03/15/17 Lori McKenna just sent us a wonderful photograph of her exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame. She so graciously put on display her Wells Bay State instrument and I am so grateful to her for including the guitar in her exhibit. What an honor to be displayed in that hallowed place!
11/8/16 Jim Palana introduces his new CD "Lefty". The music prominently features a guitar I made in 2005. Jim has really "broken it in"! It sounds great!
Get his new CD at CDBaby.com, I-Tunes, Spotify, all the on-line music sites. Jim also recently performed on television doing many of the songs from the new album.
The performance was recorded with microphones so he got the true sound of his guitar. Watch his performance here. The sunburst never looked or sounded so good!
10/22/16 Bay state introduces its new 12 string design. See it here.
1/1/16 Bay State shows its' new Multi-Scale instrument. See it here.
4/15/15 Kiley Evans, with her signature guitar, in the June issue of Premier Guitar Magazine! Congratulations, Kiley!!!
3/23/15 An old friend, Jim Hansen tries out a brand new Bay State Ditson in Adirondack Spruce and Brazilian Rosewood!
3/5/15 Bay State delivers to Major League umpire, Jerry Layne the one off "Baseball" Guitar.
8/16/14 The new Bay State studio is now producing instruments in Omond Beach, FL! Look for new signature models soon! See the new shop!
5/09/14 Bay State will cease production from June 1, 2014 until August 1, 2014 to to move the workshop and studio to Ormond Beach, FL. See you soon!!
8/24/13 Congratulations to Jim Palana on his new CD "Old Head". His Bay State never sounded so good! Thanks for placing the Bay State logo and guitar so prominently on the CD!!!
5/13/13 Bill Motte's new CD is released! Look at Bill playing his Bay State Tilton on the back cover! Great sounding guitar on the CD, Bill!
5/9/13 Kiley Evans picked up her brand new "Kiley Evans signature" guitar today. Note her tattoo and the pickguard engraving. I think she is very happy!!
4/25/13 The brand new "Kiley Evans signature" model is finished! It is a Tilton with a 13 fret to the body neck joint. Her signature is at the 5th fret! It sounds terrific! See it here.
4/7/13 Bay State is proud to announce that as of 4/1/13 all of its' models now incorporate a super-thin Nitro-Cellulose lacquer finish. Just like it was done by the builders in the 1920's and 1930's, when tone was paramount! You can hear the difference compared to the modern finishes used by most builders' and factories.
12/25/12 Bay State will cease production from December 25, 2012 until March 1, 2013 to allow everyone a much needed extended vacation. See you soon!!
12/20/12 All Bay State instruments manufactured after Dec 15, 2012 are pre-configured for the installation of an acoustic pickup. The jack hole is pre-drilled, making the installation of an acoustic pickup a very simple process!
12/8/12 Coming in 2013, the country music sensation, Kiley Evans signature model. With her collaboration we created a Bay State design like no other! We are very excited about it!
5/13/12 Bay State introduces the innovative Bay State Soundring® as an option on all models (vintage and modern).
April, 2012 Mark Casey of The Ravens playing his brand new Bay State "Somerville" at Johnny D's in the town of Somerville!
12/4/10 Doug Large plays a ragtime Irving Berlin on a Bay State Ditson at his Re-Tunes Guitar Clinic.
10/22/10 Bay State Guitars Featured in The Fretboard Journal
An article on the resurrection of Bay State guitars appears in the Fall issue (Number 19) of The Freboard Journal, written by Ken Reback. Ken visited the factory this past February and did an extensive interview. He wrote a terrific article about the Bay State instruments and what we are trying to accomplish with the resurrection of the name. Highly recommended - get your copy today!
4/13/10 Brian Nogueira performing with his custom Bay State Excelsior
2/10/10 Winter Guitar Deliveries
Bay State Guitars just delivered five instruments to Re-Tunes. Two were immediately sold to waiting buyers!
2/1/10 De-damping of all Bay State Instruments
Bay State Guitars is pleased to announce that all of the Bay State instruments shipped after February 1, 2010 have been subjected to the Tonerite® 72 hour de-damping (play-in) process. The secret behind the ToneRite® device is its ability to continually produce and efficiently transfer vibrational energy into an instrument, safely recreating and magnifying the physics that occur naturally while playing. This stimulation produces a change to the integrated components within an instrument and increases their ability to resonate together as a whole. The result is added volume and instruments that are easier to play with a sound that is more full and balanced. Not only will your instrument sound better but the notes themselves will come easier, allowing you to play more difficult passages with less fatigue.
11/26/09 The Patriot Ledger followed up the video below with an article which appeared in the November 26, 2009 newspaper:
Retired lawyer revives Bay State Guitars
GARY HIGGINS/The Patriot Ledger
Sylvan Wells of Halifax is making Bay State brand guitars, nearly 100 years after the company stopped producing instruments.
Strumming an acoustic parlor guitar was one way to liven up an evening at home in the unplugged era before radio, TV and the Internet. In many homes, the instrument was a Bay State guitar built by John C. Haynes & Co. of Boston, then one of the nation’s pre-eminent instrument manufacturers.
Nearly a century after the company exited the guitar business, a recent transplant to Massachusetts is reviving the Bay State brand. Sylvan Wells of Halifax is making custom-made Bay State guitars and selling them at a Pembroke music shop and his Web site.
“The idea was: What if Bay State had not gone out of business in 1911?” Wells said. “What if they had continued? What would they be building today?”
A 63-year-old Daytona Beach native, Wells played guitar for The Nightcrawlers, a 1960s rock band that had a brush with fame with a Top 100 single, “Little Black Egg.”
The band members, all junior college students at the time, split up after graduation, and Wells hung up his Gibson and moved on to a different stage as a trial lawyer in the 1970s. But his rock background kept luring him back to music shops where he took an interest in guitar-making.
Largely self-taught, he’s built about 300 stringed instruments over the last three decades, a hobby that he’s had more time to pursue since his retirement six years ago. He saves his most unusual designs for national gatherings of custom guitar-makers, such as the model he crafted from a 2-by-10 from Home Depot. Wells said he let his instincts as a guitarist guide his design.
“I didn’t have any training the way people always did it through the millennium,” he said. “I looked at the guitar and said, ‘How can you build this properly? What are the things I hate as a player?’” Many guitars’ necks are glued to the body, causing the instrument to warp over time from the pressure exerted by the guitarist. Repairs can cost $1,000. Wells’ guitars have a mechanical neck joint for a quick and inexpensive repair job. Frets are recessed so they don’t irritate players’ fingers.
After he and his wife moved to Massachusetts in 2007, Wells’ thoughts turned to the history of Bay State Guitars, whose models he’d seen in second-hand shops. The instruments were manufactured by John C. Haynes & Co. from 1865 until 1911. Wells determined that no contemporary company was using the name and bought the rights to the Web site baystateguitar.com.
Wells is selling his custom-built models at $3,000, a price that is designed to be competitive with mainstream competitors such as Martin Guitars. One of his first customers was Donnie Herron, a member of Bob Dylan’s band.
Wells is active in the community of luthiers, the term that refers to makers of stringed instruments, lecturing on the subject since 1992. Four times a year, he teaches a 10-day, one-on-one course on guitar-making. He’s noticed a surge of interest in recent years, comparing it to the build-your-own-amplifier craze of the 1960s.
Wells might never have pursued the craft if it wasn’t for the admonition of an Orlando guitar repairman who said a 10-year apprenticeship was needed to build a guitar. Wells bet him $20 it didn’t, then researched books on guitar-making and bought the raw materials from a New Hampshire luthier. “It was pretty crude but it played in tune, and that $2,000 investment got me my $20 back,” he said.
Steve Adams may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
11/25/09 Boston.com and The Patriot-Ledger newspaper interviewed Luthier Sylvan Wells for a feature article on the revival of the Bay State guitar line shown above. In addition to the news article they also videoed Sylvan talking about the new line of Bay State Guitars. The video is featured below: