Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Richard’s mandolin

Richard’s mandolin is now complete and will be shipped off to him later this week. Interesting statistic; 50% of my mandolins go to Scotland!

As you can see she’s turned out very nicely; the English walnut has polished up wonderfully.

I’m also extremely pleased with the bridge; you may remember that I’ve gone over to a new design with a removable saddle and I’m supplying Richard with a choice of bone or ebony saddles.

The removable saddle made the setting up process much easier for me and of course the player can do his own bit of fettling if he so wishes. I’m very pleased with the sustain of the instrument and Richard is going to experiment with the ebony and bone saddles and let me have some feedback. I must admit I preferred the sound of the bone saddle for some unquantifiable reason!

Parlour guitar

There are a couple more Parlour guitar videos on YouTube covering the design of the back and the soundboard.

Now of course many luthiers like to shroud their work in mystery and would never divulge the secrets of their soundboard! However, I’m quite happy to share my knowledge with you. I’ve been fortunate to meet many world-class luthiers and in my experience it is those who are confident in what they do, who are willing to help others and advise. Someone may well copy my design, but I’m a great believer that a guitar is greater than the sum of its parts and the influence of the hands that made it, have as great a part to play as the strutting pattern or choice of tonewood.

I find some of the threads on guitar forums both amusing and irritating; many players and luthiers (who should know better) will debate ad infinitum the merits of Dalbergia Thingamajig versus Dalbergia Thingamabob or whether bone bridge pins produce a better tone than ebony etc. You can’t just take one element of an instrument in isolation and assume it’s that element that makes your guitar superior or assume that because you tried out a wonderful guitar made from 35000 year old Kauri tonewood that all guitars must be made from this. Beware of forums!

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Luthier’s literature for sale

I’ve been having a bit of a sort out and have the following items of “luthier’s literature” that I’d like to sell.

Clapton's Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument (Hardcover) by Allen St.John

Hardback edition in very good condition only read once. The story of luthier Wayne Henderson building a guitar for Eric Clapton. Price £7:00

Classical Guitar Making by Arthur E. Overholtzer

Used, 1983 soft cover copy of Overholtzer’s idiosyncratic guide to making a classical guitar; some interesting jigs and fixtures described. Every luthier should read this once! Price £7:00

Ukulele Design and Construction by D. Henry Wickham

Spiral bound in very good condition; a comprehensive guide to building a uke. Price £10:00

DVD French polishing for guitarmakers version 2.0

Excellent step by step guide to French polishing by Ronald Louis Fernadez; I’ve learnt a lot from this! Price £12:00

StewMac Resonator plans both round neck (biscuit) and square neck (spider) versions.

I bought both sets because I made a round neck with a spider resonator! They’ve yellowed with age; I think this is because they’re blue-print style. Price £5:00 each.

The above prices don’t include postage (the Clapton book is heavy!) but I’ll give you a quote, if you want to buy one or more items. You can get my email address from my website.

Here's the resonator that I built! (not for sale!)

PS the next parlour guitar video is up

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Venue magazine

This month finds me in the Spring 2010 issue of Venue magazine. It is an excellent arts magazine for the east of England; showcasing artist, craftsmen, galleries, exhibitions etc. You can see a PDF of the article via my website’s “press” page


Martin’s baritone uke

The construction of Martin’s baritone uke is now complete and it’s under going the finishing process. You can see the last few stages of its construction below. The uke is being finished in Tru-oil; this will give Martin the “organic” look that he’s after.

I have never been a great fan of mahogany instruments on a purely aesthetic basis; the factory guitars, which we are all used to seeing, always seem to be stained dark brown, cherry or black sunburst. However, French polish or oil in this case really does bring out the natural beauty of mahogany and I’m really enjoying using it. I’ve a number of mahogany back and sides sets that I’ve had in stock for many years and I’m looking forward to building with them now.
You may remember that I’ve decided to use Gotoh guitar tuners on the uke- Martin wanted ebony buttons so I got these Allparts buttons; they’re well made and nicely finished but so, so expensive! But as Martin said, you don’t want to spoil the ship for a hap’th of tar. The added bonus is that they are noticeably lighter than the original metal ones, which will, of course help the balance of the instrument.

Honduras rosewood

I’ve just got these two sets of Honduras rosewood in- one set will be for an OO size guitar that Geoff has commissioned. I bought two sets to allow Geoff the choice- the other set will be for stock- or maybe you!!

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