Knaggs Guitars: HONGA
Guitar Connoisseur|Guitar Connoisseur John 5 Spring 2018

Joe Knaggs is an industry powerhouse with twenty years at PRS under his belt and now a decade of his own signature brand. He approaches his work with the eye of an artist and the mind of an engineer. The Honga is the newest addition to the Knaggs line, blending classic and innovative styling with superb tone and response.

Steve Rider

Guitar Connoisseur: I like to begin these interviews with some deep background. When did you first become interested in music and at what point did the idea of building guitars come to you?

Joe Knaggs: Hi Steve, I like to begin these interviews by saying thanks! It’s always an honor – My first memory of music was my sister playing a “45” of Good Vibrations – I think I was 5. What really got me into music though was a time at my friend house, shooting pool. I was probably 10 or 11 years old – I heard a 12 string acoustic guitar and it really caught my ear- I think it was the Eagles or America. I was hooked on music for some reason. My friend’s father was a concert violinist, so they always had good music playing – Robby Izzi played in a band that did Chicago tunes, horns and all! I started playing guitar at 11. I bought my first album – Neil Young “After the Gold Rush” then my second album, Zappa’s “Apostrophe”…. I then started listening to jazz and got really hooked, but I also listened to Rock like Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, ELP, Yes etc…. I would go the Public Library and check out Jazz albums. They had everything from Miles to Pat Metheny. I thought about the Honga, and why I was interested in making that type of guitar. I went to see Zappa when I was 11 years old with my older brother and his friends ( I looked at my boy when he was 11 … I would have NEVER let him go to a show like that) – It was the “Apostrophe” tour – It was insane… Somehow we got to sit in the front row! I had never been to anything like it. I was 11 years old! The smell of hash all around and a bunch of freaks. Zappa came out and hit the harmonics to tune up – Speakers stacked up on each side of the stage to the ceiling, loud as shit, and they immediately broke into Montana from Overnight Sensation! It was that SG he played – that was the first guitar I ever heard at that kind of volume with that kind of power! That memory stuck like glue. What a fucking band! I did not think about building guitars until I was about 25 years old when it became my career. I only played and played a lot like so many others in our industry.

GC: How did you end up at PRS all those years ago, and how did that time shape your approach to design and production?

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