Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Classical Guitar: making progress

As you can see from the photos below, the spruce classical guitar is progressing. Its purflings and bindings are in place, the neck and fingerboard have been glued on and the neck is ready to shape.

You may notice that the classical is not built in the “Spanish” method. I prefer working on the neck and body separately and use a tapered dovetail to join them together. I have built a couple of guitars with an integral neck, but felt that it wasn’t for me. I do not think that there are any merits for either method, you just have to work with the method that you are comfortable with.
I guess the dovetail fixing goes back to my initial training at The London College of Furniture in the late 1970s. Herbert Schwarz, my tutor, came from Czechoslovakia and this was his method of working. If Herbie had been a Spaniard, I would be making my guitars differently! Herbie must be responsible for training so many top luthiers, he probably didn’t realise the legacy that he was leaving behind.

Friday, August 18, 2006

First Entry

This is my first entry into my blog. I intend to give anyone who’s interested an insight into my work as a luthier.

At the moment, I’ve got four instruments in progress. There are two classical guitars; one with an Englemann Spruce soundboard, the other one has a Western Red Cedar soundboard (I’ve had it stock since 1979!). The construction of the spruce topped one is almost complete. You can see the purflings are just going on.

The Cedar guitar is right at the beginning of its life. The soundboard has been glued together and I’m making its mosaic rosette.

Making the rosette is a time consuming business, so I make one over the course of a few days, whilst working on the other instruments which are further ahead, construction wise. Making a mosaic rosette from scratch is madness; I could buy a perfect machine made one, for less than my raw materials. BUT, I really do need to make every aspect of my guitars myself. The mosaic is made from 1mm squares and the lines from 0.6mm thick veneer; the completed rosette is constructed from well over 2000 pieces of wood!

Whilst I predominantly make acoustic guitars, it’s always very interesting to build something different, hence a couple mandolins recently. Doing research and using different skills, helps you to develop as a luthier. Also it’s nice when a past client comes back to you and trusts you build them something that you haven’t tried before.

This Indian rosewood mandolin is near to completion. It’s custom made and the client wished for a cross to be inlaid into its head. It’s being finished in Danish oil which gives a very natural look to the instrument.

The 12 string electric guitar is one that I built a few years ago for my son’s 21st birthday. It originally had a maple Rickenbacker style body, but it proved to be too heavy so I’m replacing it with a Black Walnut SG style body. Having a straight-through neck makes the modification relatively easy.