Chet Atkins

Any intelligent conversation, magazine article, book, review, term paper, website, or personal opinion about guitar playing or the evolution of the instrument or music styles in the past century would have to have at the top of it’s shortest list of contributors the name of Chet Atkins. There is simply no one else like him. Mr. Guitar, don’t you know. The Father of Fingerstyle Guitar.  No single style category can hold him. Chet is inventor, artist, and technician all rolled into one.

Kirk’s association with Chet goes back several years before he actually built him a guitar. They had a dear friend in common, Lenny Breau. Chet had befriended and recorded with Lenny and Kirk had built Lenny a beautiful birdseye maple seven-string guitar. Chet played Lenny’s new guitar and liked it. When Lenny died in 1984, Kirk and Chet became acquainted through their mutual good friend, John Knowles.

A few years later, Kirk finished developing his classical electric guitar.  It had been a long process of refining and building prototypes, but the final product was worthy of even Chet Atkins’ approval.  Chet ordered one and the day he got his new Sand Classical Electric, he "ran it up to Gibson" and arranged to have them start building guitars of this design and include them in their Chet Atkins line of Gibson guitars.

Gibson contacted Kirk and he provided them with a "come-apart" guitar just like Chet’s, and all the technical assistance they needed to build the "Studio Classic".

Kirk, being a perfectionist, has fine-tuned his design over the years, giving it a newer shape. And although he offers customers several different body depth options, wood options, cosmetic choices, etc., every guitar in the classical electric line of Sand Guitars is a direct descendent of that guitar he made for Chet.

Click here for text and pictures from Russ Cochran's book "Chet Atkins Me and My Guitars" (used by permisson).

Besides being an accomplished builder, Kirk Sand is an innovator.  He has designed and manufactured a nylon string guitar which has a beautiful sound, is fun to play, very futuristic and is utilized by some of the very best players.  I predict he will be in the forefront of design and meeting the needs of quitarists for years to come.

That's the wonderful thing about the guitar. Each generation has its innovators who carry the legacy further and our combined knowledge grows and gets passed on as the guitar's secrets are revealed, one by one. I am not the greatest guitarist, but I am very proud of the part I've played in its history. And I know, as the torch is passed, our beloved instrument is in good hands with players like Jerry Reed, Tommy Emmanuel, Richard Smith, Jim Nichols, Doyle Dykes, and many others who will carry on the tradition which started long before me and which will hopefully continue long after we are all forgotten. *

Chet Atkins, C.G.P.

* It is interesting to note that all the guitarists mentioned by Chet in the above quote play Sand guitars.

Visit the Chet Atkins official web site at

Visit the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society web site at