Breakthroughs | Theo & Brenna MacMillan

Posted by on February 15, 2024

Theo & Brenna MacMillan have been generating plenty of excitement in the bluegrass world these days. With Brenna on banjo and vocals and Theo on guitar and vocals, they have capitalized on their musical upbringing in Winchester, Kentucky by relocating to Nashville and forming the Theo & Brenna Band. Whether covering classics or playing their original material, they deliver it all with lush harmonies and bluegrass-approved chops.

Theo’s guitar work displays an absolutely rock-solid sense of timing, and he seems equally at home with breakneck strumming or intricate crosspicking. In addition to his prodigious technique, he’s an avid songwriter, and that’s something that helped draw him to Yamaha a few years ago.

“I chose the custom inlay pattern, which is an abstract palm leaf based on my 2022 wedding that was on Palm Sunday.”

“My sister owned a Yamaha acoustic,” he says, “and I often used it to writes songs from 2018 to 2021.” It wouldn’t be long before Theo was approached by Yamaha to design a custom build. “Although I wasn’t seriously shopping, I was in the market for a new guitar when Scott [Marceau, Yamaha Artist Relations] reached out to me about working on a custom instrument.” Theo would test a few prototypes in early 2022 to clarify his needs and preferences, and received the finished product that summer.

He opted to go with wood and construction choices that are standard to the FG series. The cosmetic considerations, however, come from Theo’s more personal tastes. “I chose the custom inlay pattern,” he says, “which is an abstract palm leaf, based on my 2022 wedding that was on Palm Sunday.”

Theo has played more traditional bluegrass flattops over the years, but there are tonal aspects of his custom Yamaha that he finds very appealing, including the overall tone and projection. “I wanted a guitar that had more volume on the high and low end, and my custom FG is very capable in that department. I play it all the time. I get many compliments on the look—it’s a beautiful guitar—and I get positive feedback from players about its tone and volume. The FG has been a welcome addition to my collection, and I use it more and more for live shows.”

Check out for upcoming events, and follow @theoandbrenna or @theomacmillan on Instagram to see info about pop-up shows with Theo & Brenna Band, writer’s rounds, and other performances.

Hear Theo’s custom Yamaha FG in action in these Bluegrass Situation Sessions:

Theo MacMillan, “The One That’s Broken” (Yamaha x BGS Sessions)

Theo MacMillan, “Early Sign” (Yamaha x BGS Sessions)

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