An aerospace lab might seem an unlikely place to find inspiration for guitar building and innovation, but that's where luthier Kevin Ryan prototyped his first guitar design. Bringing contemporary design elements and advanced tooling into guitar making, Ryan was part of the new look, feel, and performance of acoustic instruments that came about in the early 2000s. Ryan Guitars combine beauty, comfort, innovation and performance, while making responsible use of the planet’s natural resources.
The Ryan Mission Grand Concert has garnered a well-deserved reputation with fingerstyle guitarists. With a mid-size body that is deep like a jumbo, the Mission GC offers crisp clarity and balance. This 2001 Mission GC illustrates that description nicely. It has a long 25-3/4" scale, which keeps the Sitka Spruce top quick, articulate, and responsive. For back and sides, this Mission GC has book-matched East Indian Rosewood.
All of the details are elegant and high-end—everything you could want from a boutique, independent luthier. The Abalone rosette, Abalone top border, and Abalone back strip are eye-catching, and the Figured Koa binding is accented by wood purfling. It has a cutaway for access into the upper register, and there's even a McIntyre Feather pickup under the hood. Gotoh 510 tuners, 1-3/4" nut width, 2-1/4" spacing at the saddle. Like most guitars, it has a pretty peghead overlay, but it also has a peghead underlay—that's a difficult detail that artfully delivered on this fantastic guitar.
This 2001 Ryan Mission Grand Concert shows some signs of play and use, especially on the top around the edges of the pickguard (see photos). There is a small chip in the binding on the back edge near the end block, and the lacquer finish looks to have set into the grain of the rosewood, especially on the sides. It looks like other more-invasive pickups have been used (there's a glued strip of rosewood next to the neck block that held a 9V compartment), but the McIntyre Feather is a nice choice. It includes a Calton case, and it is set up to play clear, smooth, and true all the way down the fingerboard. In fact, the saddle is precisely compensated so that every note comes through in tune.