Saturday, March 31, 2012

VIP visit

"C" came to the shop and was excited about what I showed her.  Very positive about the raw elements of what will become her guitar.  The constraining factor remains the rosette.  In the meantime, I tested and compared tops, mainly to get the techniques down pat;  I was able to produce some response curves that at least show the major resonances.  The two photos I've included illustrate two resonance responses that are very close to the frequencies that the response curves showed.  These are just blank tops excited using a small speaker. 

Actual assembly of L's guitar will begin this week  I pretty much know what the arm rest will look like.  It's just a matter of choosing which wood makes the nicer contrast with the cyprus and spruce of the guitar.

I also began the joining process for the BR of C's guitar.  I cut the blanks for the back to rough size and began jointing the edges that will go together at the center seam of the back.  This is a bit of a painstaking process:  plane and check, plane and check... until the center seam is so true that there is no light showing through when the halves are put together and held up to the light.  This will result in an invisible center seam, which may or may not have a center seam inlay.  This will be decided once the halves are joined.

I got the "beast", that is the Grizzley sander, going today.  I made an extension cord to reach the nearest 220 V outlet.  I will sand tops and other light wood elements first before using the sander for the darker woods like rosewood and ebony. 

I thought I had some philosophical comments to make, but now can't think of anything very interesting to say.

That's all for now,


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A bridge too far, but then

OK, I screwed up again...well actually not me, but my router.  The locking mechanism slipped slightly causing the bit to rise and take a bigger bite out of the edge I was trying to round over.  But finally, third time's a charm and I successfully created the nearly finished bridge for L's guitar.  See photos.  Finishing touches will likely include a frame around the inlay on the bridge tieblock, which matches the pattern of the rosette as you will notice.  This is a BR bridge.  I will produce two more in the next few days, now that I have the hang of it.  Again, that's the benefit of doing a multi-guitar campaign.  I saw Kevin from Indy Craft and he is waiting for some wood filler to arrive before proceeding with the test pieces.  I'm sooooo looking forward to seeing these.

Did some re-arranging in the shop today and I'm determined to get the place looking like a professional worked there as it should. 

I will start the testing and thinning of tops that I have in stock to see if any of them qualify for C's guitar.  I have a couple that I think may prove to be outstanding, which is certainly what this guitar deserves.  Next will be the rough-out of the back BR for C's guitar.  The two halves will then be jointed and joined.  I do the jointing (e.g. preparation of the matching edges that will be glued together to make the book-matched back panel.  This is going to be awsome...looking and my bet.  The jointing process takes place on a "shooting board" which allows the two joining edges to be planed to absolute 0 tolerance matching edges, which when butted together allow no light to penetrate.  This a painstaking process employing my best, freshly sharpened block plane.  It is possible to sand to two edges, but one of my friends and the guitarmaking community agree that edges planed with an extremely sharp plane iron, can actually result in an invisible, extremely strong glue joint using hot animal hide glue.  This is what Dobbin becomes when he goes to horsey heaven.  And, like the trees, which make up the instrument, the loss of a living thing becomes a beautiful, almost living instrument capable of producing great joy, and a beautiful and lasting source of sound capable of melting the hardest the right hands, of course.  The right hands are those of anyone who truly loves the guitar and its potential:

Thoughts on that...the guitar, that is:  I was in the drug store the other day and looking through the magazine rack.  The only magazine that had anything to do with the "guitar" was a magazine entitled "Guitar".  It was almost entirely devoted to the electric, solid body instrument played by rockers and rollers and a few jazz and blues, etc.  Now, I have nothing against those folks and I admire the skill of a Clapton, BB King or any number of players of this instrument.  But I take issue with the terminology defining this instrument as THE guitar.  It bears little resemblance to the instruments of Torres, Hauser and Ramirez.  First, the sound of a solid body guitar is only possible with a plethora of electronic stuff, which massages a magneto-electric signal created by the vibration of wires (strings?) over a magnetic pickup.  This signal is then processed into sounds, which may or may not resemble anything like the sound of a Hauser or Ramirez classical guitar.  Somehow, I think that the pure instrument of historical importance, created by Torres, etc. should bear the title "GUITAR".  Although derived from the basic idea of the guitar, block o' two-by-four, solid body instruments should bear their own moniker, identifying them as "Guit-planks" or "electro-tars" or some such thing.  They need to have their own identity separate from the guitar.  Acoustic, steel string guitars, I really take no issue with, because the technology, although it can include electronics, is still really an acoustic box, capable of producing beautiful, albeit somewhat harsher, sounds than the classical guitar.  Just saying.

That's all for now,


Does anybody read this stuff?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Don't burn your bridges

Worked on Bridges today: result - one bridge and one very pretty chunk of rosewood that'll probably become something else.  All the result of cutting on the wrong side of the saw blade.  Oh well, that's why it is best to work in campaigns, so that you learn by your mistakes, or preferably not by mistakes but experience, so that each subsequent operation leads to a better result than the previous one.  Such was the case today.  This rosewood is awesome...rings like a bell and will make tremendous bridges. 

Set-up is the key.  Once your tool, jig, or fixture is properly set up, the operation is usually relatively simple.  Right tool, right procedure = desired result.  I will rough out the next few bridge blanks while I have the saw set up to do so.   Bridges may only be highly polished with no finish applied.  Finish could dampen the efficiency of the sound transfer.  Why do I go to the trouble of making my own bridges?  1. you can't buy BR ready made ones as far as I know; 2. the ones you buy are usually finished..shiny and pretty, but finished...and they are EIR mostly.

That's all for today...I'll post some photos soon


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Back from FL

We made it to and from Florida without mishap.  Saw my brother and his wife, got sunburned, ate shrimp, pretty much did the obligitory stuff, including some relaxation.  Back in the shop today, I cut out the BR* blanks for the trio of guitars in the works.  The blanks, when suspended properly, ring like marimba keys.  Bridges from this wood should transmit sound from the strings to the tops very efficiently, and the wood is beautiful.  I'll be shaping these blanks into bridges in the next few days.  It is likely that the armrest on L's guitar will also be made from this BR. I'll add some photos of guitars with armrests as examples.  Next on the agenda:  the joining of the two halves of C's guitar.  This will be a step toward getting the back and sides ready for thicknessing.  I will do a good part of that by hand with planes and scrapers and put the finishing touches on with the sander to near the final thickness and then again by hand to final surface.  I gave some samples of the BR from the rib cutoffs to Kevin Kinder of Indy Craft and can't wait to see what he did with them.  Choosing the top for C's guitar will be undertaken next and bracing it in the fashion of Brian Burns's classical guitar plan will follow once the rosettes arrive..  Then the choice of a neck blank and, unless I already have one joined that I like, I'll do the scarf joint and heel, also in the style of Burns.. 

*BR = Brazilian Rosewood
EIR = East Indian Rosewood

:PS.  Just a note on the organization of the chronicles for each of the guitars:  I will break out the notes for each and provide a chronicle  for each  of the three guitars and for future ones as well.  BTW, if you know of someone interested in a classical or flamenco guitar, let them know how to reach me via this blog or my email.  Prices depend on many factors, and so will be discussed individually with anyone wishing to get on the list for a custome made guitar.

Thats all for now, g'day

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tittleating Tops To Take Test Tatistics (S implied)

Rosewood sides for Earth guitar,
cut to rough size

Test apparatus for tops

Spent the day in the shop yesterday (Thursday, 3/8/12) gathering acoustic data on top blanks.  I'll add the measurement data and keep a record as I inlay rosettes, thickness, brace and prepare tops for installation.  Not sure yet if my data correspond to Brian's but since I'm unable to get furthur information from him at this point, I'll fly by the seat of my pants.  Data should be useful in the long run in any case.  Above are pics of the testing setup which feeds data for a spectrum of the resonances of the top generated by a sweep of frequencies fed directly to the top via a coil and rare earth magnet.  Essentially, this makes a speaker out of the top.  Then the response is fed back to the computer and the Visual analyzer program via the microphone.

The top picture is the rough cutouts of  the rosewood sides of the Earth guitar along with my shop helper. I have some cutoffs from these pieces, which I've played around with a bit with some shellac and some filler.  I'm going to supply them to Kevin for his take on how best to finish them to bring out the beauty of the rosewood and provide a durable finish.  I still may french polish the top, but it depends on what Kevin comes up with,  After a short vacation to Florida with Ruth, the flamenco for my niece and the EI rosewood classical will be completed as I continue to prepare for the receipt of the Earth rosettes.  Options for the design of the armrest for Laura on the flamenco will be searched for and posted for her approval.  Keep and eye on this site.

All for now, g'day. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Potpourri day in the shop

The rosewood for the back and selected top wood choices for C's guitar

The rosewood.  Must choose position of cutout for the back,
I'm inclined to include more figure like toward the bottom of the pic.
All kinds of stuff in the shop today.  Worked on straightening the rosewood for the sides of C's guitar.  Boy does it smell nice when it's worked, and I can't smell very well.  I also need to position where the back will be cut out of the rosewood to give it the best figure on the back.  See pic.  Started to prepare the big Grizzly sander for thinning the top wood sets which are candidates for the top of this guitar.  The choice will depend on the test results as I go through the steps of thinning and testing.  Not much more than that can be done on the top until the rosettes arrive.  Then the rosette can be inlaid, the soundhole cut and the bracing begun.  Because of the status of these projects, I feel safe in taking a bit of a hiatus for a week or so and go to Florida with Ruth.  Above are some pics taken today.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Had a good afternoon in the shop.  I cleaned up an old tool box and one of the tools in it and started doing some prep work on the rosewood for C's guitar.  Pictures below.  I scaped the rosewood with a sharp bench scraper to smooth the surface and then wiped it down with mineral spirits to "sort of" bring out the color and grain.  The picture does not do it justice, believe me   The wood has a bell-like ring to it and is going to make an absolutely awesom instrument.  Wood testing for the top will proceed apace, until I find THE right wood for this guitar.  Sometime soon, I'm going to visit Dick Wisner and look through his stash of guiitar wood.  It's mostly cedar, but I haven't ruled that out if it's the best choice sound wise.  After all, guitars are all about the sound.  But no question, this guitar WILL be awesome looking, too.

Pics:  The descriptions are in the captions:

That's all for tonight.

Old toolbox

And one of the tools rescued from it

One of the side pieces for C's guitar.  Scraped with a sharp cabinet scraper and wiped with mineral spirits to bring out the grain.  Still nothing like what the finished wood will be.

Missing photos

Quick preview 1
Quick preview 2

The back preview
Here are some shots of L's guitar just dry fitted loosely together.  Everything will go back into the dry cabinet until we get a suitable day for the glue up (warm and dry, if there is such a thing in IN).  I use hot hide glue, which is a natural material from animal hides and hooves, etc.  basically the same as knox gelatine.  This is extremely strong, and completely reversible if one ever needs to take a joint apart.  BTW, that's not the fretboard that will be used, just one I had lying about.

In the meantime:  Out comes the rosewood for the back and sides of C's guitar.  Thinning by hand plane to provide a flat side to each piece before the wood is  sanded to near thickness and cut to size for the 1/2 parts of the bookmatched back and sides.  This is where my awsome Burns sharpening system comes into play.  Sharp tools are the key and then selecting the plane with the best angle for the grain of the rosewood.  Also from these peices, which are generously large, there will be enough wood for the headplate(s) and for the armrest on L's guitar.  This should be really attractive and acoustically ideal.

Off to the shop>>>>>>>

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Assembly on the horizon

Good progress on L's guitar today.  Fitted the neck and tested the fit of the ribs into the spanish heel.  Routed the heel to make room for the top to fit.  Made the butt block and shaped it.  I've pretty much decided that the bindings will be rosewood with a white laminate, the back strip, which was inliad some time ago is white-rosewood-white.  I plan on making the headstock plate from the piece of Brazilian I have.  It will be a symetrical figured plate, perhaps with a light colored veneer under it.  The bridge will be Brazilian as well.  With the neck, top and sides fitted and the back just laid on, it's beginning to look like a guitar.  Some pics if I can get them to load.  Will beging to thin and shape the Brazilian for C's guitar while I run through my checklist to make sure that I'm ready for the glue-up on L's guitar.

It's weird!  I can see the pictures I took today on the camera's disk, but when I try to view on the computer, they're missing.  I'll try a direct hookup via a cable.  Otherwise, I'll post them later.

Bye for now.

New Design

I hope you like the new design.  I sure would enjoy some feedback on any aspect of this Blog.

Leap Day

fitting the linings

almost ready for glue-up
Leap day turned out warm and sunny, but windy.  The guitar-making skills are returning and I accomplished a bit in the shop.  The ribs for L's guitar were trimmed to size and the linings were fitted and tentellones were cut up, and the butt block was made and fitted.  A glue-up of the top, sides and neck is not far off.  These pics show the top and sides in the mold. 

 I aching to get my hands on the rosewood that's to be used for C's guitar.  It's been quietly aclimatizing in my wood cabinet.  I'm anxious to see how it feels and smells and how difficult or easy it is to work with.  I was looking at the piece of Brazilian I'll be using to make bridges with and it rings like a bell.  It is very dense wood and this piece is highly figured depending on which way I cut it. 

I will begin work on the fretboards for all three guitars, but during my visit with my first guitar teacher, he mentioned that he had some very old, very black ebony fret board blanks.  I have some as well, but I may talk to him about acquiring some of these along with some other guitar wood that he has stashed.  This will take a trip to South Bend, but I look forward to another visit with him anyway.  The top material he has is very old, mostly cedar, I think and the back and side sets are Indian Rosewood.

More work today..see ya later.