60) days.

The instrument's construction has already commenced: because of lost opportunity costs, time spent, and materials used, 50% of the second payment only will be returnable within ninety (60) days. Buyers simply cannot cancel a commission which has begun with a demand that the payments be returned immediately and in full.

If due to illness or accident, fire, earthquake, civil insurrection, etc.,  the maker himself is unable to complete the instrument, the earlier payments are returnable within sixty (60) days.

William Cumpiano, guitarmaker
(413) 586-3730 after 1 pm EST

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