9549 Takilma Rd.
Cave Junction OR 97523
Phone: 541-592-4535

Earth-Friendly Instruments & Woods

Photo: Five-string acoustic bass guitar, six-string Auditorium model guitar

** I have decided to take a break from instrument building, however I am still selling instrument woods which can be seen here. Please check back if you are interested in ordering. Thanks, Dave.

"The tone has the complex character you'd expect from a fine handmade acoustic instrument, but this bass is no creampuff -- it responds to hard playing without complaint...If it were made of traditional materials regardless of their origins, the Dave Maize acoustic bass guitar would still get high marks for its excellent construction, playability, and sound...and its environmentally friendly materials could be more than a bargain for future generations."

-- Jim Roberts, Bass Player Magazine, December 1993 issue

©Miller Freeman Publishing, Reprinted by Permission

Photo: Five-string acoustic bass guitar,

six-string Auditorium model guitar


The origin of the woods which I use in my instruments and the way in which they are harvested are just as important to me as their appearance and tonal properties.

Since the beginning of my guitar-making career in 1990, I have made it a major part of my process to utilize both reclaimed and sustainably harvested tonewoods for my instruments as well as for the materials which I furnish to other builders. I made this decision after seeing the diminishing supply of traditional luthery woods such as mahogany, ebony, spruce and rosewood. I discovered that there  is a wealth of both re-claimed traditional tonewoods and under-utilized woods which can produce a superb instrument and help to stretch the supply of these precious materials.

Some of the woods I like to build with are Claro Walnut (urban tree removal), Redwood ( building demolition), Bay Laurel (driftwood log), Sitka and Englemann Spruce ( blowdowns or bug-killed trees), Red Cedar and Port Orford Cedar ( fire-killed trees).Dave and Mark harvesting beachwood.

Ultimately, I get a lot of satisfaction from creating a fine guitar or bass from a piece of driftwood or from a street tree cut down and destined for the landfill. It must be the joy of recycling!

Photo: Dave and Mark Kelz having fun harvesting curly Redwood from Oregon beach.
In a small shop in Oregon's Rogue River Valley, I create unique acoustic guitars. I do all of the building myself, utilizing woods that I have milled from prized native trees or reclaimed from old growth timbers. My guitars and basses are noted for their playability, state of the art design, and wonderful rich tone, with the bass having enough acoustic volume for a small group in an unamplified setting. Building a limited number of instruments each year allows me to put more attention into each one, assuring that it is optimally playable and has the kind of tone and acoustic output that I'm trying to achieve.(Photo by Randy Wrighthouse)

(Photo by Randy Wrighthouse)

The path that has led me to build acoustic guitars has been a long and interesting one. My first woodworking experiences as a child were whittling a sailboat and carving small figures. As a teenager this evolved into intricate mandalas and floral carvings. I had never taken any woodshop classes but forged ahead with my handsaw, chisel, carving tools and electric drill. In college I attended a guitar building class and my skill level took a big leap. The class was taught by Mark Platin of Wildwood Banjo fame. Playing guitar since my early teens, I was ready for a better instrument. I couldn't really afford to buyHeadwaters model 5-string bass made entirely with woods certified by SmartWood a better guitar so I decided to build one. My first handbuilt guitar turned out to be successful enough to play, and I was hooked. It was at this point, however, that I took a major detour from guitar making that took me to Wisconsin, Tennessee, Chicago, Florida and finally southern Oregon. Living in a spiritual community building wooden orchard ladders, doing construction, cabinet making, house painting, alternative energy projects and making handcarved entry doors helped me focus my skills. At the same time I began to seriously play bass and guitar. All of these points along the way have helped me to accumulate the skills that I bring to building acoustic guitars. Also, being a player I am sensitive to what makes an instrument playable and the kind of tone that it should have.

Photo: Five-string acoustic bass guitar
Claro Walnut body, reclaimed Redwood top

My acoustic basses and guitars are more than a collection of wood and steel pieces -- more than a fine, hand built instrument played by renowned players in a range of musical styles. It is also an answer to a question of my own: how to create a quality instrument and be mindful of our ecological predicament. I choose to build with woods that are less utilized, reclaimed, sustainably harvested or non-endangered, while not making any tonal or aesthetic sacrifices.

Some of the musicians currently playing my instruments are:

Jack Casady (Hot Tuna)

Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead)

Adam Clayton (U2)

Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam)

Thanks to Kevin Cooney, Jim and Jimmy Maize, Phil Lesh, Jack Casady, Sean Ennis, Ron and Jesse Hodgdon, Marty Ruddy, Linda Serrano, Laurie Morton, Linda Falge, Adam Oester, and Elijah Ocean.

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Last Edit: 10/2/2020