The Current's Guitar Collection: Sara Watkins, Bourgeois Piccolo Parlor

Sara Watkins with her Dana Bourgeois guitar.
Sara Watkins in The Current studio with her Dana Bourgeois Piccolo Parlor Guitar. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
Sara Watkins describes her guitar by Dana Bourgeois
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In town to play a show at the Dakota in Minneapolis, Sara Watkins stopped in to the studio for a session hosted by Mike Pengra. The session will stream on Radio Heartland on Thursday, Sept. 29, at noon, and will air on The Current during United States of Americana, between 8 and 10 a.m., on Sunday, Oct. 2.

Sara's new album is called Young In All The Wrong Ways, and after playing some songs from the new release, she took a few minutes to talk to us about her guitar. Here's what she had to say:

At first blush, this looks like a very vintage Martin guitar.

Right. But Dana Bourgeois made this, and he used the original — I think it might have been a Martin — but it was the 1800s parlor-style form for the body of it. I'm sure he restructured it a bit on the inside, but that was what he was using, is that very old Martin style.

But this guitar is quite new, you can see; it's still got the shine of a new guitar on it. I really love it. It fits me perfectly. And some guitars, the body sticks out so far, that it's hard for me to get any leverage with my right arm, so this suits me.

How did you connect with Dana Bourgeois?

Through my brother, Sean — Dana got my brother some guitars, years and years ago. So that's how I know Dana. He and his guitars are quite well regarded in our circle of players.

Did he make this for you specially?

He didn't make it for me, but he saw me playing an old Washburn when I was on the road, and it wasn't staying in tune very well because it was so old. He was like, 'I've got this guitar that's coming up that I'm working on right now, this parlor style.' When it came out, he sent one my way, which I'm very grateful for.

How long have you had this one?

Probably about seven years. Maybe six years.

Is it your primary instrument?

On this tour it is, yeah. This, and I also have a little Gibson 140 that I've been playing for about four songs in the set. But I happen to be playing this on most of the songs.

Did you write a lot of the songs on your latest album, Young In All The Wrong Ways, using this guitar?

Yeah, this is the one that I wrote on mostly. It's just very easy to get my hands around. It's comforting.


Sara Watkins - official site

Bourgeois Guitars - official site

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  • Sara Watkins' Dana Bourgeois guitar headstock
    Sara Watkins in The Current studio with her Dana Bourgeois Piccolo Parlor Guitar. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)

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