PURE BLISS
Guitar Player|Holiday 2021
Santa Cruz Guitar’s Happy Traum Signature HT/13 is a fingerpicker’s delight.
JIMMY LESLIE

SANTA CRUZ RARELY releases a new signature model, so it’s newsworthy when the coastal California handcrafters led by acoustic captain Richard Hoover herald a new crew member. The last one was designed in coordination with “Catfish” Keith about a half decade ago, and the November Frets Learn column about choosing an acoustic blues box references his Catfish Special. The scarcity of new models stems from Santa Cruz’s modern status as primarily a custom shop, encouraging players to put their own stamp on a particular design platform and essentially create a signature model in each instance. Happy Traum did just that using the H/13 base model to create his HT/13. Considering Traum’s status as a legendary folk artist and educator (he was a Guitar Player columnist as well as a significant contributor to Frets during its formative era as a standalone magazine), it makes sense that Santa Cruz would choose to make his model available to the masses.

Traum is as core to folk guitar as they come. He was integral to the seminal New York scene, from Greenwich Village to Woodstock, and has played with the likes of Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and John Sebastian. He had a long, successful duo with his late brother, Artie Traum, and continues to dazzle as a solo artist. As the founder of Homespun Music Instruction, Traum was one of the first teachers whose work was widely distributed in audio and visual formats. Back in the print-only era, he was a prolific educational author who played an influential part in Hoover’s musical development. Long before founding the 45-year-old Santa Cruz Guitar Company, Hoover discovered Traum’s book Fingerpicking Styles for Guitar, which helped set him on his path as a player and world-renowned acoustic luthier.

Hoover eventually returned the favor, working with Traum to create an H/13 with cocobolo back and sides and an Adirondack spruce top, followed by an all-mahogany OM with wood bindings, abalone appointments and custom inlay. This third collaboration between the two luminaries represents the story coming full circle. The Traum Signature HT/13 combines aspects from the previous pair, plus entirely new elements in a guitar that’s chock full of chime and charm.

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