Sunday, 19 June 2011

Last week was very much 'new guitar week' both for me and for my first 'student' Richard who has been coming to my workshop a couple of times a week since the autumn to build himself a guitar. Whilst his aim at the beginning was to build himself a guitar which first and foremost had good tone with looks coming a distant second, he pretty quickly succumbed to pretty woods and shiny bits of shell. He's ended up with a guitar that looks great and sounds great too, the sound will continue to improve over the coming days, weeks and months as the wood loosens up and things settle down. The soundboard is European spruce. Back sides and neck are Claro Walnut. Binding and end fillet are Very figured Koa, fingerboard and front headstock veneer are ebony while the back veneer and bridge are burr oak and Indian Rosewood respectively. Rosette is abalone, the finish is Nitro cellulose over french polish.

Well done Richard and thanks for the canoe!

My new guitar is the first of a new body shape for me, my usual long scale length and a neck that joins the body at the 14th fret. Continuing the theme of naming my guitars after places I have fond memories of from summer holidays camping in West Wales this is the Rhossili model and will be on my website just as soon as I take some flashy photos of it. This particular guitar has a sitka spruce top, Indian rosewood back and sides, Koa binding ( that I managed to use before Richard nabbed the rest of it) reclaimed Mahogany neck Rosewood bridge and ebony fingerboard and headstock veneer. Its a bit of a departure for me as I usually build guitars suited for fingerpicking and this is a bit more of an all rounder, the harder sitka spruce usually favours plectrum playing but we'll see as the sound opens up.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

I've had a bevvie of repairs in recently, so I thought I'd share them. First up is a Martin 000-18 reissue owned by nick from the excellent blues duo with a loose bridge. Sometimes if a bridge is only a little loose on the corners, then a little glue can simply be injected and then clamped but this one was pretty loose so it had to come off. I use a variety of knives to get underneath the bridge. Its a tricky process, great care has to be taken not to slip the knife into the soft spruce of the soundboard or put a knife through the finish but after a few minutes and a loud 'pop' the bridge comes off.

Once the bridge was off, I scraped off the old glue residue from the bridge and soundboard. Its very important to have a very wood to wood glue join in order for the glue to perform. The bridge is one of the most critical glue joins on a guitar as it has to take the load of the strings. Once I glued the bridge on and left it clamped up for a day I spent some time at the buffing wheel to touch up a few lacquer cracks which had developedover time, then the guitar was restrung and sent out the door.

Another job was to refret a very nice but much used parlour guitar made by Pete Howlett. The frets were first removed. I use a soldering iron to heat the fret and a little lemon oil to soften and lubricate the wire before using special pliers to gently ease the frets out. Once out the fingerboard was prepared, sanded flat and any chip outs repaired. Then the new frets were installed. This guitar has binding, so the ends of the tangs have to be removed so that only the top of the crown is on top of the binding. Once the frets were installed I then levelled and reprofiled them prior to restringing. After this the guitar was a real beauty to play and should be good for many years yet.