This has been quite the project having never built a carved top instrument before. I am very happy with the final result. It is such a different beast from the flat tops I usually build, so it was a joyful, somewhat mind-blowing experience to play those first few notes. I continued to play for a long time, relishing the sound and feel of this guitar.
I am fortunate to live in the same town as the excellent musician John Miller, and I invited him to the shop to check out the newly stringed instrument. If you are unfamiliar, John is an accomplished guitar player who plays a wide range of musical styles from country blues to Latin jazz, all with a comfortable authority. You should check out his website here.. http://www.johnmillerguitar.com/ Here is some of what John had to say.
"It already knows it is a musical instrument, not something that is always a given for a brand new, practically un-played guitar. In a relatively brief amount of time, I tried to put it through its paces, and it rose to every challenge I could think of, sounding clean and warm whether played in Carter-style, thumb lead, Western Swing closed chords, Bossa Nova and chord melody, and Country Blues.
The guitar's sound is unusual in a couple of ways for an arch-top. Many or most of them that I have played have a pronounced, spikey attack, but such a rapid decay that notes practically seem to suck themselves into silence at the back end. This guitar has a lovely, natural sustain--not excessive or swimmy, but just singing. A lot of arch-tops don't particularly care for open strings in chord voicings, they kind of crap out, but this one works just fine for complex partially open voicings, as are used in Bossa Nova on occasion. Its voice is really clear up and down the neck, even including single string lines played on the E, A , and D strings in the neighborhood of the tenth--twelfth fret, an area where most guitars get really woofy.
Appointments are plain but handsome. The sunburst is a beauty. Pretty maple binding and a really nice hand-carved rosewood tailpiece. The neck contour is a rounded V, very comfortable and with a nice amount of mass.
This is an exceptionally fine guitar, but for a brand new guitar and a first-time effort at building an arch-top, I would say it is spectacular--and it is only going to get better as it is played more."
Here are a few more photos of some of the process.
Hand drawn label and my favorite plane.
Wood bindings all bent and ready for gluing.
Scraping the re-curve on the back.
Taped off and ready for stain.
At rest in the parlor.