Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Paid a short visit to L's guitar at IndyCraft, where "Taco" was working on it.  The final coats of finish should go on tonight or tomorrow.  Hopefully, this will allow me enough time to install the tuning pegs, strings, nut and saddle and do whatever setup work I need to.  I won't install the golpeador untill the finish has cured a while.  I may actually leave it until my next visit with Laura.

Meanwhile, work is proceeding on the neck of C's guitar.  It's shaping up nicely, but is time-consuming. I also glued up a second neck which will be used in case I like it better than the present one.  Too humid to join tops,  The rosettes should arrive fairly soon by USPS certified mail.  I hopeihopeihope!

That's all...g'day  About 6 hours today.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Shaping up!

So many happenings right now:  1. L's guitar is almost finished!  Kevin Kinder at IndyCraft is doing the finish because he has the skills, the facilities, the equipment and is excited about doing this.  I will take it to South Bend to show my friend and mentor Dick Wisner, and then deliver it to Laura Nauman, my niece, who's very excited about it.

2.  Working on components of C's guitar including SHAPING the neck and heel.  I'll be thinning the back and sides soon and will then bend the sides, brace the back, etc.

3.  What's shaping up that's REALLY exciting is that I got news that the rosettes are on the way.  I'm so excited I'm .... well, let's just say I'm very excited.  Here are a couple of photos of what's up in the shop right now.

Shaping up the spanish heel

mock-up of what the head might look like
with the fantastic tuning machines
Hours added:  6 direct, plus a bunch of shop cleaning and re-arranging.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Quick Note: C# Heh, Heh

Just a quick note.  Chafing at the bit to see L's guitar finished and get the tuners and strings on and PLAY it.

Glued up the scarf joint on the neck blank and will do the heel block next...all spanish cedar instead of mahogany (which I mentioned in the original specs.  Why?  Sound contribution, look and balance.  It is possible that this could change as I have a mahogany neck in the works,

Researched Cases.  Think I have a line on a custom case worthy of this guitar. 

Hours added:  4, running total 24.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Shifting gears

With MB#2 at the finishing stage, it's now time to focus fully on C's guitar.  A number of steps have already been taken, the rosewood back joined, the sides (ribs) cut to size and both soon to be thicknessed to near spec.  The sides will then be bent and the back stripe inlaid.  The mahogany neck carving process is under way and the selection process for the top wood is moving forward with testing of the wood to assure the best quality possible.  Meanwhile, we wait with bated breath for the (hopefully soon) arrival of the rosettes from Russia.  Beyond joining of the two halves of the top wood, no further progress is possible until the rosette is inlaid.  The thicknessing can then proceed, followed by bracing.

The Plantilla (pattern) for this guitar will be that of Brian Burns.  Because of his reported success with the sound of his guitars being judged as superior by other luthiers and players, I've decided to use his plan.  It has some characteristics which I believe will lend themselves to producing an excellent classical guitar.

The next few days will be spent organizing the shop to allow the production of this guitar to go smoothly and relatively quickly.  But, attention to detail and precision is the watchword for this special "world guitar".  Extremely high quality materials, a good plan, good execution with the completion of L's guitar under my belt, should combine to make this guitar not only "world" class (pun intended, you'll see), but perhaps even on the high end of that.

More soon, with documentation of time included as well as data on the materials.  With work already under way, I've documented approximately 20 hours.  A running counter will be kept with each blog on this guitar.

Running total to date:                                                                                               20 hours


Taking your baby to the (finishing) Dr.

Pretty nervous!  While I am fully confident that Kevin at IndyCraft will do complete justice to the finishing (lacquer) of L's guitar (known from here forward as MB#2 for Marcelo Barbero #2.  That's to protect the new owner's privacy. ), turning over a piece of work into which you've invested 100s of hours, is pretty frightening.  While I could have finished it myself, using french polish or a wipe-on finish, or even spray lacquer, after talking with Kevin, whose business is finishing wood, I decided to let a professional do it.  IndyCraft has the facilities, skills and equipment to do a really professional job on this special guitar and the chances of success in a really great finish are many, many times greater than my trying to do it in facilities which are not suitably equipped.  While I have experience with french polish, it is not as durable as a lacquer finish and at this point, I lack suitable facilities to apply a really flawless finish,  Take good care of my baby, Kevin.  I am also looking forward to working with Kevin in the future on my projects as well as, perhaps a project for himself.  In addition to being owner of IndyCraft, Kevin is a martial artist.  I'm looking forward to getting to know him and the rest of the crew at IndyCraft better.  When next we see MB#2, she should be even more beautiful.  The construction went well, I believe the sound will be true and beautiful, and once the finish is on, it should truly be a world-class instrument.

Until, then


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just a glimpse?....ooh OK

Well, I tried.  I got a video to upload as a picture, but not. as a video.  So sorry, I guess we'll just have to wait.  Maybe soon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

History of Barbero Guitar

Hi All,  The purpose of tonights post is to chronicle the history of L's guitar, that is the original maker of the guitar which was measured for the plans used to make L's guitar.  Let's start at the end and then I'll do a flashback to the original maker. 

The end is that access to the guitar used for the pattern (also called the plantilla) was obtained by a luthier and guitar historian, Richard Brune'.  Richard has studied the history of the modern classical and flamenco guitar such that he is recognized as a world expert.  He has a workshop/store/museum in Evnston, IL, where I understand, he has a pretty sizable collection of historic instruments. Richard obtained access to, measured and drew up the plans and wrote a history of the instrument, which I will summarize for you here.  In add.ition he restored the instrument to near original condition at some point.

On the plan, Brune' refers to the instrument as Sabicas' (sic) 1951 Marcelo Barbero guitar.  In actuality, the guitar was made specifically for Carlos Montoya.  In fact, it was inscribed inside by its maker, Barbero:  "a mi amigo, Carlos Montoya.  M. Barbero".  Brune' was introduced to the instrument by its owner at the time, a Dr. Rober Schultz.  I was apparently in pretty bad shape.  Shultz had owned the guitar for some 40 years.  He had obtained it from his teacher Fidel Zabal, in 1953.  Zabal was a Spanish Gypsy who came to the US with his wife, a flamenco dancer.  They performed in the US using this guitar for a short time before Shultz obtained it from him.

Zabal had been given the guitar by the famous flamenco player Sabicas, who had used it during the recording of a couple of albums entitled "Flamenco Puro."  It was given to Zabal in exchange for some written transcriptions.

Until looking inside, Brune' had no knowledge of the fact that the guitar had been made for Carlos Montoya, from whom Sabicas obtained it. 

About Marcelo Barbero:  he is described as one of the most extraordinary guitar makers of the 20th century.  He had learned much of his craft from the legendary Ramirez family.  Barbero was reputed to have a practice of buying old wood furniture and using the wood for guitars.  He apparently threw little of this away and it was used randomly in various parts of his guitars.  Brune' considers this guitar to be the "defining" flamenco guitar of the 20th century, with the "perfect flamenco quality" sound. 

Whether the guitar I've made for L measures up in any way to the original will remain to be seen as the guitar "plays in," matures and maybe gets some adjustments over time.

I've copied the Barbero guitar, as represented in Brune's plan, as truly as possible, but with some obvious and some not-so-obvious, but necessary exceptions.  The most obvious is the use of Spanish Cedar for the neck, instead of mahogany.  The purpose of this is to limit somewhat, the sustain, which should give the guitar a more flamenco like sound and should also provide for better balance, as it is lighter than mahogany.  I will be providing the full specifications as well as a copy of this history, when I deliver the guitar.

Why don't you post some more pictures?  Aaah yes, well there are some details I don't want to reveal yet.  In due time.


Monday, May 14, 2012

The missing blogger

Betcha wondered where I've been and why I haven't blogged for almost 10 days.  Well, I've been up to my elbows in hot hide glue, cypress, spruce and cedar dust as well as some curley queues from some very handsome rosewood.  Can't show pictures of the flamenco, 'cause it would show more than I want at this juncture..surprises, I hope.  A lot of scraping, sanding and "finiting" to be done befor the finish goes onto L's guitar, but we are getting closer.  There are so many details to assure a world class finish and sound.  Today, I put the little dots on the side of the fretboard to mark the positions of several frets.  Painstaking work to say the least.

Not much to show on C's guitar because jointing two bookmatched halves of a back or top is not the most interesting photo subject.  But trust me, it's a very important step in the process.  Carving the neck might be interesting, but I'd rather show it when it begins to take shape a bit more.  I did have a bit of an inspiration regarding the shape of the head.  I'll show a drawing, but without commentary at this point.  This is in the concept stage and may develop a bit.  The rectangle on the upper part of the head would  be a cut-out.

This is a concept drawing.
That's all for now, G'day.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Blaaanannnt! Clear the decks for action

Spent a good part of today cleaning the shop, for two reasons actually, or maybe more.  1. I've learned that I am pretty sensitive to the wood dust I create;  2. I almost to the finishing stages on L's guitar and I want the shop as clean as possible;  3. I'm starting to concentrate on C's guitar since it appears that the arrival of the rosettes may be on the horizon.  One will be finished and delivered and it will be full steam ahead on the other.  Oops, I can't count....that was three.

I cannot wait to hear the first notes played on this flamenco guitar.  I'm hoping for a very responsive, but not quite as "poppy" or percussive sound as that most flamencos like, but at any rate, a very enjoyable instrument.  Some sound sweeps may give me a clue.

No pics today, you wanna see the shop, ya gotta come visit.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

One picture - worth 1000 strokes of the sanding block

On the home stretch
As you can see, we're nearing completion of L's guitar and a sweet one its gonna be.  The bridge is yet to be glued on, but once done, some sound testing and then the back and back binding go on.  When the back goes on, the final action will be set and it's looking good for nice low action a'la the flamenco tradition.  I probably won't post any more pictures of this guitar until I'm on my way to deliver it.  I'll also try to post a video of it being played.  Anothe reason not to post any pics is that there are a few surprises in store for L, that I don't want her to see until she sees it in person.

We're anxiously awaiting the arrival of the rosettes from Russia and in the meantime continued work on joining and thinning the back and sides and bending the sides will proceed apace.  Testing and selection of the top wood is under way and I'll probably join and inlay two or three tops from which I will choose the ONE. 

The neck scarf joint and heel block is on the shooting board at this time and will be joined.  I'm kicking around different ideas for the detail work beyond the rosette and bridge tie block and what to do with the headstock shape and details.  I may add a very crude drawing of a shape I have in my head and see what people think of it.

All for now,