"John, I just wanted you to know that ever since I got your guitar my dog doesn’t get up and leave the room when I start to play anymore."
- Mike Russell
"John’s guitars are ready to give your deeds voice. Their goal is beauty, and they’re willing to make your personality their own."
- Anthony Weller
"Coming from classical guitar studies, and having owned instruments by David Rubio, an old Jose Ramirez and one made by Juan Hernández, I was no novice to the world of fine handcrafted guitars. Thus, the first tones ringing in my ears from a John Mello instrument proved the final stop on my journey in search of an instrument to carry my voice. I have never regretted my decision, never for a moment.
My first Mello, steel-string instrument, stemming from the mid 1970s, is one of his first instruments John offered for sale. I sold all my instruments to purchase it. The attention to beauty and detail is apparent at first glance, but the clarity of sound simply stopped me dead. Sweet long-ringing tones in the low register are a perfect match for those singing high notes. But I must confess to my attraction for those alto tones, the ones high on the A and D strings, those are the go-to-ones for me.
John’s instrument afforded me the opportunity to allow single notes to stand out, even when surrounded by complex chords, something essential in my introspective compositions. This guitar has been, to this very day, my trusted partner through all my recordings and concerts. I am not a player with a collection of instruments, I only require my John Mello on my creative journey.
Not long after acquiring my steel-string, I went back for another dip in the honey-jar and took possession of an exquisite classical instrument, also from the 1970s. This instrument was primarily intended for playing chamber music with guitar. Whether performing Boccherini quintets, duos or trios with violin and cello from Paganini to Lutyens - and many of my own works, this Mello afforded me the volume required to cut through sustaining strings, revealing when asked, those sweet dark alto tones just like my steel-string instrument.
What more can a player ask for?
Privileged is the only word I can draw upon to describe living during the ‘golden-age’ of guitar making, and to having had the wherewithal to follow my senses and heart when crossing paths with the kind, generous and extremely talented master-luthier John Mello."
- Woody Harris
"John Mello’s elegant craftsmanship is surpassed by no luthier today, and combines with a beauty of sound in instruments that merit the attention of any player seeking a fine concert guitar."
- Michael Lorimer
"Having owned many Hauser, Fleta, Ramirez and Torres guitars that always need adjusting and conditioning because of climatic and traveling problems, I have needed someone to keep my instruments in playable shape. I have found a great luthier in California. His name is John Mello. He has taken special care of my instruments and kept them in excellent shape for many years. I have also played his custom guitars and found them most exceptional."
- Alvino Rey
"John, just a quick note to let you know what a glorious weekend it was with the guitar. I couldn’t be happier. It’s an exquisite piece of work, and it makes me want to revisit every piece I’ve ever played to get a glimpse of how these pieces are supposed to sound. Sweet, complex, just the right mix of fundamentals and harmonics on every string, very responsive with a big growl or with the delicacy of fine lace depending on what I ask of it, supremely balanced from top to bottom, with no dead notes anywhere on any fret or string, and no hint of thinness in the 1st string or tubbiness in the 3rd. It has opened up dramatically since you first strung it up and I look forward to the next few months in particular as it continues to open up.
Hearing my teacher play it confirmed what you and I had observed, which is that it sounds as great to the player as it does to the listener. Since I’m the only listener most of the time I’m playing it, that counts for a lot.
- David Cooke
"I have been enjoying playing your guitar! I dedicated a good amount of time on it and I feel that I know it well. It responds beautifully to every subtlety and tone color that I want to produce. The basses are rich and articulate. I could not find any negative aspects. It's a beautiful guitar."
- George Sakellariou
"I'm enjoying playing your guitar quite a bit. The sound is very elegant and refined, while still having power and brightness. After playing my other instruments, all of which have their role and function, your guitar is like a breathe of fresh, clean air. Like a fine European wine, it just grows on you and its refinement becomes more evident with the playing experience."
- Jack Gates
"I have owned a John Mello steel string guitar since 1978, and it has become one of my most valued possessions. Whenever I share it with guitar players, they rave about the amazingly balanced, clear and loud sound it produces.
The story behind its creation is worth mentioning. I owned a well-known musical instrument shop in Birmingham Michigan in the early seventies. I had access to many classic vintage guitars and had acquired one of the original OM 28 Martin guitars. It had herringbone inlay and friction banjo tuners. It was a wonderful guitar and I loved it.
Then I met John at his shop in the east side of Detroit. He had finished an apprenticeship with the noted guitar builder, Richard Schneider. I played one of his guitars and fell in love with it, and the man, with his jovial and warm personality matched with the extreme craftsmanship, detail and wonderful tone of the guitars he was building. I was hooked. I sold my Martin and ordered a custom steel string with a classical sized body and neck, with Brazilian rosewood. When it was finally completed it was more than I could ever have imagined. Through the years I have put my beloved guitar through extreme use as I have traveled extensively and play it in concert settings around the world as well as campfires and musical gatherings. It has never failed me, and I have grown to love it more and more. Although that old Martin has appreciated astronomically since I let it go, I have never looked back or doubted my decision to make a Mello guitar my primary instrument."
- Leib Ostrow
"I have been playing classic, flamenco, and Brazilian for twenty-five years on my Mello guitar. The big booming bass and the crisp beautiful treble notes are perfectly balanced. The instrument actually feels alive in my hands This guitar is not only the best one I have ever owned. It is the best I have ever played."
- Larry Lansburgh
"I was very fortunate indeed to have John Mello build me an absolutely superb concert guitar back in 1979, at the hearty recommendation of my teacher, Rey de la Torre, who could have introduced me to any luthier in the world but thought John’s instruments were the ideal choice.
I’ve used this beautiful guitar, which only gets better and better over time, for countless concerts all over the world and dozens of recordings of both classical and jazz repertoire, both solo and in duos and trios with other instruments and vocalists, and several times with the string quartet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (when it was able to hold its own admirably).
It has always been a delight to play, with a characteristic superb articulation across all the different registers: a penetrating and sweet upper octave, a rich middle, and a strong bass. I’ve found it uniformly responsive to the touch and easy to play. It’s an instrument that meets you more than halfway. The rest is up to you; but all John’s guitars are ready to give your deeds voice. Their goal is beauty, and they’re willing to make your personality their own."
- Anthony Weller