Thursday, November 26, 2009

This week.....

El Corazon
Most of the finishing of El Corazon has now been done. I’m just waiting for the polish to harden before the bridge can be glued on and then the ever-patient Chris will at last get his guitar!

Richard’s mandolin
There has been some more work done on the Richard’s English walnut mandolin which you can see below.

NEVER BUY CHEAP TOOLS! Good quality tools will last a life time and always pay you back. However, here’s an exception; whenever I see these little clamps, at a market etc, I buy them, 6 for £1!! They are really great for gluing linings on, as you can see on Richard's mandolin.

Andy’s arch top
I’ve finally finished shaping the soundboard for Andy’s arch top. It took quite awhile to the get the contours and thickness to what I wanted. The tricky part was the sound-hole and rosette. I made an acrylic template and used a series of template followers on my router to cut the oval sound-hole and rebate for the rosette. I’ve taken the rosette right up to the edge of the hole and bound the inside of it with maple. What potential clients don’t always appreciate is the time taken to do one-off tasks such as this sound-hole; it represents a whole day’s work and the guitar has to be priced accordingly. Fortunately, this is Andy’s 4th instrument from me so I know that he really does appreciate the effort.

I like to effect and will probably do this again on a flat-top. The next test is the bracing.......more on that later.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

A good day out

On Sunday we went down to London to see Stefano play a gig as part of the London Jazz festival.
It was great to see Stefano and the ergonomic guitar, which I made for him, in action. I find it quite emotional to see one of my guitars played, particularly by such a talented musician as Stefano. They played a couple of pieces by John McLaughlin; coincidently I’ve still got my vinyl copy of his Shakti LP that I bought in 1976!

We also paid a visit to the William Morris Gallery which contains some beautiful artefacts from the Arts and Crafts movement. Here’s the stained glass window, designed by Burne-Jones, of St. Cecilia the patron saint of musicians (and luthiers?).

Those of you who have seen my videos would have realised that I’m not much of a player. However, these two guys are! Check these out for some superlative guitar playing.

Matthew McGee

Per-Olov Kindgren

Friday, November 13, 2009

A number of things going on!

El Corazon is currently being French polished or rather the body and head is; the neck is going to have an oil finish.

Those who have followed my blog for awhile, will have noticed that the subject of finishing comes up quite a bit. I decided, when I moved to the new workshop, that I would no longer spray lacquer due to a whole host of health and safety issues. So, French polish or an oil-based finish are now the only types of finish that I offer. They may not be as robust as thicker synthetic lacquers, but I figure if someone is going to go the trouble of having a hand made guitar, they are also going to look after it! Also, I do believe that they superior both aesthetically and acoustically. I’ve been keeping a check on things and I think that I use 75% less material when French polishing compared to using lacquer. It’s got to sound better!

Whilst the polishing is going on there are a number of other projects also on the go. You may remember Andy’s carved top that I started a long time ago? Well for various reasons that has been on the back burner but now work has resumed. One of the last tasks that I did to it was to drill loads of holes in the soundboard!

These holes all stop 8mm from the outer surface and give a rough guide for carving the inner surface. I say carving, but the vast majority of waste has been removed with special curved sole planes.

This Canadian made plane from Axminster was great for roughing out most of the waste: well worth having in your armoury!

Most of the waste has now been removed and I’m now down to some finer work with scrapers and abrasives.

I’ve also started another twin-point mandolin this one is for Richard and will have beautiful English walnut back and sides. Here are a few photos of the work done so far.

Early next year I’ll be making a baritone ukulele for Martin and I’ve been doing some preparation. This is the head overlay: it’s book-matched Thuya Burl which is from the root of tree which grows in Morocco. Pretty eh?

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