Paul Hostetter / H Model Tribute Project

This collection of newly recorded tracks celebrates the musical life and legacy of Paul Hostetter (1945-2019).

Paul was an original designer and an inspiration for the SCGC Model H guitar.  These instruments exist in 14-fret, 13-fret, and 12-fret versions. All of the tracks on this album are recorded with SCGC Model H guitars. Most of the musicians were friends with Paul and they have chosen tunes and musical modes of expression that would have made Paul smile. – Henry Kaiser   (H-13 album producer)

This album is available for FREE DOWNLOAD as a podcast from FRETBOARD JOURNAL. Please click here to be taken to FBJ’s page.

TRACKING LISTING (scroll down for detailed information about each individual song):

1  Martin Simpson  WHEN FIRST UNTO THIS COUNTRY  3:30
3  Happy Traum  HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE  4:42
4  Bruce Molsky  LASITERA  3:06
6  Kevin Carr  FOLIADA DE BEARDUCIDO  3:27
7  Jody Stecher  THE SPIDER HOP  4:57
8  D’Gary  MPIARAK’ AOMBY  4:39
9  Tony McManus  BACH CELLO SUITE #1 –  PRELUDE  2:20
10  Michael Gulezian  OH! SUZANNA  4:48
11  Rick Chelew  IT COULD BE AN ANTELOPE  3:18
12  Ed Pettersen  THE HARBOR ROAD  3:44
13  Paul Kotapish & Dan Warrick  BELGIAN WALTZES  2:58
14  Rick Turner  SMITH GRADE MARCH  1:47
16  Rev. Heng Sure  SHE CARRIES ME  4:47
17  Eric Thompson  SHAKE SHAKE MAMA  2:51




Paul Hostetter’s Obituary from the SF GATE:


Paul Hostetter
December 2, 1945 – February 13, 2019


A vast community of musicians, music lovers, and instrument builders is mourning the death of Paul Hostetter, of cancer, on February 13, 2019. He was 73. Paul lived for 50 years in Bonny Doon, a remote, hilly community in the redwoods above Santa Cruz, Calif., and yet he was a daily force in the lives of people around the world. Paul was a brilliant musician who out of natural curiosity and generosity helped shine a light on the wonders of indigenous international music—long before the term “world music” had its own Wikipedia entry. He was stupendously gifted in the demanding old craft of lutherie, which he liked to say “simply means working with wooden stringed instruments.” He was a tireless, at times dogged communicator and critic, who spent hours every day sharing his thoughts and insights on everything from violin sound post placement to the appropriate strings for the valiha, Madagascar’s endemic bamboo harp (strung classically with strands of bicycle brake cable, for the record). He stayed in touch with colleagues and friends in places he had visited—Ireland, Bali, China, Madagascar, England, Quebec—and in even more in places he’d never been.


Paul was someone any good musician would want to play with. He could coax music out of nearly any fretted instrument but was an intuitive master on guitar, mandolin, and banjo (and harmonica, too). He sang with superb pitch in a soulful tenor. He loved wry country blues and crooked mountain fiddle tunes but he was equally at ease playing traditional melodies from Sicily, Puerto Rico, and the Seychelles islands; slack-key guitar tunes from Hawaii, jigs and reels from Ireland and Canada, polskas from Sweden, and dance tunes with complicated time signatures from Greece and the Balkans.


Fiddle and banjo player Paul Brown, the former host of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition show, invited Paul to perform with him in string bands at festivals. “He had a way of blending with whatever style he was working in,” Brown said in an interview. “The magical thing about Paul is that he always added something significant to the music without being showy. He had wonderful timing, perfect attack, and amazing chord sense.”
No wonder he was just as adept with small tools, wood, and glue. Paul built or repaired hundreds of instruments: violins and violas, classical and steel-string guitars, banjos, ouds, rebecs, bouzoukis, cellos, gadulkas, and of course the many kinds of mandolins, including “reso-phonic” mandolins whose strings excite a spun metal cone.


Paul’s grasp of guitar lore and design led him to collaborate during the founding of the Santa Cruz Guitar Company in 1976. Ideas and specs he drew from a vintage Gibson Nick Lucas Special helped shape the company’s diminutive but deep-bodied “H” model. According to company owner Richard Hoover, more than 1,720 H model guitars are now in the hands of players, among them blues artist Otis Taylor and former Dylan sideman Happy Traum. As a luthier, Paul worked on guitars and other instruments owned by David Lindley and Jody Stecher, among many others.


Paul credited his father, grandfather, and the other men in his family for teaching him to handle tools. “I grew up with the attitude that when you needed something, you just made it,” he once told a writer. He worked for a short time as a restoration specialist at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, but quit to work in his own shop. (For a close-up view of Paul’s theories and practices as a luthier, visit Later, with house jacks and determination, he rescued a dilapidated mid-1800s farmhouse from settling into a ravine. That house became his final home.


Growing up in Detroit, he took up guitar as a teenager, dropped out of high school, and got a job at Joe and Mary Fava’s music shop teaching blues and folk-style guitar. He knew Joni Mitchell and Marvin Gaye. He played rhythm guitar in recording sessions at Motown Records. (Anyone who knows what cuts he’s on should reach out to his family.) While still in Detroit, Paul attended Monteith College, a liberal arts branch of Wayne State University, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. His experience there was broader than it sounds. He worked in a range of disciplines, among them metalsmithing, a skill that enabled him to support himself designing and making wedding rings.


After a stint in Denver and a few forays to northern California in the late 1960s, Paul moved permanently to Bonny Doon in 1970. In 1972 he met Irene Herrmann, a musician who moved in with him a year later. They married in 1983, had two splendid daughters—Kaethe, now 35, and Marandi, 33—and dug themselves deep into Santa Cruz culture. They separated in 2000.


“Paul could amaze you with the depth of his knowledge”, said Will Spires, a fiddler and guitarist and an instructor in anthropology and history at Santa Rosa Junior College, in a remembrance on Facebook. “It isn’t just his wide range of interests and accomplishments—music foremost—but also philosophy, natural history, politics, architecture, bench crafts, education, language, literature, and the rest. You couldn’t raise a topic in conversation upon which he didn’t have some info and an opinion.” A mandolin buff with whom he traded notes pegged him as “pleasantly cantankerous but charming nonetheless.”


In 2000 Paul and Robin Petrie, his wife-to-be, fell in love after playing together in a concert for Gourd Music in Santa Cruz. They eventually married in Ubud, Bali. Robin is a ceramic artist and musician from the Bay Area who shares not only Paul’s wicked sense of humor but also his passion for far-flung musics and art and the cultures they spring from. For eighteen years she and Paul played as a duo and in various acoustic bands in the greater Bay Area. They made regular visits to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, classical Indian concerts, and the San Francisco Opera, for a start. They also travelled the world extensively, always searching for the true artisans, as on their visits to remote potteries in Burma and gamelan factories in Bali.


Paul is survived by his brother, Mark Hostetter in San Diego; his sister, Janet Hostetter in St. Paul, Minnesota; his wife, Robin Petrie, in Bonny Doon and Berkeley; and his daughters by his earlier marriage, Kaethe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Marandi in New York City. Paul considered his daughters his proudest achievements. “Seeing them grow up to become strong, happy, successful humans is the best,” he told a writer from the San Lorenzo Valley Press Banner in 2007.


Individual Track Information:


From Martin Simpson: When First unto this Country was collected in Texas by the Lomaxes. I learned it from the New Lost City Ramblers version where it was sung by Mike Seeger. Needless to say Paul and I shared a massive admiration for the NLCR and in my case Mike was a total childhood hero. When first I came to Santa Cruz, Paul went out of his way to encourage me to move there, and he was most persuasive….

He found a rental property and threw a potluck where people brought furniture as well as food and drink. Paul also introduced me to a bewildering collection of wonderful people many of whom remain fast friends and influences. 

The H model guitar used on the track was loaned to me by my dear friend Happy Traum. It is an Indian Rosewood model. The recording was made by Simon Tassano and Henry Kaiser in a cabin at The Half Moon Resort in Big Indian NY in July of 2019. The guitar is tuned CGCFCD capoed at the 3rd fret. 



From Rick Ruskin: This is my interpretation/recollection of Paul’s arrangement of the same medley.  I picked it up from another Detroiter, Marty Somberg back in the mid-60’s.  I taught it to several students in Los Angeles, one of whom was playing it in a bay area music store when Paul walked in.  I’m told he was more than a little surprised to hear it coming from a player he’d never met before.

Recorded on a custom Brazilian/German Spruce H/13 at Lion Dog Music in Seattle, WA, by Rick Ruskin



Info coming soon…


4  Bruce Molsky  LASITERA 

Info coming soon…



From Josh Michaell: Jody Stecher introduced me to guqin music in 1998 and I became absorbed in learning to play it. This improvisation is a tip of the hat to my love of the guqin and by listening for years to the slide playing of Martin Simpson.  Laguna Creek is a creek that runs on the property of Paul and Robin in Bonny Doon.



From Kevin Carr: Paul shared his love of so many types of music with me over the years. He was a mentor and a brother in the realm of deep love for musics and cultures. I am grateful to him with every breath. One of the few cultures I was able to share with him  was that of Galicia, in the northwest Iberian peninsula, to which I started travelling in the 70’s, pursuing my love of the Gaita, the galician bagpipe. This piece comes from that tradition. Usually sung to the accompaniment of a Gaita, my wife and I had been playing it on guitar for some time, and I loved the way it sounded on the H model. The adapted lyric has a sad sweetness to it, and to me a sense of gratitude.

I used an H-13 that was one of the series of 15 that Paul midwifed, built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the H model. At Paul’s suggestion, it was made of Myrtlewood ( Bay Laurel) with a Red Cedar top – woods from Oregon, to which I was relocating at the time.  Though I was one of the first on the list, I was one of the last to receive my guitar, because I wanted a particular shade of purple-red and green purfling, and it took forever for Paul to find the perfect color. Well worth the wait.

Recorded by Mark Nelson at Acme studios in Ruch, Oregon.


7  Jody Stecher  THE SPIDER HOP     

From Jody Stecher: Spider Hop started as a instrumental. It began attracting words and verses in the months after Paul passed away. I have recorded another version with all the verses. The version on this Tribute Collection focusses on the sound of this particular guitar which Paul designed and setup and repaired a number of times.  The double verse about Paul is all true, including the black widows in the shower. Paul Hostetter was my dear friend. I miss him terribly. It was recorded on my own H 13, one of the original batch of 15.  The top is Adirondack Spruce. The back and sides are Padauk, a gift from Paul Hostetter.  The purfling is unusual and to the best of my knowledge has been used on only 2 guitars, mine, and one built by SCGC foreman Adam Rose for his own use. 

Recorded at Megasonic in Oakland, CA.  Engineer: Jeremy Goody.  Producer: Henry Kaiser



Info coming soon…


9  Tony McManus  BACH CELLO SUITE #1 –  PRELUDE     

Info coming soon…


10  Michael Gulezian  OH! SUZANNA     

From Michael Gulezian:  When I visited Paul, he would always amaze me with cool instruments.  So I got to take the early H-13’s on some test runs around the track.  At the recording session, I let the guitar tell me what to play, trying different styles.  It perked-up for Mance. I recorded this song for Paul’s widow, Robin Petrie.  my version of Oh! Suzannah is her favorite song that i sing, so it seemed appropriate that i should record it for Robin.

Producer: Henry Kaiser, recording engineer:  Sandor Nagyszalanczy


11  Rick Chelew  IT COULD BE AN ANTELOPE    

Info coming soon…


12  Ed Pettersen  THE HARBOR ROAD     

From Ed Pettersen: The piece was inspired by my grandfather running away from home in the Arctic Circle of Norway at age 15 and getting on a fishing ship not knowing where he was bound.  I was just trying to get in his head and inhabit it so to speak.  Get inside how he felt perhaps and what he might be leaving behind.  It seemed perfect for this compilation just guitar and voice recorded live on one stereo mic.  No frills, no edits.

Written by Ed Pettersen and Freedy Johnston, performed on a custom H/13 model lent from Ivor Mairants in London, recorded and mixed by Ed Pettersen in Elk Dog 2 Studio, London UK.


13  Paul Kotapish & Dan Warrick  BELGIAN WALTZES    

From Paul Kotapish & Dan Warrick: This medley of two tunes, dubbed “Belgian Waltzes,” comprises “La Valse Pour Les Petites Jeunes Filles” (Waltz of the Little Girls) and “Soir et Matin” (Evening and Morning). The first is a traditional dance tune from Belgium as far as we know. The second is by Breton guitarist Gilles Le Bigot. We learned the first from Grey Larsen some 40 years ago, and the second from the late fiddler Kerry Elkins about a decade later.

Recorded by Lorenzo Wood in his home studio in Alameda, California, using a custom African Mahogany/Adirondack H/13 (Paul) and Mahogany/Cedar H/13 (Dan).


14  Rick Turner  SMITH GRADE MARCH    

From Rick Tuner:  A bit of bounce, a bit of lightness, for a bit of Paul’s smile!  

Recorded on Henry’s personal H model guitar by Sandor Nagyszylanczy up at Wise Acres Studio.



From Marc Silber: The first piece was my impressions of Bahamain music as played by Joseph Spence and I usually call it IN SEARCH of JOSEPH SPENCE. I sung some words from a Bahamian song called BIMINI GALS.  The second piece is a version of CANNONBALL BLUES by the Carter Family, and Maybelle played it in her style.  I changed it over to 1960s Finger-picking a long time ago and have stayed with that style. I also added words along the way…some old and some new that I made up. This is not really a Blues but I use the idea of “zipper” verses when I perform it. (Pete Seeger = “just zip one verse in and zip one verse out”)


16  Rev. Heng Sure  SHE CARRIES ME       

From Rev. Heng Sure: Wanted to contribute a spiritual vocal to the community memory of Paul and our friendship over the years. The song is devoted to Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, the Awakened Being Who Observes the Worlds’ Sounds. Known as Guan Yin Bodhisattva, the Awakened Being of Great Compassion, the Lotus Sutra, the scripture that carries her teaching says that in times of need, if one can call on Guan Yin Bodhisattva, she will lend a hand and solve whatever difficulty one faces. Paul’s kind heart and his ready smile, as well as his thousand hands repairing any stringed instrument always put me in mind of Guan Yin and this was my first thought when contemplating what song to share for the record. 

Lyrics and melody by Jennifer Berezan, recorded on Paul’s personal H model.


17  Eric Thompson  SHAKE SHAKE MAMA

From Eric Thompson: Lipscomb’s “Shake, Shake, Mama”, which I was lucky enough to hear him play back in 1962, at the Cabal in Berkeley.

Recorded using Paul’s final, personal custom H model.



Recorded on a custom H/13 built with  Pink Ivory/Redwood, recorded at Megasonic Oakland  by Jeremy Goody



Santa Cruz Guitar Company