Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Three takes on the concert guitar

  In my last post I showed three guitar bodies I had been working on.  They all share the profile of my Concert size, but each stands out uniquely from the others.  They are all completed and paired up with their respective owners, and I want to share a bit about each one here.

  First up, this guitar most closely resembles the old Washburn concert guitar that I originally traced and mapped out.  Twelve frets to the body, ladder braced, Spruce top with a Mahogany body and neck, clean and simple appointments with a french polished shellac finish.

  This guitar went across the sea to a great country blues finger picker who normally plays on a really cool pre-war Stella.  He was looking for a solid guitar for a working musician that had the old fashioned sound and style but better playability with a radiused fretboard, truss rod, and a compensated saddle for proper intonation.  It was a joy to build and a joy to play for the brief time I got to hang out with it before it got sent off to it's happy new owner.  It has the classic focused sound that comes with a smaller body, ladder braced guitar.

  Next is this concert guitar for my friend "Rattle Snake" Ron.  Ron is a great singer, songwriter and musician who wanted a little cowboy guitar with a sweet sound.  He has always really liked one of the first guitars I built, a parlor guitar with rope binding, and he was looking for something similar, but with some of his own custom ideas incorporated into it.  The rattlesnake themed inlays are cut from old piano ivory.

  The entire guitar is made from local and regional woods.  The back and sides are Oregon Myrtle, the neck is Poplar, and the binding, fretboard, and bridge are Black Walnut.  The top is from a beautiful piece of Cedar salvaged from an old stump along the Nooksack River.  The rope binding is cut and inlaid by hand, piece by piece.  It's a slow process, taking almost a whole day, but a very enjoyable day...  good music on the stereo, a strong cup of coffee, and sitting at my bench cutting tiny pieces of wood with a very sharp saw.  This guitar is X braced with Yellow Cedar and overall the guitar has a very warm and balanced sound.

  Third in this trio is this concert sized archtop.

  I was excited to get this order because I'm really enjoying making archtops lately, and I was curious to try it out on a slightly smaller scale.  This one had some custom appointments requested by the player, like the segmented f-holes and the number 13 (his lucky number) on the 13th fret.  It is also 13 frets to to the body.  The top is a lovely reclaimed piece of very tight grained Cedar that I procured at Skagit Salvage.  The back and sides are Big Leaf Maple, neck is Cherry, and the fretboard, bridge and tailpiece are all Black Walnut.  I went with classic parallel braces made of well aged Sitka Spruce.  The sound of this guitar is tremendous.  Very clear and loud, and balanced up and down the neck.  Upon stringing it up I had a hard time putting it down, and in fact I wrote two songs on it that first day.  I especially enjoyed playing it with fingerpicks as the notes came punching out very separate and with a round clarity.  I'm absolutely going to have to make one for myself one of these days.

  Well, there's three guitars that all came from the same mold, built by the same hands, but each one unique.


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