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Blackbird Guitars

Joe Luttwak has been sketching mock-ups for his company’s concept—a travel-friendly guitar that doesn’t sound like a toy—since his jam-band days in college. After snagging a design job at Ferrari and earning his master’s degree in industrial arts at San Francisco State, he prototyped a hollow, one-piece carbon-fiber guitar inspired by both Formula One racing technology and the mountain dulcimer, an Appalachian strummer. The design evolved into Luttwak’s original Rider steel-string ax (at left), the foundation for his Blackbird Guitars brand. The company now manufactures five carbon-fiber models from its two-year-old Mission workshop, all 20 percent lighter than wood and more structurally sound. (Photos of Blackbird-strumming fans in Antarctica and the Amazon line Luttwak’s office.) This month, Blackbird is introducing the nylon– or steel string–equipped Rider hybrid ($2,000), and later this fall it will debut an eco-friendly plant-based line.

ESTABLISHED  January 2007
FOUNDER  Joe Luttwak
THE GOODS  Wood-free ukuleles and guitars ($1,175 to $3,000)
FIND IT  Blackbird Guitars, 2180
Folsom St. (near 18th St.)