Michael Heiden has made guitars for 40 years but, having been swamped with mandolin orders for the last 20, only recently has taken a renewed interest in building guitars again. The guitars Michael builds today are the culmination of many years of diverse and intricate challenges in the art of instrument making with a profound depth of knowledge and experience. People have always found Heiden instruments to be extremely player friendly as well as aesthetically elegant, with emphasis on setup, balance, and tone.

Building a very limited number of custom instruments each year allows the use of very select aged tonewood, resulting in the new instrument having an "old" soul. Many of these old materials have been gathered and stored in Michael's workshop for many years. For example, the old growth Sitka spruce bracewood used in all Heiden guitars is cut from 4x4 "timbers" that were dunnage in the longshoring yards in Vancouver in the 1930's. Michael became acquainted years ago with an old Austrian gentleman who worked those yards in the pre-war years. Also a wonderful violin maker, the gentleman made many incredible violins from this wood. Michael acquired a number of these timbers about 15 years ago when the gentleman retired from violin making at the age of 85.

All Heiden guitars are built using superior aged tonewood. Depending on guitar style, options include Sitka spruce and bigleaf maple from BC; sugar or red maple from the Eastern US; Adirondack or Englemann spruce; European spruce cut from the 6000-foot-high Jura mountains of France; curly sycamore from France; very old redwood and Western red cedar; 50-year-old Indian rosewood, sawn in Spain in 1964; Honduran mahogany; Koa from the "Big Island" of Hawaii; and the holy grail of guitar wood — Brazilian rosewood, obtained from Martin in 1969 when they had to discontinue the use of that wood*.

OM (Orchestra Model)




Junior Jumbo

Selmer-style Gypsy Jazz Guitar

Archtop Guitar

Heiden Archtop Guitar

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Highslide JS

*In 1968 it became illegal to import Brazilian Rosewood. This is an Appendix 1, CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) prohibited wood meaning it can not be used commercially for sale across international borders. This is recently being imposed by the Lacey act which was implemented over 100 years ago to curtail the commercial use of endangered species, similar to the embargo on ivory. What this means to guitar makers and players is that if the wood was used in manufacturing prior to 1994 and has documentation available for proof, it can be used in a commercial product. All old Martins therefore are exempt provided they have the accompanying documentation or proof of age.

When we refret one of these beautiful old Martin guitars, it is quite common to need a nut replacement at the same time as generally the slots have carved themselves too deep from 50+ years of string friction. These guitar nuts were made from elephant ivory so as long as the nut is original there is no issue. Therefore rather than replacing the nut with either bone or antique ivory (which is available occasionally, but would still be classified as "new" manufacture), we shim the nut with stock cut from old piano keys (aka ivories). Done proficiently, this technique is virtually undetectable. Then the nut slots are cut down to the correct height, achieving the proper action while maintaining the "original" status of the guitar.

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