26 October 2014

Since August...

Once again I have to say that mostly due to the beautiful summer we just had, I wasn't able to make the usual blog posts. Guitar life was super busy however, so here is another mishmash of things since the last post in August.

August 26:

Here are some final photos of the past batch of guitars which are now complete. The one with the rounded heel cap has a spruce top, a 640mm scale length, and was the first guitar I made without an elevated fingerboard in over a year. The cedar instrument pictured here is now available through the dealer Grand Salon de Guitare (Grand Guitar Salon), in Montreal.

Early September:

I made a day trip to a relatively nearby tonewood mill, Acoustic Woods, to buy some cedar soundboard material. They process a ton of local cedar and spruce logs into soundboard blanks, mostly for overseas factories.

Also in Early September, I began working on a new batch of instruments. Both have non-standard scale lengths and new head stock shapes.

1) Cedar top, Indian rosewood back/sides, 645mm scale, sound port, elevated FB, Amazon rosewood bindings, head veneer and bridge. This customer has always admired the look of Louis Panormo head stocks, so asked if I could make the head stock of this guitar look like a Panormo. I was at first ambivalent since I've always thought Panormo head stocks look cool, but also a tad sinister and don't match the curves of the rest of the guitar too well. However, after a bit of thought I decided to give it a go, seeing if I could play with the lines to give it a calmer, more matter-of-fact, modern look that might suit the Gilbert tuners it's going to have, as well as jive with the rest of the instrument.

2) European spruce top, Indian rosewood back/sides 613.5mm scale, elevated FB. This client has commissioned several other guitars from me in the past, and for variety asked if I could give this instrument a new head stock shape. Of course I agreed, but had no idea at the time what that shape would be. After carving the Panormo style head pictured above, I really liked the long flat string ramps, the short distance between the tuner slots and the end of the head stock, and the overall bluntness of the design. So this new shape tries to keep those qualities, and also look a little gentler and more friendly.

Both instruments are assembled, finishing will begin soon.

Spruce guitar: sides secured in the
heel with wedges, time for
Cedar guitar: soundboard bracing
just glued on
Bracing being shaped

Late September to Early October :

On top of the guitars being built, I did some repairs for a couple of clients. Gluing cracks and refretting a Martin D-16:

... and making an ebony armrest:

Cardboard template made and a
piece of ebony selected and cut
Recess routed away on the bottom
of the rest, will be cleaned up with
hand tools
Gluing it on

Finish masked, ready to shape with
a spoke shave and sanding block
Shaping almost complete Shaping complete and some wiping varnish applied

Done Another view

Arm rests like this are a new custom option on my guitars. I was a little slow adopting the feature since I've tried a few on other instruments that were uncomfortable for my right shoulder. After carefully considering all of the possibilities and variables (including the bevel type rest), what you see here is the design I like best. It doesn't cause that shoulder tension that some shapes can. And by holding the player's arm away from the top it has the benefits of allowing that edge of the soundboard to vibrate better, of keeping the finish and the soundboard wood from getting worn, and of softening the pressure point on the right forearm.