Sunday, January 26, 2014

Winter Fun!

It's cold and dark outside, but it's always warm and dry down in the shop and I've been staying plenty productive down here.  Here's a couple of the most recent guitars to come off the bench.

This Grand Concert model was custom built for a great musician and friend of mine, Charmaine Slaven.  She kicks butt at everything I've seen her do, and that includes playing guitar, fiddle, clogging, calling dances, raising goats, and just being a general positive character in our community.  So I was naturally stoked when she asked me to build her a guitar.  This is what we came up with..

  That's Indian Rosewood for the back and sides, Engelmann Spruce top, Mahogany neck, and Ebony for the bridge and fingerboard.  Charmaine plays in a couple Seattle bands, The Tallboys, and a sort of splinter duo Squirrel Butter.  Inlaid on the headstock is a squirrel and the theme continues down the fretboard with nuts and seeds for position markers, and then culminates with the rosette with squirrel paws dancing around the sound hole with old dance step instruction style dotted arrows.

  We have an acorn, a pecan, and yes.. that's a peanut.  That's also Evo fretwire, which is a relatively new alloy on the fret market.  It has a slight brassy gold color, and supposedly outlasts the old nickel silver standby.  This is my first time trying it out, on some good recommendations, and will likely continue using it (of course the standard nickel-silver will always be available to those who request it).

  Charmaine's guitar is X-braced, feather light, and already sounds awesome.  Full, loud and rich.  I got to hear her breaking it in all weekend at The Portland Old Time Music Gathering, where I delivered it.  I can't wait to hear it more!

  And now for something completely different...

  This one was commissioned by a friend who had a vision of a big body electric archtop with all the bells and whistles that retains a simple old-school look.  It's a newly drawn, extra large body profile, with TV Jones pickups (made just down the road from here in Poulsbo, WA), Bigsby tremolo, and custom ivoroid appointments.  The "Extra Standard".

  All the inlays are hand cut from ivoroid which also matches the binding, heelcap, pickguard and truss rod cover.  The top and back are hand carved from scratch out of book matched Western Maple, and Engelmann Spruce respectively.  Hand rubbed stain, varnish, and then french polish for the finish.

  It sounds amazingly good as an acoustic guitar, considering the amount of hardware on it.  It had been awhile since I had done any wiring work and I was a bit anxious to hear it through an amp.  I rolled up my sleeves, plugged 'er in and did my best Merle Travis impersonation and...   phew!  It plays like a dream.  It screams, and bounces, and moans, and flashes, and to my relief I had to try really hard to make it feedback.  I never knew I wanted one before, but now that I've made this I won't rest until I have one for my own.

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